Reflections and Reorientation


Before we close the chapter of our lives called “2013,” we want to take some time to reflect, to reorientate ourselves before we turn the page to 2014.  As a community this week, Velvet Ashes is taking part in a global movement called “One Word 365.”  You can read details here.  On Friday we’re all going to gather at The Grove to hear from One Word 365’s founder, Alece Ronzino, and then we’ll all share our own One Words.  Then next week we’ll be sharing “A Letter to Myself.” To help guide us in our personal reflections, Patty Stallings shares with us today….


One of the best things about where I live is that we have a long winter break in January. The second best thing is that my organization has an annual conference in a warm place during that break and we fit in a few days of down time on a beach as part of that trip. My annual ritual includes a new notebook, a favorite pen, and my list of questions in a quiet place to reflect and plan. My list of questions has evolved over the years, incorporating more of my personal values and belief system into what I want to ask myself. Today, I’m sharing my questions with you as a jumping off place for developing your own reflective tradition. I’ll be pondering mine in a couple weeks in a hammock between a couple palm trees.


What was my most fruitful endevour this year?

What am I glad I did even though the fruit is not yet evident?

What is the hardest thing I did in 2013?

And what did I learn from doing it?

Where did I make room for God to do what only He can do in 2013?

Where could I have used a bit more wisdom in 2013?

Who influenced me most in 2013?

Who did I most influence in 2013?

In what ways did I love well this year?

What did I bring to completion in 2013?

What’s still left undone from 2013?

What do I want to do about it?

If I could capture the essence of 2013 in one word, what would it be?

How did God weave my “focus Scripture” for 2013 into my experiences? (Maybe for you, dear reader, it’s your “one word” for the year)

What was the most significant thing I learned in 2013 that I want to carry into 2014?



At the end of 2014, what do I most want to be true about me?

How will I infuse more joy into 2014?

How is God inviting me to cooperate with Him in 2014?

To whom or what will I increase my commitment in 2014?

What relationship would I most like to improve in 2014?

How will I try to enrich someone else’s life this year?

What risk am I willing to take in 2014?

What undeveloped idea/dream/talent would I most like to explore in 2014?

What am I willing to invest effort and time in changing this year?

What aspect of God’s character would I like Him to mark my life with this year?

For some people, it’s helpful to think of these questions in categories such as relationships, work/service, stewardship, primary roles, creativity, health (spiritual, emotional, mental, intellectual, physical) In the comments, I invite you to share one or two of your favorite reflection or reorientation questions with us, or reflect on one of the above questions.

Happy New Year!


  1. Morielle December 30, 2013

    These are amazing questions! Can’t think of any to add. I will answer “What is the hardest thing I did in 2013?” but my answer will bleed into a few of the other questions.

    The hardest thing I did was trust and obey God with two big decisions, one regarding my career and the other my love life. I learned that the need for obedience is far from over once you make an irreversible action (like travelling out to a remote town in NW China, or saying No to a guy you have feelings for but know God doesn’t want you to date just now). Rather, obedience gets even harder AFTER you take that irreversible action. It was so hard to endure in my obedience. I had to be fully present where I was and open to hearing the voice of the Spirit. I had to constantly remind myself that even though it hurts to say No to your heart in order to say Yes to God’s will, the chance to do such a thing is an incredible privilege. And He has been so faithful in giving me the encouragement I need to endure in my obedience. I haven’t done so perfectly by a long stretch, but He’s kept me going in the right direction.

    1. Amy Young December 30, 2013

      Oh Morielle, you touched on such a truth I tend to forget — that obedience can get harder before it leads to fruit (and sometimes it will be hard day in and day out). You answer encouraged me along my journey today. Thanks!

    2. Patty Stallings December 30, 2013

      Morielle, you are a courageous woman. No doubt our Father is pleased with your continued trust in Him. May your commitment to obedience bring you the desire of your heart!

  2. Jennifer December 30, 2013

    Great questions… I know I will reflect on many of them as I move forward, but for now I will begin with something I learned that I will take forward. I have learnt in walking through challenging time, that sometimes all that you need to do is to simply continue to take one step at a time, and sometimes even simply stand still until you know what the next step for the next day is. I have learnt that sometimes the next step is an unexpected one, or sometimes one apparently small step can take you somewhere you did not expect to go. I know as this year unfolds I will explain more here what this means for me in 2014. It is not yet time.

    1. Amy Young December 30, 2013

      Sometimes one step can feel so insignificant, can’t it? But those steps, they lead somewhere! (And the flip side, for me. “Amy, remember that little steps away are not merely little steps. They lead somewhere too — to bitterness, to resentment, to distance from people — are you going in the direction you want to be going?”

      1. Patty Stallings December 30, 2013

        I like that question, Amy – “are you going in the direction you want to be going?” So true that every step leads somewhere. Brings to mind a favorite Flannery O’Connor line: “It was as if a blind boy had been turned so gently in a different direction that he did not know his destination had been changed.”

    2. Patty Stallings December 30, 2013

      Jennifer, I find the hardest part is to “simply stand still until you know what the next step…is”. I once heard this great story about a man who was training his dog to fetch, and his friends oohed and aahed that his dog would go ANYWHERE – in the water, off a cliff, wherever he threw the ball. But then he said, “If you really want to be impressed, watch this.” Then he threw the ball with the command “Stay”. Every muscle in the dog’s body twitched as he watched the ball fly through the air and bounce to a stop. But the dog remained next to his master as the man remarked, “Now, that is real obedience!”
      This is the life we are called to, right? To go when He says go and stay when He says stay. And that means one step – one throw – at a time. Thanks for reminding us of that today!

    1. Amy Young December 30, 2013

      p.s. I added a picture, but it didn’t seem to load 🙁 … to see it, click the link I listed above 🙂

    2. Patty Stallings December 30, 2013

      Just read your review, Amy. A lot happens in a year! It was inspiring to walk back through 2013 with you through your writing and to be reminded of how many courageous steps were involved. May 2014 be full of light and clarity and lots and lots of joy!

  3. Known. 2014. July 17, 2014

    […] out of my head and my heart over the last couple of weeks. I have itched for time to get to these questions and really think about them. I had hoped to have time to journal. To reflect. Life […]

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