What's your word for 2014?
Several years ago, I came across the concept of choosing one word at the beginning of a new year. I actually discovered it in the world of scrapbooking--something I had time for before our second child arrived. Ali Edwards describes it well:
"A single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything. It can be sharp and biting or rich and soft and slow... I began a tradition of choosing one word for myself each January – a word that I can focus on, meditate on, and reflect upon as I go about my daily life... It can be something tangible or intangible. It could be a thought or a feeling or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you... One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities."
Ms. Edwards speaks from a secular viewpoint, and at first I dismissed the concept as too "New Age" for me. But then it occurred to me to ask God for my word, instead of creating one for myself. The idea was to allow God to show me what He had for me in the coming year, not just choose a word that I wanted to will into being. I discovered that when I take some time in December to slow down and be alone with God, He reveals a word for me. Sometimes it makes sense immediately--something I need to learn or increase in my life, something that God wants to remind me of on a daily basis through the coming year. Other times it takes a while for the word to make sense, and I may get through much of the year before realizing what God really meant. My past words have included surrender (during a time when I needed to submit to all that God had for me instead of fighting it), thrive (when Jesus was reminding me that He came so we could have abundant life), hope (at a time when my soul needed an anchor), and abide (for this past year, as I learned to take one day at a time with Jesus).
This past month I have been asking God for a word for 2014, and one kept coming to mind. (That's usually how it works for me: God puts one word in my head over and over again until I finally get it!) My word for 2014? Sanctuary. It doesn't fully make sense to me yet--as I mentioned, sometimes these things take time. But I can see how it fits in a few different ways...
In December of 2012, I lost my part-time teaching job due to budget cuts. It was a difficult time for me, as I struggled with what to do next. I loved teaching. But I also loved having time with my young children, and couldn't find a part-time job that would allow me that. So I eventually embraced being a homemaker for the last year. (I know, I know, the politically correct term is "stay-at-home mom." But I actually like "homemaker" so much better. I'm not just a mom who happens to stay at home. I am intentionally making a home for my family. See the difference? But I digress...) As I look at the year ahead, God may a have a new job for me and I am open to that. But for now, I continue to be a homemaker, and I want our home to be a sanctuary for our family. A safe place for all of us to retreat to when the world feels scary. A place for us to love and share and find refuge. A place where we read God's word together, eat meals together, work together, play together. A sanctuary.
I also know that God had been calling me closer to his heart recently. Through our daily family devotionals with Good Dirt, through a discipleship class at our church, and through prayer, God is inviting me to know Him better. One definition of sanctuary is "the holiest part of a sacred place" and I know God is beckoning me to come closer, to allow myself to know the Holy of Holies. I confess, choosing this word scares me a little. Most of the time, people need a sanctuary because they require a haven in a time of trouble. But Jesus told us that in this world, we will have trouble, and I want to remember that true sanctuary is only found in my Savior.
What's your word for 2014? One year, I didn't sense a single word being given to me, but rather a verse for the year (Psalm 63:7-8). Perhaps that is true of you, that you have a specific verse that resonates with you instead. Either way, I invite you to share your word or verse with us here and, more importantly, to share it with your family. Speak of what God is doing in your life and where He is leading you in the coming year. Show your children that God is real and active and continuing to teach you through your entire life. God has so much awaiting us in 2014. Let's embrace it as a family.