One Word for 2017




This time of year I am always thinking about one word for the new year and anticipating what the next season will hold.

We were driving through the country when Steve asked if I had any goals for this week between Christmas and New Year when I am off work. I shared my desire to make a plan for writing, resurrect my blog and revisit a book I started writing last year.

He suggested my one word for 2017 should be Create.

I sunk back into my seat because honestly, a word for the year hadn’t even crossed my mind. For the past few years, I have prayed and sought after a word I believe God wants to use as a theme for my life: areas I need to grow in, things I believe He is teaching me. Words like Whatever (more appropriately – Surrender),  FunBe, Faithful, and Peace.  They were all formative and I learned so much about who God is and who I am becoming.

But this December, it wasn’t even on the radar.

Shortly after the sinking, it was like someone poured cold water on my face and I realized I need to wake up. I’ve been head down, trying to move forward for the past I don’t know how long. Just doing what needs to be done in order to survive and get everyone ELSE where they need to be and forgetting about where I want to be just short of daydreaming.

I’ve neglected my own soul care, the things I am passionate about and have lost my way.

How gentle and sweet of God to bring this to my attention through my husband.  Because of his motivation, this week has been awesome. I’ve gone back to what I know. Creating space for creativity. Creating space for time with my Jesus. Creating great meals and moments for my boys and their friends. Steve is right. 

I thrive when I make space to create. What makes YOU thrive?

At the end of this post, I want to share with you a resource that I’ve used myself throughout the years that I’ve dusted off and reworked for myself and for you in 2017. It’s a way to think through what you want life to look like in this next year and actually make it happen.

I don’t know about you, but when I make goals, resolutions or come up with new ideas, they typically fizzle without a plan. This resource makes it easy for you to make a plan for your dreams so you can actually make them happen.

Dreams about your relationships, your work, your passion, your body, your soul care. Make it happen with me in 2017 and start coming alive again.

Use this guide as you think about the New Year and what your word is or what your goals and dreams are for the year. Revisit it monthly as your reflect and respond to new things that come up and make adjustments along the way. Hopefully, you will be encouraged by your successes and come alive as you make your hopes and dreams more of a reality.

I’d love to hear about your word for the year, your hopes for 2017 and where God is leading you. Please feel free to share, post, and pass this along to those who may find it helpful

Happy New Year!
Suzie


 

One Word {2014 Edition}

For the fourth year I am abandoning New Year’s resolutions and choosing one word to focus on.

One word that will be the thing I look for, the thing I learn from and a word God will hopefully use to shape my character.

In the past, I’ve chosen the words Be, Faithful, and Peace.  They were all formative and I learned so much about who God is and who I am to be.

As I look forward to 2014, I have great hope and the blank canvas of a new year excites me. This year more than before, there is caution running through my spirit giving me a feeling things could potentially get hard.  So as I’ve prayed and considered, what comes to, mind is the word FUN.

Let me tell you straight up… there are a lot of definitions of fun I’m not particularly leaning towards. It’s a frivolous word. The definitions I do like are:  enjoyment, playfulness and the source of enjoyment.

It’s not a deep spiritual word by any means, but it can be the result of deep spiritual meaning.

Several weeks ago, I was visiting with my mom.  We were sitting at the table along with my dad, grandma and her caregiver who’s name by no coincidence is Grace.  We were discussing their struggles and some difficult things about what the future holds for my parents.  Suddenly, mom starts singing in her broken, never good singing voice:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Her voice is so bad, it’s funny and she cracked herself up as she sang.  Then she said this… “It may be a peculiar sound to you, but it is a joyful noise to the Lord, so I will keep singing.”

Another moment when I realized just how amazing my mom is.  Literally incapable of doing anything for herself, trapped a body atrophying from M.S., unable to do things her heart so desires, she is able to laugh at her vocals and sing, It. Is. Well.

This might be what it looks like to laugh at the days to come.

During a conversation with my favorite usher Bill on Sunday on the “Joy of the Lord,” Bill reminded me joy has nothing to do with your circumstances and everything to do with the person of Jesus.  It’s true.  Many a great theologians will remind us Jesus wants us to enjoy Him and the Psalmist tells us in his presence there is fullness of joy.

There is something lost in the joy of the Lord and that’s the actual manifestation of joy in us. That winsome quality that leads us to enjoy life, enjoy others and help others find joy as well.  I happen to think some of that joy should look like fun. Fun brings people together and keeps them coming back.  It lightens the load so what is serious can be carried with a more appropriate weight, it keeps us from taking ourselves more seriously than we ought.

Reading through the gospels and the stories of the disciples walking with Jesus, healing, casting out demons, turning water into wine… how would they have described those times?  Even post resurrection… running from persecution, singing so loud in prison that the chains fall off and people are set free.  I wonder, if we interviewed John on the island of Patmos at the end of his life and asked, “How would you describe those days with the disciples?”  I imagine among difficult, scary, dangerous, invigorating and others… “fun” might have been a word he would use.

Ministry, serving God, parenting, being a wife, being a friend certainly has it’s challenges. But there is nothing better than seeing someone set free. Seeing someone find freedom because of grace.  Knowing you are going against the tide of culture and being a part of transformation. Experiencing the joy of a child whose confidence has been built because of a lesson learned or a mountain climbed. Enjoying kids while they are young and playful.

pileon

These things my friends, are fun.

So in 2014, I will look for the enjoyment that is to be enjoyed.  I will endeavor to be a fun mom in the ways I know how to be fun. I will enjoy my husband and I will be the source of enjoyment for my family. I will venture to cease complaining until I am one who is marked by praise instead of criticism.  I will take risks like painting the kitchen cabinets lime green because my kids chose the color.

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I will be fully present so I can point to the joy. I will try to encourage and be hopeful while not minimizing what is hurting.

Who knows, maybe the word fun won’t seem so frivolous after all.

Have you chosen a word for the year? Do you have New Year’s resolutions?

Share them with me and we will pray for one another.

The Liturgy of Paying Attention

Nathan has taken to requiring me to sit with him in his room until he falls asleep.

NateCrib

I’m going to go ahead and blame this on the grace of my friend Lisa who being amazing as she is, would do this for Nathan so he would nap at church while I worked.  Now I would normally consider it a bother, and for a moment here and there I do.  However once I sit in the rocking chair and the room is quiet and dim, I receive it as a gift to slow down and go with the pace of summer.  Watching him peacefully doze off into dreamland, I begin to understand, this is as they say, only a season when the days can be long but the years go fast. 

When Jason was a baby, my friend Joy whose children were in high school and college at the time, encouraged me to stay with them when they had trouble sleeping.  Training them to sleep had it’s place, but she sort of gave me the permission I needed to lay with them and use the time to pray over them and be their source of comfort while they were still seeking it of me.  It took me each subsequent child to enjoy their sleeplessness more and more. Sometimes I think God gave me four for my own benefit, because I have no other choice at times but to slow down and allow them to go at their pace.

– – –

This morning I had breakfast with the best kind of old friends. The ones who know your mind and heart without you having to say much. They know where you’ve come from, they are aware of your wounds and what makes you who you are now.  But certain old friends are special because they don’t look at you like the person they knew twenty years ago, they constantly see who God is forming you to become.  Friends like these are a treasure.  It had been a long time since we’d seen each other so the hour went by swiftly because it doesn’t take but 30 seconds for us to cut deep into the matter of things.  We both left with hearts full, resolved to stay connected more often.

 – – –

It never stops amazing me how God brings people, things, and situations to you exactly how and when you need them. The book I’m reading, The Rest of God, calls this the liturgy of paying attention. Mark Buchanan says “the essence of a Sabbath heart: paying attention.  It is being fully present, wholly awake, in each moment.” It’s thinking clearly about God and freshly about time.  It’s being trained to think about the simplest things like oxygen and the warmth of sand grains under our feet to the interruptions of toddlers who don’t sleep and friends you meet for coffee who are able to pull out the weeds that have taken the deepest roots in your heart.

 – – –

In these weeks when I have more time for the “get tos” than the “to dos” I find myself struggling with staying in the moment and being attentive.  God certainly has a funny sense of humor given my one word for the year is “BE.”  Right?

OneWord2013_Be150

Instead of simply being wholly awake and present, paying attention with a heart that is resting in the God of every moment, my struggle to find the right thing to do can actually cause me to make the wrong choice.

So for today, I think the right thing is to just sit in the rocking chair and watch Nathan fall asleep. Once I hear the sound of his breath so heavy from the sweetness of baby dreams, I realize, he won’t be going to college asking me to stay in his dorm room as he falls asleep.  What’s the worst that could happen? I won’t get a lot done. But maybe that’s the point of all this.

If you have kids, how do you handle the sleepless moments? 

How difficult or easy is it for you to pay attention to the simple things?

Be {One Word for 2013 }

Better late than never, I guess you could say.

I gave up on New Year’s resolutions two years ago when I heard about the “One Word” thing from a few people I love. The first year, the year of Peace, I was amazed by God’s voice, and the way He gently showed me Peace is here, it is now and available for me each day. I needed peace more than ever that year.

Last year was the year of being Faithful. It occurred to me that first weekend of 2012, being faithful will require me to say “no” to good things more often than I am comfortable. The year ended as I stood in front of my Bible study and told them, “Every time you say ‘yes’ to something, you are saying ‘no’ to something or someone else.” It’s still being ingrained in my heart and has taken me one year to simply agree with the principle in theory alone.

One thing I know and have grown to believe is God’s faithfulness is not contingent upon mine. Amen. That’s the essence of grace people.

So here we are, almost to the end of the first month of 2013 and my word for this year is Be.

OneWord2013_Be

In every moment of every day, I will attempt to be…

…present.

…in the moment.

…who God made me to be. I will be here and not pretend to be someone else.

…who He wants me to be. I will live with the confidence that I am not finished… God will be faithful to complete what He started.

…thankful. In all things.

…more quiet. Slow to speak.

I will listen more…

…to what God is saying.

…to what He is doing.

… to what people are really saying.

I want to BE with people where they are, not where I hope to take them.

I will BE satisfied… in Christ alone.

I will Be-lieve God.

This is my hope. This is my prayer. In each day, I will be right where I am and try so very hard not to worry about tomorrow.

Today. This. Be.

Do you have a word for the year? If so, would you share it with me?

On Becoming Faithful: Margin

Many of my friends have taken to choosing one word for the year and I’ve loved hearing how there are lessons and gleanings found everywhere. From the Bible, to sermons, to hearing things around the table, in articles, blogs, books and music.  God has creative ways of uncovering these things for us.

The lessons on becoming faithful began early on for me and lest I forget them, I’d better get to recording them.  The first lesson I learned is:

Faithfulness requires a margin.

If I’m going to learn how to be faithful, I need to decide to what it is my faithfulness is not required.  Are there things I am doing that I should not be doing?  Are there responsibilities I have taken on that are not mine for the taking?  Do I have time and space to stop and think, process and pray about what it is I believe I am hearing?

God’s word is living and active. He still speaks today. 

But do I make room to hear?  If He is the One in whom I look to for direction of my steps, do I make room to notice?

Clearly, I have not. Otherwise the lesson would not have come over me like a ton of bricks.  So, I find myself as the first quarter of 2012 comes to near end, contemplating what clutter needs to be cleared in order to create the margin required.

How do you create and make sure there is a margin in your life?