Words are powerful. For the past few years, I have chosen a word for the year as a grounding post. This ritual has become a rite of passage, a mark of survival, a victory cry, a hallelujah for the days gone by and a prayer for what lies ahead. Today, I share with you where my soul is finding comfort and strength.
I do not choose my word lightly. It feels as if this moment of intention has become more profound each year. I find myself wanting perfection and harmony within the rhythms of my life. More so this year, the weight to choose THE word has been heavy. This word is an intention, it is a breath of Spirit over my days and it is a prayer for whatever may be coming into my life. That’s big stuff!
We left on January 1st for a trip with my family. I married into gold. Seriously, I have the most supportive and encouraging- and just all the things- second parents, thanks to Lucas. I call them Mom and Dad, and it is not a flippant use of these special names, but instead a tribute to the beautiful fullness that they add to my life. Of course, we also call my FIL Goat, and it fits him in the best ways possible.
They knew that the previous few months had worn some bare places in my heart, so as a gift to my girls, we decided to surprise them with a 6 person adventure. We all love to cruise, so we booked a last minute quick trip to Cozumel and back. We never put on a swim suit. We had on more sweaters than sunglasses. We never walked into the theatre on the boat. We didn’t even go out of the port in our backyard! We drove on January 1 to avoid the ice, spent the night in a hotel eating the happy hour free food for dinner and watched football. We played Scrabble and read and ate and slept and watched movies and slept and laughed and laughed some more. It was absolutely perfect.
Our cruise looked nothing like most. No one in our group had alcohol, we didn’t gamble, we didn’t go dancing or to late night games. The teens never went to the teen club, we were happy to sit and talk (and eat all the soft serve ice cream) with each other. Lucas happily worked out with Ally every morning and AJ and I gladly slept late. We found a lovely lounge with British royalty paintings and books and comfy chairs for hiding. We sat at meals together with no electronics and heard stories about family members and friends. Stories that I thought I knew, once again, found fresh ears as my children heard of the legacy of the past.
It was rich. It was right. It was good.
During this trip I began a new book that I have been excited to read. Alexander Shaia recently released the second edition of his 2013 book, Heart and Mind. As I read, I thought I knew my word for 2018. As I began to unpack the ideas in this gem, I realized that my very intentional walk into a new year is beautiful because I set out on this adventure with one plan in mind. Most years, the destination is completely different than I would have ever guessed.
Just take 2017. I thought it was about physical wholeness. It was time for me to make peace with my body. And in many ways, that happened. But in the end, wholeness encompassed the WHOLE of my being. All of the things that I thought were settled and good and well, suddenly fell apart. The things that were growing and full of life, they needed some pruning. And other areas, things that I had let go of, came back to me in full, wonderfully new ways. Wholeness looked so different than I dreamed, but it was exactly right.
So where will 2018 lead? That’s the million dollar question. There are some hard things coming. So words like hope and longing and grace would be well suited. There are also some things that I am already fighting, so I tried to cling to words like surrender and release. All of these would have been lovey focal points for my prayer and attention.
But when I started reading this book, the fullness of my word came into focus. JOURNEY.
There are going to be celebrations in 2018 and there are going to be struggles. There are going to be precious moments of family, and there will be hard decisions in leadership and parenting and calling. There will be moments of spiritual drought and there will be moments where the well of hope will be overflowing. There will be moments when I sit on my bathroom floor to write and I have words and other moments that my fingers are frozen in pain and fear and exhaustion. And to welcome the JOURNEY is my prayer for 2018. All of it. The ups, the downs, the hurts, the parties, the tears, the losses, the moments when God feels so close there is a buzz in the air and the moments in the night when darkness wants to take over. JOURNEY is about taking the adventurous leap into ALL that 2018 has for me. This is my prayer:
God of the Universe,
Grant me the wisdom to set aside my expectations and preset ideas of the year ahead. Instead, may I welcome the JOURNEY that you have for me. Allow me to be present in growth and maturity and service as I feel and embrace and dwell in the real work that you have for me this year. Don’t let my looking back or my longing to move forward prevent me from the present of today.