Twelve Days

Twelve Days

There comes a time after listening and learning, when “doing” becomes all-important. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I need is another page of notes. If we don’t put anything to the test, how will we know if what we’ve learned is real? So for this last post of the year, I’m challenging you to take action.

One thing—each day—for twelve days.

Day 1 – Do something surprisingly generous. It doesn’t have to be monetary. It could be the gift of listening or sharing food. My friend Greg once went out of his way to deliver a box of donuts to a state government office—a place where the overworked staff were a little cranky. His simple gesture, so unexpected, changed the atmosphere!

Man on stormy beachDay 2 – Take a solitary walk and tell God your innermost thoughts. It helps if you can talk out loud. Tell Him your darkest, most hopeless, or cynical feelings. Tell Him what you’re afraid of—the future? Finances? Sickness? Death? Confess to Him your secret failures, your loneliness. Get it out in words and lay it all before Him. He can handle it. Then listen.

Hands in skyDay 3 – Take an hour to worship God. Not meaning church on Sunday. Pick a place where you can recline—a favorite chair, a hammock, a couch, a bed or even a floor. My granddaughter likes to lay under the Christmas tree. If you’re like me, let go of your driven holiday mindset. Pick your style of worship music and if you’re not alone, use earphones. I’m currently swept away by Ola Gjello’s Sunrise Mass. Though sung in Latin, the music is moving and sends me to heavenly places.

Day 4 – Ask God for a single word or phrase regarding your life at present. I remember feeling upset when my husband had to be away in Africa for two months. I asked God for a word of encouragement. The word “respite” came to mind. At first I thought, “re-SPITE”? Was it even a word? But the term, “RES-pite,” is in the dictionary and means an interval of rest. God reframed our time apart as a season to recharge, write, and enjoy some solitude. Any introvert would understand. Still it meant something to hear God’s take on it.

photo 4Day 5 – Do an act of service in secret. Shovel someone’s walk before light. Clean the refrigerator after everyone’s gone to bed. Someone rolled our empty garbage can back up the driveway after the garbage truck came. It happened more than once and for the longest time, I didn’t know who was doing it. Turned out to be our friend Ben who was passing by.

iStock_000008065336SmallDay 6 – Pray for the most difficult person in your life. Not prayers like, “God, will you deal with her?” But prayers of favor, blessing, and encouragement. Pray that person would have an encounter with God, a dream at night, a sense of God’s presence, an epiphany.

Day 7 – Ask God to put His finger on something that needs to go. Watching too much TV? Nursing a critical spirit? Overdosing on sugar? Gripped with jealousy from making comparisons? It doesn’t necessarily have to be something sinful—rather, something in the way, something that keeps you from living fully. Oswald Chambers said, “Never object to the intense sensitiveness of the Spirit of God in you when He is educating you down to the scruple.”[1] Once you recognize what it is, do a fast as a spiritual discipline. Turn off the TV. Flip a critical thought into a constructive prayer. Skip desserts. Break familiar patterns for a week, a month, a year, or forever as God leads.

love note on windshieldDay 8 – Write a note to a person you’re alienated from. A college roommate…a teacher…a pastor…a childhood friend…an old boss. Don’t write to settle the score, or vent. Write a positive memory or something you learned from them, and end with words of encouragement.

photo 1Day 9 – Spend time with a baby or small child. Dial down to their pace, their world. Remember how to play. Offer to babysit or work in the church nursery. Be refreshed in your soul by the spirit of a child.

Day 10 – Spell out words of love in unique ways. Write, “I love you” on a snowy windshield, or the steamed bathroom mirror. Spell it out with Cheerios or dried navy beans on the kitchen counter. “You’re the best.” Go further and write a poem.

Day 11 – Sing your favorite Christmas carols in the shower. Sing out louder than usual. Let it rip! “Oh come let us adore Him, OH COME LET US ADORE HIM—Christ The Lord!”

So unexpected and specific!

God can give you a life verse…

Day 12 – Ask God to give you a Scripture for the coming year. You may need to spend some time in the Word, but read with that in mind. God can speak straight out of an ancient text into the specifics of your life at present. It’s a “living” book, because we read with the Holy Spirit’s help.

In Marilynne Robinson’s book, Lila, the main character is a woman who started life as a rejected child. As Lila reads Ezekiel 16: 4-6, she realizes it’s her life verse:

4 “As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths. No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born. “When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’”

God and the old pastor who marries her are the ones saying, “Live!” She has value and purpose and legitimacy! Though a fictional story, God can give you a life verse—through an obscure passage of the Bible. If it doesn’t come right away, wait for it. Watch for it. God is always looking for points of contact with us.

I hope you’ll take the challenge. Even more, I hope you’ll write your experience here on my blog site so others can be inspired. I’ll watch for comments over the holidays!


[1] My Utmost For His Highest, by Oswald Chambers, September 26th.


  1. EXCELLENT! As I read your wonderful list, I realized God had already suggested and facilitated four of them unexpectedly in the past two days. I recognize His suggestion was just a portion of a list written by one of His who listens with her keyboard in hand, and I celebrate. Thank you, Susan, and thank You, Father.
    Merry CHRISTmas, friend!

  2. MariaEmilia Berlanda :

    Hello Susan! Happy New Year!! Thank you for sharing this wonderful list! Let’s give room for God to do something new in 2015!