Advertising executives aren't paid the big bucks for nothing. They know what a lot of us are thinking this time of year, so the weight-loss commercials are thick — all because we want to be thin. Talk shows and magazines are also onto this New Year's hot topic.

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Advertising executives aren’t paid the big bucks for nothing. They know what a lot of us are thinking this time of year, so the weight-loss commercials are thick — all because we want to be thin. Talk shows and magazines are also onto this New Year’s hot topic.

The trouble is, it was last New Year’s hot topic, too, and you can count on it again in early 2013. The advice and diet plans keep rolling out, and too many of us still keep eating more calories than we use up in a day. A common theme among weight-loss gurus is really a matter of common sense: For most people, portion control is key to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

Portion. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to that word lately, and not just in relation to my dinner plate. Actually, I’d been prayerfully considering what one-word theme I might use as a spiritual focus for 2012 — should it be “wisdom,” “grace,” “hope”? Somehow I knew I’d found my theme word when I read Psalm 16:5:

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.

(English Standard Version)

The word portion has several shades of meaning (piece, part, segment, allotment; it can even mean one’s inheritance, or lot in life). In the coming year, I plan to ask myself this daily question: What does it mean to choose God as my portion today? I have much to learn, but here are some insights I’m already gaining:

1. Whatever else is on my plate in any given day, God can still be my portion, the most important part of life, if I so choose. The trouble comes when I lose “portion control” over my own plans, desires and activities. Worry, selfishness and even preoccupation with my to-do list can leave no room for God awareness. January is a good time to re-evaluate what things we have allowed to fill our plates. Sometimes we need to take a few things off to make room for what’s most important.

2. With God as my portion, I always have enough. When Jesus talked about coming to bring us abundant life (John 10:10), some think that means having more things: a nicer home, a bigger car, more clothes in the closet, the good life. I think he meant something altogether different: a mind expanded by truth, a heart enlarged by encounters with God’s mercy and grace, a soul stretched by the giving and receiving of love, both human and divine. I think Jesus was promising not the good life (as defined by American materialistic standards), but the big life. To paraphrase Psalm 23:1, “When I have the Lord as my Shepherd, I always have enough.”

3. When God is my portion, I can maintain perspective. If God is who the Bible says he is, and if Jesus, God’s son, grants me access to a genuine relationship with him, then I can see otherwise overwhelming situations differently.

I needed that perspective last month when, due to complications from surgery, we weren’t sure our 34-year-old daughter would live through Christmas. I spent much of December either in her hospital room or caring for her three young girls (including a 5-month-old baby) as her body fought off a massive infection.

Many people were praying, and she is home now, slowly recovering under the watchful care of her husband. It’s hard to describe a mom’s anguish sitting in ICU and watching her firstborn suffer.

All I can say is, while fear, faith, worry, hope and weariness were each a very real part of those dark days (and darker nights), I was absolutely overshadowed by the presence of one who is bigger than desperation, stronger than the fiercest fear, and greater than the combined deficit produced by my motherly what-ifs, physical weariness and emotional weakness.

My experience during the last month of 2011 reinforced the wisdom of having God as my portion during all that’s to come in 2012. A big, abundant life doesn’t mean we won’t sometimes have big problems, but we have a bigger God. His presence helps us mine unexpected treasures out of the dark places we go through in life.

I know that most of us entered this new year with a lot already on our overloaded plates. My prayer is that, with God as our portion, we will know how to deal with the other stuff wisely. Then we can have cups overflowing with faith, hope and love in 2012.

Jodi Detrick is a minister with the Northwest Ministry Network (Assemblies of God). She is also a public speaker, an author and a life coach. Readers may send feedback to faithcolumns@seattletimes.com