I think I was half way through the year the first time I realized it had a theme. I don't remember how long ago, and there were many years where I had no words, it was just babies and no sleep and just surviving. But the first year I remember naming was named Help. I was desperate for an ear, an arm, an understanding smile. A place to fit. I needed a friend, another mama? Someone to see I was drowning.
This theme was overwhelming so I turned it into a prayer.
It was hard to see at the time but my answer to this prayer came in the form of friendship and connection from many different places: Mama bible study at church. A shift change at work. Connecting with a sweet mama friend. Then a homeschool co-op where I met my girls who have been my life line, my cheerleaders and mentors.
Four years ago it was Hope. Then after that, Grateful, then Grace. Last year: Integrity. I'm always amazed at how my year tends to live up to its name. I'm always amazed how God answers my yearly prayer.
That year named Hope was a time I was grasping, gasping. I needed hope like I needed oxygen. My life and heart seemed upside down and I was wrecked in good and very bad ways. He gave me Hope. Hope in Him; hope in so many areas, in such startling ways.
Sometime later came Grateful. In the midst of my search for Hope, I felt a nudging. I needed to focus on giving thanks right where I was no matter where that happened to be. This blog helped give me words and encouragement to count my gifts, to choose to be thankful. This book came out the next year and changed my life.
Grace? That year I was in a place where I just needed to stand in His Grace, let it fall on me, and not be consumed by my shortcomings or guilt. I needed to learn how to better receive and give grace. And I did. He gave me undeserved, unending grace. It covered me and I began to learn to give it away more freely. To love others right where they are.
Integrity was next. That word washed over me at the beginning of last year. After learning Gratitude and Grace it was time to put this knowledge into practice in a real way. Looking back I see the year long process of beginning to better align my actions with my beliefs. I have this habit of reading and praying and lamenting about what I should be doing but when it comes around to doing what I should be doing...well that's another story. Last year I saw that God did some work in me. Finally I saw bits of evidence of the chipping and molding going on. I can see some hints of that good work that He has begun in me.
This year I've settled on Trust. Well I haven't really settled as much as this word keeps knocking me over the head and telling me that's what this year is about. It's the next step. I remember these words I read "doesn't the saved have to trust the Savior?". If I truly believe in God shouldn't I be trusting Him? Not just to save my soul but in all things? Trust Him with my day, my hopes, my dreams, my failures...my kids...my marriage. I'm learning to pray and really pray. He's teaching me not to worry and if I start it's a signal to turn it over to Him. I'm learning that frustration and anger and sadness are just reminders to lay it all at His feet. I'm learning that depending on God to meet my small needs gives me practice in dependence for the big things. He's teaching me to listen....and to wait. And then wait some more. He's leading me to trust him with my kids and how I discipline and how and what I teach. He's telling me to trust Him with my marriage to not always try to take things in my own hands and make it all just how I want. But to trust that what He wants is far better.
Naming these years gives focus. It's another way to count gifts. Putting time into words stacks it neatly so looking back I can see the work being done. And He is doing the work and I am ever so humbled by His amazing Grace in my life. Humbled. Grateful. And I will continue to name the ways He saves.
and lean not on your own understanding. in ALL ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.