One Word 2015: Dwell

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It did not arrive in a gold envelope. Nor was it announced with a Hear Ye, Hear Ye.

It started as a whisper in my periphery. A wish from the middle of my soul. A slow drawing towards a fresh experience. A message repeated in my every day.

Until I knew it was a royal invitation.

Come sit with me, Beth.

Stay close. Learn from my ways. Hide in the shadow of my wing.

        Remain. Abide. Tarry. Nest.

                 Reside. Lodge. Settle. Rest.


I have started multiple blog posts intended to announce Dwell as my 2015 One Word. But nothing got further than a sentence or two. And I think that’s because I was trying to rush what I have found to be a slow unfolding of wonder over the course of a year. I cannot yet know all that Dwell will lead me to and through in the coming days.

It’s too soon to give you an event report when I have only now returned my RSVP.

But I can tell you what I hope for.

I hope to be more Mary and less Martha. And to know more of Him, not just more about Him.

I hope to discover rest in the midst of routine life. And magic in ordinary moments.

I hope to have long talks with Him. And to be refreshed in our brief meetings, too.

I hope to listen well. And learn to speak His dialect.

I hope to know what David knew when He sang:

              Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
                     will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
              I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
                    my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)


If you are interested in meeting others who have selected One Word for 2015, head over to the One Word Link-up. Fellow One Word bloggers, please add your reveal post here so I can meet with and pray for you throughout the year.

If you are interested in my Words from previous years, check out these links … 2014: Grace; 2013: Fullness; 2012: Float; 2011: Courage

Grace is an Island (Unforced Rhythms Link-up)

digital art by nienor
island in a storm by nienor

I am pulled by the tides. Battered by the waves. Tossed about by circumstance. Worn down by the struggle.

Like Paul I cry out, “I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.” (Romans 7:19-20, The Message)

I forget all that I have learned about floating. And I surrender to the flailing. The attempted saving of myself from what feels like drowning in a sea of stress. Never considering to check if my feet could touch the bottom of what might simply turn out to be only a momentary pool of pressure.

Gasping for breath. Thrashing my body from side to side. Reaching for an anchor. Settling instead for sugar.

And what I already knew about myself and my drug of choice was proven true again. It only takes a little to make me want a lot.

I allowed it for a day or two. It’s Christmas, I reasoned. Nothing more than I can handle, I pretended.

Knowing with each and every bite that I had awakened my addict persona. And that she would not go down easily.

So I braced for the storm. For the onslaught of shame and guilt. To be knocked back and forth against the stones of “shouldn’t have” and “how could you” and “you’ll never change.”

I set my jaw, tensed my muscles, and lowered my head for the coming punch.

But the punch did not come. The winds did not howl. The sea did not swallow me.

Because Grace came instead.

And where I expected to be pushed face-first into the sand, Grace lifted me.

Where my lungs had filled with salt-water, Grace replaced it with the Breath of Life.

Where Shame wanted to scream obscenities at my mistakes, Grace simply said, “Let’s start again.”

With a gentle hand, Grace set me on an island. A solid rock in the middle of the sea.

Here the tides only ebb and flow at the shore. The waves do not overtake me.

Here the breezes sing this song.

Grace. Grace. God’s Grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.
Grace. Grace. God’s Grace. Grace that is greater than all my sin.

p.s. I did not intentionally plan for my last post of 2014 to be focused on my Word of the Year: Grace. But it’s a fitting finale, indeed. I have found nothing anything close to comparable to selecting One Word each year to keep me focused. Partner it with a scripture, and the power multiplies. I’ll be announcing my 2015 Word soon, but I am spending these days praying that YOU would meet with The Spirit to come to agreement on One Word for the new year. And that you would have the courage to embrace it, then allow Him to unfold it in you over the coming days.


The wonderful Kelli Woodford (Chronicles of Grace) is taking a well-deserved blogging break in December, but she has graciously let me borrow the Unforced Rhythm link-up community for the next few weeks. Your words are welcome here. So very welcome.

If you stopped by here for the link-up, would you consider to connecting with me as well. On the right of this page you’ll find lots of ways to keep in touch. Just pick your favorite method of communication, and I’ll see you again soon!

What “Fall Back” is Teaching Me about the Dark (Five Minute Friday: Turn)

stock-footage-full-moon-emerges-from-spooky-cloudy-night-sky-pEven the full moon hides its face in the clouds. It’s darker than it could be.

The clocks turned back only an hour.

It feels like a complete reversal of day and night. There is so much more dark in my day.

I ache for a summer evening. The kind where the light lingers well past dinner and into the late innings of a baseball game. Where you can pack it in at the first sign of dusk. Plenty of time for life before the dark catches up to you.

And even then, the fireflies dance — forcing the blackness to back off and serve only as a backdrop to their joyful display.

But now that the days have been surrendered to the shadows and the haunted hallows lurk beneath the barren trees, I cannot escape the absence of light. It comes before the worker’s whistle blows.

I cannot outrun it. I can only get home by going through it.

And it weighs heavy on my soul. This darkness. This valley.

This place of limited vision in which I must shorten my stride to avoid a hidden hazard. In the void of light, I trip even on the path so easily blazed what feels like moments ago. Before the change.

I am left with the knowing that the darkest days are still ahead. Steadily the blackness will invade the light until the shortest day of all. Until the dawning of the morn where there is more day than night. Dark and light. Day and night. They weave together and dance their steps again and again.

And I let myself be led by them.

What if, rather than succumbing to the season, I seek traces of light. Adjusting my eyes to allow in the flickers that get missed during the bright days?

What if the darkness is here to lead me to the light?

Updated: Or maybe the work of the dark is meant to be surrendered to. On the same day I publish this, my dear friend Amber graces us with these words on her own darkness (READ HERE. I’ll wait.) And how not to be afraid of it. And I find myself wanting to make sure the darkness does its full work more than I want to have the light come back. Because the dark is stealing my ability to see, but not to hear or taste or smell or touch. And there is much to be learned when I let go of the seeing.


Sharing today at Five Minute Friday.

In Search of Less Paddling; More Floating

floatI find myself paddling like crazy these days. Caught up in a whirlpool of woulds and shoulds and has-to-get-dones. I long to return to floating.

So I turn to my own reflections from the year my One Word was FLOAT and present a collection of excerpts that have stilled me again in these moments. May their ripples resonate through your busy-ness as well.


From Learning to Float, December 2011:

yield. breathe. rest. slow down. be. surrender. sabbath. relax. give up control. ease. lean. light. stillness. freedom. grace. contentment. worship. peace. open. efficient. expectant waiting. quiet. let go. effortless. dance with grace. Float.

In courage and faith I stepped into the river during 2011. And I believe God’s call to “float” in 2012 is acknowledgement that I am on the right path. The call is to let this current carry me this year. Floating is not about laziness or apathy. It’s a movement forward knowing God is in control. So I can stop being frantic – busy for the sake of busy. Lean on God. Rest in the shadow of His wing. And float.


From Five Minute Friday: Trust, February 2012:

Head back. Arms out. The water will hold.

And even as the sea rises and falls, it holds. Through the rain and the sun, it holds. Whether I stay face up at the sky of wide open possibilities or turn myself over to stare at the darkness below, the water holds.

And when I stay like this, it is effortless. I could do it for hours; days; a lifetime. So why do I fight the urge to check the bottom again? Can I touch? Should I paddle? Could I save myself? How far away is the shore? Am I the only one out here?

Nothing but the sound of my own breathing. The water holds. I am learning to float.


From Five Minute Friday: Here, August 2012:

Over and over I pull my hands from the wheel of control in my life. I remember, momentarily, to float. Only to grab it back and move things as frantically as I know. It must look just flat ridiculous to watch me travel this road, moving this way, then that.

Trying to drive from the passenger seat.


From Five Minute Friday: Graceful, September 2012:

It’s harder to float when the current is moving swiftly. The moves are not as relaxed as head back, arms out. The whole process – far less graceful.

As the water moves faster and in more directions, it’s harder to distinguish my floating from my paddling.

So these days I’m learning about floating through the rapids. The back-to-school, work till 5, juggling kids, teaching class, what’s for dinner, where’s my socks, have I remembered to kiss you today kind of rush of life’s river. The kind that can crash you into the rocks without warning and whose path is harder to see past the moment.

No, it’s not as graceful as green pastures and still waters. It’s not as easy for the floating.

But it’s the perfect time to remind myself to trust the flow, more importantly, trust the One who directs the stream. Even the fast one. And enjoy the ride.


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 Linking up with #ThreeWordWednesday friends. Link on the photo below to read more.


Acting Naturally

The wind and waves obey Him.
I ask for an explanation.

The skies proclaim the work of His hands.
I focus on my lack.

The lilies do not toil or spin.
I run in circles.

The rocks cry out in praise.
I’m more inclined to pout.

The sun knows its time for setting.
I overstay my welcome.

The trees yield their fruit in season.
I’d rather not wait.

My human nature doesn’t resemble nature at all. Oh, that it would.

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