Category Archives: Words

A Year’s Reflection: Word Edition

As 2018 draws near its close, I’m often found in a reflective state of late, taking stock of twelve months come and gone.  It’s a humbling practice, this looking back on experienced highs and lows to find the redemptive thread woven through it all.

The year began with a friend’s question, “What is your word for 2018?”  I had observed this practice in loved ones’ lives before: asking God for a word for the next year and prayerfully waiting until a word resonated deep in their spirit.  For some, it was a virtue to aspire in growth towards.  For others, a promise to cling to through a season of waiting or trial.

My previous several years had been admittedly hard, enduring circumstances I’d sworn never to walk through and finding my faith stripped down to sure studs of grace.  Something about the nearing new year struck a fresh chord, a distant tune that perhaps this year might be different.  So, when I observed surveys circling during 2017’s final days, asking what my word would for 2018 might be, the question stirred curiosity of whether God perhaps held one for me.

Sure enough, whispers of a word rose to the surface of my mind, resonating as true to my wondering heart below.

On January 2, 2018, a group of girlfriends gathered around my table to celebrate and set the tone for this new year.  After indulging in scrumptious offerings of cookie butter, waffle biscuits, flavorful pies and toasts to our collective health, we spent hours exploring enneagram wisdom and related spiritual formation tools.  We dove deep into our stories, asking provoking questions and offering honest answers to trusted friends.  What Scriptures did each of us need to cling to in the new year?  What practices would fuel our faith and direct us closer towards the heart of our loving God?  And, of course, what word spoke to our souls for 2018?  Chalk in hand, 2018 took shape in colors and phrases before our eyes and together, we felt seen, sought, significant before our Maker.

Being an Enneagram Six, the verses 1 John 4:18 and 1 Peter 5:6-7 stood out as timely, passages on the perfect love of God dispelling fear and calling me to cast my worries upon the One who cares most.  Disciplines of Scripture memorization and fasting would promote further growth while grounding practices of singing, journaling, and meditating on God’s Word would stir faith where fear often tried to reign.

As for my word, it started stirring my spirit days earlier.  First heard as a whisper, it echoed in reverse, growing stronger with each refrain.  A notion of new life springing forth from ashes.  Phoenix.

Time passed, turning that evening’s events to memory as life for this solo working mama bustled by with ferocity. Those first few months of this new year seemed circumstantially contrary to the practices and promises scribed in chalk.  Had I misheard?  While “new life” remained elusive, ashes continued to abound.

In time, phoenix fell forgotten.

Now with another year nearly gone, December ushered in a new season of listening for a word.  Once work deadlines and scheduled festive mania subsided, I began reflecting once again.  What had transpired over the course of 2018?  Did the year’s end find me any closer to those elements shared with friends back at it’s beginning?

Thankfully, the chalkboard’s goals and guiding practices had been captured that January night.  I pulled out the photograph to refresh my memory.  In taking stock of the twelve months past through this renewed lens, a remarkable truth emerged:

Every item listed that night had occurred in 2018.

Scriptures memorized.  Seasons of fasting with prayer transpired.  Fears and anxieties brought to the mind’s forefront for purposes of growth and healing.  Songs sung in secret and on stage.  Journaling proven essential in processing the year’s highs and lows and elements between.  Lessons in casting cares onto the loving heart of God, learning to believe His love instead of loud fears (though admittedly this is still very much in process).

As for phoenix, evidence of new life springing from ashes covered the year.  Signs of fresh beginnings and revived dreams: personally, professionally, and in the lives of my children and loved ones.  Encouragement received and distributed in the telling of broken stories redeemed and past pain woven into provision.  Though it had not taken the form I anticipated on that January evening, elements of renewed rising had indeed come to fruition by the mighty hand of God. And it proclaimed grace – all of it.

Today finds me in a familiar space, reflecting on a year gone by while holding hopes for the coming year with open hands.  The new year’s word came in a moment, tucked within a conversation with my dearest friend and sister.

“Remember being brave doesn’t mean feeling brave and you are stepping into bravery with every part of this.  Trusting Jesus when it feels so close yet so far.  And maybe part of this is just abiding.  Not doing but abiding in the present season.”

It jumped from the screen straight into my heart, echoing affirmation all the way down.

Abide (verb): to bear patiently, tolerate; to endure without yielding, withstand; to wait for; to accept without objection

I know not what this new year may hold nor how this word will take shape as days turn to weeks, to months, to another year lived.  Indeed, for an impatient ginger named Patience, this call to deeper resting in my Author’s pen rather than scrambling to take control from my limited perspective feels daunting, unsettling, yet divine.  Looking back to find fingerprints of God’s faithfulness has fueled my faith today to trust Him as the unknown soon unfolds.

Phoenix rising
Now abiding
Beneath the shadow of Thy wings

Sovereign timing
Author scribing
Mine now Yours, an offering

What word might He hold in store for you this next year?

In my experience, its proven worth the asking.

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Filed under Faith, God, Patience, Poetry, Words

Bestow The Words You Crave

Another long day, grappling past lies and current insecurities and future worst-case possibilities.  Craving words of reassurance to raw wounds open, I reach out to friends with said aching, seeking remedy.  Disappointment comes again as well-intentioned words fall hollow on these doubting ears.  Shame lays another layer down upon a battered heart.

And round about this carousel of craving I go again.

We’ve likely all taken a spin or seventy on this merry-go-round, seeking wholeness in the words of trusted friends for our scarred places, wounded spaces. Guilty as charged.  For me, it happens most often come evening. When the world slows, and children finally sleep, and I lie alone in bed.

“Am I enough?  Is God still kind?  Not to us all but to me.  Did my failures today scar my children for life?”  These are some of my frequent flyers.  I’m confident your list stands ready in the wings too.

What do we do?  What do I do?  I grab my phone and reach out to people to fill these aching gaps.  They respond as best they know how yet my holes within only expand under the weight of sincere yet inadequate platitudes.  This cycle repeats until loud lies feel true and worth seems lost and alone becomes more than a place but a defining status.

Maybe it’s just me.

But I know it isn’t.

Life happens, wounds happen, heck – simply human existence happens – and we reach out battered hearts for divine balm from mortal sources.  Funny how loneliness often perpetuates itself through the avenues used in seeking remedy.

Recently, I found myself on this well-worn path again.  Questions of worth, the purpose for pain, value where history had “proven” otherwise.  In the middle of the familiar reach towards my mobile, a soft stirring began to sound.

You’re not alone in loneliness.

I’ve heard it said that if we recognized how often people feel lonely, we’d find community within our loneliness.  Or something like that.  Bottom line – you’re not the only one aching, the only one seeking, the only one asking these same questions.

What do you long to hear?  To believe?  To have someone who knows your story believe of you, for you, speak over you?

Such questions gave me pause.  What did I truly want to believe as TRUTH in my depths?  Words began to fill my mind, snatches of verses often cliched in their application.  Words of worth, destiny, beauty springing from ashes and hidden hopes realized.

“Ok, Lord, I ‘know’ all these things are true, but I want to believe them, and I honestly don’t.”  His next whisper surprised me.

Who else needs to hear these words too?

Full stop.

I sensed the Lord challenging me to trade seeking for serving, to lift my eyes from sorrows, off licking proverbial wounds, and recognize those surrounding me.  It took conscious effort, this changing of perspective: wounds in one hand and desired spoken truths in the other, both held out before the One who ultimately bore all wounds, who alone bestows all healing.  And the results astounded me.

Slowly, surely, as names came to mind, a choice lay before me.

No, an invitation: set aside my own wounds to extend balm for another.  And if asked of its source, I’d only be able to point to the One who was pointing this all out to me.

Pick up a phone, select a person, type away.  Only this time, not in gathering, but in bestowing, in speaking life.  As their faces came to mind and words were sent on blessing’s mission, the most remarkable thing occurred: My own ache began to ease and texts started coming in.

“How did you know?”

“I so needed this.”

Grateful, I responded, “Me too, my friend. Me too.”

This paradox turned hurting on its head, bestowing community where moments before loneliness reigned.  It’s counter-intuitive when wounds screaming loud bleed raw and words from trusted friends fall flat on aching ears – to lay down craving in place of grace-proclaiming.  What if we transformed our intuitions to seek into commissions to serve?  Who else might need to hear the very things our own hearts long for?

Simply put – bestow the words you crave.

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Filed under Struggles, Thoughts, Words

Worth Of Words

“Words are life, Liesel.”

Profound words simply stated by a Jew hiding in the depths of a Munich basement during World War II. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is one of my all-time favorite books. Brilliantly written, Zusak transports the reader into the heart of Nazi Germany through the eyes of an unexpected narrator, Death. He follows the life of a young girl, Liesel Meminger, as she meets her foster parents in Munich and later an endearing Jewish man in hiding, Max. This incredible story weaves truth, bittersweet hope and love through the dark Nazi canvas of the 1930’s and 40’s. So much can be said about this book yet any attempt of mine would be inadequate. In truth, The Book Thief stole my heart.

As Max wisely stated, words ARE life. They have the power to build or to tear down, to instill hope or bestow despair. A word spoke or written holds power beyond comprehension. How many times have words lingered minutes, years, decades in your mind after their first hearing? Like a redwood seed, a word can take root in the soul and its results grow beyond comprehension in a person’s life. With words we condemn, with words we forgive. Words name, claim and project over every aspect of life.

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Our words bring life or death. (Proverbs 18:21) The wisest king, Solomon, wrote, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4) Why, even all creation came into being by words! “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) Jesus was God’s Word to mankind. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things cam into being through Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1-3, 16)

Words are life! The question is: what kind of life are you creating by your words’ spoken, thought, ingested and imputed? Do you instill hope and blessing over your children by the way you speak to them, about them, over them? Do you view yourself by what this failing world says or by what God says about you? Do you whisper words of gratitude or entitlement about your circumstances, your belongings, your very existence?

From a dark German basement, a Jew imparted wisdom to his young friend. May we all heed his wisdom and be ever mindful of the worth our words carry . Speak life today.

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Filed under Literary, Words