2014 – Focus

ow_300x125_custom_300x125_Focus

As the first month of the year has come to a close, its time press the publish button on this post, which has been in draft form for several weeks…

Last year I decided to participate in One Word 365 – choosing a word for the year, foregoing New Year’s Resolutions. Last year’s word was Renew. It was a good word for the year. I felt the renewal of many things – joy, energy, goals. It was a word chosen in faith from deep in the shadows of grief, that somehow I could figure out how to fully live again.

While the sadness and missing remain, and always will, at some point this past year the heavy shroud of perpetual grief did lift. And in some ways, because of journeying through those sad, desperate, lonely places, I have felt a deeper sense of the sacredness of this one life I’ve been given. I’ve sensed renewed purpose in my role as mother to all three of my children. God has given me glimpses, as the year drew to a close, of how my daughter’s story and our family’s story has been and continues to be used for His glory. This brings deep joy to my heart – to know that Naomi’s brief life continues to impact others. Obviously, it continues to impact my life and our family’s life, but the ripples gently expand and it is humbling to see.

Turning toward this new year, I find the word focus coming to the forefront of my mind. As my heart has healed I have been able to embrace more activity, more of life. Yet, one of the things that I found in those early days of grief was that I had to create space in my days in order to process all that was in my heart and mind. Grief was a convenient excuse. I have spent a lot of time asking myself, why did I need an excuse to make space in my life? At the same time, as life has gotten busier, I’ve had less of that space in which to sit and think (and write!). Life is full of so many distractions – some helpful, others not so much. To that end, I find the need to focus my time and energies on the things that are the most important to me. I’ve sensed the Lord nudging me toward certain things, laying burdens on my heart and I want to be faithful to those things.

I have profoundly realized that I have been blessed with so. many. choices. Opportunities have been before me all my life. I’ve felt both the privilege and the burden of all these opportunities for quite some time. Often, I’ve interpreted my wide array of opportunities to mean that I should do all these Good Things. As a mom, as a wife, as a professional – I have this sense of I should do it all. But perhaps I am maturing a bit because now I am ready to say – I cannot do everything. In fact, I can’t even do most things. But I can and want to do a few things really well.

So I have a list. I am an INFP personality type, according to Myers-Briggs and as all “P’s” know, lists are more like suggestions than actual things that will be done. Still – it rules out some things. Six things this year that I am going to FOCUS on. It goes like this:

1) Reading God’s Word – soaking it in one book at a time. The past few years I’ve been reading through the whole Bible or large portions of it, which has been great, but this year, I want to really dig deep. And I’m starting in Genesis, which conveniently is the study for our women’s group at church. So excited to delve into this story of beginnings.

2) My Marriage – started out this year with a week long focus on our marriage as we spent seven whole days together, just the two of us (an 2,400 of our closest friends) aboard a cruise ship. Seriously, though, after 10 years of marriage I love him so much more than I did on our wedding day. The past two years have been hard but by God’s grace we are working through it and are growing stronger together. Want to keep that going!

3) My Health – After my bout of sickness the past two months of 2013 that ended with pneumonia, focusing on staying healthy, which for me starts with getting AT LEAST eight hours of sleep on a regular basis, is so important. There are lots of mini goals here to include fitness and healthy eating. Bottom line, when I take care of me I can do what it is I have been called by God to do!

4) My Children – they are one of the most precious gifts I have been given. But being a mom to two boys here on earth and a girl in heaven is not something I ever expected. I am learning to embrace being a boy mom…it keeps getting crazier and sometimes a bit stinky and uncomfortable, but there is so much joy there too. Two books I want to read this year are Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys and Boys Should Be Boys. There are a whole bunch more, but ….focus, remember?

5) My Career – this has been a confusing subject for me for many years. I’ve wrestled with a lot of guilt for working outside the home. But finally, I feel like I’ve come to a place where I am embracing this aspect of my life for the long haul. I am a working mom, a career woman. This year I’ve got some specific goals I’m excited about in this area, but I’m gonna keep those off-line. 🙂

6) Writing – And last but not least, writing…what, when, where, how? All yet to be decided. Here more, I hope. I love words. I always have. I’ve filled many notebooks with ponderings and musings and stories of life and of God. Its a bit scary for me to put out here that writing is something I’m going to actually focus on. I’ve never considered myself a writer. But I’m convinced that our stories are such an important part of who we are and how we come to know the God who created us. I have this dream of telling my stories – stories to give testimony to how God is at work in my life and in the lives of those around me. Stories that I hope bring others closer to Him.

So there it is…written out, by God’s grace. And in that grace I will attempt to focus on just these things in 2014.

Advertisements

March

DSC02491

DSC02361DSC02362 DSC02376We are moving forward into a new season. A season that will require a lot of courage and strength. A year is quickly approaching. The time when we will remember and celebrate our daughter’s one year birthday in Heaven. The time when we will remember the days she lived here on this earth.

We bravely wait for life to be renewed from the frozen earth beneath our feet, trusting that winter will soon give way to spring and the warmth of summer. The cold wind of fear for what these months will bring tries to wind its way around my heart. This month I am stepping out in hope, in faith, in love, on many fronts. I am learning to breath deeply and to be right here with my whole heart.

DSC02445

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord. 

Now : renew

Here I am now. It’s 2013. I can hardly believe that 2012 has come and gone. I feel like I’ve done enough living for a lifetime in the past year. I think back to the beginning of 2012 and all the hope and excitement for the year that lay ahead. I could never have imagined what was to come.

Now, a new year is upon us. I’ve been thinking a lot about this space, though not writing here much. I want to change that and have some ideas. Also, a new camera! So excited for that and hope to be able to share more pics soon, especially of our trip out east over the holidays.

But I have been thinking about what my hopes are for the year. Honestly, I am not sure I want to put hopes out there. Because I am afraid, afraid of them being dashed. Yet I hear the Word that “perfect Love drives out fear“. The word that I keep coming back to as I think toward this year and how I want to live it…renewed. The greatest hope that I cling to is that all things will one day be made new, renewed…a new heaven and a new earth. That God will make all things right with me and with all of creation. While I await that day, my prayer is that this year will be one of renewal. I really need a renewal of hope in day to day life and what lies ahead for our family. I still keenly feel the brokenness of my heart over Naomi’s loss. I long for a renewal of relationships, of dreams, of exercise and health for my family.

Last month I was in a place where I was really tired of grief. I was tired of feeling tired. I was struggling to give myself permission to rest as I needed to…after all, I thought, it’s been eight months since she was born, nearly six since she died, shouldn’t I be ready to get back to “normal”? (Of course I want me old normal, my pre-loss normal which is not possible). One thing I have been learning in this process of grieving is to be gentle with myself. I won’t even say I’ve learned to be patient because I think it is really something I need to learn more of. But I was basically starting to equate rest with me being lazy. Through some conversation with my counselor I found a new word to describe what I really need…renewal. The word renew seems much more active and participatory than the word rest. So often I think of rest as doing nothing, though I know that rest can be just as active, like waiting. You have to choose it. So as I’ve continued to think about the word renew and in light of this time of year when I see lots of people choosing a word for the year, this is my word for 2013.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

Revelation 21:1-7