Friday, January 16, 2015

When Your "One Word" Ain't Whatcha Hoped It Would Be

2014 was my year of hope.
Hope...the "one word" I chose after much prayer and reflection.
Hope for the God-size dream I was working on at the time.
Hope in seeing my daughter through high school graduation and the big move to college.
(Ahem, hoping I wouldn't fall apart...)
Hope in my marriage.
Hope in new work opportunities that were comin' at me fast and furious after a season of rest.

I loved that word.
Whenever I got into a quandary, I would pray in hope for a clear answer.
When things were tough and I felt at the end of my rope, I prayed in hope for peace.
There were days I just whispered "hope, hope, hope" as a mantra when I had nothing else to say internally.
It was a good word.
It was a good year.

So you can imagine my anticipation when I began praying over my direction for 2015.
What "one word" would I be given?
I imagined encouraging words raining down on me like manna from Heaven.  Words like...

I imagined receiving exciting action words in a lightning bolt, electrifying my heart.  Words like...
Move it sis!

I began praying in earnest at the beginning of December, knowing that my "one word" would be forthcoming soon.  His one Word for me, His child.  What direction would I be led this year?  Which path would He have me follow?  I dreamily waited for the answer.

I heard it and knew immediately it was the one.
But I denied it for a few days in the hopes I was making it up.
"Can't be.
Nope, not this one.
Is it?
Please, Lord, make another choice."

But that relentless whisper was clear as day.  I've heard it's kind enough to know when I'm being called.  My encouraging, exciting, anticipated word?

Can you imagine a word more apt to send a recovering control freak into a tailspin?
But there it was, first in my heart, then seemingly, in every newspaper, television show, blog post and conversation I was having.  The words, "obey" and "obedience" and "obedient" kept getting thrown at me, hurled at my head like the knocks that they were.

Knock, knock.  
Who's there?
Adore who?  
Adore is between up!

There He was a knockin' and I knew I had to tear down the door to get to the heart of His call.  
The funny thing is, the more I prayed over the word, and the more I've started to adhere to it, the fear over what I'm going to have "to do" has begun to abate.
Because the reality is, if I'm truly listening and truly following, these constant acts of obedience will free me from anxiety over my "choices."  There is a clear direction provided.  There is a transparent Word.  I don't have to worry about saying no to someone I love or saying yes to too much because each time, I'm simply following direction.  As my friend, Mindy, said to me, long before I had started to embrace my directive, "Oh, I don't see 'obedience' as difficult.  I see it as 'surrender.' Your choices just got a lot easier and you can remove the burden of worry."  And you know what?  She's right.

Yeah, I can do that for a year.
In fact, I hope to do it forever.

{Figured out your "one word" direction
for this year yet?
Praying you're guided where you need to be.
Thanks for reading.}

Photo credit:  randomthoughtstome, Flickr

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

When Did Those Pants Get So Short?

I glanced over at my son in the kitchen this morning.
While his back was turned, hair standing on end from a night's deep sleep, I happened to look down at his "pajamas."  Those sweatpants Papa Buck got him a few Christmases ago.  The pitch black ones with the American Eagle side logo that used to drag on the floor at least three inches. The ones he wore anyway because they were "soooo soft."  
I looked down and noticed for the first time they were four inches above his ankles.  
When did those pants get so short?
Beautiful selfie on the airplane headed to Alabama
on Christmas Morning

Where is the time going?

Yesterday I drove him to school, a route that's short enough to walk, but one which we decided I will drive.  For him because it's "too exhausting" to walk at the beginning of his day.  For me because I secretly treasure those seven minutes in the car with him.  We were discussing his comment, 
"I really don't like school," (shocker!)...
How the concept of "school" dated back to the times of Jesus...
And how the concept was originally such an amazing one.
That it was a concept of learning moral and social values, arts and philosophy.
That it was a notion of free exchanges of ideas.
That it has changed in such dramatic fashion due to bureaucracies and politics, common core standards and "no child left behind."
That it changed to something stricter and less free, a bit more militant.
But that the changes occurred through the concerns of citizens who had true moral motivation....
That each child be able to learn equally.

It may seem I'm off on a tangent here.
That I'm just filling you in on a random convo. (Truly, I'm not looking for a debate!)
But in actuality, I'm illustrating that we were talking about profound topics.
Yes, I feel fairly certain I was making a good argument and finding the proper vocabulary to support my ideas.
Wasn't I?

When the guy on my right blatantly ignored my perpetual blinker as I tried to change lanes, I muttered, "You're neat," and Braden started laughing.
"I love that 'you're neat' is the worst you can think to say to that guy," he said.
"Oh, I can think of alot worse but don't see the point," I giggled. "It's really not..."
I paused.
"Appropriate?" he interjected.  "Productive? Useful?"
I looked at him as we sat at the red light and said, "You know, if you'd let me finish thinking half the time, I'd be able to find the word.  Now I can't remember the point I was trying to make."
"Well, just give me the idea, and I'll come up with the word."
"I could have come up with it myself if you'd ever let me finish my sentence these days!!!" I fired back.

When, oh when, did this "child" begin to think he could articulate more clearly than I what I want to say?!?
(And when did those pants get so short?!?)

I was thinking about that exchange this morning as I carried his tennis racket and dirty clothes from the living room (don't you have a tennis racket and dirty clothes in YOUR living room?  Is that not normal?) to their proper locations.  In inhaled deeply of his clothes, knowing they would be ripe, but aware that there are only a few more years left of being able to serve him in this way.
He's correcting my words.
He's coming up with the thoughts.
He's supporting his own ideas.
And his pants are too short.

He's becoming a man.

It seems like only yesterday I was watching my daughter go from girl-to-womanhood in the span of a few short years.  
A span of time that was both irritating and awe-inspiring.  
A span of time that was as profound as it was argumentative.  
A span of time that went too quickly and that I long for most days.

And it strikes me deeply once again, on these days of realization rather than annoyance, how blessed I am to mother these children...
...this woman and this young man who have grown and changed and matured right before these astonished eyes.
How honored and impressed I should be that they are providing the words when I cannot.
How moved I am that I have been tasked with this most amazing job.

I pray that each of you know and believe the difference you make in the lives of the children around you...
Whether as parents or aunts and uncles or teachers or mentors...
That we have been entrusted with the most inspiring, important job in the world.
That we are growing tomorrow's women and men of God.

{Loving my boy and girl so intensely today.
And thanking Him, in his trust and love, 
for these, my greatest blessings.
Thanks for reading.}

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Obedience Redirected

My plan was to write about my "one word" today.  But after waking up to a picture posted on my Facebook page this morning, I decided against it.  (Which is really ironic since my "one word" is obedience.  Ha!)
But that's the beauty of a blog about God's messages.
They aren't always in line with what I have planned.
In fact, they often aren't.
It's a lesson I continue to learn and relearn over and over as the years progress.

Will you share in what I awoke to?

I emerged from  my bedroom with my phone in hand and image zoomed, tears streaming and snot flowing and breath ragged.  As my husband hugged me, rubbing my back and saying, "Oh, I love this picture," I could barely get it together enough to respond between sobs, "My hair looked really good that day."
Daddy would have laughed at that.
He loved a good tension breaker.

This photo is of me and my inspiration, my conscience, my hero.
Daddy who is gone three Christmases now.  
The picture's one from a photo shoot taken long ago...can't remember the year.  
I've only seen one other image from that winter day and it's breathtaking...
Mama and Daddy and their five girls, all arms linking and hands grasping and smiles and beauty and family.
But I've never had the chance to see the single images of me and my Daddy.
So to awake to this...oh, this...was a gift I can never quantify.

My sister is a brilliant photographer.  She has managed to capture perfectly our relationship here .  Read into it what you will.  I know our story.  After all, that's the beauty of art, isn't it?  For each individual to see what they see.

For myself, I see how alike we are.
The nose.
The forehead.
The freckles.
The understanding.
The joy.

I love our hands in one another's.
Loose but connected.
As if to say, "You are my strength but, don't worry, I can stand on my own."
I wish my hand weren't covering his.
I would give most anything to see those hands again.
I've written about in them in great length, in a book no one has ever read.
They were many times my inspiration, strong but gentle.
Just like him.

I have no other reason to share this with you this morning than for you to know my heart a bit better. 
The very deepest, most intimate parts of my heart.  
The parts that learned from the best.  
The parts that listened to guidance from a blessing sent to me from God in Heaven.  
The part that sometimes sadly continues to beat without him here, desperate for the day when I will see him again.  
The part that writes and creates and speaks in a manner oh, so very much like him.
I share it with you to reveal perhaps, other than our Heavenly Father, the greatest source of my inner light.

And I share it in the hopes that the images you capture daily, the ones which surround you, are the pictures that move you most greatly.  
The ones that mean the most. 
The ones that are a reminder of all you are blessed with...all you have been given.
I share it in the hopes that you, like me, have had a chance to taste and experience a little bit of Heaven on earth.

{Remembering and saying prayers of great thanks today.
I hope you are surrounded by beauty such as this.
Thanks for reading.}

Photo credit:  Elizabeth McGonagle, Lasting Memories Photography

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

On Resolutions, Goals, and One Word

Happy New Year!!

I wish I could say that my house is cleaned of Christmas, and I am well on my way to tackling my 2015 clutter clearing and general life organization.  (Would love to say it but I can't.)
My Santa collection still populates the shelves of the den.  I just can't bear to say goodbye yet.
My mantle continues to proclaim "Joy" amid the feather garland.
There are boxes and crates and miscellaneous wrapped (and not yet wrapped) Christmas presents strewn about the house.
Wow, I can't recall, in recent memory, ever being this far behind experiencing and distributing Christmas.
Still I'm okay with all of it because I didn't really get into the spirit of the season until the 19th.
So I feel a bit entitled to fully embrace a little longer that beauty and peace others enjoyed for a full month...His grace has finally penetrated my formerly Scrooged and sickly interior.

What I did reflect on in the early days of December, however, while blowing my nose and hacking up a lung, were my thoughts and objectives for the new year.
I prayed over my "one word."  (More on this phenomenon in posts to come.)
I reflected on what I would like to see more of or experience in 2015.
Then I came up with a resolution and a goal for the year in spite of the fact that I've never mastered the act of the follow through.

My resolution?  To be a better wife.  In every word.  Every deed.  Every encounter.  (Say a prayer for me please!)
My goal?  To read a book a week for the full year.  (I'm on page 320 of 368 in my first selection...and it's only Wednesday!)
My "one word" you ask?  Obedience.
(Heavy exhale.)

I wanted to share all of these with you as I will be writing about them on and off throughout the year, I imagine.  
And whether you have a goal or a resolution...
a word or a dream...
or whether you are simply hanging on by a thread in the hopes that you can sanely navigate 2015's choppy waters...
I wanted you to know that my prayers are with you.
For great peace and joy.
For tremendous success and the realization of God-sized dreams.
For love in your families and homes.
For His guiding hand beside you, every step of your new year journey.

So here's to new beginnings.
Here's to grace in the good things.
Here's to a beautiful 2015!

Have a great Wednesday...

{Do you have a goal or resolution?
Have you chosen "one word?"
I'd love it if you'd share them in the comments below 
or here on my FB page.
Thanks for reading.}