Tag Archives: new year

All Things New (#OneWord365)

Image by Chris Sardegna/Unsplash.com

Image by Chris Sardegna/Unsplash.com

Back in November, as I stared at the disappointing rubble of 2014 and felt mounting dread for what the final months might throw our way, everything in me wanted to disappear into a dark hole somewhere. My heart was weary and spent, my fight all used up.

But even as the taunting shadows seemed to inch ever closer, I heard the rumblings of an eternal Voice whispering to the deepest place in my spirit: Hope. Choose hope.

I raged against these words. Several years in a row, I have mustered hope for a new year. Several years in a row, I have watched that hope dashed. I did not think I had the energy for another round of that cruel game.

Still. Every time I turned around, the challenge seemed to be coming at me from all sides: Hope. Choose hope.

I grudgingly began to consider that “hope” just might be my one word for 2015. I didn’t really want it, but I know how it goes—you don’t really choose the word as much as it chooses you. Maybe hope was choosing me. And I began to try to lay down the lenses of disappointment that were tainting the image of everything I could see; I tried to see differently.

It was subtle at first, and then undeniable—a shift started taking place. First, my heart started softening. Then circumstances started changing. Surprises. New friendship. A raise. Unexpected bonuses. Clarity. Rest. I hadn’t even fully embraced hope, but it seemed as if maybe it wasn’t going to be quite as hard as I thought.

Until I heard God speak more clearly than I have heard anything in awhile: I want you to do more than hope, Adela. I want you to believe Me for redemption.

Redemption. This is a loaded word: rescue, deliverance, atoning for faults, buying back or receiving back something that was sold or lost. This is restoration. This is things that were meant for evil being turned around for good. This is all things new.

(And I thought choosing hope was going to be hard.)

As this settled in my spirit, I was equal parts thrilled and terrified. And hopeful. So, so hopeful.

Because in my bones, I do believe God can do this. (If I don’t, I’d best pick a different faith to profess.) I don’t know how He will do it, and like many other things, I imagine it won’t end up looking like I thought it would. But still, I believe He can do it.

Redeem and restore.

I am writing this post from my daughter’s hospital room as she recovers from surgery. The irony of this moment is not lost on me—believing for redemption even in the place where I’ve faced one of my biggest struggles with God. But I see His promises hovering over her, and I feel His whispers echoing around us. Here in this place, the word that has swirled around in my heart for the last few weeks finally settles and takes root.

Redemption. I choose to declare redemption over this year. I choose to hope for all things new.

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Filed under Change, Faith, Hope

Choosing Rest

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As my resolutions are forming in this first month of the year, I am structuring them around 5 things I’ve realized I need to choose on a regular, daily basis.

And by far at the top of the list? Rest.

I have struggled with a lifestyle that includes rest for so long, I can’t remember not struggling with it.  I tend to go at a whirlwind place, pausing for a day periodically for something I’ve been calling rest but really has been more like catch-up-on-all-the-other-things-I’m-behind-on day.  I’m also pretty good about taking days for fun with my munchkins, which offers a certain measure of rest, but at the same time, I’m still pouring out, still parenting.  More often than not, when I actually slow down and stop, it’s because my body has gone as far as it can go, and it finally crashes.

There is nothing healthy about any of this.

In my defense, last year in particular I made some good strides in building what my pastor calls “margin” into my life.  But here is where I failed and here is where I am changing: patterns of rest need to be cultivated as a discipline.  Rest is a matter of choosing, and by default, the deliberate choosing – the act of saying yes to rest results in saying no to other things.  Good things.  Fun things.  Important things. (He rarely shouts, but I can almost hear my dad shouting, “Amen!” here.  I’m pretty sure he’s been trying to tell me this for years.)

Rest can feel selfish.  This is my biggest struggle.  There are so many worthy things bidding for my time (and some times they are worth sacrificing for).  But I am not as effective as I could be at anything if I am not taking care of myself – emotionally, physically, spiritually.  None of us are.  We weren’t wired that way.

We need sleep.  We need refreshing.  Our brains need a break.  Our emotions need a break.  Even our spirits need a break.

This process is a challenge for me.  It is a matter of stripping away everything that can go and starting over to decide what is necessary for this season.  It is a matter of restructuring my daily and weekly schedule to accommodate 8 hours of sleep and regular intervals of relaxation.  It is a matter of discipline to stay caught up with tasks in allotted time frames, so I’m not cutting in to my down time later.  I am even scheduling in time to read (definitely the best change I’ve made so far!  I love books!).

Somewhere along the way, I think I adopted that saying, “I’ll rest when I’m dead”, not even realizing I had done it.  But here’s the thing – you live that way, you most certainly will die that way, much sooner than you were meant to.  And by the time you physically die that way, you will have killed everything else that mattered to you in the process.  This is a sobering realization.

Here is what I am learning: rest is not for the weak because they just don’t have the stamina for everything life is demanding of them. It is not an indicator of failure or inadequacy.

No, rest is for the wise because they understand the world doesn’t need more of their time; it needs more of their energy.  It needs more of their focus and their life and their vitality.  These are things a worn out, unhealthy person simply cannot give.  And perhaps most importantly, rest is for people who understand their own worth, who know they are far more significant than simply the sum of all their tasking.

I have not been able to rest well because I have embraced the idea that I am not valuable if I am not doing.  And you know, that is probably true of some people; they don’t care beyond what I’m contributing to their cause.  These are unhealthy relationships, and they need to go anyway.  This is a new process for me, a new way of seeing life, but I am wholly committed to it.

I choose rest.

And you?  What habits/boundaries/disciplines have you established to protect your rest?  How are you choosing to protect your worth over your to do list?  Where do you need to start?

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Filed under Rest, Uncategorized

A New Approach to January

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As the final days of December wafted away and January inched ever closer, I felt a small panic beginning to rise in me.  I need to make plans.  I need to think through goals.  I need to.  I need to.

I am not one of those people who belittles resolution-making.  Making things happen in life generally requires having a plan and working the plan while staying wide open to miracles that could gloriously set all your dreams in motion.  There is tremendous value to assessing where you are and where you want to be, honestly identifying what is working and what is not.

What I found myself resisting was the need to have the introspection done, all these goals identified, new habits and patterns and disciplines ready to commence on January 1.  I’ve always pushed myself for this, but I have been battling weariness and I knew.  I just couldn’t make it happen like that.

One of my aunts – so wise – commented somewhere that while she knows the value of well thought resolutions, she finds she’s generally too tired after the holiday season to try and work it all out in time for the New Year.  She has a February birthday, and so she gives herself until then to make her assessments and adjust her course.

For me, waiting until my birthday would be pretty impractical (July baby here, so half the year would be gone!).  But I decided to take the entire month of January to rest and to calmly formulate some plans and goals, to allow myself to wallow in some dreams and find out if they are still really what I want.

An awareness has dawned.  I think so often our resolutions happen like an impulse buy – it seems like a good idea at the time, but we haven’t fully thought it through, only to discover later maybe we didn’t want it that much after all.  And there goes another failed resolution.

Add to that goals that are exactly what we want, but they’re never practically broken down into a workable plan, almost guaranteeing their failure as soon as they are formulated.

And the biggest flaw in the mix (at least for me personally) – while the holiday season is undoubtedly wearying and busy, there is still a certain slowing that comes with it.  Regular routines and schedules are temporarily suspended.  Lots of time is made for people and eating and fun.  There’s a certain grasp on reality that gets lost.  And then you sit down to make resolutions and anything seems possible, as if January 1 brings with it a magic re-start switch where you can go back to real life and implement all these new changes to your life at the same time.

Maybe this isn’t everyone, but it has certainly been me.  (And I have a feeling I’m not totally alone.)  The value of allowing myself an entire month to think through these things is that in the midst of my return to routine, I am able to assess what is practically going to work as I take steps for change.  I’ve already been able to return to the drawing board a few times and say, “Ok, this goal is still good, but I need to think of a different approach for making it happen.”

So this post is a little more practical, but I feel there are people out there who get frustrated with this whole resolution process, not because they don’t see the value, but because the pressure has been too high.  Here it is January 13 and maybe you feel like you’re failing already.  And for you, I want to say, it’s ok to slow down.  Give yourself some extra time.  Who cares where anyone else is at with their resolutions and goal-implementing?  The important thing is for you to be able to look back on your year and feel satisfied with the steps you were able to take.

Perhaps take a deep breath, find a quiet moment and begin the process again, allowing yourself some days and weeks to choose direction.  The dreams pulsing in your heart are worth the grace and extra time.

 

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Filed under Perfectionism, Rest, Waiting

One Word 365: Epiphany

Image by Jennifer Upton

Image by Jennifer Upton

I love the new year – the official start to a new chapter in time.  I relish the opportunity to pause, reflect and refocus.

But the reflection has been challenging over the past few weeks as I face the reality of another year – a fourth year – coming and going without the change we’ve been fighting for, the miracle we’ve been looking for.

It has forced me to ask – is it worth it?  The goal-setting, the dreaming, the migrating back to hope.  Is it worth the effort when you’re already discouraged and weary?

I am craving clarity, focus, something to hold on to.  I wanted my one word, but nothing was coming.  Until a story sister mentioned epiphany and another one said sometimes you have to just take hold of what you need, claim it as yours.

Epiphany is a sudden realization – a flash of recognition in which someone or something is seen in a new light.  It usually comes after a long struggle or search, wrestling with a problem or concept until the light shines and clarity comes.  Originally, this clarity or insight was believed to only come through the divine – a supernatural enlightenment.

And so, with trembling hope, I am declaring 2014 the year of Epiphany, where light pierces the darkest clouds.  After the long struggle, I am believing for sudden realizations bringing fresh perspective.  I want to see myself in a new light and for the many puzzle pieces I have struggled to make sense of to be basked in a glow of understanding only available through the Divine.

I expect surprise.

I expect awakening.

I expect revelation.

I am choosing to empty the disappointments and open myself wide to drink in the illuminations, to savor the epiphany.

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Filed under Faith, Hope, Miracles