Category Archives: LEAP challenge

L.E.A.P. – continually (February 28)

366 days… and my L.E.A.P. Year comes to a close.

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Today was extra special!  I celebrated and praised the LORD all day as I reflected over a year well lived.  (How fun to share this day, just me and the LORD, while the rest of the world went on about life “as usual”!)

I don’t want this to come to an end, and I’m contemplating “How can I continue and carry all I’ve learned and experienced with me?”  What a day for thinking excellent thoughts!  — I  wonder what I’ll be doing next leap year and what I’d like to do between now and then. (2020,  What a cool number for a year that will be!)

And, today is also one week since I came home from the hospital from a minor procedure.  (But, as my dad says, “It’s only a ‘minor surgery’ if it’s not on you.”) Even though I have to take it easy, I feel like a new woman, and with all the LORD has taught me recently about the brevity and significance of life, I have a renewed focus and sense of purpose in living for the glory of God!

What an amazing year!  —   I’ve been less “public” and “captured life” more privately (journaling and using my camera).  I’ve eaten healthier, run some of my fastest races, and signed up for my first full marathon (butterflies in my stomach even as I type that).  I’ve made hard choices and picked “best” over good/better.  I’ve prayed more and in new ways (especially the last few months).  I’ve remodeled a room and put much of my spaces in better order.  I’ve learned some hard and life changing lessons.  I read some amazing books (pertaining to my monthly themes) that I wouldn’t have ordinarily picked up.   I’ve read the Bible through with the family again, but I’ve reread, contemplated, memorized, and meditated personally more.  I’ve intentionally tried to ponder and grow personally, secretly, rather than superficially or publicly… reading to apply rather than to share.

I guess you could say I’ve done a little “temple cleaning”, some needed “throwing off” of the things entangling and hindering me in this life’s race.

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Speaking of races… Today, I headed out for a gloriously short walk, a necessary “starting over” at square one of physical fitness training after being in the hospital.  And, this is a good thing.  As I heal, I return to the basics.  I’m reminded that I am running my own race, at my own pace, the course that the LORD Himself has marked out for specifically me.  I’m so excited to literally take these first steps into a new season of life.

Physically and spiritually, I sense a new day dawning, and the future looks bright!

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L.E.A.P.

(live, enjoy, add, pray)

This personal motto / challenge has served me well.

 “L>E>A>P>”

I’ve started writing it this way as a reminder to keep going!  

(I’ve accidently typed this countless times over the past year, since . and > are the same key on my keyboard. Now it’s intentional.)  

I’m telling myself today, …

 Do it again.   L>E>A>P> forward!

Jump right in!

Don’t Stop.

And, if needed, Start Again.

Keep Moving Forward!

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Life is for living, enjoying, adding… and of course, praying!  (Because, what is life with out talking to God?!?)

continually 05 Wherever you are, whatever your season, I hope you’ll choose to live (really live) your days!

Enjoy the moments!!!  Be all there.  Not living in the past or preoccupied with the future.  Take them in.  Use your senses.

Add something!  You do have something important to share, something to give, something to do, something to say… that really matter.   Be a blessing!  Use your gives, now, today.

And, pray… everywhere, every minute, in a million traditional/unique/habitual/creative/old/new ways!  Pray without ceasing.  Pray with thanksgiving, earnestly, with joy, with hope, with confidence.

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And finally, let me encourage you to seek the LORD in a special, private “just you and Him”, intimate way!  What words/verses/songs/days/events are especially meaningful or significant to you right now?  Choose your own theme for this chapter… better yet, ask the LORD to give you a theme.

If I could suggest one thing to you that has changed my life, SEEK the LORD for yourself.  Make your relationship with the LORD your priority, not your “first” priority, your ONLY priority; doing whatever He tells you to do.   (Keep it REAL.  Keep it PRIVATE/INTIMATE.) Then share and bless others out of the abundance of a life well lived in secret.

  • Talk to God (pray)
  • Listen to God (read the Bible)

It’s that simple.

If you’re reading this, I’m praying that the LORD will inspire you with something specific you can do to add a spark of excitement to your spiritual life that causes you to anticipate being in His presence.  May you thrill in the adventure of living this life abundantly!

God bless you!  Until next Leap Year,keep L>E>A>P>ing.

L.E.A.P. – lovingly (January 29)

This is the final month of my L.E.A.P. Year (Feb. 29, 2016 – Feb. 28, 2017), and that brings me to LOVE.

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As I review the year and look at my words, this phrase came to mind, “beyond all these, put on love“.  Col. 3:14

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When I originally prayed over and chose the words for this year, “LOVE” came to mind because I knew my year would end in February with Valentine’s Day (not too “spiritual”), but after the excess of candy, hearts, chocolate, and holiday marketing that began shortly after Christmas, I was hardly in the mood.

But all that changed after I read the context of the phrase the Holy Spirit brought to mind in Colossians  3, “put on…

  • a heart of compassion
  • kindness
  • humility
  • gentleness
  • patience
  • bearing with one another
  • forgiving each other
  • … beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity”

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“… and the greatest of these is love.” (I Cor. 13)

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Love is the best place to begin, or end. any year of living, a 366 day leap year or not.   1 Corinthians 13 sums up why so well.  Love is the “perfect bond” because all of these commanded qualities are characteristics of true love.

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, these words are in danger of sounding trite and cliché:

“…without love, I am nothing… it profits me nothing.”

LOVE is…

patient, kind, not jealous, does not brag, is not arrogant/proud, not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, forgives/keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil, rejoices in the truth, protects/bears all things, trusts/believes all things, always hopes, always perseveres/endures…

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“Live a life of LOVE”… “Walk in LOVE” (Ephesians 5:2)  Love others as Christ loves you.  — For me, this is what it means to L.E.A.P. (to live, enjoy, add, and pray) in LOVE.

 

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LIVE in love. Loving others becomes easier when I am ENJOYing the love of God!  The more of His love I ADD to any situation or in any relationship, the more it multiplies, like a seed planted that keeps reaping more and more.  PRAYing is just a pouring out of my love back to God in response to His love for me and then pouring out my concerns for the people I love.

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I picture “walking in love”, as moving with a spring in my step, running, skipping, and dancing in Him; because I am so filled up and bubbling over with His love!

To LEAP is to “Live and move and have my being” in Him (Acts 17:28); to be as the lame beggar that was healed, to go “walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:8).

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With LOVE as the theme of this is the last month, it feels like the culmination of themes of all the previous 11 months.

LOVE means being attentive. LOVE is the ultimate beauty (internal, physical, abstract, and tangible). LOVE is intentional.  Through nature we see God’s LOVE for us and is even richer when we slow down to enjoy it with someone special. LOVE is generous. LOVE is patient. Though it is not particularly “easy”, LOVE is simple, and is often best expressed in the simplest ways. LOVE finds the humor in life. LOVE can be quiet. LOVE is thankful. LOVE is displayed in actions (not just words).

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SO, I’m wrapping this month up with a little bit of everything: taking photos, making lists, giving gifts, spending moments outside, … I’m reviewing all the months and incorporating versions of my favorite challenges, expecting this to be the best month for me personally.  My goal is to show the LORD and the people in my family that I LOVE them every day in a special way.

I know these LEAP Year posts really were written for myself, but I bother to type them out and share them because I want to encourage you to BE CREATIVE.   Do your own thing!  Plan something special to mark your days and seek the LORD in a unique, “just-between-you-and-Him” way. 

The 29th of each month has been a series of quiet, reflective days for me that have helped me to begin the coming month with a holy purpose. The calendar is full of holidays, new seasons, birthdays, and special days just waiting as invitations for a fresh start with a secret “holy-day” between you and the LORD.


If you’re reading this sentence, I’m praying for you.  May you find a special way to show the LORD and the people in your life that you love them each day this month.  And, may the LORD show YOU that He loves YOU in memorable ways, too!

 

L.E.A.P. – actively (December 29)

3, 2, 1, ACTION.

Only 3 days in the countdown to the new year!

Are you ready?

"Prepare your minds for action..."  1 Peter 1:13

[This was one of my dad’s favorite verses, which seems appropriate for a military man.  I grew up hearing this verse quoted so often I know it by heart.  How appropriate that this is the verse that has been on my mind the last few days!]

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A new year is about to begin.  All over the world, people are getting a fresh start… new calendars, new goals.

Grace is built into our year.  Isn’t it great to be alive!

I feel reflective, hopeful, expectant.  I love sitting here in my cozy corner, early in the morning while the rest of the household is asleep, with the only sounds I hear being the wind blowing snow outside my window and my fingers typing on my laptop.

I need this quiet time at the end of December to read, pray, plan, write, organize…

But, it’s action that breathes life into ideas I put on paper, making daydreams a reality.

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Goals are just ideas until a specific strategy is set in motion.

  • A marathon is finished by the runner because he put his shoes on and trained for months;  strengthening his muscles, his heart, and his lungs to have the endurance to complete those 26.2 miles.
  • The vacation is enjoyed because the budget was made, the check book balance, the reservations made, etc.
  • The office organized, …
  • The degree earned, …
  • etc.

We can see the required steps to be taken for others to begin their quest, …

  • clearly defined goals
  • measureable steps
  • specific deadlines
  • consistent accountability

So let’s be objective and apply  common sense wisdom to our own dreams this month.

The best things happen with God’s help, but once we’ve sought the LORD, know His will and that the desires of our heart are honoring to Him, it’s time for action.

My “L.E.A.P. Year” will soon be coming to a close (February 2017).  Though I hope to use this again over the next few years so it will become a polished tool before the next Leap Year (2020).  And, though I have many “new” ideas that I’ve already set in motion for 2017, I want to maintain the habits I’ve formed over the past months, take on this month’s theme with zeal and energy, and finish well.

ACTIVELY –

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I want to LIVE actively…

As Longfellow, one of my favorite poets wrote,

“Let us then be UP and DOING with a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing;

Learn to LABOR and to WAIT.”

Patiently moving forward until I reach the desired end.

  • off the couch
  • shoes on, finish line marked out, training schedule printed, pedometer/Garmin on, …
  • laundry washed, folded, delivered, …
  • menu planned, guests invited, …
  • research in progress, folder of information collected, reservations made, …
  • calendar/chore-chart/schedule printed, pen handy to mark off progress/success
  • …  (What do you want/need to do?)

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I want to ENJOY actively…

No sitting on the sidelines for me.  I want to be involved.

  • playing the game, doing the puzzle
  • baking the cookies
  • visiting the neighbor
  • taking the walk
  • seeing the sights
  • volunteering for the cause
  • joining the team
  • participating in the conversation
  • mentally engaged in learning
  • … (What do you want/need to do?)

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I want to ADD actively …

I have something to contribute.  YOU have something to contribute.

  • attentively – my time: just listening, giving pertinent advice…
  •  beautifully – my creativity: art, music, cleaning, decorating, organizing…
  • generously – being a blessing by sharing my blessings
  • humorously – my laughter, my sense of humor, not taking life so seriously and helping others to do the same…
  • … (What do you want/need to do?)

 

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I want to PRAY actively …

I want to pray and then get up, keep on praying (without ceasing) while be part of the answer!

I have my regular prayer list, and the 12 priority prayer requests that I write each December during my 12 days of prayer, and recently the LORD brought to mind a neglected step from my first Prayer Notebook (the 29:59 plan written by Peter Lord), to TAKE ACTION, to end each prayer time asking the LORD, “WHAT TO YOU WANT ME TO DO?”;  waiting for the answer, and once I have the direction from the Holy Spirit, to take action!

  • When you look at your prayer list… (What do you want/need to do?)

So?  What do YOU need or want to do this month?

Sometimes the LORD does not give me a specific command.  Often times He gives me His peace and an open blessing …

It’s as if He says to me, “I see your heart.  I know your desire is to please me.  You’re a mature young lady of faith.  Go ahead, Little One, I’m letting you decide.  Let’s see what you will do based upon all that you’ve learned about Me?  What do you want to do?”

I muster my wisdom and courage, apply the James 3:17 principle that my mom impressed upon me year after year as a child, make the plan, present it before Him, and He gives me the green light of His blessing.

I am setting out on some physically and mentally ambitious adventures this year.  I have butterflies of excitement and nervousness in my stomach just thinking about them now.  This year is a year for discipline and action.   The month of JANUARY, how I start, has great significance in how the rest of my year will go and completing these wonderful challenges.  With clear and measureable goals, I know that when I look back on 2017 at the end of the year, I will have much to celebrate.

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As I post my “Live, Enjoy, Act, and Pray ACTIVELY” reminder now on the bulletin board in my prayer corner, I am praying for you.

Regardless of how you choose to challenge yourself to grow this year, I hope that you will be inspired to be an original.  If you are reading this sentence, I am praying for YOU.  May the LORD give you fresh encouragement and motivation in your pursuit of Him (seeking God and prioritizing your relationship with Him above all else).  May the Holy Spirit give you practical insight in how to keep it real, unique, alive, and your own!

L.E.A.P. – thankfully (November 29)

“Give thanks to the LORD for He is good…”  Psalm 107:1

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“In everything (in all circumstances) give thanks; for this is the will of God…”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

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THANKFULLY.

It’s one of the first words I chose for my L.E.A.P.-Year.  I’ve been anticipating this word, this month.  (And, if you’re an American, you’ve probably have had “giving thanks” cross your mind with the celebration of “Thanks-giving”,… and maybe you’ve already moved on.) 

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I intentionally chose to L.E.A.P. (to focus on living, enjoying, adding, and praying) THANKFULLY this month, rather than starting on October 29 which would overlap the traditional American holiday, for several reasons:

  1. It seems more personal when it’s not the popular/cultural thing to do.  —  I wonder if God feels about our giving thanks for one day (or one month, in November) like I feel about getting roses in February on Valentine’s Day.  I sure appreciate the gesture, but it’s even more special when Handsome brings me flowers other times of the year, when I know it’s not at the prompting of the culture, advertisers, and businesses that are looking for monetary profit.  — I want to tell God “Thank You!” and “I love You!” now, when the fall decorations all all put away, just because I am thankful for all He has done for me and I love Him, not because “it’s that time of year”.  (And, honestly, sometimes Thanksgiving takes me by surprise.  How can it already be November!?!  So, this year, Thanksgiving is just the start of the “giving thanks” season.)
  2.  I want a thankful heart especially this month. — This is the time of year when materialism and consumerism goes into hyper-drive.  Black Friday creeps into Thanksgiving-Thursday, and before the turkey leftovers are in the Tupperware and chilling in the fridge, the shoppers are warming up their engines for their race through the stores. — But, for most of us, this is the time of year when the simple things, the spiritual things, the relational things (not so much the physical things) means more to us!  — Many of us can honestly say, I don’t NEED anything, and the “things” I WANT aren’t “things” at all.  Still, it’s easy to forget, to be preoccupied and distracted and lured into the consuming tidal wave of “MORE”!!!  — I want to appreciate the physical “things”:  trees, lights, music…  but to treasure the more precious “things”:  people, memories, Advent, hope, joy, peace, worship, the presence of God in my heart and in my home…
  3. I have a lot to be thankful for at this time of year. —  As I come to the end of the physical year, and enter the season of reflection, of writing letters, flipping through family calendars and prayer calendars, skimming through journals… asking, “What have we done?  What have I learned? What were my goals?  What are my dreams?”  … I find great material to prompt thanks-giving!

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In the past, I have made long lists of 1,000 gifts and more, but this month, I am going to make several very specific lists of 29 things I am thankful for…

#1 – the 29 things (not people) that I am most thankful for…

  1. the Bible
  2. prayer
  3. freedom

#2 – the 29 people who have meant the most to me over my life…

  1. Handsome, my wonderful husband
  2. my dad
  3. my mom

#3  – 29 daily “just for me” special gifts from my Heavenly Father

  1. a Charlie-Brown tree – God planted it on our land in a particular place so that Handsome would say, “It needs to go.”   Then, he and Little One cut down and carried it home just for me.

and #4 –  29 bites of “daily bread”; each a specific and timely word from the LORD

  1. “… for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

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Why don’t you choose a special way to say “Thank You” to the LORD this month?   You could make a “Thank You – list” or two, or maybe you could be creative and come up with something totally unique, something just between you and Him.

Predetermine how you will L.E.A.P. this month…

  • Live THANKFULLY
  • Enjoy THANKFULLY
  • Add THANKFULLY
  • Pray THANKFULLY

Seek the LORD.  Find His will for you this month.  Then, share what you find and be a blessing over then next 29 days!

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I can’t think of anything He’d like more than your company.

12 Days to Pray - Christmas
12 Days to Pray – Christmas

If you’d like some specific and creative ideas to jump start your time alone with the LORD, check out the Pray 12 Days – Christmas Challenge?

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http://www.theseekingone.com/seeking-tools-challenges/retreats/1-1-1-1-prayer/

Or, check out some of the other L.E.A.P.-Year posts

Included in this LE.A.P.-Year Challenge (February to February), you’ll find prayer tools (notebooks, calendar, and journal ideas) and ideas to help you Seek the LORD 366 days a year.

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If you’re reading this sentence, I am praying for YOU!

L.E.A.P. – quietly (October 29)

Shhhhh…

Listen.

Do you hear it?

Me either.

Quiet.

Ya’ gotta’ get up awfully early to hear that around here.

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I got a good chuckle the other day when I looked up my word for the next month.

This next month will be anything by quiet.

My home will be filled with guests, beginning with the usual bustle of regular visitors, pop-in neighbors, kids playing, and sleep overs.  Then, in a couple weeks,my college roommate comes  with her family to visit.  (Between the two of us, we’ll have about a dozen kiddos ranging from preschool to high-school running around.   I can hardly wait!!!)  The month will end with my family from out of town arriving for Thanksgiving and hunting season.

I’m anticipating a month of entertaining with a house full of family and friends, with sleeping bags in the living room and late nights of board games, laughter, and the sound of memories being made.

Sounds more like a party month than a “quiet” month.

I love how the LORD times everything perfectly!

“Quietly.”  I know this is just the word I need.

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The title that came to mind that I ordered to read this month was Elizabeth Elliot’s Keep a Quiet Heart, along with the phrase from 1 Peter 3:4, speaking of true beauty, “…a gentle quiet spirit…”.

Quietness on the inside is not conditional on the decibel level outside.

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Living, Enjoying, Adding, Praying  … attentively, simply, quietly…  What a wonderful way to spend a L.E.A.P. year!  (I wonder if anyone has ever delighted in this quadrennial occasion as much as I have this year?!)

And this month, I do intend to L.E.A.P. quietly!

LIVE quietly – 1Thessalonians 4:11 “…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life…” (Sounds like an excellent goal for more than just a month or a year.)

ENJOY quietly -1Chronicles 4:40 “They went … to seek pasture… They found rich and good pasture, and the land was broad and quiet and peaceful…”  (Aaaah, another example of seeking and finding!  Ah, LORD, help me not just to seek quiet, but to enjoy quiet this month.)

ADD quietly –  Ecclesiastes 9:17  “The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.”  (If I have something to add, LORD, help me to do it quietly!)

PRAY quietly – 1 Timothy 2:2-3  “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”  (Especially timely for us in America this coming election month.  LORD, have mercy and allow us to lead quiet lives.) 

As I look back on the monthly themes of the year, I wish I could tell you the post-story of each; how ironically, yet perfectly, each fit with the Divine appointments on my calendar.  But, this is what all of life is meant to look like as we, child of God, live seeking and doing His will.  He knows all thing!  He controls all things!  He even allows those disturbances and disruptions that ultimately establish and strengthen our character, our faith, and our hope in His sovereignty and perfect love.

I don’t know what you’re facing as you anticipate this next month, and I’m only guessing at what lies before me. But, our Gracious Heavenly Father knows.  He planned the hope-filled future, that is still a mystery to us:  “all the days ordained for (you and me) were written in (His) book before one of them came to be”.  (Psalm 139:16, and see Jeremiah 29:11-13)

And, I’m confident, we’ll LIVE better, ENJOY more, ADD significantly, and PRAY more insightfully if we’re quiet, where we can hear that still small voice that whispers, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).

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Let’s remember that the LORD did not speak to Elijah in wind, earthquake, and fire (1 Kings 19), but rather in a “gentle whisper” (v.12).   —  So, let’s not be in a hurry or assume my Father has nothing to say when we find ourselves surrounded by clamor.  Let’s be calm and keep seeking, quietly waiting for the LORD to speak… and He will.

I intend to start my days quietly, to seek the LORD and to listen; to go through each day with a quiet heart, resting in the peace that passes understanding as I present my requests to God; and to end my days quietly, pausing and quieting my heart in His presence before closing my eyes to sleep in His watchful care.

I’m sure, at the end of the month, when all the guests have gone home, like in the tale of the old man whose house seemed small and loud who followed the strange advice to fill his house will all sorts of noisy animals only to remove them to find his house as it was before only quiet and spacious, my house will seem remarkably quiet.

But, I think the adverb “quietly” is meant for me in the midst of living this month… finding, making, treasuring, seeking the quiet heart, the quiet moments of stepping back to observe, or taking a brief walk alone outdoors with the LORD, or savoring a pillow-conversation with Handsome or a whispered private joke in the midst of a mob.

Especially with the Holiday season approaching, filled with busy, city sidewalks, shopping centers and grocery stores  with “…children laughing, people passing, …” and “shoppers rushing home with their treasures”,  I want to be quiet enough to take in the wonder with a receptive heart. “Above all the bustle” I want to hear and see, as if things were in slow-motion and I had super-senses to really take in the moment and hear the Great Narrator’s commentary on the scene.  I want to be undisturbed, all here, …quiet.

So wherever you find yourself this month:

  • squeezing through grocery-cart-traffic on isle 9
  • in a minivan loaded with preschoolers or talkative teens
  • on the floor in a sleeping bag at your in-laws
  • in a bedroom mediating between bickering siblings
  • on a subway overhearing a political conversation
  • or standing in line at the polls
  • out on your porch on a silent night when the first snow falls
  • or lying in bed wide-awake at 2 am for whatever reason

L.E.A.P quietly.

My Personal Challenge –

This month, my goal is to

  1. speak softer and with less words, thinking before I speak and pray
  2. breathe slower and deeper, not allowing any circumstance or fear to disturb the peace I know when I’m consciously trusting God and abiding in His presence
  3. create and guard my “quiet place”, uniquely indulging in the discipline of a “QUIET-time” each morning

Also, I’m collecting 29 new verses (and keeping my eye out for related quotes) about quietness/peace/rest/calm to adding to the small notebook I started a while back on this topic.   One verse to write out and mediate on for each day.

Here’s verse #1

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Like the months before, I can see the that the LORD has been preparing me for this theme.  The day before I looked up my word, the LORD put this verse on my heart to pray for a friend…

Exodus 14:14  (a pretty easy reference to remember – Why not memorize this one?)  “…you need only to be still, stay calm, keep silent, hold your peace, be quiet.”

Turns out this verse was really for me.  (or maybe even, for YOU?)


If you’re reading this, I am praying for YOU!  For those of you who subscribe, I often am even praying for you by name.  — Be encouraged friend.  Keep living, learning, seeking, and finding.  I pray that you will obey whatever the LORD impresses upon your heart today and that you thrill in the adventure of life with Him!  — Blessings to you today and all this month as you L.E.A.P. quietly.

As always, I am your praying friend and fellow Seeking One,

Deborah