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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Happy 2019-Take Good Care of Yourself

field and trees

Happy New Year, ya’all!

Have you set goals? Do you have a word for the year? Do you make “resolutions”? I’d truly like to hear what you do, if you’d care to share.

I’m still praying about my word for the year, but I do know that I need to focus a little more on self-care. I need to remember that I’m worth a little extra effort.

Yes, that does sound selfish. But let’s think about that for a minute.  I’m not talking about indulgence. Not talking about hour-long bubble baths, buying yourself anything that strikes your fancy. I’m not talking about saying everything that pops into your head, either. I’m talking about taking care of yourself in order to help yourself be a happier person and to help others with a full heart.

Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If I am constantly down on myself, constantly critical of everything I do, no matter how loving and kind I might SOUND to others, there is going to be an undertone of judgement because that’s what’s going on inside me. It seems to me, somewhere in there, He is implying I need love myself, too.

When you fly, they tell you to place your own oxygen mask first and THEN help others around you. If I can’t breath, how can I help someone else?

If the glass is empty, it cannot fill other glasses. If I am depleted and drained, no matter how much I try or want to, I won’t have anything to give to others.

So very many scriptures tell us how much God loves us. The one almost everyone knows, John 3:16, says He loved the world so much that He gave His Son to be the substitute for everyone’s failures. Everyone, by the way, includes you and me. Would YOU let your child suffer and die because someone else messed up??

In other scriptures, we are told God loves us, He sings over us, He dances, He smiles because of us. He fights for us. He protects us. He heals us… YOU and ME! He created each of us and God doesn’t make junk! We are told that we are in Christ Jesus and God the Father sees you and me just like He sees Jesus- perfect, righteous, complete.

When we don’t agree with what God says about us, either He is a liar or we need to change our thinking. I need to change my thinking~

Taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually is important. We are called to serve others and that’s what we want to do. To change the world around and within me, I have serve from a full heart and soul and spirit. When we love and serve others, we too are filled up and it becomes part of our own self-care.

First take time with Father God. Then be aware of how He loves you today.

For each week of this year, I’m going to practice a different form of self-care.

This week is deep breathing.

Starting with a “deep breath” seems easy for me  (This is another form of self-care. I’m starting with something I’m already familiar with). I often do that anyway. However, there are times I realize I’m essentially holding my breath, so I want to become aware sooner.

When I’m excited, I’ll take a deep breath and focus that excitement, enjoy that excitement.

When I’m tired, I’ll take a deep breath and rest.

When I’m frustrated, angry, disappointed… I’ll take a deep breath and pause.

There is a large body of research and resource for more information regarding deep breathing. There are special techniques for different types of deep breathing. Check it out. Try different things. Whatever you do, though, do it! Even a sharp, quick deep breath is better than nothing. A deep breath can stop the locomotive of negative feelings before they get out of control.

Every change we make is made up of many small changes, small steps. It’s when the goal is “lose 50 pounds”, or “stop being impatient” that we fail. Instead of saying I’m going to “take better care of myself emotionally”, I’m going to break it down, try different ways to take better care of myself.

Each week, either Monday or Tuesday (taking care of myself by giving myself space), I’ll share one small technique to change the way I think or lessen the pressure I unnecessarily place on myself. I hope you find something helpful for yourself as I share my journey.

Will you join me?

Thank you for reading. I invite your feedback.

Please consider following me. There’s a “subscribe” button at the top of the right hand column. If it’s not there, please let me know!! Thanks!

God bless you!

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.

And if you haven’t already subscribed, please do! There’s a button (very tiny) above the right column. Thanks so much!

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