I remember waking up and feeling this overwhelming heaviness.
“Happy Birthday! You’re thirty!” my husband smiled and shouted, excited for the day that lay ahead of us.
I walked out to the kitchen, made a cup of coffee, and looked out to see the boats crossing in the marina. I was at my favorite place with my favorite people, and life was far more generous than I deserved. Yet, I couldn’t shake this feeling I had.
I grabbed my headphones, turned on my worship playlist, and started on my favorite walking trail. As I walked past the bluest hydrangeas and Elevation worship played in my ears, I could feel my spirit settle down. As I started to unpack all the thoughts in my head, I realized that I had created quite the lofty expectations for myself upon reaching thirty years old. With previous birthdays, the expectations were less clear. But thirty? It felt different and monumental. The snowball had already started in my head and was gaining traction quickly.
“Should I have a kid by now?” (So many of my friends do.)
“If I would have committed to _____ sooner, I would be way farther along.”
“I wonder if I had done _____, would _____ be different?”
“Did I miss anything along the way?”
I was asking God all these questions, fully aware I was not giving Him space to speak nor myself the capacity to hear Him if He did.
Now, calm down. I know when hearing a thirty-year-old whine about their age, we all want to do a quick eye roll and move on, but hang with me here for a moment.
My overwhelmed and discouraged spirit had nothing to do with the age I was experiencing and everything to do with the picture I was painting in my mind. This new decade felt significant, and all the sudden, I was wondering, “Lord, do I measure up?”
Have you ever allowed your perspective to be distorted by the pace of those around you or assumed a story to be true based on social media or the expectations you didn’t realize you had until you were disappointed?
As Jesus’ firm and gentle hands held my heart, He reminded me, “Cleere, dear one, trust that I can get you wherever I want you to go. You aren’t behind. We aren’t behind. I am right on time.”
Unwavering peace started to flood my soul as my worry became dispersed like the waves I was passing along the shoreline.
The temporary dissatisfaction I was experiencing was because my eyes were on everyone else around me instead of the One who made me. He’s the only One who knows my soul, my purpose, and the unique path I will follow with Him.
Looking back, it is so easy to see how the enemy wanted me to stay inside my own head, throw a pity party, and live in that discouragement instead of focusing on what was right in front of me! He was using the false story I was writing in my head to weave a web of insecurity, uncertainty, and discouragement. He knew that if I stayed on that track, he could kick back, put his feet up, and I would do all the work for him.
But Jesus. He reminded me through His Word that the enemy was not going to have my mindset or my day. My joy was not up for grabs.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10 (NIV)
Jesus did not sacrifice, serve, and sanctify me so I can just “get by.” He wants me to have a full life, and He has already determined my inheritance. It is sure, good, and perfect, and gratitude and praise should encompass my life.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Psalm 16:5-6 (NIV)
So whether we’re thirty, forty, or eighty, whether we have seven children or are struggling to have them, whether we’re in the midst of suffering or feeling like we’re on top of a mountain, whether we’ve achieved all we’d hoped for or feel immensely behind, God sees us. He is big enough to get us where He wants us to go no matter how long it takes us to get there. His specialty is “all of the sudden.” His nature is being a miracle-worker. His grace is sufficient, and His strength sustains us all the way there.
Imagine if a word like joy or worship or release flowed through your life for seven days straight? What if you quit worrying about where you fall short and aspired instead to one simple truth per week for seven straight days?
Through 52 short, mind-renewing devotions in her new book, Focus: How One Word a Week Will Transform Your Life, Cleere challenges you to exactly this type of transformation. Each week, you’ll dig into one word and see the power, importance, and relevance of that word in Scripture. Don’t lose another day to distraction! Now is the time to focus and know that you are loved and significant, and with Jesus, you can change the world!
To celebrate the upcoming release of Focus by Cleere, we wanted to give FIVE of you a head start on reading it! Leave a comment with a word you’re focusing on this week, this month, or this year, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of the book.
Christina A Clos says
Krista Manning says
The word that the Lord has given me for this year is Abide. Wow! It’s been an amazing year where I’ve had to daily abide in Him and with Him and through job loss and stress, etc. This has changed my daily walk as I’ve learned to truly abide in Him.
Still, as in, even though/nevertheless
Virginia J Morgan says
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Erika Morris says
Beverly C Bohus says
Veronica Pinkard says
Andrea C says
Stefani Smith says
My personal word for this year is BLOOM, and our family word for this year is DARE (as in, dare to believe God). They’ve both been incredibly sustaining words in this intense season we all find ourselves in!
Tamayra English says
Trust That I might let go of the reins!
Ann Woleben says
My word for the year 2020 has been “abide.” In these times of uncertainty with COVID, fires, storms, and social unrest, it is easy to slip into despair or fearfulness. Having the word “abide” has helped to keep me centered on God ~ abiding in Him and trusting His plans.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Abide is one of my all-time favorite words. It encapsules what we need to be doing in Christ.
Presence. Staying in the present moment and giving my full attention to that moment:
Lenette Lindsey says
Sharnta Hall says
Shar Miller says
FAITH. Just lost my job after 13 years. Holding and praising, crying yet trusting.
Carol Ann Pennington says
Shar, I’ll be praying for you today. It is so easy for us to tell someone else to have faith, or to keep the faith. It’s quite another thing to hold on to that faith for ourselves. Losing a job is a great loss, and I am sorry for your loss!
Christine Fetrow says
in the Lord’s love for me…
Janice Watson says
Surrender…how I long to fully give my everything to God. I struggle daily with my self worth. I know He’s there with me, I just can’t feel Him. Please pray for me.
Praying now for you, Janice—focus on this verse to remind yourself you are forgiven when you ask God and your self worth is from Jesus. God has made you for a special purpose. Psalm 139:14 “I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”
Norma Bowers says
Remember: remember who He is, what He has done, what He has taught me and who I am because of that!
I could say more but it is enough to just say the word
Kia C. says
Don’t worry, Trust God has this!!!
Terri Jones says
Thank you for reminding me this morning that our God is big enough! That is all that matters today and everyday! Peace.
My word this year has been: humility
Tina Storms says
Love is my word as the hurt and anger seen in our news media and the world around us has impressed on me that I need to do all things with love, patience and a willingness to forgive.
Jill Feigenbutz says
Julie Moore says
Angie Schulze says
So true what you say about asking questions of God, but never staying still and quiet long enough to hear His answers. I’m working on this and I know in my heart He wants to speak to my questions. My word of late is “Diligence”. I’m in a season where I’m losing Focus and being diligent to stay the course is so important.
Patience. For all and in all things.
Laura Dieguez says
I have two, because this year has been a doozy… Trust and ultimately – Heal…
Sherri Hall says
Joan Moore says
Congratulations on the new book, it sounds awesome.
My word for this year is abide. I am trying to abide in Jesus alone and not on the things/people around me!
Contentment- it’s I’m just so hard in today’s world. We are always looking for something more and the next best thing.
Stability … seems laughable in the midst of such an unstable year, but I’ve told myself I will stay committed to my responsibilities and that I will stay here and grow roots even before COVID-19 hit. I am committing to this word in the midst of the current uncertainty for the rest of the year.
Comfort, knowing His presence is always getting us through everything.
Hope! I have needed the encouragement from God’s word that He is still in control and has me in His hands no matter how disappointing and challenging life has become.
Alert! Praying God will keep me alert to what He wants to teach me.
My word for this year was DELIGHT, but lately it seems I’m more focused on REST.
Michele Morin says
I’m focusing on the words “be still” this week and today’s emphasis reminded me to be still BEFORE I speak. Silence is often more articulate than a hurried word.
Jennifer Basanti says
Several words in 1 John have hit home this year – love, believe, overcome, know
Danita Jenae says
P.s. I loved the line, “My joy is not up for grabs.” I’ve been through so much heartache and so many trials. That’s something that I too am learning. Thank you for this, Cleere. And, Congratulations!!
Not fearful, God is with you!
Lori Emerson says
Heidi Roesli says
Bloom……. because I’m 65 on 9/11 . I thought at this stage of my life I was a botanical garden! No way. I am still a seedling planted in the fertile soil of God’s handiwork. And so I await.
Congrats Cleere on your book!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Cleere I have a post up on one of my Kitchen cupboards. It is says this. “CHRIST is the centre or our home a GUEST at every meal, a silent Listener to every conversation”. That is so true. Jesus know us he is guest were ever we are. The silent Listener to not only or conversation but or thought’s as well. He knows us better than anyone. As he chose when we be born who our parents would be. What part in the world we live in. What color of skin we have etc. God’s knows us better than we know ourselves. As he made the world we live in it you if read Genesis. It talks about God making the world and Adam and Eve. Yes he is big enough to get us were we want to go. Only if he Jesus thinks and knows it good for us. He will let us go there. We first have to Pray and seek his will in it. Listen to his Holy Spirit. See what Jesus through Prayer and his Word the Bible is saying. If Jesus says no. Then trust he knows best why he is saying no for our own good. We his Children might not like it. But like a Young child. Sometimes a Mother has to say no to their child for a good reason. At the time the child might not like the no from the Mother. But later on the Child will realise it was for their own good. Same with Jesus through the Holy Spirit saying no. But if said yes he will lead you there all the way. All you do is have to keep your eyes focused on Jesus. You will get there no matter how long it takes. Love today’s reading. Thank you for it Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx
Patty Wilson says
Thank you, Cleere
My word is trust. It is everything
Mary Worzel says
Crystal Wooten says
Thank you Cleere for this post it is so uplifting to me and I know God is in control of everything. Lord Bless you!
This spoke so strongly to me. I can relate! I am close to the big three-zero , no children ( have been trying for 5 years), and trying to just get by. This really helped me to calm down and quit the clutter of thinking so much that I can’t even hear what The Lord is trying to tell me. Thank you for sharing this. I really needed it today as I’m battling with so much on what to do. What step to take next.
Bridgette Spencer says
As opposed to survive.
Esther Reynolds says
My word has been acceptance.
Caroline Ward Oda says
Birdie Cutair says
My word is Joy. Rejoice always even in the midst of a prolonged hospital stay or during a pandemic.
Tammy McCullough says
Mary Hunnicutt says
The word that keeps coming up in my devotions and daily life is “still”…to be still. It is hard for me to just be still and listen for God, and it is something I am working on.
Linda R Johnson says
“Go.” Go to My Word. Go forward and write. Go for it.
Carol Ann Pennington says
Faith. I need faith to know that I can do this new job that I had put upon me at work. I didn’t ask for it, and really don’t want it, but it’s mine now.
Cheri Norris says
Communication is the word for me.
Candace Krestel says
Wendy R. says
Breathe – thank you!
Vanessa Liddle says
My word is faith ❤️
Myra Sicard says
Karen Visnosky says
I am trying to focus on gratitude! This book looks so good!
Since my husband left me 3 years ago, I have struggled with finding Joy.
Kassey Fender says
Nancy Ruegg says
“He is big enough to get us where He wants us to go no matter how long it takes us to get there. . .His grace is sufficient, and His strength sustains us all the way there.” Thank you for this, Cleere! Even at my stage of life–retirement–there is still more road to traverse, more purpose to fulfill. Praise God we can count on him to get us where He wants us to go, ALL the way there.
Valerie Yee says
Renee Etheridge says
Deborah Claypool says
I’m soon turning 60 and when I think about how large that number is I feel worried, anxious and just down right scared. While I am praying about this the word “overcome ” comes to me. So now I pray for strength to overcome this fear. 60 is just a number right??? Lol
Tatanisha Brown says
My word is Patience.
Theresa Boedeker says
Voice. To use my voice.
Britt Estabrooks says
Embrace… not escape.
The word I am truly trying to focus on this week is Faith.
Victoria Bowling says
I have 2 for this year. My 37 yr. old daughter died in Dec. 2019. So, the first one is TRUST even when you don’t understand. I don’t need all the answers. I just need Jesus. The second became, what is my PURPOSE in this season of life?
peace and trust; knowing that He is working even in the unknown
Present. Just being in the monet and not trying to always stay ahead of everything.
Georgiana Wentz says
The word that I am focusing on this year is, SURRENDER.
Mallory Slone says
A word I have been focusing on this year is “present”. I want to be fully present in my own life and when I’m surrounded by others. I want to block out the noise and remove the distractions of my phone and other things that get in the way and be fully present with those around me who I love!
Sarah S. says
Delight. My delight in Him and His delight in me.
Persevere…I am an essential worker in this time of Covid-19, thankful to still have my job. And working a second job. It was a choice between two words, Persevere or exhausted. I’m choosing the former
Mearla VanDenBerg says
You turned 30 are worry that you aren’t where you are suppose to be? Lol! I’m 65 and a widow and I’m wondering why I’m here! Thank you for this truth of encouragement! I’ve been focusing on joy for several weeks, now.
Krystal Killy says
Renew. Trying to renew my mind this year, and man, what a year that in itself needs renewed!
Melissa Jetmore says
Intention … to be intentional …. to live with this being a guiding thought everyday & in all things
& I’m grateful for your post!!
My word to focus on is intentional. There are things that I need to work on in many areas and I need to intentionally remain focused on doing and achieving them!
LORI LOWER says
Marcella Riley says
I have 2
Today – Lamentations 3:22-23
Every new day, reset(rest) in HIM!
Beth Williams says
I have reached more than half a century of living. I’m no where near where I thought I would be. At times I get frustrated looking back over how I did life & the mistakes I made. It can be frustrating to see others doing so much better than myself. That is when I go & write my thankful journal. Listing all items big, small or in between that God has blessed me with. Also put down the trials He has helped me through. Then I see how much better off I am than most people. My words for this year are focus & eternity. Focus on what I can accomplish this year. How much good can I do to/for how many people. Making sure God gets ALL the glory. Eternity is a big one for me now. I’m getting tired of this life & the mess we’ve all made of it. Civil unrest, pandemic, everyone doing what they please-it isn’t like it used to be back in the 50s-80s. I’m ready to go meet my Savior. Great post!!
Kelli Dionne says
Nelly Groenewold says
Trust (in God); Leave (it in His hands and don’t keep trying to take it back); Focus (on what He wants you to do and not keep flitting from one thing to the next and not getting anything done); Listen (be still and listen to what God is saying to me); overwhelmed (that feeling I so often have and am trying to work on with all the above words as well as many others. Thank you.
Cleere, thank you for this reminder! My word is grace. As in learning to enjoy grace. And relax into it vs striving.
Marcia Sandry says
Light! I want to be the light of the world to shine for Jesus.
Every January I ask the Lord to lead me to a word for the upcoming year..this year my word is FEARLESS. It is always such a gift to see how my word is woven throughout my story in that year and God always reveals something different than what I originally thought around my word. Thank you Cleere for such a wonderful blog post. I am looking forward to the release of Focus!
Camden Morgante says
Wendy M says
Peace—He has been teaching me over and over that HE is my peace, not that things/people around me are all peaceful. I’m learning that I can be at peace in the middle of chaos because HE is my peace.
My word for this season is “yet”. As it is an embodiment of the Hope and Strength God supplies in spite of current circumstances and conditions.
Mary Harker says
Word for the year is strong/courageous. Little did I know how appropriate it would be for 2020! Thankful for all He is teaching me this year and how He is helping me to be strong.
Elizabeth SA says
Letting go have been the words or theme of my year – Let go and let God Never easy but always necessary for me to work on, every single day of my life! I thank the Lord for your post Cleere, and everyone else for your comments. A blessing to hear you all share such powerful words that God is placing in your hearts! Things like this feed my faith