One of my favorite sounds in all the world is the sound of water traveling over pebbles in a creek bed in the quiet hush of early winter. I may be walking with only the rustle of foliage underfoot on a trail to keep me company and the occasional songbird calling out to its friend. But when I happen upon a creek, I always feel a peaceful feeling drawing me near, and I can’t help but smile, as if I found a treasure all to myself. I love standing beside the sound of fresh water moving, seeing sunlight glimmering on the wet rocks with each turn it takes, carving a path forward. I imagine myself like a leaf cast downstream, carried by the energy of something wild and free.
This is how I am feeling, as I write to you as the year draws to a close for all of us. I am longing to find something beautiful, wild, and free within me, and I’m wondering if you’re also looking for something similar within yourself in the new year too?
The pebbles are like memories and events that have happened to me along my journey and the water is like the Holy Spirit – God’s presence touching my heart with His presence. I love reflecting on what God may be bringing to my attention. As I walk, journal, or stop to admire something out in nature, I wonder where He may be guiding me to go.
As I look back on the last ten years, I gave birth to a baby boy, suffered my first panic attack, suffered and healed from severe anxiety and emotional PTSD from childhood trauma – and I wrote two books about it all, painful memories I never thought God would ever have any use for.
But God takes the moments we’ve put to the side and He says, I see you. What no one wants, I value and find beautiful. I cherish you.
It’s a very important month for me because I turned forty-nine! So, not only are we all stepping into a new decade together in 2020, I’m also stepping into my personal jubilee year, the Old Testament celebration of rest, personal liberty, letting go of debts, and what we might call the simple life. Jubilee was celebrated at the end of seven cycles of sabbatical years, where God’s people were invited to leave the land fallow and rest. Jubilee is a special reminder to live free from burdens because God takes care of us.
It inspires all of us, whether we’re in college, a young mom, working, single, or married, to know that you are worth loving.
We’re all on the same journey, after all. We all long to be more of who God created us to be, to be God’s beloved. We all long to live free, let go more of what’s heavy, so we can embrace what really matters.
So I’ve been asking, “God, how can I live more fully and freely as Your beloved? What are the life lessons You’ve carried me through during the ‘fallow’ chapters of my life? What gives me rest, what debts (emotional) do I need to let go of, and how can I live simply and strive less?”
How about you? What kind of year are you longing for? What are the memories, events, and life lessons where God has encouraged you through the lean years?
As we approach the new year, it’s easy to start stressing and striving because of new year’s resolutions and uncertainty. Take a moment right now to rest at your proverbial quiet waters with Jesus beside you, away from noisy expectations, critical voices, or pressures of the world.
You may feel as I do, not knowing what lies ahead, not knowing which way to go, needing to hear God’s voice. Hear God tenderly whisper to you:
For I, the Lord your God, I am holding you by the right hand;
I tell you, ”Do not be afraid, I will help you.”
Isaiah 41:13-2 (NASB)
As you read this, I’ll be on a post-Christmas vacation with Eric and our two boys to spend time out in nature to enjoy God’s beauty. It’s a tradition I started in my twenties when I was single — a personal retreat that has continued now with our little family. It’s a time to reflect and give God space to touch my heart.
So, take some time, friend. Stand beside the still waters of your soul, journal some words to your loving Savior, or simply let Jesus tenderly hold you close, as He whispers, I love you.
The kind of year I am longing for? It’s one where I am free to be the real me, walking with Jesus and leaning closely to His heartbeat, resting to hear His loving words to me this jubilee year.
How does it make you feel to know God is holding you?
What is God freeing your heart to do, as He whispers, “I will help you”?
Join my newsletter in 2020, as I share my life lessons as God’s beloved in the new year to encourage you! I’ll also be teaching “How to Study the Bible to Hear God Personally”. Just sign up here for my Weekly Beloved Wellness Newsletter, and you’re all set!,
Simply let Jesus tenderly hold you close, as He whispers, I love you. #newyear #newdecade -@thebonniegray: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bomi Jolly - JollyNotes.com says
Happy 49th birthday, Bonnie!:) Congrats on entering your personal year of Jubilee!:)
I love how you tied everything together! These thoughts of rest, personal liberty, letting go of debts, and *the simple life* are things that a dear friend and I have pondered on quite a lot, especially in recent times. Interestingly enough, “49” is just around the corner for her as well, so I think she will find this post very interesting too. I can’t wait to share it with her:)
2020 is definitely a very special year for me as well, on so many levels. I am so excited to see what God has in store! Looking forward to this new chapter of my life as I by God’s grace experience peaceful rest, healing, God’s peace, God’s presence, and YES… the simple life… Amen to that!:)
Thanks for sharing, Bonnie! May God’s blessings and peace be with you in your Jubilee year and beyond:)
Bonnie Gray says
Thank you for sharing this post with your friend! I hope it will lift her heart and feel inspired for the new year!What a sweet friend you are – as God brings her to your heart! I love hearing what you’re looking forward to in 2020, Bomi. May God’s loving whispers of rest guide you into the new year!
I must confess that I am over 49 but seem to have hit my jubilee year this year. After having burnout more than 3 times in my career of 22 years, I decided no matter the professional consequences, I needed to let my “ground” rest. So, 5 months later, I see more clearly what rest is about. Wow. What a change to take time to Listen, Study, Reflect, and do the work of figuring out at my tender age of 53 what I REALLY was created to do. I found I was trying to be two incredible people (both my parents) but not ME. Rest has helped me figure out who that is. And we were blessed enough to not worry about money in this time. I am excited about 2020 as I return to work at a less hectic pace, leaving time for my eternal legacy work, family, and loving people. God is so good!
Bonnie Gray says
Jubilee is a celebration for any season in life we feel God’s invitation to rest and embrace a new freedom of living as God’s beloved! 🙂 I’m excited for your new year and how your journey has shaped your newfound sense of joy and excitement – I can only imagine how people at work and your life will be touched by the discoveries you have made! thanks for sharing, Jenny!
Happy Birthday Bonnie. This was right on time for me and what I’m longing for in the next upcoming year is to walk in healing to walk in my God given purpose. To let go of everything that so easily be set me ..no matter who or what it may be . I just turned 30 a month ago and so far God has shown me so much even… When. It comes down to writing my personal statement for law school … Like my purpose finally hit me and I was able to just sit and write and it just flowed. I was able to hear God’s voice so clearly. For the first 40 days of the year I’m going back over whisper of rest I’m excited to see what God has in store for me . Happy New Year Bonnie
Bonnie Gray says
Thanks, Sharray! I love meeting you on this journey of faith – so many amazing stories of how God is speaking to each of us uniquely in our own jourmeys – but we find we’re sisters and kindred spirits! Love hearing your stories & having you on this jourmey together, friend!
Happy Birthday Bonnie!
What I’m looking forward to In this upcoming year is to walk in my total healing and God given purpose. To let go of everything and everyone that I’m holding on to that’s holding me back from walking into what God has for me .. Everything that so easily be sets me.. I’m letting Go of This blog was right on time for me. I just turned 30 a month ago and God has shown me so much. Yesterday I sat down to write my personal statement for Law school and I was blown away at how easy it was.. I had been dreading it for sometime now ..I felt like I had nothing to rewrite..I was wrong and in it my purpose was revealed.. So I’m excited about this next coming year. I’m also going to red the devotional and I’m excited to see where God takes me.
Have a wonderful Birthday ..I pray this year with your family is like no other. I pray that all you have given be restored. I pray God refreshes your creativity and the beautiful gift you have to continue to serve in the kingdom .. Blessing , Health and Prosperity.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Happy Jubilee year! When I read your words and your/God’s invitation to live free of burdens, my heart and body just breathed a resounding, “Yes.” This has been the first year in seven without a major surgery and it’s been seven years since my divorce from a verbal and emotional abuser. The number seven speaks of completion and I have a sense of needing to put the fallow years behind me and just be open to revel in whatever God brings my way. My soul craves rest and simplicity and I intend to heed God’s leading and live the year I’m longing for, in His strength and power. Beautiful!
Mary Ellen says
Thank you for your beautiful words and encouragement. I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store for 2020.
Blessings to you and your family.
Bonnie Gray says
Thanks, Mary Ellen! I’m so happy the words spoke to you too! Hope we can journey together in 2020, I’ll be sharing more through my newsletter! Blessings to you too!
Happy Birthday Bonnie. I turned 49 in August and I didn’t look it the same and I missed that from the scriptures. So I have declared from this day on my Year of Jubilee!! Off to read about it and pray about it. I am excited to sit with Jesus.
Bonnie Gray says
Happy birthday to you too, Marlene!! So neat – kindred spirits! I hope you’ll enjoy and get inspired by how special this year is for us!! 🙂 xo hope you can join my newsletter as I share from my journey and I can hear of yours!
Janet Williams says
Thank you Bonnie. I feel completely peaceful. I can hear the water, feel the breeze of the trees and I’m full of God’s love. The past few days/weeks have not had the same restful feelings. My husband and I are heading back to CA after realizing our “fast and furious” “great idea” to move to Utah 2 yrs ago has “crashed and burned”. We left everything! Our friends, family and most of all our beloved church in Long Beach The Well. Yes, it was financially a good idea. Yes we have a wonderful neighborhood. Yes, we’ve taken and shared amazing and breathe taking adventures and had the opportunity to share a beautiful large home we would have never afforded in CA. But my husband’s business struggled like never before. We didn’t “love” our new church. The pastor though stable was not our beloved Pastor Alvin. We’ve met people we call friends, but not “family”. It’s not home. So, as God whispers I love you. As He reassures us both “He’s got this” As He reminds us to Let Go and Let Him lead. I feel peaceful. It will probably change tomorrow as I take everything back and tighten my grip…lol, but He’s got this and He will indeed help. Bonnie enjoy nature. Happy New to all. P.S I’d love some extra prayers of wisdom
Bonnie Gray says
I am so happy you felt brought to the still waters in your soul! I absolutely love writing and sharing about that moment in hopes it would bring you there too! Thanks for sharing your return to California — it’s so courgeous to go where God’s calling you and your husband to go – and love how you’re honest and brave to make this decision. God is with you on this journey and I’m proud of you from one sister in Christ to another! I hope you’ll join me on my journey into the new year and join my newsletter, friend! #kindredspirits
Kathy Cheek ~ First Breath of Morning says
Bonnie, great words for the new year! Thank you for your testimony of enduring through it all and seeing God’s blessings through the years.
I love new beginnings as the calendar turns to 2020…I wrote a little post called Endure for an encouraging New Year’s message.
Bonnie Gray says
Blessings to you as you pour out your words to bless others, Kathy! I hope you’ll join me on my journey into the new year and join my newsletter, friend! #kindredspirits
Becky Keife says
Bonnie, I know exactly the feeling you describe when coming upon a brook or stream! God is so good to give us moments of delight, peace, and quiet reflection. I’m grateful for your words today. xx
Beth Williams says
This so resonated with me. I spent the last 12 years dealing with aging parents off & on. Running to hospitals, hospice, dementia, etc. This past Thanksgiving week my FIL passed away from stage III bladder cancer, bladder infection & a bilateral stroke. This month has been hard on the family. I am craving simplicity also. Just want to live life without “fear or dread” of what’s next. Who’s going to hospital or which doctor are we seeing? Craving much calm & peace. Hubby & I need this as we both have stressful jobs in hospitals -me ICU Step Down clerical-him CT Tech. My fallow years are behind me hopefully. Now I can concentrate on being with Jesus & showing His love to those around me. Looking forward to a fresh new start in new decade. Can’t wait to see what a loving God has in store for me this year!
Happy Jubilee year. Loved your book “Whispers of Rest”.
Christmas Blessings 🙂
Thank you, Bonnie. You have such a beautiful way of calming my spirit. This post is everything I wish I could put into words. Here’s to a cherished jubilee year.
Happy Birthday, Bonnie and thank you! What you said resonated with me—I’m seeking what God wants for me now and I want to be freer! Anyway, Thank you for your ministry, and may God bless you and your family in special ways in the new year.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Happy Birthday for Yesterday. Can you please pass a message on to me for Patrica Raybon. Tell her. That her book Undivided has reached Enniskillen in Co.Fermanagh Northern Ireland. I just love the trustfulness of the story between Patricia and her Daughter Alana in the book. Plus the Love a Mother has for her Daughter. Well I have no kids. But I just love how they camw to peace. Will you tell Patricia I am praying for her and her Daughter. I but what comes to mind even though I have no kids of mt own. I am saved. I love the book. I am glad they came to peace. I am praying the Alana sees the light and comes back to Jesus. What I was going to say. It like any Mother. I see it this way. You gave birth to your Child. Even if they came up to you said as Christian parent. They where Gay. You are not going to suddenly stop loving them. They are you child. Yes you know what they are doing is wrong. But all the talking and telling them at that time. Is not going to change their minds. You have to say well I not going to disown them. They have not got Cancer. Tell them I don’t agree with the life style they have choose to live. I will continue to pray for them. Give them a big hug. Tell them they are welcome if not living at home anymore. At home anytime. If you meet the other half. Be nice. Pray for them that they also see the light. That they can live together but not be gay. Don’t have any rows with them. As you get no were. Just love them like Jesus would. Leave them in Jesus hands. Let them know you are praying for them. Jesus would be proud of you for this. Jesus Patricia Raybon is proud of you for writting this book. You still have one beautiful Daughter. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little. Xxxx
nancy grooms says
Happy 49th Bonnie.I just love the wisdom you have.I enjoy it so much.Thank you for your time.
nancy grooms says
Thank you Bonnie.This is going to be so interesting.God BLess!!!
Happy Birthday!! This was a wonderful post and I needed to read this today. Yes, wild and free!! Be so wonderfully blessed this New Year and every year thereafter, Bonnie.
Happy Birthday dear friend! My 49th is in January. I am longing for …. so much my heart can not express it in words. So much hurt, healing, stress, and joy has happened this last year. I long for …. to be beloved.