January 5 – Everyone Has a Word
That’s a thing, right? A word. The word for the year…
I’m seeing it everywhere and love hearing which words people are adopting for the new year. Words can be encouraging. Words can breathe life into a soul, a situation, a home. Words have power. God tells us so in His Word, but even the secular realm acknowledges the power of what we speak into existence.
We also have tangible words all over the place. They serve as reminders of who we are, who we want to become, and perspectives that are valuable to us.
In our own bedroom, we have words displayed about love and commitment. In our kitchen, we have words about family and kindness. In our living room, we have words about our faith and values. In our girls’ spaces, we have words about their worth and God’s great love for them. We even have words in our bathrooms and tucked away on cupboard doors. We have words everywhere.
For the past few years, I have chosen a word to guide me through the year. Whether you decide to choose a word or not, I strongly believe that years seem to have themes and can directly affect the desires and expectations we set in place for ourselves and our families.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The year 2016 was somewhat a struggle for me as a mom to four. Our fourth was born in 2015, and 2016 felt like a ton of diapers, potty-training, tantrums, cold coffee and bad hair days. My oldest two were in public school at the time, and I spent my days missing them so much and overwhelmed at home at the same time. It was an emotional year for me as a mother. As 2017 arrived and I kept hearing people talk about their word, I couldn’t help but feel the word “joy” come up in my spirit over and over again. I needed joy so badly. We need joy always, but I really, really, really craved it. It became my word, and I honestly saw it popping up everywhere throughout that year.
Funny thing though – when I chose “joy” as my word, I found myself acutely aware of how hard I had to fight for it. But, you know what? It became that much more real to me. I sought it with intention. And now, thanks to that year of intention, intentionally seeking it is forever on my radar.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord,
You surround him with favor as with a shield.
Although I was intentionally contending for joy, 2017 came with struggles all its own. These struggles weren’t found on the home-front, however. My husband and I had let certain influences into our lives that in the long-run did not have our best interests in mind. Everything that we had built our lives around became a battle. We were used to being surrounded by people that saw our hearts and caught our visions, and all of a sudden we found ourselves knocking at proverbial doors that didn’t want to budge – doors that were locked from the inside. We would look at each other and just shake our heads. We opened our home, we volunteered every chance we got as parents to multiple young children, and continued to work towards goals we had established as a couple. It felt so futile and exhausting. Ministry had been such a passion for us and we found ourselves feeling stuck and tired. On top of that disappointment, my husband was coming home worried about his job far too often.
As we headed into 2018 overflowing with uncertainty and frustration, the word “favor” was heavy on my heart. We needed favor. I begged for favor. I prayed for favor over our lives every single day. I prayed for favor over my husband’s career every single day. I prayed for favor over my children. I prayed for favor in our relationships.
And, you know what, God answered those prayers. Never in our ten years of marriage did my husband ever have multiple job offers at one time. In past years, we’ve had times of hoping for just one opportunity. At the end of 2018, my husband had his choice of the best fit, and it was a welcomed change that honestly blew our minds.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
As seems to be the trend, experiences in 2018 led to my word for 2019: Redemption.
The thief came in 2018.
On September 10th, the woman I loved most, my grandmother, left this earth. Only a handful of people truly know what she meant to me. Growing up she was my constant companion. She was my angel, and her passing left a huge hole in my heart that probably won’t be filled this side of Heaven.
The thief also reared his ugly head in our marriage. I don’t know that a Christmas devotional is the appropriate place to reveal our struggles, but “redemption” is definitely my word for 2019 for good reason.
I believe that God is a Good Father who hears the cries of His children. I believe His heart is softened towards His broken ones and He answers prayers. The answers may not always look like we imagined, but they are answered in His time and in His way. I have faith that in 2019 He will redeem the empty places. Already, He has strengthened relationships with other women in my life and is helping me to love my family as my grandmother loved me. I will not get her back, but I can honor her and feel her close to me as I try to fill her shoes. Her passing has reshaped our family in some new and positive ways. That is redemption at work.
My marriage will never look the same, but I am confident that it will be even better, because every low point chisels and refines if you let it. And as I walk through this year of redemptive experiences, a new word will surely begin to surface for 2020.
57You drew near when I called on You;
You said, “Do not fear!”
58 O Lord, You have pleaded my soul’s cause;
You have redeemed my life.
So, what’s your word for this year? I bet if you’d take a moment to search your heart, it’s there, as plain as day. There’s an aching in each spirit – a longing. God knows what you need, when you need it, and I think that our spirits know what He’s highlighting in our lives. This passage in Isaiah really hit home for me. No matter what it is we are longing for this year, I believe this scripture provides the direction needed to see the goodness unfold in every area imaginable.
Isaiah 58:9-12 (MSG)
If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.
“I will always show you where to go.”
That’s God’s word every year…
I love that. Don’t you?
Klover House Christmas:
With it being January 5th, does it still feel like Christmas to you? Our Western culture has definitely made the “12 Days of Christmas” nearly obsolete; don’t you think? We are inundated with ads and jingles from November 1st to Black Friday. Then, we are bombarded with Christmas movies, radio tunes, and Santa-sightings until December 24th. By the time the first day of Christmas comes along, we are Christmas-kaput and dragging trees to the curb. New Year’s approaches and we speed on to our resolutions and clearing greenery for “fresh starts”. Oh, how I wish it wasn’t so. How I long for a Thanksgiving that focuses on families and feasts, and Decembers that glide along like chocolate glaze on hot cookies. I wish we spent those first 24 days preparing our hearts and homes for the King of Kings, and then, when Christmas morning rolls in, I wish it felt like a beautiful dawn breaking over an eternal night. I wish that feeling of awe and wonder lasted for all twelve days.
That’s how long we should be rejoicing and snuggling. Yes, I know, we have responsibilities to attend to, thanks to this busy world we live in, but wouldn’t it be nice to savor the Savior’s birth for more than a few hours?
I’m guilty of thinking ahead to the next thing. My fourth child’s birthday is about a month away, and I’m already going there in my mind. When I go there, it causes me to think about Valentine’s, too. And in a blink, I’ve forgotten Christmas, and I’m holding off putting things away for the sake of appeasing the part of my soul that really does want to observe the Lord’s celebration a little longer. I may be playing the part on the outside, but my insides are already trying to figure out how to better compartmentalize ornaments and pack garland.
So, today, I plan to make an intentional effort to sit down with my children and spouse and savor Christmas. The tree can come down later this weekend. Before it’s all swept away, I want to address its close with my little ones. Christmas isn’t just a *thing* we do from this date to that date. Christmas is holy and sacred, because Christ is holy and sacred.
Even if you’ve packed up and moved on – I mean we’re all de-cluttering and dieting already, right? – it’s not too late to talk with your people about Christmas. It’s never too late to talk about Christ and how it took the Magi many days to seek him and eventually find him.
The 11th Day of Christmas focuses on the faithful apostles. What a perfect day to talk to our kids about being faithful to Jesus over the course of the new year. We can talk to them about faith and faithfulness and how God is always faithful to us.
Christmas doesn’t have to end because the lights are down and the cookies are a distant memory. Christmas can be for today, tomorrow, and everyday after, because Christmas is simply honoring Christ.