This is my first blog post of 2016, so I’d like to say Happy New Year to all my readers! I love the new year. It feels like a fresh start even though it’s just another day in sequence. There are plenty of people who dislike New Year’s resolutions and even people to resolve to stop making them, but I like them. The cynics say that no one keeps them, that no one ever really changes, but I still think it’s great when people take a look at their lives, see areas they’d like to change, and try. Resolutions are hope–hope for a better year, hope for a better version of ourselves, hope to make progress as humans. And you know I’m all about hope.

My New Year’s resolutions are often similar.  The specifics change from year to year, but they revolve around spending more time on important things and less time on unimportant things. When I was younger, I had specific goals and expectations I would lay out for myself. As I’ve gotten older I’ve focused more on the spirit of the resolution rather than trying to meet some quota or follow a strict schedule, and that has helped me see more progress and made me less likely to abandon my efforts. I’ve also learned to set a small number of reasonable goals.

This year, I made some traditional resolutions. Then I was introduced to the notion of choosing a focus word for the calendar year. I first heard about focus words from my sister who learned about it during a spiritual retreat program she was completing. I later read about it again on a blog I follow called CF Wife. A focus word is one word or a phrase that you choose for the year and use as a theme rather making a resolution. It was perfect timing for me, because there was an idea I kept circling that didn’t lend itself to a traditional goal. The year 2015 was a difficult year for me. I weathered some bad illnesses, lost lung function, and experienced some ups, downs and disappointments. It was a year in which I often felt tempest-tossed, both in body and soul. As the year drew to an end, I felt a longing within myself to be more grounded–to be unwavering and sure no matter what came my way. I want to be hopeful, joyful, and have peace during the highs and especially during the lows.

From these musings, God whispered a word to me. The word is steadfast. That is my focus word for 2016. Steadfast means all those things I mentioned above–grounded, unwavering, and sure. One of my favorite Bible verses from Isaiah uses the word steadfast.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. ~Isaiah 26:3 NIV

Another translation of the same verse provides what I think to be another excellent definition of the word. It reads:

You will keep her in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because she trusts in you. ~Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

Steadfast–a mind and heart stayed, or fixed on God, unwavering because of a deep trust in Him. That is what I want for myself this year. That is what I’m asking for, that God will steady my heart and help me to trust Him.  That He will give me peace, hope, and joy no matter what comes. No matter how many lows, how many highs, and how much bouncing in between. No matter what victories or what disappointments. I want be steadfast in my belief that God holds me and my life securely in His loving hands, and that I can trust Him with the particulars.

This is my prayer for 2016:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. ~Psalm 51:10

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The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. ~I Peter 5:10