the year of: authentic.

Awhile back, I was introduced to the concept of a “word of the year”  (or “one word” as some know it) and absolutely loved it. I dislike resolutions and while I enjoy having goals, I hate feeling pressured by myself to achieve several goals. Instead, I thought about how I wanted my life to look for the year ahead and searched for a word that would encompass that vision.

Four years ago, my word of 2013 was light.
Three years ago, my word of 2014 was release.
Two years ago, my word of 2015 was nourish.
Last year, my word for 2016 was presence.
This year? My word for 2017 will be AUTHENTIC.

To me, AUTHENTIC is

  1. being honest with others.
  2. being honest with myself.
  3. letting go of holding back and letting myself flow.
  4. embracing who God made me, instead of creating an image of self.

I typically hold back my weaknesses, negative thoughts, and stressful events as to not dwell on them. I’d rather focus on the good things. But the problem with that? It appears that everything is fine, even when it isn’t. When I hold back these things, it just builds up inside me. I don’t let it out, I don’t share the struggles, and then, I have mini outbursts or breakdowns at home and feel even worse…. withdrawing and hiding more. Not healthy at all. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Most of us probably do this. Don’t we?

I don’t know how much I will be able to write this year, but I hope that when I do, I am honest about what’s really going on in my life and the emotions I am feeling. I hope I can be open with you about joys and my struggles. There are plenty of joys, and I know how wonderful life is, but I’ve also had dark moments of internal struggles these past couple years. As much as I just want to focus on the positive things, I also don’t want to deceive anyone into thinking that things are better for me than they really are. I have hurts. Doubts. Struggles. Disappointments with self. Stress. And so forth.

And I want to be able to share these things without fear of judgement.

If there’s one thing I noticed, it’s that being open invites others to say “me too!” and connect. We are never alone in our struggles… and this is a reminder we all need. I know I need this right now as I deal with sleepless nights and a tiny one depending on me for everything while I try to manage my own life. It’s exhausting. Honesty draws out honesty.

Above all, not only do I need to acknowledge and shed some light on my struggles, but also release them to God. I do an absolutely terrible job of worrying instead of praying. Even when I pray, I still worry. I worry, stress, worry, stress. It’s awful. I need to let that go.  I need to depend on Him.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV

I already expect that this year will have challenges. The last two years have been difficult, so why not this year? We have a new baby, jobs are changing, finances are changing, and there’s a lot we as a family and I as an individual hope to accomplish this year (including some things we weren’t able to accomplish last year). I know my plate will be full. I know I’ll be frazzled. I know I’ll also be excited and happy. And I pray that I let myself feel it all sometime, instead of ignoring the downsides and trying to keep it together.

Time to be real. Let’s go, 2017.

End of the year. [601-645]

I had a whole post typed up about why it didn’t really feel like Christmas for us this year. It was full of a lot of rambling emotion and more information than you probably needed. Upon reading it, I realized that it wasn’t something I wanted to dwell on or remember in the future, so I erased it.

I was still happy about Christmas. My favorite time of the year. And I’m thankful for my family doing their best to share a little Christmas with us this year, even from miles away (this was my first Christmas away from ‘home’). And I’m thankful that my husband did not work on Christmas (he worked over Thanksgiving) so we were able to enjoy the holiday together, the three of us, our new little family.

I’m looking forward to the year ahead. Praying that it will be an easier year than the last two. Praying that next year will bring more joys and successes than the last two. Praying for peace. Praying for calm. Praying for positive change.

And with that, here the final gifts I thought to note for 2016….

601. gingerbread cookies. 602. foggy morning. 603. sliver of sunlight at the end of the day. 604. kisses upon soft baby cheeks. 605. white holiday lights. 606. magazines in the mail. 607. fleece leggings. 608. slippers. 609. warm electric blanket. 610. peppermint candy. 611. fluffy, cozy black cat being a sleepy bum. 612. jealous dog love. 613. first snowflakes on the ground. 614. peppermint fudge. 615. peppermint mocha. 616. smile in my baby’s eyes. 617. swaddle blankets. 618. strong mama hen surviving a fight with a predator. 619. chickens taking care of each other. 620. finding baby chick alive after thinking it was dead. 621. holiday brunch with dear people. 622. warm, sticky cinnamon rolls. 623. holiday dinner with a group of wonderful people. 624. lovely house all decked out for the holidays. 625. wintergreen. 626. white fir. 627. clean baby after a bath. 628. baby sleeping a lot at night. 629. unusual sixty-degree day sandwiched between two cold days. 630. cinnamon-scented pine cone decorations. 631. icy imprints of frozen leaves. 632. husband working long hours to keep us financially afloat. 633. marvelous Christmas program performed by the kids at my church. 634. real smiles from my little baby! 635. Kyle being home for not just one but three days! 636. baby being awake for longer periods of time and interacting a bit. 637. friends that have become family. 638. light flurries on Christmas. 639. strange warm weather being a tease. 640. clearing out clutter. 641. packages arriving through the mail. 642. Costco membership again! 643. quick coffee. 644. hope for the year ahead. 645. having this place to write….

Cheers. ❤