For the past three years, our family has been spending our New Year’s Eve a different way than most.
We don’t go to a party.
We don’t have a party.
We even stopped going to church.
It isn’t that we don’t realize the importance of beginning our new year with fellow believers.
We have just decided to “do” church differently that night.
We pull out our Bibles.
We locate the concordance.
We dig out the thesaurus’.
We find the dictionaries.
We gather the markers and other art supplies.
And we talk.
We talk about what God has been speaking to our hearts lately.
We talk about what He might want to work INTO our hearts and lives in the new year.
Each of us comes up with ONE WORD.
Then we thumb through all of our books on the table and we create.
With definitions. Synonyms. Bible verses. Foreign translations.
We let God speak to us through all of our searching and create a poster or canvas that will be displayed in a prominent place to remind us of what God wants to instill in us in the coming year.
This tradition has become better than any party or other activity we have ever done on New Year’s Eve. It brings us together and encourages us to remember each others’ struggles throughout the year. It gives us accountability with those who live closest to us. It joins our hearts with God’s. It gives our holiday meaning and purpose.
In 2013, my word was PEACE.
In 2014, my word was ASPIRE.
In 2015, my word was DISCIPLINE.
In 2016, my word will be RENEW.
I’m so excited about my new word. For you to fully understand why, I think you need to hear a little bit about 2015.
My life became one big roller coaster ride in 2015. I don’t like roller coasters. As often as I told God that, He would just quietly say to me, “I’m right here with you.” Apparently, I wasn’t getting off!
Things started off pretty good in January. Nothing really out of the ordinary. A typical winter month in Wisconsin.
In February, my husband was offered a new job. After praying and seeking counsel, he decided to accept. This was an exciting thing in many ways, but it was also something that would drastically change life as we had known it for the past 18 years. For 18 years, we had lived rent and mortgage free in homes supplied to us by Greg’s employers. At 50+ years of age, we were about to become homeowners again. Though we had talked about this necessity at some point in our future, we suddenly realized that it wasn’t just “talk” anymore. We were being thrust into the joys of home ownership. Ready or not!
We needed to vacate our current home by the end of March. We talked about our possibilities, and decided that we would rent until we found a house to buy. Our oldest son, a home owner himself, said, “No. You will come to stay with me. It won’t be that long anyway.”
So, we packed our belongings and moved into our son’s house. He took his parents, little brother , our dog and our cat, and welcomed us into his home. Some of our things went into a couple of storage units. The rest went into his basement. “It won’t be that long anyway.”
So, here we were, with all of our “stuff” packed away. Living with only our bare necessities. It’s interesting as you decide what’s necessary and what is not. And yet, there are SO many boxes and bins!
My husband was leaving for a new job every morning.
I was driving our youngest son to school every morning and then to work myself.
Our youngest was walking home to an empty house every afternoon. This was a big change for him. Big change.
In the turmoil of all of this change, we were diligently house hunting. Diligently. I was looking at houses on my lunch hour. We were making appointments for after school and work. We toured so many houses, that I literally lost count. We put offers on houses, only to be rejected. Month after month. “It won’t be that long anyway” turned into 4 months. This feels like a lifetime when you are living in someone else’s place. With someone else’s stuff. With a roller coaster of emotions because of all of the changes in your life.
My husband questioned if he had made the right decision.
Our son didn’t like coming home to an empty house.
We didn’t like him coming home to an empty house.
Our oldest didn’t think he’d have “company” for so long.
Our “dream houses” were pulled from us from rejected offers.
It seemed nothing was falling into place.
Our daughter who had been doing in internship in Texas decided she was staying on full time. Indefinitely. We missed her.
Up and down the roller coaster went. Up and down. Swerving around corners. Never stopping.
God’s still, small voice: “I am with you.”
Without that promise, I don’t think we would have held on.
And, through it all, my word was “DISCIPLINE”. I’m sorry, but, “Yeah, right!” Our posters had been packed away with all of our other stuff. However, my word was never far from my mind. It just felt impossible. How could I get a disciplined routine when my roller coaster wouldn’t stop?
I’m sorry to say, but I gave up.
In June, when we finally moved into our new home, I unpacked the box that our posters were in. I looked at mine and said, “Yeah, right.”
I felt like a failure, and, I’m not proud to say, I tucked those posters away. I couldn’t look at mine.
In the midst of our closing on our new home, my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. 6 months. What? Okay. Breathe.
Painting. Cleaning. Moving. Time with parents. Emotions running high and low. Up and down. How am I supposed to feel right now? Every moment becomes a treasure. Because we have no idea what the next one brings.
But my mind feels like it can’t rest. It feels like it is constantly on the go. It can’t relax. And the roller coaster continues. Doubts. Questions. Fears. Joys.
In the midst of all of it, there are little things thrown into the mix that make the roller coaster dip and turn.
When do I get to get off?
Then, I start thinking about my new ONE WORD.
I think about how I’ve failed at DISCIPLINE.
I tell God, “I guess I’ll have to do that one over, huh?”
His still, small voice: “RENEW. Breathe.”
Seriously? I get to RENEW my spirit? I get to refresh my mind? I get to restore my soul? I get to regain and reclaim myself?
And He says, “Yes.”
He understands how hard this year has been. It didn’t take Him by surprise. And He just asks me to RENEW.
So, whatever that looks like, I will. As I’ve been looking through my thesaurus, I realize that there may actually be some DISCIPLINE that I gain as I RENEW my mind, heart, spirit and soul.
I’m okay with that.
Is God speaking ONE WORD to you? If so, join me on this journey and share your word with me. I’d love to hear about what God wants to do in your life in 2016.