So…Christmas is over, the anticipation of looking forward to the New Year is already waning, it’s the dead of winter in many parts of the world (including where I live in Maryland), and perhaps the road ahead, continuing to take the steps needed to achieving the goals you set and reaching your finish line, seems very long. Perhaps even the winter blahs or even a mild case of depression is starting to sink in, especially if (like me) you don’t have any warm, tropical destination plans for the future. So…what’s next? How do we stay excited at this time of year? Maybe it’s time to call in the “big guns” and ask the Holy Spirit for a little help remaining spiritually motivated! Yesterday the Gospel reading in Mass was about John the Baptist seeing Jesus coming toward him and saying this was the Messiah of Whom he had prophesied. Imagine John’s excitement! Then, “the next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’ They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means “Teacher”), ‘where are you staying?’ ‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will see’. So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him.” (John 1:35-39). Imagine Andrew and his brother Simon (Peter)’s excitement! Imagine our excitement if Jesus, the Messiah, was to walk up to us today! Would we see Him? Recognize Him? And yet, we are called to follow Him every day just like the disciples did. But again, what’s next, and how do we get and stay excited? I think we need to be just like the disciples in this story. First, I think we need to be open to seeking Him in others, and within ourselves, every day. Second, I think we need to answer Jesus’ question, “What do you want?” If we can answer that question in our hearts and simply ask where He’s staying (where can we find Him today?) and have faith that if we but come and follow, we will “see” as He promises, I think we have a good chance in staying spiritually motivated. And since He’s not here physically like He was for the disciples back then but sent His Holy Spirit to us, I believe calling on the Spirit’s power, grace, strength and guidance will help us stay on the course. Every day I think we are called to wake up with spiritual goals. For me, it’s not too much of a stretch as I am called to write Modern Day Bible Stories, contemporary novels that re-imagine God’s Word in the Old Testaments stories to inspire readers today. But even I get stuck a lot, which is why I need to follow my own advice and call on the Holy Spirit to help me write, and continue to give me faith that this calling will eventually pay the bills! In addition, my spiritual goals include finishing reading the Old Testament from start to finish (a page or two a day…I am getting close to being finished after nearly three years!); and being of service (following Jesus) when opportunities present themselves, whether that means doing something nice for someone, showing grace or forgiveness, or just paying a compliment or encouraging someone. As I write this, I feel re-energized and excited to face the day, one step at a time, and not look too far down the road because I know, Jesus promises us in fact (in the Book of Revelation), that I will win the race!