Last year had a tumultuous start.
New Year's was punctured by many visits from Mom's hospice team.
On January 2nd, I numbly navigated through a milestone birthday, trying to embrace the love and gifts sweetly offered to me by family while inside I was mourning the last days with my Mom.
In the wee early hours of January 4th, our precious Mom slipped away to be with her Jesus. We wept. We laughed through tears. We hugged and clung to one another. We crawled through all the details of planning a memorial service and managing Mom's affairs. We reminisced as we sorted through old family photos. We crept through "normal" activities the best we could, picking up the pieces of a life continuing without her.
In this blur, I recognized the beauty of the Lord's grace and comfort in the heart preparations He had already been working in me to gently release Mom to Him.
You see, my word for 2018 was "Release." God had already been giving me opportunities to trust Him through the process of "letting go" and "holding loosely" things dear to me. Right after Mom's diagnosis that previous summer, I felt the slightest reverberations in my spirit that I faced the huge task of releasing Mom, too. That #onelittleword packed a punch!
- - - Grief comes to all of us.
- - - Loss is a perpetual sidekick to life.
When we experience loss of pivotal people in our lives, the emptiness in our hearts is pervasive and leaks out into our awareness in so many ways.
Since I knew my ultimate comfort was going to come from the Lord, I chose "Abide" as my word for 2019.
I knew I would have to ABIDE IN HIM to trudge through the murky waters of grief. I knew I was going to have to dwell in the Word and turn toward prayer as the only true respite from the heavy sadness that weighed me down.
Looking at the beginning of this page now, I realize I chose soothing colors that were restful and reflective of nature.
One of the first things I did when I started this template was to look up the definition of ABIDE in a couple of sources. I was drawn to the phrase "to stand fast" as well as "to continue without fading or feeling lost."
Yep, that sounded like a way to grieve with hope.
As I explored verses for ABIDE, I was impacted by John 15:10 "Abide in MY love." I decided to start a 2nd page with this concept as the focal point.
As we rolled through February, I incorporated some valentine hearts and washi tape for this page.
These pages did not develop quickly. In fact, it was hard to work on them. Whispered fragments of loss seeped into my quiet time whenever I turned to these particular pages.
I was struck by the discipline of ABIDING, by remaining in God's Word when it hurt so tenderly to be vulnerable to His comforting promises.
"...with Me thou shalt be in safeguard." (I Samuel 22:23)
When I encountered additional losses and disappointments in those raw months, I grounded myself in the knowledge that I was "rooted and grounded in love - - - the love of Christ."
When I felt empty and the cookie butter from Trader Joe's couldn't fill me up (though I REALLY tried!), I was comforted that through Christ I could be "filled up to all the fullness of God."
I just had to keep showing up...to stand fast in His Word. Bible Quilting anchored me to stay IN; to remain IN. Writing Scripture was a balm to my soul that desperately needed this replenishment.
"My soul is weary with sorrow, Father,
please strengthen me according to Your Word."
As I continued to plod forward, digging into the Word for hope and strength, another page idea developed.
- - - DWELL - - -
Somewhere in that process of REMAINING and ABIDING, I began to feel lighter. Even looking at this page you can see more creativity, more energy to add embellishments...and even using brighter colors again.
So, my friends, I share my "word for the year" journey with you to give you encouragement to persevere through a difficult season, to explore a new facet in your life, to focus on a personal issue that makes you squirmy, to venture into an unknown that God is preparing you for...His plan is greater than we could ever know.
His Word holds whatever truths and comforts we may need in 2020 to fulfill His ultimate vision for us.
* If you're choosing a particular word/phrase to focus on this year, you're welcome to download the Word for the Year template to get you started!