2013: The Year of the Couch

couchJust one day removed from Trick or Treats and Jack-o-Lantern smiles, I passed a home improvement store and spotted a sea of lit Christmas trees through the front window.

“Christmas. Ugh,” I voiced to a friend on the phone. She asked where that mood was coming from.

“Because if Christmas is here, it means I’ve wasted the whole dang year.”

From the moment the ball dropped to announce a new year, I have been groaning with each turn of the calendar page. Willing the weeks to slow. Begging the days to give me more time.

Because I’m sitting on the edge of December, and it feels like the only mark I’ll leave from 2013 is an imprint on my couch. And Level 150 on Candy Crush.

I didn’t lose the weight.
I didn’t write a book.
I didn’t redecorate my living room.
I didn’t cook healthy meals.
I didn’t run a 5K.
I didn’t increase my charity work.
I didn’t have that garage sale.
I didn’t call my friends more.
I didn’t swear under my breath less.

Of the words I declared in January that I would focus on throughout the year, the scales have been tipped way more to the empty than the full.

Not because of any personal tragedy. Not because the year was without any positives at all. Not because I’m sad — or lonely — or without hope. I have not lost family. Or friends. Or faith.

But I have lost days to the Blahs. A whole long string of them now. 330ish. And counting.

Yet even here — perhaps especially here — God meets with me. On my couch. Playing Candy Crush.

And He speaks of seasons. And cycles. And how new becomes old but closed doors open new ones. He speaks of the turning of the soil — how death gives way to life and how all things must be turned into the darkness sometimes in order to be ready for the light.

He speaks of the transformation that happens in cocoons — even though what happens inside cannot be seen from without.

He calls Himself Redeemer. And He’s speaking not only of the work He did on the cross but also how He redeems me every day. How nothing is wasted in His hands. Not even the unused days in my rearview mirror.

In all of this, then, I find myself in the season of Advent. And maybe for the first time in my nearly 40 years, I understand what it means. An expectant waiting for the Christ Child. A longing for God to show up in a new way. An understanding that expectant waiting includes the element of promise and hope and a deep, deep knowing that the thing you are waiting for is most assuredly coming. That in the birth of Jesus, God came to us in a way He never had before. That he still comes in new and unexpected ways. That the waiting is rewarded, not wasted.

And my spirit is turned like soil again. The pieces that had been stuck in darkness now face the light. Expectant for the seed. The seed from which comes a sprout and the sprout becomes a stem and the roots reach deep for the living water and the rich soil of grace. The bloom is not here yet. But Advent is.

And so I expectantly wait.

Be Welcome Here

??????????????????????????????????Like the toddler who hides behind the curtain while leaving her feet exposed, I pretend the “If I can’t see you, you can’t see me” theory still works. And I keep God in my peripheral vision. Sideways glances. Ducking behind busy-ness and exhaustion as an aversion to locking eyes.

I don’t want Him to see me. Not really. Not the mess I’ve made. Not the things I’ve let slide. Not the dust in my house. Not the unbalanced checkbook. Not the fast food bags in my car. Not the bruises on my tongue from biting back the words that scream from inside my head.

Among trusted allies – sisters and friends – I will admit to my messes. At least that much I am learning. To be broken before other women and together create a space where imperfection is A-OK. But are we just tucked behind the curtains together? Still hiding – and yet still exposed – all at the same time?

Softly I start to hear it. The voice of my Abba calling out for me. He knows. He sees. My toes and the stirring in the corner give me away. And still he does not tear it back and expose my nakedness. He knocks and whispers: “Will you let me in?”

Will I?

Everything in me wants to be more prepared – more presentable – before I step out. More together. More ready. More … I don’t know … just more. Or maybe less. Just different in some way.

Then the radio tunes to this:
Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don’t turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching
As if I’m not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

‘Cause I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
(By Your Side, Tenth Avenue North)

And like the parched, cracked desert my spirit has become, I drink in the holiness and the grace of it all. Thirsty. So very thirsty.

And never before have I longed more for the shepherd to lead me by still waters or make me like a tree firmly planted by the stream.

For in my depleted state – my emptiness – one drop is absorbed too quickly. So instantly I am dry again. So very, very far from my desired fullness. From the PROMISE of fullness and abundance.

I cling to the truth that the Living Water not only wants me to welcome His presence, but that the very source and spring of it lives IN me. A self-irrigating system of perpetual fullness.

So I pray the drops will come faster and larger from heaven even as the bubbles start to rise to the surface.

It’s the declarations that quench me best, I find. (And so often in song.) “Your love never fails, never runs out, never gives up on me.” “God is able; He is on our side; He will make a way.” “Holy. Holy. Holy.”

And though today my cup still feels closer to empty than overflowing, already I can see a me in the not-so-distant future (I pray) splashing around in the mud of God’s grace, spinning in the rain of His love for me, and sporting skin wrinkled by the time spent soaking in His spring.

I’ll lay out the Welcome mat for Jesus. Muddy footprints and all.

One Little Word – 2013 Style

 

Fuel Gauge

Over the last months, as my Float through 2012 was coming to an end, I began to look around the landscape to assess where this 366-day journey had dropped me off. Where and how has the landscape of my life, my walk, my calling, changed? As I have admitted previously, it was mostly a year of starts, then stops. Which led to inaction and reaction. Just hanging on for the ride. But maybe that’s what floating is.

A year ago, I said this: “The call is to let this current carry me this year. Rest in God. Yield. Breathe. Relax. 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.”

Trusting, then, that God has been faithfully directing my river this year — its direction, its speed, its whirlpools and rapids, its calm and restful places — I am free to welcome exactly the place I find myself in this first day of the New Year.

Even so, my spirit is stirring for something new in 2013. Something bigger. Something more … Alive.

So God brought me here, to Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians: “And I pray that you … may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Fullness.

Wonder-FULL
Peace-FULL
Beauty-FULL
Grace-FULL
Thank-FULL

Almost as instantly as I snuggled into Fullness as my One Little Word for 2013, God whispered another. Empty.

Empty of expectation
Empty of regret
Empty of fear
Empty of pride
Empty of self

So, Welcome 2013. My year of Two Little Words. Empty & Full.

 

Learning to Float

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 2011, my word was Courage. And my year was very much about that. Taking action and moving myself forward. Getting done with getting nowhere and focusing on love over fear.

It has been exciting, exhilarating, character-building and eye-opening. Responding in courage has created a momentum as I step through the doors God has opened.

Surprising doors. Scary doors. Doors requiring nothing short of faith to step through.

But I have stepped. I have been courageous.

And now I feel a fresh word from God for 2012. 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. Rest in God. Yield. Breathe. Relax.

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.

Note: All across the blogger world, there are many who take the path of One Little Word for the year. My mentor and friend in the practice is Ali Edwards. Read her One Little Word Story here. And then consider taking her One Little Word class at Big Picture Scrapbooking. It will help you keep focused on your word in creative and interesting ways all year long. I highly recommend it!

 

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