Tag Archives: share

Miraculous Change

Miracles can happen. I attest to this in the midst of experiencing miraculous change. I wonder, though, if it is also the result of hard work. Am I in the middle of a miracle? Or is this the fruit of faith?

For years, deep inside my soul, unrest and fear coexisted with a helping of added pressure to perform. It was as if I had lost any ability to make choices. Had I ever experienced the power of active choice?  

I knew how to be passive and allow others to choose for me. I bore a burden of expectations, both other-imposed and self. If you can check off all of the boxes on this big list for everyone else, THEN maybe you can do something for yourself.

It is amazing that I did not self-destruct. In the midst of many struggles and losses, God in his deep kindness kept meaningful parts me intact ~ my singing voice, my body, my health. I am so grateful for that miracle.

There were small spaces that I claimed in the midst of the bigness of life. I found space to exercise, to read my Bible, to listen for the still, small voice, to cultivate what I could of relationships in the midst of whatever chaos was presenting, to care for my children, to love my husband.

I chose to stay open to my husband, even when I could not feel. In the midst of internal loneliness, I continued to engage external connection with him. In the midst of the fear of pregnancy and loss of voice over my body’s capacity to grow and bear children, I kept trying. Trusting. Even when I did not understand and had no words to bring, I tried.

I journaled a lot. It is a miracle that I allowed hard words to flow from my heart to paper.

I said yes to things that terrified me, like traveling internationally to be on a team leading worship at a women’s retreat. I said yes to lowering my guard and letting people peek behind the tinted automatic window of my heart before raising it up when their vision became too intense.

I kept going.

I said yes to an invitation to step deeper into my story at the Journey, parts one and two, with Open Hearts Ministry. I seized the weeks, those two years in a row, in the midst of a full life. I did not wait for the perfect time. That is miraculous.

I started a blog. Not sure of the end, not knowing where it was going, I threw words into cyberspace that would later be read by a woman who would reach back to me when I reached out to her. I risked being seen more closely, and miraculously ended up in a space of transformational friendship.

It feels miraculous that at 45 I am finally connecting with myself on a deeper level. How did this happen? Why now? I do not know. What makes a miracle miraculous?

I did not wake up one morning miraculously changed. I fought for my heart every step of the way and allowed others to fight for me, as well. God fought for me when I could do nothing but stand still and see his salvation. I let people in and relinquished the control that I held so tightly, concerning what people saw in me, when they saw it, and how.

Miraculously, healing came. Seasons and spaces of small heart miracles, sometimes involving just getting out of bed, led to this latest big miracle breaking open over my head, shattering and spilling me out all over the place. Slowing me down.

Your voice is slower.

You sounded different in your voicemail. Slower.

Wow! It’s already 7:00! Usually you have to leave to get somewhere else after this much time.

These words and more were spoken over me in the days following the most current miraculous. It was on the heels of my third weekend in Seattle at the Allender Center, pursuing the Lay Counseling Certificate. In this space I miraculously chose to risk, share, and be seen by others. I succumbed to holy terror.

Something happened. I still do not see the miracle clearly, because, Friends, we cannot see our own faces. All I know is that when we take off the mask or roll down the tinted automatic window, allowing others to see us, we invite miracles to happen. The fruit of that faith is sweet.

Friendship Friday ~ There’s Something About Second Grade

Maybe second grade friendships are in my face, since I just finished the school year, and my daughter just finished second grade. Maybe it is because one of the generous donors to my counseling certificate was a friend from second grade. Maybe it is because of this. Whatever the case, second grade has been on my mind, lately.

I corralled my three little girls one spring weekend to watch The Sound of Music while all of the boys were away. Forgetting that it is long enough for an Intermission, I settled in with them, to much initial protestation.

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Immediately I was transported back to second grade, when I sang that very song to a girl in my class named . . . Maria. I thought it was so funny and clever, until the call came from a mother that I had called her daughter a demon. She didn’t appreciate that much. Turns out, it wasn’t so funny or clever, after all. Or kind.

I don’t remember if I found out from a parent or teacher, but either way, that lesson stayed with me always. It was my first experience with the blow that I had hurt someone’s feelings unintentionally and that words have meaning and consequences.

Take a minute to watch this clip. Seriously. Excuse the poor quality, but it’s the only I could find that played the part that I sang to my friend.

A few things stand out to me as curious about this incident and movie.

First, I knew the song well enough to sing it through, which means I must have watched the movie or listened to the soundtrack quite a bit. Second, I can remember facial expressions and things about this particular scene that intrigued or bothered me as a girl . . . the nun who pipes up, Except for every meal with a friendly smile on her face ~ intrigued.  Mother Superior singing, How do you hold a mooooon-beam in, your, hand? ~bothered. Third, I remember acting out scenes from this movie, including putting on my twirliest dress and running up the “hill” in our back yard, and then twirling down singing, The hillllls are alllllive, with the sound of muuuuuusic.

I am serious.

I didn’t really think that my friend, Maria, was a demon. I did think that it was interesting that she had the same name as one of my favorite characters in my favorite movie. I risked getting too playful and too carried away, and that is a big part of second grade.

Second grade is playful and funny and innocent and hurtful all rolled into one. Friendships need help to grow, and little people need help learning to care for one another’s feelings and hearts.

The sweetest thing about second grade is how golden the friendships can be. There is something about someone seeing and knowing you and liking you for who you were at the beginning, before the messages of not good enough began to set in.

As I watched my second graders signing each other’s yearbooks, I was reminded of that same activity with my own second grade friends and pulled out a yearbook from 1979 to take a look.

Jennifer

Here is a signature and drawing by my generous donor.

II Timothy 2:15

Next to that is a Bible reference. Always an important part of a Christian school yearbook signing.

best friend

And this message signed by a friend who I didn’t realize considered me her best. That is the beauty of second grade friendships. Every one is the best!

I love you, my grown-up second grade friends. You, too, Maria.

You’re a lamb, wherever you are.

Keeping Memories

I don’t think it’s that you have too much stuff. I think it’s that you have a lot of people to keep track of, and so it looks like too much.

These words of wisdom, spoken by my recently graduated high school senior, offered comfort to my heart, as I sat sorting and sorting and SORTING at the dining room table. End of the school year papers, awards, and report cards only scratched the surface. There were bits of art work, creative stories, and pictures in the mix. There were outgrown toys being boxed up and brought down from rooms.

There were my own issues coming into play, surfacing in the midst of the sorting. There was the reality of another year passing and change knocking on the door of my heart, or at least tapping me on the shoulder. There was a deep sense of reminding and remembering.

Once upon a time I dumped my memories into the trash. Boxes containing awards, medals from band and music achievements, childish journals and pictures, scrapbooks, all were cast aside. In their stead, I packed boxes of magazines for the mid-senior-year move that wrenched me 1,100 miles away from all that I knew.

Upon arrival at our new house, I asked when trash day was, so that I could leave the box of magazines on the curb. When packing up the old house, now several states away, mom had to leave her dining room chairs for lack of room on the moving truck, and dad’s tools went like hotcakes at a fire sale. I think we all were in a state of disorganization, shock, and chaos.

Maybe this factors into why my children’s memories are so important to me, and why I find it necessary to save things of perceived meaning. I want them to remember, or at least have the option of remembering. I don’t want to revise, though. Therein lies a bit of tension.

Each child has a clear plastic tote in the basement where items holding memories can be tossed. They also have a binder on a bookshelf with clear page protectors where papers can be inserted. Finally, each has a file folder where I can quickly sort and stash paper items to save for later.

I realize that everything cannot be saved, and I am not an advocate of hoarding. What holds meaning for one child does not for another, so one may have notebooks filled with written stories and hand drawn pictures, while another has objects no longer played with but still special.

Some kids are more sentimental than others.

Here is a list of things that I place value on and often date and save:

  • Creative writing or original stories
  • Hand-drawn pictures, especially “firsts” first drawing of a person or drawing of our family or written name. Usually found on the back of proper school work or on a church bulletin somewhere.
  • Samples from various developmental stages A kindergarten drawing of a family looks different than a third grade drawing, so I might have a sample of both.
  • Places where identity or dreams are processed What I want to be when I grow up. What makes me special now at whatever age I am.
  • Notes from others written to them
  • Words of affirmation
  • School certificates or awards
  • Team pictures
  • Programs or playbills from concerts or performances or recitals they were in
  • Notes written by them to us, even painful ones where they are angry
  • Birthday lists
  • Anything they request that marks a milestone or end of an era One child often asks me to put small items in the memory box that are outgrown, yet meaningful.

There are so many other options, and each family and child is different. I tend towards the tangible rather than the digital, even though I blog and do plenty of work with technology. No, I don’t save everything, and sometimes when going through items, I pare down further, realizing that I was a bit over-the-top.

On this particular sorting day, I processed my workbasket which was piled high with end-of-school-year paper items. Pulling everything out and separating into piles for each child and then into binders and finally onto shelves, the feeling of a slate being clean was very real.

I am ready for fall with the middle schoolers’ elementary items boxed away and the elementary child’s sorted into her binder. The high-school graduate is preparing to move and doing some serious de-cluttering of his own.

Maybe it is the season of mid-life processing that I am entering that calls me to keep memories for those who do not know their value, yet. Maybe it is the reckoning with myself. Whatever it is, by keeping memories for my children, I want to hold for them that who they are is connected to who they were as they grow into who they are becoming.

I also want to get a jump on my mama final exam.

Provision

I am resting in it. Confident that what has been started will be completed, this is where I talk about how God is faithfully supplying my needs and wants and making a way for me to get to Seattle four times during the upcoming school year.

I asked my friend Angela to close out the Go Fund Me account this week. After being open for a month, it reached $935, thanks to many generous friends and family members. $2,435 came in off-line in the form of gift checks, birthday money, and creative saving.

I appreciate the awareness  that the Go Fund Me account brought to my desire and also the boost that it gave to my educational savings account. I also appreciate the fact that I am able-bodied and can work to make and save money to add to the amount. I feel abundantly blessed and encouraged that so many took an interest in a longing and dream of mine and felt led to offer financial support to help make it happen.

At the same time, I know that there are many other needs in our circles and communities, and it seemed like the right time to end a formal fund-raising campaign once I knew that there would be enough to cover tuition expenses. Travel and lodging will fall into place. Those are the next steps to take.

Some of you have asked or been curious about how funding is going and how to help. If you wish to contribute, or were planning to before I closed out the account, you can still write a check directly to me. I will deposit any donations into into my education fund account. 

I hope to keep the blog updated with progress on a monthly basis. At this time I have $3,370 set aside in an account for the $4,000 tuition that will be due over the course of the year. I plan to continue to add to that with money that Steve and I budget and that I raise or earn in other ways. Travel expenses will come from that. I have contacts in Seattle willing to help with housing if dates and times line up.

To all of my blog subscribers who received the preemptive note to self that was accidentally published, this is the post you were looking for. Not this.

In God’s kind timing, however, I needed to read that post as I wavered and waffled on the VBS fence, yet again this year. I am constantly surprised by the way He works. I plan to do preschool kid-vid again.

If you are not a blog subscriber, consider signing up. Then you will get all of my posts firsthand, even the accidental, unintended ones written at the end of a long day while drinking tea. For real!

Facing Forty-Five

It’s the day after my birthday. I just finished reading and replying to all of the thoughtful facebook messages left on my wall. Yes, I realize that facebook suggests and reminds and encourages, but that is all it does. It invites. It is up to each person to choose to respond or not. There is total freedom.

A friend texts to ask, How is day number 2 of a new number treating you? For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, I feel really, really hopeful about entering a new year. I really do. And I say this to those who are 42 or 36 or 29 or 24 and unsure of where they are and how they feel about life right now. I get that. So very much. Don’t give up hope!

There were many slogging along years and disappointing birthdays. There were times I didn’t think I would make it to another birthday. There were years of hard work and dry days where another birthday felt like checking another box off of the list of my life.

This birthday was different. Even my husband noticed that I seemed different. I think I was.

I worked really hard to be present and not borrow stress from the upcoming days and all that we have to do. I really tried to just enjoy the now. Having a little birthday buddy helped somewhat, but it also made for an exhausting day.

I woke early to excitement and pastries and cherries. There were gifts to open for both me and Mae and children to drive to school. My husband snapped a picture of us for facebook. My morning face isn’t getting any younger, for sure!

coffee and pastries

There was an awards ceremony for a fifth-grader, a shopping trip with my little birthday buddy, and a quick nap grabbed before lunch with my mom.

Little Mae

I was so proud of myself for knowing that I needed, and allowing myself to take, a nap!

Lunch was enjoyed at a downtown restaurant all the way to cake before heading back to pick up my girl and gear up for the afternoon car routine.

The fifth-grader and I looked at her yearbook together over a milkshake after dropping the other siblings at home. It was fun one-on-one time. When we got home, later than usual, there were flowers and a box on the porch and cards in the mailbox. My phone rang with a call from my adult son.

birthday booty

Daddy brought home dinner, so I didn’t have to cook. When Little Mae asked, What about the cake? we exchanged glances. There was no cake. There was a cake on the last day of school. There will be cake at her birthday party tomorrow. It’s okay that there was no cake. Facetime popped up on my phone with a beautiful girl on the other side. Child 3.

After we ate, the girls rode bikes outside with their dad watching, and I snuck away to my room for exactly five minutes before another wave of well-wishers arrived. That’s how the day went. Lots of exhausting celebration.

Once the children were all in bed, Steve and I walked the dog and settled onto the porch swing for a bit to catch up. All became quiet, and the day wound down, and I found myself not wanting it to end. But I also found myself eager to wake in the morning to begin another year and to embrace the new season that is coming as I face forty-five.

Thank you all for making my day so special! I felt the love.

coloring

PS Steve and I ended the day by coloring the first page of my new book together with my new pencils. Can you guess who the architect was?

Pinched and Pursed

I am not liking the way I feel these days, and it shows in my face. My forehead is pinched and my lips are pursed. It’s as if I have eaten something sour, because that is how it feels. Sour.

I don’t want to be that lady. You know, the one with resting b!tch face.

In some ways, maybe I always have been. RBF is an unintentional phenomenon, and yet, there is something to do with practicing, and I want to practice peace. There are deep breaths and relaxation techniques and processing the places where the B resides. Because she is in there.

It’s a name I was given and agreed with once upon a time. It’s a label I have worn and have had to face and to break agreements with. Though she lives inside, she is no longer needed.

Pulling out Beauty and the Bitch to re-read as my faith-based book for February, I was reminded of the importance of beauty, softness, and kindness to self in the processing of heart wounds and pain.

The following quotes are only a few of the many I marked and noted that spoke to the bitch in me, offering kindness and space to ponder. You are invited to be curious about this, as well.

If your heart was quieted, and the bitch was comforted by the fact that you are okay, that she doesn’t need to protect you anymore. . . wow, just think. p115

When we are triggered, we don’t see anything accurately. It is terribly unfair to be seen through wounded eyes, to find your own face being viewed as the face of someone harmful. ~ What are your triggered moments? ~ We must, quite simply, confess the harm we do, even when we are triggered. Then we can search for a deeper healing for those reactive places.    pp 37,38

Chronic control means living in the patterns we create to make life work. p 45

I was chosen, I was needed, and I figured out how to navigate my way through this adult neediness. The sad reality is that I was really good at it, skilled at calming her down (Jan’s mother), comforting her – until I was brought too far into my mom’s own dissociative recollection of abuse. Evil was waiting there (as it always is in the wings with a hurting child), taunting me with a pressured pride, You are very good at what you do, Jan, but you had better find a way to be ready at all times to come through, even if you don’t know what you are doing. pp 72,73

We are not delivered from our circumstances, though that is what we demand. No, we are delivered from the ways we attempt to create a world where our circumstances are not real. p112

The love of God is either real or it is not, and I’m telling you: it is real. Stay present. It is worth the cost. p114

Don’t underestimate the power of your uniqueness. p128

This 144 page book is one to read and re-read, to process through slowly. I’m still working.

Angered by the Call

Sometimes I wonder if I have changed, am changing, will ever change. I look back over the blog, read old entries, and think, really? STILL?

Sure, things are not exactly the same, but they are eerily similar. I found one such gem after looking through some old posts from the private blog. Sitting in my drafts folder was this memory from three years ago, almost to the day.

It is a different kind of hard that we sit in. We are always sitting in the hard, and maybe that is what I need to remember and learn as I sit in this Saturday afternoon between death and resurrection.

From March, 2013

It has been a hard day. Week. Season.

Life is so very full, which is a good thing. We are blessed. Work stress means there is work. House mess means people are living. Serving others means we are able-bodied.

It’s still been hard. Tiring. Draining. Exhausting. 

I had been looking forward to Good Friday.

Not in a, “I gave up caffeine for Lent and can’t wait for coffee on Easter” kind of way but in a, “I can’t wait for the school to be closed and to get to sleep in and have coffee with Steve” one. I was looking forward to hanging out together. 

Good Friday morning, Steve woke up and something was wrong. He was sick. It was his turn for the stomach bug that has been passing through our family for weeks. The violent, let me tear through your system and leave you languishing, stomach bug.

And I was angry.

Angered by the call to sacrifice my agenda and desire to have things my way. Angered by the call to suffer, because, after all, now I was going to have to do EVERYTHING myself and how is that FAIR? Can’t I even get a BREAK? A day OFF?

On Good Friday, the day set aside to remember the One who sacrificed his life entirely, the day I am on worship team for a special service, the day I am called in a minuscule way to lay down my own life and suffer and sacrifice for another, and my response is anger.

Not love.

Not Christlike.

Not taking up my cross to follow. Not even on Good Friday.

Only the painful, tangible, heart-rending reminder of why all of this had to happen.

For me.

February Goals Update

It’s a new month, and this first day of March seems a good time to post an update on the goals.

  • Spiritual ~ Maintain daily quiet time and prayer, following current Bible reading plan. Journal responses and thoughts that result from that time. Spend time in stillness. Read one faith-based book/month.

I am on track in reading, plowing through passages in Leviticus, Mark, Psalms, and Proverbs. This month I re-read Beauty and the Bitch by Jan Meyers Proett and hope to blog about it at a later date.

  • Family ~ Connect with Steve intentionally each week on a heart-level. Risk sharing something scary or overwhelming inside of me with him during that time. Connect with at least one child intentionally each week. Keep track. Make the most of one~on~one impromptu moments that arise with the children. Keep track.

I think I am connecting with Steve. I don’t know how intentionally, but it seems that I am risking the scary and overwhelming. Or maybe I’m just crying a lot. As to children, connection has been happening. Roo and I did a mother/daughter book study for 3 Wednesdays in February. We also did a coffee house together for her writer club. Kieran and I ate at Taste of Thai together after his district band concert. Coco and I had a mother/daughter shopping disaster trip that I will go ahead and count. Little Mae and I got donuts together one morning before school. Looks like my Kirk space is lacking, so I will try to meet him more intentionally this month. Also Coco. I would like to report a success next month. We shall see.

  • Social ~ Connect with at least one friend for coffee or conversation time each week. Say yes to fun. Make an effort to have people over to the house again starting with once/month. Adult kids and their guests are a bonus and not part of this number!

I have done well with grabbing coffee with friends on a few Saturday mornings. Thanks, Angela and Beth! I said yes to Brooke’s karaoke birthday party. There was lots of adult kid activity, but since they don’t count, it swings the other way, and our house guests have been of the shorter variety. I hope to have a successful adult/family interaction to report next month.

  • Physical ~ Do 20 minutes of yoga at least five times a week. Longer or more times is a bonus. Improve flexibility in my down dog. Practice presence on the mat. Consider walking Dewey as an opportunity to get exercise and fresh air and not an annoying burden built into my already full day!

Oh, Dewey. He has been giving me lots of opportunity for fresh air, and I am so glad that the sun is shining brighter and the air is warming up. Yoga is working, as I completed two sixteen-class challenges since the beginning of the year for a total of 32 classes. But who’s counting? Most mornings I am up at 5:30 and on the mat.

  • Teaching ~ Organize my teaching materials and office space. Write an encouraging note to one student/week recognizing individuality and strengths.

I wrote to one student this month. Definitely need to step that one up! I plan to double or triple up on this one from now to the end of the year. It’s a small class. My space is looking neater. Baby steps.

  • Personal Development ~ Pursue the Allender Center’s Lay Counseling Certificate. Read one book per month related to personal growth.

This is a big one. I actually applied to the Allender Center and had a phone interview. I will find out if I am accepted this month or next and then move forward from there. Application and acceptance does NOT mean that I have to go this year, but I am praying for it to be clear how I should proceed. My personal growth book was 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller.

  • Ministry ~ Attend Stephen Ministry meetings regularly. Participate actively. Return to worship team rotation at least once per cycle.

I attended both Stephen Ministry meetings in February and heard great teaching from our leaders. I have been meeting regularly with my care receivers to both encourage and BE encouraged. It is so, so sweet. I will be singing on worship team this Sunday for this cycle.

  • Financial ~ Take intentional time with Steve to go over the family finances and budget and grow in understanding of our financial goals together.

This could use work, but I at least entered some receipts into the budgeting plan and was aware of how much money was in the categories that I needed to spend from.

  • Writing ~ Schedule intentional time each week to write and work on the blog. Submit one Red Tent post for consideration each month.

February’s Red Tent post was my most widely read and shared. March’s post has been submitted for consideration. I published eight posts on my own blog. I am still trying to find that intentional time to write and work, but there are only so many hours in a week, and there are real-live people in my world to love. Little by little.

If you made it this far, wow! Thanks. Here’s a little reward for your effort. It’s a reminder of what really matters, especially on a day like today. Do take five minutes to listen and reflect. Blessings!

In Which I Have a Dream

. . . about puppies!

It’s Leap Day, and before it ends, I want to write about something light-hearted and fun.

I blame my sweet friend, Davene, and her copious Facebook puppy pictures and posts filling my feed. I’d much rather focus on puppies than Presidential Primaries, which is saying something, because dogs aren’t even my favorite.

Just yesterday there was a video of the puppies venturing outside for the first time, and I watched it. Then there was the blog post about it. Then the dream.

I am fascinated by these puppies, seeing as I first heard that they were on the way on the eve of the big snow. Davene and I ran into each other at the library, and I asked about Willow and found out that she was great with puppies. Turns out, she gave birth to them during the storm.

I have followed their progress, often thinking, At least I don’t have 10 puppies to care for! in the midst of my overwhelm. We all have our own stuff, you know. Some people have puppies. There is lots of love to go around in the Fisher household and lots of schooling going on and lots of learning. It is pretty incredible.

Davene is pretty incredible!

On to the dream. It was one of those that comes in the night and just sticks. I still remember it, even after writing it down this morning in my Dream Journal.

We went to the Fishers’ house to see Willow’s puppies, finally, after talking about it for some time. As usual, there was attitude from a certain child or children who shall remain unnamed. Not unusual.

We were still driving our big white van, parked it, and got out.

We went into the house, and puppies were EVERYWHERE. They were anywhere you looked. Puppies. Crawling into this and out of that. The children noticed two that they wanted. In true dream form, they looked nothing like any of Willow’s ACTUAL puppies. They were more cocker-spanielish in appearance.

The Fishers were more than happy for us to take them, so we began making plans for that. I noticed an unusual-looking black puppy that seemed to have a collie-like appearance around the face and ruff around the neck. It also had stripes on its sides and a bushier tail. I noted to myself that it seemed to have gotten all of the recessive genes, and looked rather skunk-like.

That is when we noticed that it really WAS a skunk. It jumped onto my back and began clawing at me as I ran around, freaking out, in true Christmas Vacation form. THERE IS A SKUNK ON MY BACK!!!!!

I ran outside where it was somehow removed.

We loaded up and headed home with two new puppies to add to our menagerie. The dream ended with them being introduced to Dewey, Zephyr, and Buddy.

There you have my latest dream. It’s not big or life-changing or risky, unless I choose to analyze it. Then, maybe, I had better look out! Because, you know, there was that skunk and all of those puppies.

Restore

It was several weeks ago when a text came through from my youngest sister.

I want you to know that I am praying Joel 2:25 for you, that the Lord will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten.

As one of my go-to people while processing the Return in 2015, she was privy to much angst and frustration over the mess that I was trying to wade through and understand. Her simple text touched my heart in a profound way, as I began pondering what restoration would look like.

restore ~ to put or bring back to an earlier or original state; to put back into use or service; to give back

Other words and phrases began popping into my head in various contexts. One such passage was this prayer of confession from the Book of Common Prayer.

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against Thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare Thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore Thou those who are penitent; According to Thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for His sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of Thy holy Name. Amen.

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done. Yes. Left undone. Much.

Restore thou those who are penitent.

Restore.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Psalm 51:12, ESV

I have not felt much joy, lately, and certainly not over the salvation so graciously given to me by Jesus.

Restore joy.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in the paths of righteousness,
for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23:1-3, ESV

Restore my soul. Yes. My soul is tired.

It’s interesting that restore is one of the words in the acrostic I did for return last year.

Remember
Engage
Think
Understand
Restore
Name

It reminds me that there are still places to return to, that I am not finished with that word totally, yet, but that I can back off and rest awhile. Rest in the mess.

When Steve asked me about this year’s word, I had a difficult time articulating why I chose it. I felt clumsy and awkward and began to panic and doubt my choice. I began to lose faith in my instincts and myself.

Maybe it’s not a good word. What do you think?

And that is where I knew it was right, because it is a good word and it’s mine. I don’t need permission or approval for my words to matter. I can choose them just because.

Maybe I need to restore some confidence in myself.

There was also a hard conversation yesterday that reminded me that this is a good focus for this year. There have been places in relationships broken, left undone.

Restore relationships.

Christmas break offered Steve and me a taste of unstructured time together. There were moments to just be and not feel rushed. There were moments when the kids were occupied and there were no immediate projects to attend to. We had snippets of time to dream and risk sharing those dreams with each other.

Restore our dreams. Our ability to dream. Restore our hearts.

So my word this year is a claiming of a promise made in Scripture and the continued walking by faith, believing that which is unseen. It is trusting that, yes, even what has been broken and felt shattered beyond repair can be restored.

Where might you hold hope for restoration this year, Dear Reader?

I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten
Joel 2:25, ESV