learning to trust

rappel

It’s that time again – the end of one year and the beginning of another.

In some ways it feels surreal. Nothing very grandiose actually happens during the night of December 31, other than a big party in New York and a small family party with fireworks, games, and too much food. Nothing super special. The sun goes down, I sleep – albeit not many hours – in the same bed, and I wake up to the same house, with the same family, friends, work and life that I had when I when the day before ended.

On the other hand, a new year is a big deal. A calendar milestone. A chronological capstone. A time for reflection, evaluation, and a fresh start with new goals, focus, and intentionality. 

I do not stop to review my life very often, so I am grateful for the reminders at this time of year. And I am grateful for the opportunity to refresh my perspective and consider how I want to live my 2016.

In the years past, I have chosen one word for each year – an attempt to encourage myself to think, speak, and act with a particular heart attitude. I have chosen words like empower, fulfill, courage, and authentic, but this year I am choosing TRUST.

There are a lot of big challenges and struggles bombarding my family and friends. I can tend to worry, and get frustrated or tense or discouraged. Sometimes I feel helpless and without hope.

I want to choose to believe in God’s goodness and His love and His power to resolve, restore, and redeem these difficult consequences instead.

I want to TRUST Him.

I may be choosing my most faith-stretching word so far. It goes against my natural desires to fix the problem myself… and fix it fast. It goes against my anger and fear and impatience when the problems drag on or get worse before they get better.

Most of my natural tendencies do not help the situation or the person I care about. I can bring a lot more power to a situation with prayer and a peaceful attitude. So that is my One Word for 2016 – TRUST.

Feel free to ask me how I am doing with it as the days and weeks go by. 🙂 I’ll need your encouragement.

What word are you choosing for 2016? 

My word for 2015: Empower

It did not take a lot of thought to pick my word for this coming year. The idea was on the forefront of my mind almost immediately. In the years past, it has sometimes taken more time and consideration, and I have picked words for attitudes or growth that I needed personally: authentic (2012), courage (2013), and fulfill (2104).

rocket IMG_9382This year I want to focus my energies more towards others. I have received great development, encouragement, and blessing in the last few years. I want to share that with others. So my word for 2015 is EMPOWER.

My husband read this great quote and sent it to me. It fitly describes the purpose for my life efforts this next year.

As we look ahead into the next century,
leaders will be those who empower others
.
                                            Bill Gates

I’m not sure what “empower” will look like for me, but I can guess that it will include a few of these things:

Investing time coaching and mentoring others.

Asking more and better questions and “preaching” less.

Saying “no” to doing anything someone else could do.

Controlling less.

Encouraging more.

Humility.

Paying attention and observing others.

Resourcing others with materials, trainings, and assessments – anything that will build confidence and competence in others to do and be their best.

Praying for others more.

Believing more in others’ abilities and expressing my belief to them.

Celebrating with others.

I envision in-fueling people (family, friends, other leaders around the world) with whatever they need to go places and do things that I can’t even imagine.

I look forward to seeing what they will do. Bring it on 2015!

What do you think EMPOWER looks like? What is your word for 2015?

wrapping up 2014

IMG_1231I have a fun hangover.

All of our grown children came home – plus extras – for two weeks now. People slept in every room of our small townhouse. Imported belongings invaded every counter and every inch of floor space. We saturated days with fun and laughter, adventures, deep conversations, and delicious, not-necessarily-good-for-you food. We delighted in long-standing traditions and created new experiences this first Christmas in our new home. We connected at mind, heart, and spirit. It was an incredibly rich time.

My energy level is a bit low now, but my heart is full.

That seems a fitting condition for the year I christened last January with the word “fulfill”.

These family days together were a dream fulfilled. So is living in this new home and the purposeful work I get to do with my husband. One night at dinner, we all reflected on the past year and answered questions about our greatest challenges and biggest achievements and how we grew or matured or changed through both. I am satisfied with the responsibilities and goals I fulfilled last year and by the choices I made to feel fulfilled personally at this stage of my life. It has been a great year.

There have been hard times too. Death, pain, and poor decisions by loved ones crushed my spirit and drove me to my knees. The aching desire to be present in two – or three or four – places at once has weighed heavier than ever. Community, country, and world conflicts and tragedies have burdened my soul.

And so I consider my word for 2015.

What are my passions? What do I want to do? Where will I prioritize?

I’ve read many a great post about end of year reflection questions and have re-worked some of them for us here.

  • Where did you thrive last year?
  • Where did you struggle?
  • If you had to describe your 2014 in three words, what would they be?
  • What was your biggest time waster this past year?
  • Where did you best invest your time?
  • What, or who, are you most thankful for?
  • What advice would you give your early-2014 self if you could?
  • What one thing would you do differently and why?
  • What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What was a favorite compliment that you received this year?
  • What is one thing you can do next year to add meaning and relevance?

Maybe you’d like to take time to answer these  – and any other favorites you have – and choose a word for 2015. Find a quiet place, your favorite beverage, put your feet up, and enjoy the process.

I’ll post my word next week. I’d love to hear what you choose!

write your new year’s snapshot

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”
              Robert Francis Kennedy ( U.S. attorney general and adviser, 1925-1968)

The New Year is a great time for new ideas. I have already picked my word for this year (20162015, 20142013), but there is another new thing I want to try this year. I heard about this idea at the start of our one year assignment, but think it would apply very well to the start of this new year also.

pens morguefileThe idea is to take some time and write a sort of status report of where you are today. This could include life-stage, personal challenges, emotions, projects, ideas, dreams or concerns with family, friends, or work. There isn’t any rule to it; just write about who you are and what you are doing today.

Next, file the paper (or digital note) away… until next year at this time. It is not a plan, so you don’t need to look at it, refer to it, or edit it all year. It is simply a record. A snapshot. A memory. I have a hard time remembering what I was thinking and/or feeling just a few days – or even moments  – ago if I don’t write it down. This report will capture and save today’s reality.

In a year, it will be very interesting to review the recorded history. What will have changed? Were there surprises? Interruptions? Progress? Greater-than-expected challenges? Did growth happen? Healing? Completed goals? Accomplished dreams? Or at least steps towards the dream?

They say that we usually greatly overestimate what we can accomplish in a day… and greatly underestimate what we can accomplish in a year.

This could be a good – yet simple – way to observe what happens in a year. I’m going to write my snapshot this week… will you write yours too?

use the past to build your future

Facebook and Twitter are full of “new beginnings” this month… everyone with thoughts of leaving behind the last year and starting fresh.  I love the idea of new starts, but I have been thinking about the fact that it is also important to build on the past – not just wipe it away and forget about it.

The past year is important for building the future.

  • the past shows me where I need to grow

It is a humbling experience to review the past year and recognize where I messed up or where someone pointed out that I needed to grow. I remember work reviews that indicated my leadership weaknesses. I remember apologizing to my co-workers because my stress level made me critical and grumpy. I remember comments on my MA papers that indicated writing methods I didn’t know or challenged me to “step it up” and take more risk. There will be many opportunities for me to grow this next year. I wrote about an idea for recording some of these areas now so I can look back at the end of the year and see the difference!

  • the past reminds me that I am not in control

There were so many things that happened last year that I would not have done that way IF I was in control. I would not have had so many dear people die, or struggle with cancer, or get hurt by mean comments, or struggle to pay bills, or … But I couldn’t stop that pain, and I couldn’t make other good things happen that I wanted. God is God, and I am not. The past reminds me of that truth for today and the future.

  • the past teaches that I can make choices every day

I get to decide HOW I will handle what happens each day. Will I greet adversity with faith or fear? Will I treat people with love or with judgement? Will I spend time in reflection or be too busy for that? Will I waste my time, or will I invest in my health, energy, experience and resources to help others? I didn’t always make the best choices last year; I know that, but I made some good choices. And I get to make new choices today and in the days to come.

  • the past confirms that God is present and He is good

No matter what I look back on, I see that God redeemed, restored, renewed or refreshed – even during very difficult situations. I enjoyed wonderful times with family, incredible memories, great friends, laughter, goals reached… and I prayed anguished prayers and cried over tragedies and pain. He was always there, He was always involved, and He always brought some good out of the circumstances. My past experiences tell me that He will also be there and act that way in this year ahead.

We often say, “Reality is our friend”. The past is part of our reality; the past is our friend. You might want to take time to reflect on your past year in these next days, learn from its lessons… and build on that past for an even greater future!

I’d love to hear… What has the past year taught you?