2014: one word 365.

i’m a little geeked up right now. i’m coming off the high of an influence net class by rachael kincaid on women at work (meaning all women. because we all work. whatever we’re doing.). it rang so true and sweet and challenging and harmonious within, calling to mind the OneWord365 post that keeps slipping through the cracks, unwritten.

so here it is, maybe raw, maybe unfinished because it’s almost 10pm and i can feel myself melting into the sofa, but it’s time to spell it out.

my 2014 word is persevere.

Imagethis is probably not a huge shocker to those who know me in person. i’m big on accomplishment and achievement. i’m all about sucking it up and putting your head down (both of which Rachael spoke to so eloquently in the class tonight!), ignoring distractions, learning how to say “no,” and forging a clear path. every year, our family, our marriage, has faced trials both expected and unexpected, and onward we went, refusing defeat, despair, devastation. we’ve learned so much about choosing joy, slaying expectations and fighting for fun when it just felt so far away. like i tweeted a few weeks ago, persevere has been a silent anthem rising like a wave for years past, and this year, it’s reaching a crest.

this is the year we’re choosing (at least some of) the hardest moments we will have ever faced. sure, we picked young marriage and a four year seminary program and a baby amidst a sea of schoolwork and small paychecks and, for heaven’s sake, life in ministry. but this is the year we take classes, fill out paperwork, let professionals scrutinize our home and pray for the end of the seemingly endless checklist to come so that we can bring children we’ve never met from parents we’ve never known from neighborhoods we’ve never seen to live in our home. in other words, this is the year we’ve lost our minds, and friends, i think it’s the best place we’ve ever been.

persevere takes on a whole new meaning when we’re not only choosing to respond with joy to the hardships that rise up on their own, but when we look at something with heartbreak written all over it and say yes, we choose this. this amidst the already constant calls to persevere in parenthood and jobs and church life and family relationships and community and first time homeownership and dreams that are clawing their way to the surface of our hearts. we’re choosing this. we’re choosing hard. we’re choosing to dig our heels in deep. we’re choosing to put our hands to the plow and to let Him put our feet on solid ground. we’re choosing to set our affections on the unloved and to set our eyes on things above, by Jesus’ grace alone. we’re choosing to say yes and to persevere.

i’ve felt all of this rumbling inside for so very long, lived and believed it more fully in the recent weeks and months. today is really just the day that i’m putting a name on it and grasping onto what this really is. today is the day that i’m determined to come out of 2014 with a deeper understanding of how the thoughts make it happen and Christ’s grace is enough work together, with a reconciliation of sweaty work and healing rest, with an overwhelming sense of confidence and joy. this tree has had its roots in me for years now; the branches are coming along, slow, sure, budding, blossoming.

soon enough, i’ll share a post with some of the tools i’m using to set myself up for living with persevere as my anthem. these aren’t just rambling, empty words, y’all, they’re a battle plan. like i’ve said before2014, we’re coming for you.

do you have a word for the year?

2014: The Book List.

WhatImReading2014

Jared and I set a goal to read at least 24 books this year. I have no idea if this is a lot, a little, too many, too few, but two books a months sounded both reasonable and just challenging enough. I also figured it would “trick” me into reading like a crazy little fiend, because I’m nothing if not a classic over-achiever.Turns out, I was right, because I’ve already plowed through two books this month. I doubt this pace will continue, but I hope and plan to maintain a strong focus on reading books as a way of learning, resting and growing this year.

2014 Book List

Fiction

  1. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – Finished!
    I really liked this book, possibly even loved it. Told from the perspective of a young woman who has just aged out of foster care, this story was rich with robust, believable characters, the harsh realities of life in a broken world and the beauty and grace found in human relationships. Highly recommend.
  2. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – Finished!
    Such an engaging book! This book is written in a quirky, unique way and reminded me of the magic of a story skillfully woven together over hundreds of pages. It was fast-paced (or maybe I just was? Couldn’t put it down!), charming, real and funny.
  3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  4. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
  5. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
  6. The Circle Series by Ted Dekker
  7. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  9. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (to be published 10/2014)

Non-Fiction

  1. When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman
  2. The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America
    by Khalil Gibran Muhammad
  3. The Reason Why I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism 
    by Naoki Higashida
  4. 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas
  5. Redeeming Sociology by Vern S. Poythress

Theology/Spirituality

  1. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller
  2. Jesus the King by Tim Keller
  3. In My Place Condemned He Stood by J. I. Packer
  4. Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker
  5. Just Do Something Kevin DeYoung

Parenting/Adoption/Orphan Care

  1. Adopting the Hurt Child by Gregory Keck
  2. Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson
  3. The Whole Brain Child by Dan Seigel and Tina Bryson
  4. Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson
  5. Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman

No Pressure Non-Guilt Trip Only If There’s Somehow Time Extras

These books were largely chosen based on a discussion in the forums of The Influence Network and posts by Hayley MorganKristen HowertonRussell Moore & Chelsea Williams.

What do you plan to read in 2014?

2014: the beginning.

it’s the first monday of 2014, the first full week of the year lingering close. i feel somewhat poetic and reflective in response to this reality, but mostly i’m just ready to get my game face on, ready to run toward the newness.

i see you 2014
 i see you, 2014. i’m coming for you.

my sister and her fiance will marry on Saturday, a joyous beginning to the new year. these upcoming days will be filled with guests and greetings and plans and promises and i could go on for pages with my thoughts on covenant and union and jubilee but there are seating charts and silverware and celebration to attend to for now, so the philosophizing will just have to wait.

i’m starting a new job this year as the program & communication coordinator for His Grace Foundation, serving the patients and families on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit of Texas Children’s Hospital. our family’s best friends founded the organization and my mom runs it now.  it’s a perfect fit, completely meshing with my lifestyle as a stay at home mom. this opportunity was just about the only thing that could have taken me away from my previous position, from which i leave grateful, better, bittersweet. the new beckons, so onward i go.

i’m dreaming big dreams for the blog this year. big dreams that involve goal-setting (via Lara Casey’s PowerSheets!), stretching, inching my toes a bit closer to the edge, fully aware that falling off is all the more possible the closer i get. it’s just can’t imagine that playing it safe with this space is going to lead to anything good, anything that matters. i’m risking, believing, anchoring, hoping, wild & free-ing in many areas and praying this is the place i can make some sense of all of it.

i’m dead set on intentional motherhood this year. always have been, pray i always will be, but this season demands instinct, focus, drive, vision like i’ve never had or needed before now.  Owen is 17 months old, a charming, curious, friendly, engaging little boy whose baby days have slipped away and we’re marching into the thick of character, personality, foundation. these moments matter. now.

there’s so much more. there’s foster care and a husband abroad at least twice before the year is half over and new home projects and friends and church and somewhere in there i’m claiming 2014 as the year i submit to God’s commands to rest, sabbath, be. those i know who accomplish the most, who remain the most humble, whose mouths’ drip with words of life prioritize rest. i’m taking this year to investigate the theory that lists and goals and hopes and dreams won’t be negated by rest, they’ll be enhanced by it. i’ll take a little of that win-win situation, please.

this week, i’ll pop back in with a few more pieces of my 2014 plan – a book list, a few goals, maybe another thought or two. i’m inspired by the creation account in Genesis as I pray my basic hope for this site in the next few months – may it take form to then be filled. i need structure here, the freedom that comes from boundaries. once those are in place, i don’t know what will come from them, but it could be something really beautiful.

we’ll see.

it’s a new year; anything could happen.