2019 – the Year of “Growth”

Oh my…

My Star Word* for 2019 is “growth” and I don’t know whether to be excited or terrified.

The last year has been a difficult one. I don’t want to give the specific reasons air time right now, so forgive the vagueness of this post.

I know that I did the right thing by showing up and standing up for the right reasons, but the “nasty-grams” I got because of doing that really hurt. Learning to walk with integrity, and not cave from pressure and criticism was tough. I’m limping, and learning to forgive… but God’s faithfulness has carried me through.

I asked my beloved spouse what he thought my Star Word would mean. (I confess, it was in a little bit of a whiny way!) He said, “Maybe this is the year that you consolidate from all of the growth from last year.”

I think I’ll go with that. But time will tell!

*What’s a “Star Word”? Read more here!

If you still want a star word, make a comment, email me, send me a text, or catch me on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram. I’d be glad to draw one for you. There’s plenty left. Oh, and if you’re curious, they aren’t “churchy” words. They are everyday words offered for anyone who wants to meditate on a word for the year. That’s it!

You want a Revolution? (Oops! I mean… Resolution!)

It all started with this commercial:

Except instead of planning to eat more jelly beans for my personal “revolution” all I could think about was this:

Yes. It’s that time of year… but I’m not making any New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve written about some of the plans I’ve chosen for my personal, professional and spiritual growth. None of them are exactly earth-shattering. They are more about living my faith out consistently, day after day. I wouldn’t say I am trying to live in a way that is revolutionary. I’m just trying to live in a way that changes how I impact the people I care for as a chaplain and a pastor. I want to know that, at the end of the day, I’ve given my best, not think, “Meh. I did stuff.”

It started with the Daily Office readings today where I read these words in Isaiah 62:

Go through, go through the gates;
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway;
clear it of stones;
lift up a signal over the peoples.

I think I’ve been over-thinking or over-reaching this. It’s not rocket science. It’s a simple, get-off-the-couch, go-clear-theway sort of attitude. To start clearing the rocks that are in the way!

It’s a kind of reboot or restart. The problem is, it’s too easy for me to make excuses or get busy doing something that’s more… comfortable or entertaining or flashy. Picking up rocks? It’s so mundane. So simple. So… hard when it’s been simpler to just let things lie. As my friend Jan Fox says, I need “a revolt to get the jolt!”

Here’s to making the first step today!

Looking back, looking ahead: Year’s End

It's a walk by faith and not by sight.
It’s a walk by faith and not by sight.

I wrote early in the year that I wasn’t much for New Year’s resolutions. I’m a fairly goal-oriented person and I tend to keep a running goals sheet. However, I also know that progress and growth only happen when one takes a step back and considers where the biggest “gaps” were between my goals and my reality.

Looking Back…

There’s a couple things that I feel good about from this last year….

I got more rest and was more active. Thanks to my FitBit One, I have a better handle on my general activity level. As a result, when I didn’t make my daily goal (an admitedly low goal of 5000 steps) I couldn’t fudge it. The numbers were there in black and white. In terms of tracking my sleep, I used the Sleep Cycle app.  I use it wake up more gently and I feel less like a zombie as a result. This sounds a bit simplistic. but the daily reminders help me keep my goals in sight. And as a result — I lost 20 pounds in 2013. And kept them off.

We saw our daughters grow through their challenges and graduate! One finished college in four years, (no small feat!) and one finished high school. Both did extremely well and stared down their personal dragons. I’m so proud of them. Love and prayers made a difference. They are both healthy and happy… and that’s huge. Thanks be to God!

I blogged more consistently and to a larger audience. I added 340 posts to my blog, which logged 11,000 views. That’s peanuts compared to many bloggers and authors, I’ll grant you. It was fun to blog in community with RevGalBlogPals, as a ViewPoint writer for EEWC, and to participate in the Rethink Church photo-a-day exercises in Advent and Lent. I’m grateful that you take the time to read this blog, and encourage you to comment. 🙂

I saw on a personal dream become a reality, and built a labyrinth. I blogged about both my progress and what I learned in the process. The experience has been the impetus for writing about the true ups and downs of a spiritual journey. There’s confusion, there’s frustration, and there’s also success (sometimes in very small steps.) And the joy is in the journey.

Looking Ahead…

Here’s my plans for growth (personally and professionally) in 2014…

Spiritually…  I’m continuing to learn how to be a person of integrity, sincerity and faith. It takes time, effort and self-discipline and I know it’s a life-long process. But here’s a few things that I’ve found to be personally helpful.

  • Lent and Advent  The Photo-a-day discipline is a simple way to focus on the major themes of Lent and Advent. I invite you to join me! A simple cell phone camera is more than adequate.
  • Pray-as-you-go  The  daily podcasts from Pray-as-you-go offer a great way to re-center in the middle of a busy day. Everything from the daily Scripture to the music during the meditation is frequently spot-on.
  • Bible reading plan  Here’s the beauty of on-line devotions: I get a daily email with links to the day’s reading. I can access it on my computer or “handheld mobile device.” This year I’ve decided to go with the Daily Office Lectionary Readings.

Professionally… I’m working towards board certification as a professional chaplain, and getting national recognition of my ordination and chaplaincy credentials with ABC-USA. This has taken a lot of writing, study and preparation (not to mention taking post-grad training). I’m also continuing to wait on the place God has in mind for job in Spiritual Care. It may be with a health-care agency, a church or a non-profit. I had some great interviews and possibilities in 2013, but I’m very aware that the Call needs to be mutual.

Personally I’m working on my continued overall fitness and weight loss. I don’t intend to run a marathon (kudos to those of you who do), but I want to keep my trend going in the right direction. I’m also continuing to find time to write, especially on long-term projects. And eventually, I may catch up with the laundry.

I’ll blog later about my Star Word and my watch word (Scripture for the year.)

There’s 10,000 reasons that I am blessed and grateful to God for this past year. I end my posts for the year with this song…