My Word for the Year

Here it is. The end of January. I tend to think of the end of January as the as the End of the Beginning. So, it’s time to move into 2019.

I’ve left all my thank you notes, all my New Year’s greetings until now. Bad on me. I really DO appreciate the gifts and I really DO want certain people to know that I remember them and wish them blessings. Maybe I’ll send Valentines. (Self-care tool: put it off! LOL!)

Rather than putting off, I’ve deliberately left choosing my Word for the Year until now.

I’m not usually so OCD about choosing a Word for the Year but I’m feeling a need to “get it right’ because I’m feeling the need for major change. Now I KNOW I can’t make a major (or even a big) change in one year, one leap. However, I’m feeling this year is pivotal somehow. Besides, I’m not getting any younger and I no longer feel I have the luxury of time. Of course, no one really does because no one knows what might happen in the next moment. But age tends to accentuate the need to make the most of time in general.

Last year’s Word was HOPE. A very good word and something I felt I needed to “work” on. “Work” isn’t really the right thing to call it. “Working” on a Word for the Year is more like reminding myself of it, intentionally looking for it, checking to see if my thoughts and speech line up with it. It was a good Word and I feel like it served me well, helping me BE more hopeful and becoming much better acquainted with it. Hope has become a friend I understand and love, not just a nebulous idea. I can’t say I thought about it everyday but I did come back to it over the course of the year. Re-visiting it, checking in with it. There were times I fought it. Other times I simply embraced it. And in the process of all that, it became real, with a real place in my heart of hearts.

I began thinking about my new Word toward the end of December… continued mulling into the first week of January. I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time deciding on a Word this year. It’s just a Word. I CAN change it at any moment. I’m not chiseling it in stone, after all!

Thankfully, I read an article  that suggested, among other things, that we take the month of January to try words on, let them simmer and then settle on the Word at the end of the month… begin using the Word as your guide in February. Great advice! (see end notes and read that article. It’s really good!)

As I was having so much trouble find the right Word, I took a couple of online “quizzes”. I put very little stock in those quizzes, but it was kind of fun and, oops, kind of eye-opening. Still. Those words didn’t fit well. I also did an Art Journaling Challenge with Matt Tommey (see end notes). While I didn’t follow the challenge totally (don’t tell Matt), it did help and I filled several pages with words and stars, arrows, happy faces and sad faces, colors and shapes. As I wrote or read or heard podcasts and sermons, certain words would stand out and I’d star them, write them, research them and let them simmer.

A word that kept finding its what to my paper is “possible”. A really good word and one I need to start believing more. “Nothing is impossible with God”. “All things are possible for those who believe”. Although it’s not exactly what I need, it would be a good choice.

“Risk” is another word that kept showing up when I meditated on how to proceed. Risk is not a word I would associate with myself. I’m generally not a risk-taker, don’t like risky situations because I manage to see danger in anything. But risk is something I need! I need to risk belief, to risk putting my art and craft out there, to risk being vulnerable. “Risk” is a word I need in my life. I could (and might) do an entire blog on risk. But that’s not the “right” word, either. Not right now.

I won’t list all the words I considered while brainstorming. I LOVE words, so you can imagine there are many scattered in journals and notes and scrappies scattered everywhere. It got to the point where I felt like I was in a windstorm of words, all swirling around me, hitting me, telling me how much I need each of them. Just reading back over my lists, I start to feel that overwhelm again.

I started in December with the word “abide”. It’s a great word. It refers to a dwelling place. As a verb, it means to remain, continue; stay. Good stuff! Abide can mean to tolerate, put up with; stand firm. Also, to endure, sustain or withstand without yielding or submitting; to wait for. It suggests a determination to stay in agreement with a thing. It showed up on my lists many times.

I have to laugh at myself. Even writing this, having decided and lived with my word, I’m waffling a bit.

But here it is: ABIDE.

I want to ABIDE in God’s Word. I want to ABIDE in the Love of God and share it; abide in love and kindness, grace and mercy. I want to ABIDE in the wisdom He has put within me. I want to ABIDE in painting and writing and sharing creativity whenever and wherever I can. Mostly ABIDE, to me, speaks of peace. It says I’ve already made up my mind and set my heart to calmly rest in what I know to be true. It says I can peacefully focus on what is set before me. It also means I can peacefully consider new ideas.

Now I’m going to make signs (sticky notes!!) for myself and put them around the house to remind me to stop and abide in peace.

I have a long way to go toward abiding. But I will abide in the trustworthy grace of God to move me closer and closer throughout the year.

Thanks for reading all this. I know it’s long. I appreciate your sticking with me.

Please, share your word or goal and how you came to choose it! I truly am interested!

Many blessings!

 

End notes:

“Instead of Making Resolutions, Dream”, by Whitney Johnson, Harvard Business Review, 1/1/13, HBR.org

Matt Tommey. http://www.matttommeymentoring.com He is also on Facebook and Instagram. Check him out!!

Definitions from http://www.dictionary.com

 

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Waiting

 

 

Waiting is a challenge.

I was stalwart in refusing to embrace Christmas until Thanksgiving was properly celebrated (however, I might have been on a Trans Siberian Orchestra Christmas mix binge for a couple of weeks… just maybe). I defended Thanksgiving, determined to observe and celebrate the bountiful blessings we enjoy. I really felt- and still feel- that giving thanks is important. Important enough to push everything else aside and really embrace gratitude.
Thanksgiving was worth the wait. It was almost all I hoped for. There were a few disappointments involved but the joy of family and food and fun, the blessing of fellowship and gratitude was all good.
Hope, like waiting, is challenging.

I think hope and waiting are related. After all, they both involve something yet to come. We wait in hope but are sometimes a little afraid to hope too much, afraid of being disappointed. I mean, after waiting for a hope and then not having it meet high expectations, can really send us into a tailspin if we aren’t careful. But keeping our eyes on the over-all source of blessings and purposely enjoying what we do have enables us to embrace those right-now-blessings. “… my hope is in You.” (Psalms 39:7).

So, yes. Thanksgiving was great!
Now suddenly, I’m beyond ready to put up lights and trees and decorations. I want to buy presents for everyone and give to those in need. I’m excited for our family time and heartbroken for so many people affected by floods and fires and violence. I cry for the sad but happy things bring tears too. I cry at memories of dear ones gone. I tear up over familiar music that touches my heart and encourages my soul. I cry at memories of tough times lived through, and cry in gratitude for being on the other side. And through it all, I wait. We wait. Like a little kid, if left to myself, I’d probably explode, or implode, or both at once.
So, we enter another season of waiting. I’m ok with waiting for Christmas. I’m not at all “ready”. I want to enjoy the wonder, the emotions, the preparation. I especially want to prepare. Prepare my heart. Prepare the house with decorations. Prepare gifts for giving! Prepare food for sharing! The thing is, am I preparing with busy-ness or am I preparing in the Hope of celebrating Jesus’ birthday? Is the preparation overtaking the waiting with hurry? My goal is to wait and prepare in peace.

I’m seeing all kinds of paradoxes in waiting. One thing is sure, though. Waiting is inevitable. And I believe we are meant to wait in hope; wait, abiding in the Lord and trusting Him that whatever we are awaiting will be good.

 

Pouring Grey/End Beginning

Shelter of His Wings detail

Pouring rain, Monday grey.

It should be the name of a paint color, obviously, a grey one.

Monday morning was not just grey. Monday morning was pouring rain- like despair, like unloading all the burdens the clouds have held for too long. Like Jesus telling me- yet again- “give Me what troubles you, pour out what’s bothering you. I have truly already taken the troubles.  It’s you who is holding onto them go.”

But this Monday morning, in spite of pouring grey, my heart was not feeling burdened. I’d listened to praise and worship music, joined the singing. I was a bit pensive. But not burdened. Not angry.

And I kind of enjoyed the rain, a good way to end the month. Washing away the dust.

End of month, beginning again. (Maybe the title of a Country Western song.) Hard to believe the speed these month fly with.

I started with the bah-humbug thinking:  “…another month flown past and nothing accomplished- again. I’m too old to let these months zip away without producing anything! I have too many ideas, too many dreams!”. But the Holy Spirit stopped me and reminded me that I put dinner on the table X times, bought groceries (was ABLE to buy groceries!), kept girls, helped them start another school year. I began helping a friend re-write the insert and I made progress (though very little) on my on-line course. No, I didn’t blog. Or even write a note to a friend. But I painted during worship several times and I created the feather picture (In the Shelter of His Wings). Emily helped with that. She made her own smaller version. I was able to catch-up with friends over lunch, several times. We celebrated the Fourth of July with the kids at their Annual 4th of July Bash, complete with amazing fireworks. We were able to welcome Anna home from her month-long mission trip. And we took them hot dogs and Oreos for lunch when Mom and Dad were away. (While the cat’s away…. *wink*). I’ve kept plants alive through summer heat and done my fair share of laundry. I think I might have even vacuumed a few times! AND- ta da! – It’s still July and I’m publishing today. First time since May! So, I have done some stuff this month, after all. It’s just not what I expected.

Even though it’s the end of the month and the moon is full (or maybe because the moon is full?), I’m making another beginning. A quote my sis and I love (“It’s never too late to start the day over!”) applies to a month, too, don’t you think? Even starting over at the end!

I wonder about much but I give up- let go and let God! I am absolutely sure that I cannot. On the other hand, I’m totally certain He is able. Have it all, Lord!

How was your day? Rainy? Sunny?

Are you carrying burdens you need to pour onto God? Or are you free and breezy today?

And hey! If you’re not ready to begin at the end, tomorrow is the beginning of another month, the perfect time to begin- even begin again!

(Photo: detail, In the Shelter of His Wings, 2018)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on anything! Don’t be bashful, please leave a comment!

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Thanks for reading!!

HOPE – yet again

Nest in flowering tree

Hope Yet Again

I planned to move on from Hope. I thought three blogs in a row on the same subject might get boring. But, like Nellie in South Pacific, I seem to be “stuck like a dope with a thing called “Hope”, and I can’t get it out of my heart- not… this… heart.”

I am definitely no “cockeyed optimist”, as Nellie was. At the same time, Hope doesn’t seem go away no matter the circumstances. Since Hope won’t leave, perhaps I should entertain her; give her tea and cookies.

Even though she seems elusive when you’re desperate for her, she’s right there at your side when you feeling like throwing in the towel or calling it quits or dissolving into a puddle of despair. There she is! And she’s not quiet either. She’s cheering you on- telling you to keep going!

… it’ll be better, she says.

…it’ll change, she says.

…it’s only been a week… 6 months… 9 years…, she says.

…the breakthrough is close, she says.

…don’t give up now, she says.

I was sitting at the kitchen table feeling glum (right, I know, that’s my first mistake) and feeling the usual will-this-ever-change-feeling and suddenly, I felt Hope standing near (on??) my right shoulder.

She said, “I’m still here. It really will be Okay. Don’t give up now.”

Really? I kind of wanted to smack her. (Not very nice of me, is it?) At the same time, I was glad she was there. That’s the thing about her, she’s THERE. She’s “hard to kill”*. Not that I desire her demise, of course.

So. Here I am stuck with Hope. Finding it tucked here and there. Finding it the subject of many article and blogs!

I had planned to just share scripture and related posts from lots of other writers. But the following will be enough- this time.

From Ann Voskamp on Facebook, March 11, 2018:

“Hope is defiant reliance on God keeping His Word… (because) God is trustworthy… and when you know God is trustworthy, you now today and tomorrow is worthy of Hope. … As long as you still are, all is not lost. Being is hope and hope is presence and this present moment is a gift pulsing with Hope.”

WOW! I love that! “a gift pulsing with HOPE!”. Thank you, Ann Voskamp!

From incourage and Holley Gerth, Instagram, March 12, 2018:

“Tell all the feelings

Say all the things

Just know that underneath all of that

There can still be HOPE.

…God isn’t finished with your story yet. Even if what you’re doing feels useless. God has a plan and it will come to pass. He knows the desires of our hearts even better than we do and He is still writing all our stories in wild and mysterious ways today.”

Oh! I do hope that God is still writing my story in “wild and mysterious ways”! Hey! Even knowing He’s just writing anything is encouraging! Thank you, incourage and Holley Gerth!!

“Find rest in God alone, my hope comes from Him; He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall not be shaken.” Psalm 62:5, 6. See that? When we rest, we find hope and are safe in Him and will not be moved.

Ann Voskamp says, “You have to let Hope always carry you- or fears will carry you away.”

So, Hope continues. There’s probably no end to the things we can say about Hope. Hope is from God, so it’s voluminous!!

Dare to Hope again… and again…and again….

Romans 15:13 says to overflow with Hope!

Romans 5:5 says Hope doesn’t disappoint.

Alexander Pope, way back in the late 1600’s, said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” Like Emily Dickinson’s “thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune… and never stops at all.” Hope is.

Let Hope be the phoenix that rises from your ashes. Or the angel that rises from dead leaves and says, “Come along. There’s still Hope!”

angel sitting in dead leaves

Hope is the last thing released from Pandora’s box because HOPE truly overcomes all evils.

So, friends, “… stretching tenuous muscles… reaching outstretched hands to the wind to find my brave wings to soar again.” (Rebekah Ellis on Instagram). Let Hope carry you. She’ll help you fly through adversity. Invite her into your home, give her the best chair. Make her comfortable. You’re “stuck” with her anyway!! (Does this picture look like I’ve stretched my hand and am ready to fly? )

Outstretched hand

Thanks for reading and sticking with Hope and me as we journey together.

Please share how your friendship with Hope is progressing. Are you flying with her? Or still getting to know her? Has she moved into your home? Or is she just visiting for tea and cookies? Whatever stage our friendship is in, we can always strengthen it. I know I’m not soaring with her. Not yet. I am cleaning out a spot for her to move into the house, though. We’re getting along pretty well. Learning to trust one another.

Please consider subscribing if you haven’t already. And don’t be bashful about sharing with friends!! They may need another look at Hope as well.

 

Credits:

Cockeyed Optimist from South Pacific: https://youtu.be/p0DusO6ipLw The quoted phrase begins about 2:39 in the video. I hope you’ll watch it. What’s not to love about Mitzi Gaynor?! (I also hope this link works. It doesn’t seem to be live…)

Celtic Woman; lyrics from “When We Believe”

A Little More Hope

Flowery Hope

Hello, Friends!

Here it is- the First of March!

Spring has sprung here in NC, complete with bushes and trees rushing into full bloom even with the possibility of more cold weather. I know it’s silly but this warm weather at the end of February/beginning of March is messing with me… I look outside and see springtime; the weather feels like spring and yet my calendar is telling me it’s still winter! Ugh! I think these trees have an abundance of Hope… hoping against all hope that the weather has truly changed for the warmer.

Photo blooming crabapple

As you recall, I ended the first HOPE installment with a question to myself… “Where is all this Hope I’m writing about? Am I really the one who wrote all that stuff?” It sounds so, ya know, HOPEFUL! I didn’t realize I already knew so much about Hope. After all, the reason this year’s word is HOPE is because I have a tenuous relationship with her.

I want to become intimate with HOPE. I certainly need Hope this third month of the year because the newness of the year (or month or day, etc.) changes nothing in and of itself. I am the one who has to change my thinking and tell my heart to “take heart, be Hope-filled”. I am the only one who can drain the sludge of discouragement or fear or negativity. I must work at it. The new month is a nice demarcation but the month isn’t going to be any different unless I do something different.

Sadly, Hope doesn’t come easily or naturally for me. (Will it ever, I wonder? Will I ever be a naturally, easily Hopeful person? I suspect -with my negative tendencies- that the answer is NO.) It’s hard to have to work so hard to be Hopeful. But there’s no other choice, I guess. Not really. Hope won’t give up and go away, it’s always there, somewhere or another, hiding from my tantrums or slinking into my little toe. But she won’t quite leave entirely. Thanks be to God. Since she won’t leave, I really should become friends with her.

I keep having to set and re-set my mind and take command of my heart. Really, my heart wants to Hope. It’s my heart that wants me living in peaceful-Hope (as opposed to fight-for-it-Hope). Again, I ask: can the fight-for-it-Hope become peaceful-Hope? I sure Hope so!

Sometimes Hope is easy… you’re full of faith, things are looking good and you FEEL Hopeful, Hope-filled. Hang onto that feeling, marinade in it, savor it, experience it, notice how great if feels! Enjoy feeling that your Hope is tough-as-nails and can withstand anything that comes your way; notice having “confident expectation”.

Often, “anything” does come your way and Hope becomes harder… things are not just gloomy but seem nearly impossible. If God Himself doesn’t come help you, you’re sunk, done for, dead. You have to fight hard to remember all those quotes and scriptures about Hope. You feel like you’re carrying heavy weights. Having that easy-Hope stored up gives us something to grab hold of in tough times.

I am asking God continue to open my eyes to see His Hope. I’m trusting Him to help me be less negative and re-wire my brain for the positive. I’m hoping to engage in Hope that is the evidence of what will be but isn’t yet. I’m still Hopefully Waiting , my winter-season theme, resting in anticipation of what’s coming next.

Winter is transitioning into spring with a whip-lash of sunny and warm one day, chilly with rain the next.  And my Hopeful Waiting seems to be transitioning into something new.

My Hope is built on Jesus’s faithfulness!! What is my problem, anyway? Jesus did it all! He takes care of it all, He loves me even when I’m awful. Why would I not Hope in Him? I can truly rest in Him and all He has done for me! Even though I’m still somewhat back and forth, like the weather, my Hope is becoming stronger. We’re getting to be friends.

 

Thank you for reading this today.

I’d love for you to share what your relationship with Hope is like. Is she your best friend? Is she just an acquaintance? I Hope both you and I will get to know Hope better, and that our relationship becomes intimate. Please, leave your comments below.

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God bless you as winter turns to spring and you become better acquainted with Hope!