Monday, January 2, 2012

In with the New

I love fresh starts. A notebook with unmarked pages, a new calendar, starting a book, the first day of a new month (replenishing empty envelopes with cash, the one and only FUN activity in monthly budgeting), writing out a new schedule, determining a new game plan…the thought of starting anew, leaving past failures behind and reaching towards new goals, it’s invigorating! And never more so than at the start of a new year.

My enthusiasm over the blank pages in my planner is tremendous. It’s almost like caffeine energy, but without the sweaty palms and lightheadedness. I have to consciously rein in my pencil from filling up my blank pages with lists and goals and mottos and vision statements. I know from the statistics and from my previous 25 new year’s days that the enthusiasm for the resolutions fades. So I bounce between logical pessimism (resolutions are a waste of lead and will only cause writer’s cramp), and unrealistic optimism (maybe this is the year I could turn over a new leaf and become a motivated, self disciplined, high achieving individual who completes all 10 resolutions by July). Sitting in PJ’s at 10:30 am on January 2nd confirmed my suspicions that even in my most optimistic hopes, it does not look like such a level of motivation is in my near future. However, I have concluded there must be a happy medium.

Through some recent reading and a positive, encouraging (of course!) story on Klove, I decided to channel my many good resolutions into a word. One word to focus on for the year. I have done this to a smaller degree for the past several years. Beginning unintentionally, I had the word “Courage” for my 2010 theme. This was the year when I began to take a serious look at the many anxieties that were dictating my life and stealing my joy. In 2011 the theme was “Gracious”. This was particularly referring to gracious words (hence the name of the blog).The Lord had placed the realization on my heart that I was often killing with my words rather than giving life (Prov. 15:4). As I reflect over the last 2 years I undeniably see areas of victory. Of Spirit directed success. I rejoice in the freedom I’ve experienced from the grip of fear and negativity. However, I see times (too many) when I picked up the chains I’d been freed from. I struggle to move forward to a new year, a new resolution, a new word, when I can’t feel completion and closure over the previous years.

Knowing, in my meager understanding, what I know about the life long process of sanctification, and the life-time journey of being made into the image of Christ, I determined that I could not wait for completion, but rather press on, trusting the Lord to continue His work in completing what He has started in me. So I began praying for a word.

It should be noted that this is not the first time I have prayed for a word in the past months. As the adoption wait lengthened, and our steps grew heavy and our hearts more confused, Dave and I began praying specifically that God would give us conformation. That He would speak a word, any word over us and our life, our family. We talked, prayed, called our family coordinator (the dear lady from America World who is assigned to our case), shared with our close family and friends, desperately sought the Lord for direction. Though we had some ideas of what we wanted to hear from Him, honestly we just wanted to hear from Him. Even if it meant He wanted to redirect us. Or send us a child that was out of our ideal comfort zone. Or have us pursue other dreams while we waited. Or simply wait longer. But, after times of prayer, fasting, sharing, crying, asking for more prayer, having phone conversations, and more crying…we felt silence. Blessed by praying family and friends and social worker and family coordinator? Yes! Confident that God had indeed heard and had spoken a word of direction? No! I wrestled with anger. How hard is it for Creator God, to give one simple whispered word? Yet I knew even amidst my anger and doubt, that He had heard, and that we should trust Him and continue waiting until we heard otherwise. My heart was strengthened; we regained peace in continuing to wait, and enjoyed a lovely Christmas season even though it didn’t look anything like I’d imagined it to last year at Christmas.

So, praying for a word for the New Year was not an altogether new prayer, though this time I was seeking a word that encompassed my entire life, and the adoption was only a piece, not the primary focus. As I read, thought, and prayed I was on the lookout for a word to resonate with my heart. One kept reoccurring, and I thought it might be close, but it didn’t seem like the final one. You have to understand, this is a big deal. This word is going down in history as THE WORD for 2012, so it must be just right. Today I sat down to look up the meaning of the word I’d been thinking of, hoping that in its definition I would find the official one. The word I looked up was Persevere. A good word, but personally it seemed to strike a slightly flat note. A little too much of a striving connotation, and any form of the word “strive” is in my hypothetical list of horrible words that must never be used. (Pimple and oozing are also on this list. I grimaced just seeing them appear on my screen.) I looked it up in the Strongs concordance, and the brief definition caught my attention. So I went on to look up the Greek word. My eyes got wider and I started reading faster and I might have wiped away a tear or two. God gave me a word all right, and in fact it had no relation to the rotten little “striving” word. I will give you the definitions I found on this useful website, and share why each definition is so impacting.


1: To adhere to one, be his adherent, to be devoted or constant to one. (Adhere, to give support or maintain loyalty, to hold fast or stick by or as if by gluing, suction, grasping, or fusing –Miriam Webster) This is so big I can hardly find words. To adhere (be glued, fused) to One. To be His adherent. If I accomplish nothing else this year, may it be said that I grasped on, held fast to Jesus. Devoted and constant to the one and only Lover of my soul. Not hindered by doubts. Not distanced by seeming silence. Not removed by complacency. But rather fused to His side by the glue of the Holy Spirit.

2: To be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting (constant, incessant.- M.W.) care to a thing. This speaks to me of last year’s word. Steadfastly attentive to the Spirit’s direction. Giving unremitting care to my attitudes and the words that I speak. After all, life and death are in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21) something of such power deserves my constant attention.

3: To continue all the time in a place. One foot in front of the other. Occupy fully the moment I’m given. Action even in the waiting seasons.

4: To persevere and not faint.

5: To show one’s self courageous for. 4 and 5 seem to fit well together. Hmm…what does the word “courageous” remind you of?? This is choosing faith over fear. Putting my foot on the water and trusting my Savior to keep me from sinking. Believing that when I am weak, then He is strong.

6: To be in constant readiness for one, wait constantly. This is as if the Lord said to me “and Carrie, last but not least, you remember how you asked for a word for your adoption? Well it is deeply intertwined with the word I’ve given you for your year. Here it is. I’ve called you to this adoption. Persevere. I’m faithful to complete the work, you be faithful as you wait in constant readiness, so that when I say it’s time, you’re ready to go! Continue steadfastly! Wait on child, just a little longer! (And I believe somewhere over the big sea He’s whispering that same phrase to another child of His. One who is lonely and in need of a family’s love.)

This has been written primarily to document my thoughts so I can reflect on them again when I need reminded of the Lord’s word. And so that hopefully one day I can sit down and read this to a child, to confirm that God indeed is faithful to complete the work of setting the lonely in a family (Ps. 68:6). But if you’ve read it, I hope you’ve been inspired to persevere in whatever circumstances your life holds. And I hope you will think about a word for your year and share it with me! Here’s to a year of pursuing goals, deepening relationships, strengthening faith, and persevering through this crazy beautiful life.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Is. 43:19