Creator God, thank you for creating me.
May you make something beautiful out of the messy times in my life.
May I discover freedom from my own expectations and cling only to you.
May I feel beautiful within myself - body and spirit.
May I meet you in these 40 days to come.
May you remind me you are always near.
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Happy New Year! Can I be honest with you? December was a challenging month for my health, and when you live with auto-immune disorders, the slightest shift can have a considerable impact. So, I was thrilled for the calendar to turn over and welcome a new year feeling better. And yesterday, I exercised for the first time in weeks (beyond walking this sweet dog of ours). Yay!
So yes, fresh starts are great, but you don't need to be an "all-new-you" overnight for this to be your best year. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
What if you have everything you need already? Even if you don't feel your best!
What if these bumps in the road help us lean into caring for ourselves best - body and soul? What if they help us figure out what matters most?
I am grateful that December allowed for some family time with our son home from college. I'm excited about the coming spring semester of serving in campus ministry. And I'm soooo close to submitting my next manuscript (wow, book 3!). And yes, I've been wearing this same green dress for 40 days and am excited for 60 more. Yep, I'm wearing this same dress for 100 days on purpose.
Why? Well, there are a few reasons if you'll let me explain.
But the main one is to Simplify my closet and my choices. I was winding down 2023 with Purpose (purpose was my guiding word last year) when I realized I was overwhelmed with the changes in my body this past year and the clutter in my closet. My word for 2024 found me - Simplify.
You may remember, I have participated in Dressember before - you wear a dress daily in December to raise awareness for human trafficking. I loved that journey and the cause! Then I had a friend complete a 100-day dress challenge with Wool&, and I was intrigued by the concept but didn't feel brave enough to consider it then. Their motto is to "live simply" because more stuff doesn't equal more happiness. Wow. Yes, that's true! I felt brave and signed up. Well, I've already discovered that merino wool is good for my soul!
Here's the scoop: If you wear a Wool& dress for 100 days in a row (and document it with photos), you get a $100 credit toward your next dress (and trust me, I am now hooked). Wool is temperature-regulating and anti-microbial, which has a bonus beyond hot flashes - less laundry. I also want to be a more conscious consumer, and this one forest green dress has already shifted so much about how I live. I am thrilled that my forest green dress carries me from a year of Purpose to a year of Simplify(ing). I didn't expect that wearing a dress could be a spiritual discipline.
I've had a guiding word each year for over a decade. It's a prayerful part of my Rule of Life that helps guide my year with intention. Whether or not you have a word, I hope you will pray and meditate on the year ahead for yourself.
And I'd love to do this together. Will you join me for Yoga & Prayer in our online community on Thursday, January 11, 2024, at 7 PM Central (it will also be recorded)?
The Peace Seekers Community (our online space where we connect) is super affordable (less than $5/month), and there's even an app! By joining us as a Peace Seeker, you make the Exploring Peace Meditations podcast financially possible. Yes, all the income from the community pays for the podcast's production, hosting, etc. And you get perks for being a member in our community - like this hour-long yoga class and access to my entire recorded yoga library.
Will you practice yoga with me and set your intentions with God for 2024?
Keep the podcast possible, and let's practice yoga and pray together in 2024 with intention. I probably won't wear my forest green dress for teaching yoga but I can't wait to be with you!
You have everything you need for 2024.
Why not claim that with intention?
Thanksgiving is almost here, and soon behind it are the first days of Advent, leading us quickly to Christmas! Amidst the joyous holiday preparations and the rush that seems to come, I always yearn for more intentional pauses and moments of rest to connect with what is most important. Let's be honest: the holidays are exhausting for everyone, and sometimes we lose sight of what is coming!
Recently, I was interviewed for this article, "Sabbath Rest Isn't Just for Sundays," and as we talked about rest, I was reminded how vital and elusive rest can be, especially as we move closer to Advent. Mostly, though, it is countercultural. But it does not have to be hard, even busy people can find rest, trust me. For more on that, I recommend you read the article and then the fantastic book by Tricia Hersey, "Rest is Resistance."
The rest I am talking about is not just about catching up on sleep or taking a break from the holiday frenzy. It's a deliberate act of self-care that nurtures our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. And it goes against the holiday calendar.
As I write in the pages of "Fully Human, Fully Divine," it is possible to slow down and savor the coming of Christ. But it is also a practice. It is true - we find true rest when we rest in God.
This short reflection is a simple reminder (and hopefully encouragement) that this holiday season does not have to be an exhausting flurry of activities. It can be a time of profound connection with those around you and your whole self as you savor the season.
Let's slow down together and savor the season's gifts as we rest in God's hope, peace, joy, and love. Rested is the way to await the Christ child!
I would love to accompany you along the way. You can download your 2023 Advent Calendar and find additional resources here: WhitneyRSimpson.com/Advent.
How will you find rest and savor what is to come?
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC