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Every year, I pick a word for the year to focus on.  I have done this for years.  It will be a word that I ask the Lord to give me that reflects upon the work He wants to do in my life.  This allows me to not only pray over the word, but to participate with the Holy Spirit by being intentional about working on what He wants me to work on that year.  Every year, I invite others to join me in picking their own word.  This year, my entire immediate family, as well as many of my extended family, have joined in by picking their special word.

I find that the more I work through the word, the deeper the layers are.  There seems to be no limit in what God will do with me in the area focus of the word; the only limitation is how much I am willing to spiritually engage on the area God desires to grow in my life. I also have learned that surrounding myself with brothers and sisters to hold me accountable to the word is critical.


This year’s word: OVERFLOW

Theme Verse:  John 10:10 ­­‑­ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (Overflow).  

Concept: To purse a holistically heathy life, which growth overflows to the point that it blesses others.


I find myself working through Mathew 13, The Parable of the Sower, to gain greater clarity on this word.  There is a farmer that spreads a generous amount of seeds over four types of soil: the hard path, rocky soil, soil that is full of thorn bushes, and deep rich soil.

There are two constants in this story: the farmer and the seed.  The farmer represents our generous God.  The farmer is not incompetent; he knows how to properly spread seed. He simply wants no soil to lack opportunity.  As for the seed, there was never a problem of “bad seed”. Instead, it’s a picture of God’s desire for everyone to have all that He has to offer. 

The only variable is the soil.  The soil represents souls.

Some soils are a hard path. They represent a resistant soul, never allowing the seed a chance to take root. In the story the seed becomes fair game so the birds snatch it up.  After all, why let a blessing go to waste. I have had seasons of my life where I just did not want to listen to God.  I am not proud of this, and I know I missed out on cool blessings from God.

Now some soils were shallow, with rock beneath.  This soul can get fired up after a good worship service, but is so resistant to change that no real transformation takes place. I have had seasons in my life where I knew how to get a spiritual high, but soon after, the reality of life scorched it away, because of the lack of depth to be able to endure hardship. I would soon find myself empty within.

There were also some soils that were filled with unhealthy thorny things. Here the soul plays a “Christian game” by pursuing God (God will never fail to bless pursuit of Him), but wants to also pursue the things of the world.  These are inwardly miserable people because the thorns always choke out the harvest. Jesus once taught that the soul can not have both God and the world.  Unfortunately, I have had seasons where I too played this game.

The good soil was rich in nutrients and deep enough for the roots to last.  Some of the soil produced 30 times, some produced 60 times and other soil produced 100 times the amount of seed that was originally spread by the farmer.  This really pleases God; these are souls that not only enjoy the blessing of being a Christ follower, but allow the blessing to grow to the point that it overflows with abundance.  How much it overflows is in direct correlation to the level that the soul allows God to be at work in their life. 

I believe that the difference from the hard path to soil that produces 100 times is the level to which souls practice spiritual disciplines in their lives.

While the end result of rich deep soil is always “joyful effectiveness” (a phrase lifted from my friend Steve Welling), the actual process of spiritual discipline has various phases.  Sometimes it is quite blissful, or is a hard discipline. It may involve risky change, or the need to endure hardship. There may be times of mundane consistency, or perhaps a need for endless patience or radical generosity. This is a list that could go on and on.

I am praying for, and agreeing to partner with God in, growing holistic overflow this year.  I realize that my health is not where it should and could be, so I will be changing some of my habits. I realize that while my spiritual life is technically fine, I should still pursue a deeper and richer spiritual life. While I have tools already to coach pastors and churches, I want an abundance that allows leaders to draw exactly what they need. While my emotional capacity is likely larger than some, I want to expand that capacity by knowing when to unplug and when to engage, allowing me to minister more effectively than ever.

I am praying for, and partnering with God on, a year of OVERFLOW 

While I have lots of things to blog about, I will post a thread of blogs that talk about my journey into overflow.  My prayer that even telling tails of my journey will be a source of blessing for others.


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Reader Comments (3)

Looking forward to hearing more about your journey in this coming year. Thank you, too for the spark to pick my own word and area of focus. Saying 'yes' to 2016!
January 3, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdebra
My word for 2016 is BLOOM. As I have been meditating on my word so far this month, God has shown me some things that you also might find interesting. :) As I was thinking about what it means to bloom, what it takes to bloom, it occurred to me that before anything blooms, it is a seed. This led me to look for verses about seeds, which led me to the parable you're discussing! Reading it, God showed me (in addition to the things you mentioned) that seeds need protection and tending. Protection from things that look to destroy it, tending to nurture and encourage growth. I've been asking....what new things is God trying to grow in me that I need to protect? How can I nourish these new things to provide them with the best environment in which to sprout and grow?

All of this led me to be curious about seeds. How do they sprout, what actually happens? I Googled it. :) Basically, seeds need water, warmth and air to germinate. Their shells soften, break open and the first thing to emerge is a tiny rootling, followed soon after by the first shoot. I also read that "many seeds require a resting stage before they are able to germinate". So much meaning in all of this....I need tending. I must be willing to rest. I must allow God to soften me and perhaps even break me open. I must be willing to trust God and not need to know everything. I must be rooted and nourished before I can grow upward.

Quotes and scriptures that have been meaningful in the past few weeks:
"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom" - Anais Nin

"Flowers don't worry about HOW they are going to bloom. They just open and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful." - Jim Carrey

"Those who are devoted to God will flourish like budding date palm trees, they will grow strong and tall like cedars in Lebanon. Those planted in the house of the eternal will thrive in the courts of our God. They will bear fruit into old age. Even in winter, they will be green and full of sap." Psalm 92: 12-14

"Now I am revealing new things to you. Things hidden and unknown to you. Created just now, this very moment. Of these things you have heard nothing until now, so that you cannot say, 'Oh yes, I knew that.' " Isaiah 48:6-7

"There is nothing wrong with making resolutions. However, they often aim so high without first cultivating the change of heart necessary to prepare space for those new possibilities to take root." - Christine Valters Paintner

So far, I feel that God is asking me to consider:
What can I consciously choose to nourish in my life that will "tend the seeds"?
What might I need to let go of to make space for new growth?
What "new things" do I feel a pull toward? What are the longings of my heart?

One of the things I am going to do is start my own blog - so I can also document my journey with BLOOM this year. I'll let you know when it's up and running. I am so looking forward to hearing about your year with OVERFLOW. <3 I love and miss you and your family so much.

January 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Lisenbee
Debra - Love your word. Transformation: When the pain of risk finally becomes less than the pain of change

Michelle - powerful stuff! You have given me lots to ponder over!!!!
January 9, 2016 | Registered CommenterBRUCE’S RAMBLINGS

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