What impacted me the most in 2023?
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This piece is AI-free. These words are my creation minus the mechanics of artificial intelligence. You are welcome here!
As I sat down to write this milestone post I felt the need to pause and reflect. You’ll see posts like this often at the year-end or new year. I did not want to write this simply because everyone was doing it.
What did I learn? How did I grow? Where have I been? Where am I going?
Often, a milestone post will address questions like the ones above. I considered making these questions the primary focus of this newsletter edition. Then, I realized I did not know the answers—or at least not to the extent that I could adequately share much helpful information.1
Did I learn anything this past year?
Absolutely, and as a reader, you have already heard most of it. Readers of ‘While I Ponder with Karlene’ know that most of my writing comes from what God is teaching me. So…to be continued in 2024.
Have I grown over the past year?
I hope so. Most days, I pray the following words from the Prayer of St. Augustine. Yes, it is a big ask! Only with the Spirit’s help may I hope to grow in holiness. Feel free to borrow this prayer for yourself as we begin another year.
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may be all holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.
Have I been anywhere worth sharing about?
Last summer, we spent ten amazing days on vacation with our adult kids and four grandsons (ages 1.5-11). We stayed together in a house close to the beach. We went on a week-long Caribbean cruise. We made havoc in restaurants and airports and on airplanes. It was some of the best memory-making we have done to date.2
Where am I going this year?
Physically, I do not have plans to travel anytime soon, though we keep saying we’ve got to see Queen Esther at Sight and Sound. Spiritually, I want to keep digging deep into God’s Word. It is the best kind of journey, and I have never been disappointed in the time spent in His Word.
What impacted me the most in 2023?
Over the past year, I’ve shared about my journey to read through the Bible. With the Lord’s help, friend, I did it! This preacher’s kid who has spent her entire life in church yet had never completed an annual reading plan—she has finally done it! This is what impacted me the most in 2023.
While I am rejoicing at what the Lord helped me to accomplish, I am not suggesting this is something everyone MUST do. Now that I have done it, though, I strongly encourage you to try it at least once.
Reading the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation has been a game-changer for me. I have been a student of the Word for decades and have two university degrees in Christian ministry. Still, reading the Bible from cover to cover has impacted me—for life.3
If you need a recommendation, I love this One Year Chronological Bible. It’s nice to have the reading schedule built right in—no need to consult a secondary source to keep you on track. The edition linked is economically priced and for those who need it (me), this Bible is in large print.
So, this is my stab at a milestone post. In reflecting on the past year, I am thankful for learning and growing more and more. I am grateful for the special times with my family. And I’m looking forward to journeying deeper into Scripture—it’s sure to provide hope and endurance for the coming year.
One more recommendation, friend. If you have not done so, take time to pause and reflect. Give thanks for what the Lord has done. Turn over your needs and dreams to Him. Ask Him to lead and guide you in the days ahead. Lean into His Word and hold tight to His hand.
You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. Deuteronomy 30.20a
In the end I decided to share the thoughts that came to me in response to the questions, as inadequate as they may be.
If you’ve been here a while, you’ll remember I used to travel to faraway places for my work with a nonprofit Christian organization. Since the pandemic, I’ve chosen to remain closer to home. While I miss the people, I do not miss the demands and frustrations of 24-hour travel days to the other side of the world.
On reading through the Bible in a year, I could not wait to start over on January 1st!!