Updated: Jan 7
Some would say "good riddance" to this pandemic year of 2020. I'm settling for "farewell."
In many ways we're all ready to bring this crazy year to a close, hoping for a brighter year in 2021. I think it's helpful to reflect on what we've learned during this rather unique year.
My "word for the year" was OPEN. In a year in which our country literally SHUT DOWN and had a widespread closure of businesses and schools, the irony of my chosen word was not lost on me!
Remember back at the beginning of 2020? It seemed to break open with possibilities as we nudged into a new decade, twinkling with 20/20 vision.
My focus was on having OPEN EYES, an OPEN MIND, an OPEN HEART, and an OPEN DOOR.
In the brisk early days of January 2020, I sought out scriptures related to being OPEN in a variety of ways. I explored the various flavors of openness - - - being accessible, clear, uncovered, spacious, unblocked, etc. Many of these resonated deeply with me at the time as I was experiencing closure on the first year of grieving my Mom. Having trudged through all of the first anniversaries of loss, I was ready to shed some of the heaviness in my spirit and prepare to be more open and accessible to those around me.
One of my Christmas gifts even had the slogan, "Be Open."
The Lord works in mysterious ways and will give you these little God winks regarding your word throughout the year!
In a season of disruptive and unexpected closures happening weekly and sometimes daily, I'll admit it was a struggle to keep an open mind about where everything was headed.
I prayed for the Lord to open my eyes to the needs around me in different ways.
The increased time at home without other distractions opened up a bunch of creative ideas, figuring out how to reach others with kindness in a covid-safe way. It started simply with a Note of Kindness.
When we couldn't open up our door to others, we utilized our outdoor resources by hosting a food drive at #theturquoisetable for a senior living complex, blessing each of them with a handwritten #noteofkindness from neighbors and young friends.
When face masks were needed, we coordinated donations of sewing supplies with servant-hearted seamstresses that became an assembly line of face mask providers.
When we couldn't gather in person, we could gather in prayer. We opened up our hearts to pray fervently for our nation and our communities.
Some local Bible Quilters even made poster-sized Community Prayer pages to bless neighbors walking by.
Since I couldn't open up my door to host #biblequilting sessions in person, I had to be open to other possibilities. I'd been reluctant to do any video/online sessions, but ZOOM gave us the opportunity to gather in a virtual format, erasing state lines and physical boundaries between us. What a sweet blessing it's been to get to know Bible Quilters in other states who typically wouldn't be able to come to my craft room anyway! These long-distance #biblequiltingfriends have become a treasured part of the BQ community. I've appreciated their support and encouragement as we've navigated through new technology.
Would I have gotten into virtual BQ sessions anyway? Maybe, yet the isolation and need for connection during the pandemic certainly motivated me to open up to this interactive format a lot quicker than I would have done on my own and forced me to figure out youtube along the way.
Gosh, it was so nice to see these smiling faces and see what these precious girls were creating in their BQ journals!
In a world that was upside down with restrictions and tangled up with social strife, the Word of God was our constant.
In a time of extreme isolation, the Lord comforted us as we created with His scriptures. Over and over again I saw messages of hope posted on social media...
"fear not, for I am WITH you"
The pandemic hurled us into a whirlwind of Uncertainty. Yet God never changed.
We were not alone then. We are not alone now. The Lord is always there with open arms to soothe the aches of our weary souls.
Each of us is engraved on the palm of His hands, uniquely seen and steadfastly loved. We CAN do hard things because He holds us close. Always.
Of all the challenges and losses experienced during 2020, perhaps the greatest reminder was to hold things loosely...to have an OPEN HAND in our daily lives.
OPEN hands are generous to give.
OPEN hands are willing to receive.
OPEN hands are ready to hold each others' burdens.
OPEN hands are submissive to the Lord's will.
OPEN hands are receptive to unexpected blessings.
OPEN hands are available to comfort others.
OPEN hands are ready to serve.
OPEN hands can be raised easily to wave to friend or neighbor from afar.
OPEN hands are easily grasped in prayer and squeezed in love.
So, once again, this process of focusing on #onelittleword yielded much more than I thought it would at the beginning of the year.
My #biblequiltjournal page looks different at the end of the year than it did at the start.
I hope my heart has been stretched and my eyes have gained fresh perspectives as I try to maintain this openness to the Lord's work in my life. I hope my mind has been opened to the racial strife in our country, so my prayers can focus on unity. I sincerely hope we surge forward in health so I can open my doors once again to the hospitality in which we're called to be in community with one another.
That song "Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Jesus" keeps encouraging me to look for the Jesus moments that arise before us each day and strive for a 20/20 focus on making the most of those opportunities He opens wide for us.
What will YOUR word or focus be for this new year?
I pray for us to be open to what the Lord has in store for each of us.
~ ~ ~ Happy NEW Year, friends!! ~ ~ ~
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