One Word for 2017

wood-cube-abc-cube-letters-48898Intentional joy that leads to a deep confidence.

Wow.

Just one word.

Those were my words over the last several years. They have helped define me and focus me, moving me forward. There were tough times along the way and these words served as reminders and motivators. I wrote about last year’s word here: Just One Word

It’s amazing how much one little word can shape and change a person. Honestly, towards the end of the year I almost forgot what my word was. Then I thought maybe I had completely failed. Forgetting my word. Nope, change that negative self-talk. Stand tall. Be strong. Be confident.

Yep, there it is.

As I look back over my year of confidence, I see how I have grown more confident and sure of myself. Someone even commented on it last September. I only see them a few times a year, but they commented that I just seemed more sure of myself. More confident. More at peace. Yep. I feel it.

There were several situations that helped grow me over the past year. They weren’t all easy. Most were pretty difficult or took a lot of intention. Some were just moments of pure joy, just resting in the experience at hand. Oh. There are those words from previous years, still serving me and carrying me forward.

Realizing how much these words have defined me made me excited to hear from God about this year’s word. He’s the one that selects it. He’s the one who desires It for me. So I’ve talked to Him about it. I’ve waited. I’ve watched. I didn’t really understand it at first, but it’s making more sense. And just as I initially didn’t think I had grown in confidence much, I know this word will be developed over the year. That’s so exciting!

While I loved the joy and still look for it, I feel so much more centered. So while joy feels more exuberant and lively, my word this year feels more settled and strong. Just a deep seated confidence that reflects in my world around me. I want to continue to experience this new space of joy in a different way. I want to continue to experience life fully. I want to experience the absolute beauty of life in the mundane, in the challenges, in the daily living of this one life I have been given. There it is.

Beauty.

I want to see the beauty all around me.

I want to see the beauty in the journey He has brought me on; through the struggles and
the joy, through the complete dependence on the one who has created me. I want to see the beauty in the painful and hard spaces. I know it’s there too. I want to see beauty in the dreams He has given me and the beauty as I work to bring them to reality.

I want to get out and see the beauty of His creations, from the mountains and streams to the oceans and deserts. I want to notice the little flowers that grow out of hard spaces and I want to experience the beautiful laughs and smiles of treasured friends. And I want to help my kids find the beauty around them too.

I also want to see beauty in the waiting, in the stillness, in the pause. Sometimes I know I have to sit still and just take in my surroundings. I want to see the beauty in this space too, no longer feeling the anxiety that used to mark my life. I want to see the beauty in all of it and I don’t want to miss a thing as He creates and moves through me.

2017, I’m setting my intentions, collecting the beautiful moments, and preparing for the next steps in the journey. I don’t want to miss the beauty of this life as I live with intention, joy, and confidence.

Wow. He’s still that good.

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Today, I Started Swimming

Not literally.

I didn’t go do a polar plunge or swim laps in a pool.

I started swimming towards the shore of a vision I’ve had for a few years.

I just did a quick search for the meaning of vision, in hopes to put a put a bit of context to my swimming adventure. A vision can be a thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination. It can also be something sensed, that’s immaterial or intangible. Super clear, right? Follow along here for a minute…

So I’ve had this vision for a few years that there is a dark sky and deep waters in front of me. I know I have to go into the water that’s choppy, like a storm is close. I can’t see an end. It feels like an endless ocean with a strong undercurrent swirling just below me. I have this deep knowing that the waters won’t overcome me; I won’t be lost in them and the undercurrent won’t consume me. Yet when it’s dark, kind of scary, an undercurrent tugging at me and there’s no end in sight, well, why would I want to go in?

For a couple years now I’ve seen it. I’ve resisted it. It just feels yucky. But I’ve known I needed to understand it. And I’ve known I needed to go in the water.

Last spring I met with a Spiritual Director. That’s a person that can help you listen deeper and discern answers as you seek to grow in your spiritual life. It was pretty amazing. I told her about the dark ocean-like vision I’ve had. I also told her about other visions I’ve had about my path. That’s a long story in itself, but God revealed a wide path that continued on for my life. He showed me a winding path that was entering some mountains. There would be hard moments, but I also had a deep reassurance that my path continued for a long journey.

As I shared this, she asked a few simple questions of the ocean vision. “Is there a boat around? Or a life jacket? Maybe a dock to rest on? I would like to see a place for you to find rest.” Things changed dramatically after she asked this.

There wasn’t a dock, but there was another side. Some of the darkness began to clear up. This was a lake. A big one, but it was still a lake. There was another side! I could still feel the undercurrent yet felt that same sensation of knowing the undercurrent wouldn’t consume me.

We began to explore the undercurrent a bit more. It was kind of like leaning into fears that aren’t so scary when you turn on the light. I realized the undercurrent was the regular demands on my life that will always be there. Being a mom to teenagers and doing it alone; routines of laundry and dishes and housework that must be done; paying bills and balancing a budget; finding places to fit in running and fitness; making time for friends and crazy adventures. The list, the undercurrent, could go on. Those things are in my life and will be, but God is calling me to more.

Let’s explore that then. What is the more? Why am I being called into the water?

Oh.

An answer came that quick. And the skies got a bit brighter.

It’s the writing, speaking, encouraging, equipping, motivating, pastoring others. It’s the blog and books and conferences. It’s pointing others to know Him. He’s calling me to do His work. And some of this work is life-long for me, but there is some hard work that must be done now. It has to be done in the deep. With Him.

I visualized myself standing on the shore. I looked at Father God. I could sense what was waiting for me on the other side of the shore. Something I’ve been praying about for a long time. I didn’t really want to get in the water though. I told him I could swim, but I’m not that great. I kinda wanted to take the path that I could see going around the lake.

“Stop dancing on the shore. I have called you. I have equipped you. I am the one growing you. I am the one perfecting you. I have not called you to walk on the path around the lake like I have others, so stop going that way. Quite dancing on the shore and get in the water. Let’s go.”

Yep. Pretty clear words.

Recently I realized I’ve been dipping my toes in the water. I’ve waded in a bit. I was sort of treading water part way in. Getting comfortable with that undercurrent tickling my toes. Seeing what was on the other side of the shore.

Today, something in the sermon at church changed my focus. Sharpened it a bit. And the reminder came to me. I’m called. I’m equipped. It’s all here, with His help. I can do the hard work. Now. Now is the time to do the hard work.

So I started swimming.

swimming

I stopped treading water in place and started swimming.

The more you practice at anything, the better you get. While I feel like I’m not a great swimmer now, I know I’m capable of the hard work and will improve. I’m reminding myself I can do hard things. I can survive the undercurrent. Maybe I can even create my own current. With His help.

Today, I started swimming.

Not just to swim or avoid the undercurrent or even just to say I got off the shore. I started swimming to be obedient to Him, to follow Him, to get to the other side and continue on the path ahead of me.

I’m sure there will be hard days ahead. I know it’s just for a season, until I reach the other side of the shore. I know I’ll get there. And I already know I won’t be worn out like a sea tossed castaway. No, I’ll get out of the water, get that hug, and start down the next part of the path.

I can do hard things. And so can you. Where has He called you to go? Are you dancing on the shore too? Or today, are you ready to start swimming?! Let’s go!

 

 

Just One Word

I don’t make New Year Resolutions anymore. I like the idea behind it. Setting a goal. Resolving yourself to a specific course of action. Which can be great. However, most people set some sort of high lofty goal that they can’t realistically keep resulting in failure of the resolution. What a way to start a year, setting yourself up to fail.

A few years ago I started doing something else, and I’ve seen others do it too. Just one word. A simple word that you set in your life to give purpose of meaning behind the direction you want your life to go for the year. Most of the ones I have seen people choose are positive, encouraging, and uplifting. That already sounds so much better and simpler than a list of firm commitments to fail at.

I actually don’t start mine at the new year though. Mine start in September around my birthday. It wasn’t a conscious choice, but was founded in the idea of wondering what the next year of my life would bring. (I also usually choose a song for the year, but that’s another story for another day!)

My first word was Intentional. I wanted to be intentional about the choices in my life, how I spent my time, and the direction I wanted my life to go. I didn’t want to wander aimlessly through life becoming either reactionary to chaos around me or a victim of circumstances. I chose to make intentional changes in how I related to others, how I spent my time, and how I achieved goals in my life.

Of course, I didn’t do this completely on my own. I do believe God is the one who set the intention in my heart. I prayed continually through the changes, like taking a different job, selling my home, and moving my family to another state. I was intentional in prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit. And He was intentional in guiding me to where He wanted me.

The fall of 2014 brought a new word forward, Joy. Again, I didn’t want life to idly pass me by, nor did I want to live for some future “what if”. That can be a deficit if you’re always looking forward, not enjoying the now. I wanted to continue to look forward with intention, AND I also wanted to live in the moment. I wanted to experience the complete joy all around me. I wanted to laugh and adventure and be so full of joy that others around couldn’t deny it’s presence in my life.

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There were moments that I had to look for the joy, for sure! There were hard days, like helping my children recognize their father had been gone for a year. Hard moments of raising them on my own without my family and support system around me. Yet God revealed a bigger support system in my faith community. He showed me His glory in a sunset, hiking a trail, helping families in my ministry, and just laughing with my children. Sometimes laughing so hard they fell to the floor. Those memories and commitment to joy make me smile and continually soften my heart, even today.

This year, the word that keeps washing over me is Confidence. I was listening to a speaker and he challenged everyone to pick one word from a list of five to focus on over the next year. (I actually wrote about it here: Growing In Confidence ) I struggled with it for a bit, because it’s not something I’ve always had. I tried to deny it for a bit, but it’s there.

Confidence has become a firm and quiet part of me. I am confident in who I am and whose I am. I am confident in the direction He is leading me. Knowing, with great confidence, the direction I am being taken is amazing. I am not feeling the unhealthy amount of anxiety or fear as I may have in the past. And I’m doing scary, overwhelming things! Well, no, let me rephrase. I am confident in the gifting and abilities that I have, which makes these days full and manageable.

I have tried to carry the words forward with me each year, letting them soak into who I am. What I do. How I relate to others. Here’s the thing I’ve realized the past few days. I don’t think I have specifically chosen those words. Rather, they have chosen me. They have defined me. They have set my heart and mind past my current circumstances, where I can tend to only see the negative of my situation. Even as I write and recognize these words and how they all fit together, I am amazed at how God is working them out in my life.

Intentional joy that leads to a deep confidence.

Wow.

Just one word.

One word to another and to another and another.

Words that are building my life.

Words that are giving me life.

I’m happy where I am today.

I’m blessed where I am today.

I am filled with confident joy today.

How about you?

 

Do you have

just one word?