“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ
and I have done nothing to earn or deserve it.”
Brennan Manning

It is once again the end of a year, and as we get ready for the next, there always seems to be the inherent introspection. There may be anticipation, maybe regret, anxiety, or hopefully, gratitude, as many are looking back, as well as forward. At best, there is a sense of hope.

One thing I do every November/December is listen for what the Lord might be saying to me as I enter into the New Year. While it is often just a whisper, and often unclear, it’s a starting point and posture that helps me enter the year. This year as I prayed, the word that I felt the Lord start to speak is: “deeper.” Deeper into what? Calling? I wasn’t sure, but knew He was giving an invitation to something.

Now, I enjoy reflection, and I like goals. I like blasting into the New Year with energy and hope, ready to give it my best elbow grease. However, as the last month of the year unfolded for me and my family, there were difficulties beyond anyone’s control: a death in the family, and some other major events that caused changes in plans (to name a couple of things). These things seemed to stop any momentum I had.

Perhaps, in a good way.

At least, it was in a necessary way.

It made me have to stop, and continue to listen. I have plenty of questions for God, about many things. But now the sense that I have from Him is an invitation to be still. As I sat with this word of “deeper,” I recalled the beginning of one of my favorite blessings (a Franciscan blessing), that says,

May God bless you with discomfort,
At easy answers, half-truths,
And superficial relationships
So that you may live
Deep within your heart.

It seems that in the process of becoming still and laying down expectations for the New Year, the Lord has replaced those plans that I previously had with the grace of longing: the longing for living deeply in the New Year. It looks like clearing the calendar, but it feels like an invitation to experience the present moment more: experiencing Christ’s Immanuel (God with us) presence with attention and intention.

Here are some of my observations and desires regarding this as I enter the New Year:


I’ve noticed how my daughters are growing so fast. Having fun, being kids, making messes, arguing, laughing, having meltdowns as well as showing sweet affection. It’s interesting: I’ve never spoken to (or heard of) anyone on their deathbed who said, “Gee, I wish I didn’t spend so much time with my kids.” Living deeply with my family means spending time together – having important conversations, having tickle wars, doing crafts, bedtime routines and praying together. Living life.


In a social media saturated society, it’s important to remember that ‘Facebook friend,’ and ‘Instagram follower’ does not equal friend. Digital interaction is not the same as analog, flesh and blood conversation and connection. I’m not anti-social media (though sometimes I feel that way), I’m just saying we should (I should) not take that form of connection so seriously. I’d rather just talk to people directly, and learn to be present. That’s how real relationship is formed. That’s where empathy, forgiveness, and real support happens. I’m happily becoming more and more uncomfortable with social media, as I’ve experienced more of a desire to reach out to friends in more tangible ways.

Returning again (and again) [and again] to simplicity

Simply On Mission is the name of this space, and while I’ve been active in non-profit work and have a longing for ‘mission’ and justice, even more foundational to me has been a longing for simplicity. In a world of complexity and overindulgence, as well as minimalism, I always come back to the tension of just wanting my life to be about one thing: Jesus. Practically, this carries implications in my relationship to ‘stuff,’ but under-the-hood, the engine that runs this thing needs to be Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The simplicity of living in the message:

“This is what real love is: It is not our love for God; it is God’s love for us. He sent his Son to die in our place to take away our sins.” 1 John 4:10

And letting that be my deepest awareness (and most important thing) as I live deeply in this season. That means that I can come to Him as I am: broken, full of questions, longing, but thankful and confident in His extravagant, crazy love for me.

So, regardless of your resolutions, S.M.A.R.T. goals, and hopes, I invite you also to simplicity. Live deeply in your relationships – especially your relationship with God. Pursue a simplicity of stopping, of listening, of remembering real love, and how your value and loveable-ness does not depend on what you do or don’t do, but rather it’s based on Who God is and what He’s done, and is still doing, as He pursues you with His love – even now as you read these words.

May God bless you with discomfort,
At easy answers, half-truths,
And superficial relationships
So that you may live
Deep within your heart. Amen.