Thursday, January 1, 2015

What's In a New Year's Name?

Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means "the stone of help"), for he said, "Up to this point the LORD has helped us!"   (1 Samuel 7:12, NIV)

Last year, during my week of holiday rest and reflection while visiting my family, I stumbled upon a new idea: instead of setting a bunch of New Year's resolutions, identify one word that summarizes what you would like to focus on for the year. (see After a lot of prayer, listing all kinds of words, and reading others' OneWords, the Lord impressed on my heart that my word for the year was aLive. 

For years, as I've battled depression, given up much of my identity as a homemaker mom to return to full-time work, and ongoing financial and other struggles, I've developed a coping mechanism of retreating - just giving up and escaping into entertainment, reading, sleeping, or whatever is easy and dulls the pain and relieves the immediate struggle. Somehow in the process of learning to cope this way, I lost sight of the fact that I was living my life less and less. The result has been a steady decay of my world - weight gain and poor health, children poorly trained to do the things in life they need to be able to do, a home that is always a mess and in disrepair, finances that are always insufficient for our needs, and so on. It finally hit me last year that even in my thinking I wasn't living - that I needed to engage more in my own life and tackle even the greatest of obstacles with the confidence that with God, all things are possible!

I loved the focus on being aLive! I entered the year eagerly, anticipating all the ways God would show me how to live life. I even connected a monthly focus to my annual word, and decided to:

  • Live forward (January)
  • Live held (February)
  • Live here and now (March)
  • Live reverently (April)
  • Live fully (May)
  • Live intentionally (June)
  • Live gratefully (July)
  • Live joyfully (August)
  • Live grace (September)
  • Live complete (October)
  • Live abundantly (November)
  • Life Life (December)

That's not to say it was easy - this newly found focus for my live-living. Not only do I just have a hard time sticking with something over time without becoming distracted, but the Lord threw me a curve-ball in February this year, when I lost my job. It devastated me, and brought into my life a whole new set of challenges emotionally, financially, spiritually, and such. However it was "Live here and now" that returned me to my senses when the disappointment and sense of failing began to ease somewhat in early March, and I began job-hunting and formulating a plan for getting back on my feet. 

In April I found a wonderful new job at a place I didn't expect to even look, and it was clear that month that I should "Live reverently," for the unexpected gift God gave. Over the months I have wandered and forgotten often to be all God has made me to be ... and struggled once more against exhaustion, trying to balance it all, and other things to live my life and not just watch it happen. But the OneWord has brought me back to my focus again and again, and now that I am at the end of year 2014, I realize that maybe for the first time ever, I have actually lived out what I set out to do at the beginning of a year, even with all the twists and turns this year has taken. 

I plan to continue my OneWord tradition this year - building on being alive and looking to thrive this year. I have several words I'm leaning toward, and am still asking the Lord to show me His word for me, but I have loved the OneWord approach to setting new year goals. There is power in a word, even more power when it extends from THE WORD, and I'm eager to see how a holy word will make changes in my life and in what I do for the Lord this year!

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