To Begin Again

Every year at this time I sit back and reflect on all that is behind me.  I strive to remember the milestones, the life-changing moments.  I lean in to get a glimpse of the laughter, the tears, the heavy sighs, the little things that made this year special.  And the questions come through Facebook and on blogs I read, “What was the highlight of your year”, and then I shudder.  I realize that I didn’t take time this year to stop and be present in every moment of every day.  Life sort of came in like a lion and happened, and I went with it.  I got caught up in it, although I never felt like I was really living it.  Life was rushing past me and I did not see it.  Oh there were moments, and some big things God did, but if all I really remember are the big and obvious, is that truly living?

Honestly, I am sad to say goodbye to this year.  For a while, I held it in my grasp. I could feel it as it grow inside the palm of my hand.  I could smell the possibilities and taste the goodness that was all wrapped up in this year.  Yet, now it’s gone.  I cannot get it back.  I don’t really have any regrets, other than the fact that I didn’t capture more of the beauty that happened while I was swept away trying to keep my head above water.

For me, to begin again means new opportunities to truly learn to be present in every moment of every day, and not allow the busyness, the mundaneness of life to cause me to close my eyes to the wellspring of life that is all around me.  There are new mercies and overwhelming grace to be had this year.  I am in dire need of both.

So I will begin again, but this time with a new heart, a new mind and a new attitude.

I will not be choosing a One Word focus this year.  I have done so the last three years and while I did so with good intentions, in doing so I took my eyes off of all of the other things God wanted me to pursue.  And when I didn’t feel like I met the goal of the One Word, well, I just quite. It became hard.  I felt like a failure (something I am working on) and gave up.  The buttons were removed from my sidebar and all hope was lost.  But God did show Himself through each of these words — Constant in 2011, Pursue in 2012 and Simply in 2013.  There are moments of beauty and lessons learned in each one.  But in each one is also an unfinished race, goals unmet and a challenge that I did not rise to.  Hear me when I say the One Word focus is a beautiful thing.  It just will not be my focus this year.

So what will 2014 look like for me?

My sole focus this year will be on listening to the Holy Spirit, writing down the revelation that He brings to me through the reading of His Word and in prayer, and being willing to move where the Spirit of God leads me.  Of course, I still believe in setting goals.  Goals give you something to aim for.  I just don’t ever want to feel guilty for missing the mark.

Here are just a few things that I believe the Lord has given me the passion to do in the coming year.

Bible Reading Plan.

I want to be very intentional in positioning myself to receive all that God has for me this year.  I’ve read the Bible through in a year before, but it’s been a long time.  This year, I will be joining Tricia Goyer using the Women’s Guide to Reading the Bible through in a Year.  I am hoping this will help me in my quest to stay focused while receiving fresh revelation from the Lord, as well as accountability from a group of women all taking this same journey.


Journals.  I have a love/hate relationship with them.  I have multiple journals that have been started and never finished.  In 2012 on my birthday, God gave me the idea to color His Word by art journaling.  I think I lasted 30 days. I get hung up in perfectionism — Do I have sloppy writing?  Are my hand drawn pictures good enough?  This year, I want to focus more on the writing of the revelation received and less on what it looks like.  For my journal, I will be using the Arc Customizeable Notebook, referred to me by a friend.

Capturing beauty.

I am not a photographer.  The photos you see here on this blog are paid for stock photos, or photos that friends have allowed me to use.  Very few are mine.  I find it hard to stop long enough to truly see the beauty that is all around me.  I know seeing myself as a creative being is something God wants me to work on.  It’s not about the photo.  It’s about seeing, really seeing the beauty that is all around me.  And friends, if there is one thing I’ve learned this year, there is beauty among the mess of life. We just have to be intentional in seeking it out.  For this goal, I will be joining Elisa Pulliam to Capture a God Aware Life in 2014 by capturing just one distinct photo each week.

Counting Gifts

I started counting my gifts in 2012 (a restart from 2011) and I stopped in March, with just 221 gifts counted. Because I wasn’t being intentional at seeing the beauty all around me, I found myself striving, seeking, searching for beauty. I would list things that I was not in fact truly thankful for because it sounded good, and because I knew I needed be thankful for something.  This year, I have a beautiful new journal to count my gifts.  (Thank you Karrilee!) It’s a reminder that there is grace, and within that grace is found so much beauty.  So beginning the week of January 6th, I will begin counting again, from the beginning, to 1000 gifts and perhaps beyond.

Be Free to Be.

In 2014, I want to be free to be all that God has intended me to be.  I want to slow down, to be present in every moment, to life live and not let it live me (does that make sense?).  If I fail at all of these other things, it won’t matter, as long as I’ve heard Him, seen Him and have allowed Him to move me where His Spirit will take me.  This year, I want to be fully His.

What are your goals for 2014?  

Linking up with these lovely communities!

Beauty in His Grip Button

36 thoughts on “To Begin Again”

  1. bluecottonmemory says:

    Around 2009, I stopped doing resolutions – because it seemed God was sending me themes – there was the Year of the Great Sorrow, the Year of the Great Saving, The Year of Standing – and it was in the middle of it all that I realized the “theme” – it began when God whispered it to me – or maybe I recognized it maybe in July or February. This year it has been Relearning Communication with the Boys – and then suddenly, on the turn of a dime, it has become something else – a boundary setting thing that I haven’t fully grasped yet. I’ve learned to just let it flow and listen to what He has to tell me about it – like He’s called me to sit beside Him and learn this thing. Praying you savor the big and little moments of this year. Photography has made me more intentional that way – more attentive to the love letters He sends all around me – am excited for you as you start looking at life that way through your camera lense:) So glad I am getting to know you:)
    bluecottonmemory recently posted..An Imperfect Christmas

    1. Barbie says:

      I am thankful you are with me on this journey! And right now, I use my phone to capture the moments. You would think it would be easy, since it’s always with me. Not! Have a blessed tomorrow!

  2. Lyli @3-D Lessons for Life says:

    I’m a big journaler, Barbie. I started penning my heart in notebooks during my quiet time when I was in college. The process and format have evolved for me over the years, but it serves as a way of “remembering” how the hand of God has moved in my life.

    1. Barbie says:

      Is there a specific notebook you use Lyli? I wish I had been better disciplined in journaling. But no regrets, right? Thankful that you stopped by! Happy New Year!

      1. Lyli @ 3-D Lessons for Life says:

        My advice would be to keep it simple until you find a rhythm that works for you. Maybe just focus on jotting 3 short thoughts a day (1 blessing, 1 verse that jumped out during your quiet time, and a quick observation on the verse). I started out using just an inexpensive steno pad as my journal in college, but now you can find pretty ones for reasonable prices at lots of stores if you keep your eyes open for them. My friends know that I journal, so I usually get a couple of really nice ones as a gift each year. Here is a post I wrote quite a while back about the format I use:

        1. Barbie says:

          Thank you!

  3. Donna Schultz says:

    Barbie, you have such a beautiful heart. Our Heavenly Father sees and esteems you so much. I am so thankful that He just calls us to “be” and not “do”. Thankful to be on the journey with you. Your simple honesty blesses me. Happy New Year, friend!
    Donna Schultz recently posted..The Twelve Days of Christmas

    1. Barbie says:

      Thank you Donna! I appreciate your friendship and encouragement. Happy New Year!

  4. Dawn St Amand Paoletta says:

    Dear Barbie, I so appreciate you. I also understand where you are coming from with the One Word. I had a post title drafted “No No Word For The New Year”…but then, as I was explaining not having it (on a Blog comment)…I was reading the scripture verse I felt God was laying on my heart to linger on and morph with in general, when it popped up at me from within the verse. And then I was like…NO. But I realize it may not be my choosing but perhaps a God glimpse of His possible direction. All that being said, I hang on loosely to all, as this is what I have learned this year with my own One Word Release. I never really chose my words, they all seemed impressed upon me, and words I would not have chosen at all! Now about your journaling, would love o see you link up (I share my very messy writing and scribbles too) with our Random Journal Day, someday when you feel ready. 😉 Or maybe just come and check out our little community (no pressure) for encouragement. Also a blogging friend shared this with me: and I did sign up (last minute) to check out…although I pretty much journal as a lifestyle. Meanwhile, love, hugs, and best wishes for a Happy New Year- or whatever kind of New Year God desires for you and I! His ways are best after all and He is faithful and good.
    Dawn St Amand Paoletta recently posted..Lessons From The Land of Limbo (5MFF)

    1. Barbie says:

      I love how God surprises us! I can’t wait to see how your word unfolds this year. Thank you for your encouragement regrading journaling. It’s something I really desire to do. I just get so distracted. I did sign up for Root, and we’ll see if anything comes of it . I may just journal on my own and join your link up when appropriate. Happy New Year!

  5. Rosann says:

    Barbie, I so enjoyed reading about your thoughts for the new year. I will be praying God reveals His beauty to you in bold and exciting ways and that you capture every awesome moment in your journals. You have much to smile about from 2013 – obedience to God in a major faith-filled way being one reason. I know I have certainly smiled as a witness to your faith. As your friend I say keep on keeping on, girl. God is doing great things through you. 🙂 love you!

    1. Barbie says:

      Thank you Rosann! I am truly blessed to have you in my life. Happy New Year!

  6. Holly Barrett says:

    I love your goals for this year and also want to journal more consistently. And I’m prayerful that my one word will remain out on front of me for the whole year too! May this be the year that we are all truly His.

    1. Barbie says:

      AMEN Holly! Looking forward with great anticipation to the New Year!

  7. Mary says:

    I enjoyed studying the Holy Spirit in 2013. I feel I didn’t learn enough so will be doing more in 2014. You have a wonderful list for 2014. May God bless you with a wonderful Happy New Year.
    Mary recently posted..Harmony With God

    1. Barbie says:

      Blessings for a wonderful New Year Mary!

  8. Jennifer peterson says:

    I love this, I love your list to do next year, capturing beauty is something you do well in your paintings. Love you
    Jennifer peterson recently posted..Looking back

    1. Barbie says:

      Thank you Jennifer! I didn’t even think about the paintings. Praying you have a joyous and full New Year!

  9. elisa says:

    Barbie, I love what God is revealing to you about what was and what wasn’t and what is to be your focus in 2014. I’m looking forward to being on the journey together!
    elisa recently posted..What’s Your One Word for 2014?

    1. Barbie says:

      Thank you so much Elisa!

  10. Joan says:

    I used to journal all the time and every now and then I do write something in a journal – mainly important Bible verses to me or quotes that touch my heart. But, this year my husband suggested that we start a blessing jar. So whenever something good happens or we receive a blessing, we’ll write it down on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. Then, next New Year’s Eve, we’ll celebrate our year by opening the jar and reading the blessings together! I’m pretty excited about it!

    Looking forward to what God is going to do in 2014!

    Blessings, Joan
    Joan recently posted..Sharing His Beauty with Courage in 2014!

    1. Barbie says:

      Joan, what a beautiful way to remember your blessings throughout the year!

  11. Noreen says:

    Dear Barbie, I loved reading all that you have felt this past year. I love your heart my dear friend, filled with so much desire for more of Him. I am posting on goals next week, but mine are more about things I need to change with me. I think many will relate to it and seriously pray the Lord moves me in those areas. Sending big hugs to you this day and prayers for the New Year.
    Noreen recently posted..My New Kitchen

    1. Barbie says:

      Noreen, thanks’ so much for stopping by! My post would have been way too long if I had listed both spiritual and personal goals but I do have those too. Hopefully, they will unfold and I can share them as they come! Blessings and Happy New Year!

  12. Nannette and the Sweetheart says:

    I stopped by to tell you I had just discovered you had a book! I know, I know, I’m way behind 🙂 I was on Holly’s blog and saw a post down in the corner about it so I went and put that little gem on my kindle! It is happily my very first purchase of the New Year! Now I get a 2for1 deal with your post too…I hope to journal more myself. I started off pretty well this year then fell off in the summer, boo 🙁 but it surely did mean much to me when I kept up with it.

    A very Happy New Year to you and look forward to the devotions!
    Nannette and the Sweetheart recently posted..Negativity Fast & A Fresh Start!

    1. Barbie says:

      Awe friend, that you! Someday you may want to purchase the book, as it’s so much prettier and there are lines to write your reflections! Thank you for supporting my little book and I pray it will bless you! Happy New Year!

  13. Beth @ My Destiny says:

    Oh my friend. I have always recorded my feelings in journals. For some reason, near the end of 2013 I have been quiet. I have felt stuck in feelings I’d rather not entertain. I don’t know what has been going on aside from the fact that I haven’t been spending time with the Lord and in His Word like I should. I am happy to see 2014.

    You know about all the fun stuff! The Women’s group that is reading through the Bible together and the photo a week fun! I would love to join those too. I may have to hop over.

    I got a new camera for Christmas — as you will see on my blog.

    Your heart is so pure and sweet Barbie. God’s grace just drips from all of your posts.

    I know you are such a blessing to Him (and to everyone who knows you).

    Much love,
    Beth @ My Destiny recently posted..Some Cozy Nooks

    1. Barbie says:

      Oh Beth, thank you. You have been such a constant source of inspiration in my life. You are a treasure and I am so grateful for you. A new camera! How fun! I hope to catch up on your blog soon!

  14. Joanne Viola says:

    Barbie, praying that God keeps each of your passions alive all year. A new year is such a blank page & has always been an exciting time for me. My one word this year is “Faith” – “For without faith, it is impossible to please God.” I so want that my life be pleasing to Him each & every day. Blessings!!
    Joanne Viola recently posted..My One Word

    1. Barbie says:

      I love your One Word. Looking forward to the journey of seeing how it unfolds for you!

  15. Beth says:

    My goal for 2014…to have coffee with YOU! I love your heart friend. You had me here…”There are new mercies and overwhelming grace to be had this year. I am in dire need of both.”
    With having similar goals, I look forward to walking the New Year together.
    Any interest in being accountability partners for the Bible reading? I need to make sure I stick with this because I need His Word.
    I’m so grateful for you.
    Much love,
    Beth recently posted..Three Word Wednesday: Happy New Year!

    1. Barbie says:

      I would love to be accountable to you and with you! This is going to be a fun year, and if I could make a coffee date happen with you, I am there!

  16. Sarah says:

    This is going to sound completely weird, but these are all my same goals & things I want to pursue this year! I had my ups and downs in my faith walk this year, sadly ending on a low note. But I have started a new Bible reading plan & I can already feel the desire for more of Him growing in my heart. What you mentioned about journaling & photographing the beauty of life, I’m right there with you! I struggle with being grateful & content with what He has provided, always finding myself wanting more. Looking for the beauty in my own life (instead of comparing to others) is where I think He is leading me. I’m looking forward to seeing where He leads both of us this year!

    Absolutely LOVE the new design by the way! Gorgeous! Happy New Year Barbie! 🙂
    Sarah recently posted..2014 Year-Long Projects

  17. Barbie says:

    Sarah, that doesn’t sound weird at all. I am thankful to have someone pursuing the same goals as me. So far, I’ve not taken one photo. I’ve been sick and haven’t bee outside, which is where my brain tells me the beauty is. My children are so much older they no longer will allow me to snap their photos. We are going to do this together!

  18. Elise Daly Parker says:

    Very powerful honest sharing here Barbie! I love how you’re relying on the Lord for your passion and following His lead. Sounds like an exciting year ahead. Thanks so much for joining us at Circles of Faith. And happy New Year!!
    Elise Daly Parker recently posted..What’s Your One Word for the New Year?

    1. Barbie says:

      Thanks for stopping by Elise!

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