My Word for 2014

It’s nearly the end of March, so it’s about time I wrote about my word for 2014. I remember standing in my bathroom in late December, brushing my teeth while scanning Twitter on my iPod. Multitasking at its finest. I saw someone post about their #OneWord and immediately thought, “Ugh! I haven’t even thought about a word for next year!”

It had been a hectic month. On top of the Christmas crazy, I had started a new part-time job. I was busy trying to figure out the new normal in my life. In the past I started thinking about my word in October. This time there had been zero thought process.

“Oh well,” I thought to myself, “I guess I won’t have a word this year.”

And then, as if God was saying, “Pssst … I have something for you,” a word popped into my head: small.

I feel like I should whisper this word — not how I felt like whispering the word dance a few years ago — but the whole purpose of this word isn’t flashy or newsworthy.

There have been many times over recent years where I have felt too small, as though I am not doing enough or having a big enough impact or tackling a big assignment from God. Each time, God reminds me that what this world values is not what He values.

Jesus entered the world as a baby. Small.

He resisted the crowds’ call for Him to become a political figure or powerful leader. Small.

He spoke of His Father being like a shepherd who leaves the flock of 99 to search for the one lost sheep. Small.

Like normal, once you pick a word, it shows up everywhere. Tsh Oxenreider wrote a post called “Small is the New Big.” Lisa-Jo Baker picked it as her word for Five-Minute Friday a few weeks ago. (And now that I’ve finally posted this, I need to go read all 252 posts. 🙂 )

I’m not sure where this word will lead, but when a word pops into your head while you are brushing your teeth, you take notice. Here we go, small.

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Enough.

I’ve been meaning to write about my word for the year. The year is slipping by. Spring and winter have been doing a two steps forward, three steps back dance in my yard. Spring will soon win — I hope!

In past years, my word has come easily. This time, it has been a challenge to figure out the word that correctly conveys my heart for this year. One of my goals has been to declutter our house. I’m making progress on that front, although it seems to go like the spring and winter dance. I have some areas in my life I’d like to declutter, too. But the word “declutter” just wasn’t quite right. I avoided reading about other people’s words for the year so as to not influence my choice.

I was trying a word on for size one day, wondering if it might fit, when a song came on the radio. It was the same song that convinced me to pick the word Grace a few years back.

“Why are you striving these days? Why are you trying to earn grace?” –Tenth Avenue North, By Your Side

Another part of the song starts like this,

“Why are you looking for love? Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough?”

Enough. That is my word.

Is God alone enough? Dare I ask that question and risk a Job-type story happening in my life?

Am I enough? If I never grow or change am I content with being me?

In my best mom voice, “Enough!” Enough stuff. Enough negative thinking. Enough putting off what needs to be done.

And enough procrastinating this post.

2013: The Year of Enough.

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My Year of Dance

There was significantly less dancing in 2012 than I anticipated.

DanceThe word Dance pretty much climbed onto my lap and demanded I pick it as my word, but then it seemed to retreat and disappear without a trace. It was everywhere I looked at the end of 2011: the impromptu classroom dance party, a wedding reception dance, a trip to see the Nutcracker with my girls, mom and sister. I even looked at my previous words and how they created a glaring equation … Discipline + Balance + Grace = Dance.

My initial thought about the word dance was to feel more free to act and live in the moment. To spend less time thinking about what’s next or what is behind, but to simply enjoy each moment as it comes.

It was the Nutcracker performance that got me thinking of another element of dance. There were darling little girls dancing their hearts out, clearly

enjoying every moment of being on the stage. And there were the “main” ballerinas, who had obviously spent most of their lives training for their roles. Every movement was precise and perfect, as near as I could tell. They had less enthusiasm than the little girls, but a more refined gracefulness and beauty.

The little girls and the professional ballerinas all spent many hours preparing and practicing for the performance. Dance is not solely the spontaneous, “in the moment” movement I initially imagined. That is only one part of it. There is another part that requires discipline and practice and time to learn new skills.

Maybe I need more time to prepare for dancing. As with most years I have chosen a word, insights into the word have come in spurts. I’m still thinking about all the words I’ve used in the past. It seems most of them are onions with many layers.

So, dance is not over. Maybe I need to chase it around or invite it to come play. There is a new word for 2013. Hopefully it gets along with my old words, because they all seem to be hanging around.

 

One Word 2012

I was standing in our dining room, sorting papers on the table and thinking about my year of grace. I wonder what my word for 2012 should be?

And, BAM! It was there. A word popped into my head, seemingly out of nowhere.

Pffft. I can’t pick that word, I thought, almost laughing out loud. What?! Where did this come from? It’s just not fitting for me and my I’ll-stay-behind-the-scenes-please personality. 

My previous words of discipline, balance and grace were good, responsible, safe words. This one seemed risky.

Maybe my fear of the word is the very reason I should pick it. I argued with myself. (Or was I arguing with the word, or was it God? Did this word come from Him?) It’s only October, so I can still change my mind if the word doesn’t fit come January.

So, I made an agreement with the word, or the giver of the word (whoever that was), that maybe, just maybe, I would find time to entertain her in 2012. I whispered, barely letting myself hear, that my word might be … (is anyone looking?) … DANCE.

Just days after my dining room agreement, I helped at a party in my son’s second grade classroom. I was to help the head room mom at the candy walk station. Similar to the cake walk game, kids walked on numbers until the music stopped, and we played until everyone got one candy bar. The first group of kids had all received their candy and there was time before they moved to the next station, so the head room mom had an idea. “I’ll just keep playing the music and everybody can dance,” she happily proclaimed.

And dance they did. All of the kids, in all three groups that rotated through our station, freely moved, jumped and danced around the front of the classroom. The head room mom jumped right in, too, showing off crazy moves like the sprinkler and lawnmower. I clutched my bucket filled with numbers for the game and shuffled my feet back and forth, like a seventh grade boy at a junior high dance. How come I didn’t get assigned to the cookie making station? Or the Bingo game? I wondered. Is this some sort of joke?

My body wasn’t moving much, but loud thoughts were pounding in my head. Thoughts of fear and freedom and this strange longing to be more like the kids spinning around in front of me. Ok, ok! I thought. Maybe I do need this word. 

I haven’t signed up for a dance class or participated in a flash mob in a mall. Last year, I learned to run, and in doing so, learned much more about living life than the actual act of running. I suspect learning to dance will be similar. Yesterday, Emily Freeman wrote about being an artist. “Art isn’t so much the things we do but the way in which we do them,” she said.

It isn’t so much the way I dance, but the way in which I live. A life with a little less fear and a little more freedom to move with the music. Or at least that’s what I think at the beginning of the year. Maybe when December rolls around I’ll have to throw a dance party. 😉 (And I can’t believe I just wrote that in public. It will certainly be an interesting year!)

So, here we go, 2012! Let’s DANCE!

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I have not been very good at writing about my “word” for the year for the past three years, because I haven’t been very consistent at writing. But, I highly recommend the exercise of choosing a word for the year, even if you never write about it.

If you are interested in picking a word, or you already have and wonder what to do next, I suggest checking out these places:

Mandy at Messy Canvas had a great post called What Do I do With My Word?

One Word 365 is a community of One Worders (is that a word?) and a place to share your word. (I’ll be linking this post over there, too.)

Accidental Grace

Our library had a summer reading program for adults. It was a contest to read a book and then watch the movie based on that book. One lucky reader would win a date night package of dinner and a movie. My husband first learned about it, and we decided it would be a fun thing to do together.

We went to the library on a Saturday and looked at the available books and movies. We wanted to avoid movies we had already seen and books with too many pages. We settled on The Accidental Billionaires, by Ben Mezrich. It’s the story of the founding of Facebook.

It’s an interesting book. And we thought the movie, The Social Network, was good.

I was not expecting to find grace.

I know. It’s weird. I couldn’t figure it out, at first. What about this book is filling me with grace?

I realized it had little to do with what was in the book. It was more about what was not in the book. It wasn’t a how to be a better wife, be a better parent, spend your money better or be a better Christian kind of book. It was just a story. A significant story, really, as Facebook has changed our culture. But at the end of the day, it was just a story.

When was the last time I just read and enjoyed a good story?

All of the how-to _______ (fill in the blank) books are good to read, don’t get me wrong. But, if that’s all I read, I tend to start making a mental list of things I’m not doing good enough. Pretty soon a book that was meant to challenge, encourage and inspire has inadvertently unleashed the swirling thoughts of judgement and condemnation. It’s not a place filled with grace.

It has been fun to read The Boxcar Children with my kids and start on The Chronicles of Narnia set I received as a gift last Christmas.

To welcome grace, we first need some breathing space. The mind needs to wander and imagine without the need to solve a problem or make a change.

So, grab a little book and lose yourself in a story. And like a geeky kid at Harvard who became an accidental billionaire, you might just find yourself stumbling upon an unexpected abundance of grace.

Grace.

I read a parenting book that left me thinking about grace.

“The most distinguishing part of the Christian faith is grace — that wonderful gift offered by God to underserving people like you and me that makes us fall in love with the Savior.” — Tim Kimmel, Grace Based Parenting

I caught a line in a song.

“Why are you striving these days? Why are you trying to earn grace?” — Tenth Avenue North, By Your Side

I stumbled upon a blog where every post seems to stir my soul. And she wrote a whole series on grace. And she just wrote a book about grace. (It was the first book I ever pre-ordered. And it’s good. Really, really good.)

“But I’m learning. And the learning isn’t a teeth-gritting, white-knuckled kind of learning. It is perhaps the opposite kind of learning from what we are used to in this world. It is an upside-down learning. Rather than trying harder, grace is learned best when we begin to trust, to really believe God when he says this grace life is not your own doing, it is my gift to you.” —Emily P. Freeman, Chatting at the Sky

And I heard the whisper of a verse that would not leave me alone.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30

Sometimes you try hard to think of a word for a year like discipline or balance because they are good words and things to strive for.

And sometimes a word just finds you. Kind of like grace.