Reflection 012: Word(s) for the year

Well, we’re in that “dead zone” between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. You might find yourself traveling or returning/exchanging gifts or jumping on the “after Christmas” clearance sales or catching one of the bazillion college football bowl games. Some may have gone back to work, and others may be twiddling thumbs, wandering what to do until the new year begins.

Over the past couple years, I’ve been able to take off work and spend a little extra time with my family. We’re spread out all over the country now, so it’s such a treat to gather at the #hallhomestead in Mississippi. We can be a pretty rowdy bunch (when we’re all together), and while I love a house filled with chatter and laughter, I also really love the little buckets of quiet time. In fact, I have to sneak them upstairs to my room in a planned fashion so I can be alert for the next rounds of chatter and laughter.

It’s in these moments that I usually process the year that’s just passed and the one that’s just up ahead. I don’t really have a step-by-step guide for this, but it often includes a handful of things: looking back through my calendar, reading through past journal entries, scrolling through my camera roll. It also includes more dedicated time to Bible reading and praying.

Then, (and I guess there’s more of a “step-by-step” than I realized) I start jointing down thoughts, which can be turned into goals for the new year. The “end result” of this is a “word for the year.”

I started doing this a few years ago because I’d heard a friend of mine speak on a young-professional panel, and he commented on how beneficial his version of this “exercise” had became during his twenty-something years. So, naturally, being the achiever that I am, I decided to try it for myself.

2016: My word was ABIDE. When I chose this word, I’d only lived in New York for about 18 months, and at that point, I’d already lived in three different apartments. I wasn’t feeling super settled, and this word was a constant reminder to be (or live or dwell well) in/with Christ.

2017: My word was FOCUS. I chose this word for numerous reasons, and sadly, none of the original reasons came to full fruition in the way I’d intended. However, as per usual, the Lord used it for his glory and my good. Even in hardship (from poor decisions and misplaced affections), he used key people to help me re-FOCUS my heart on him and his calling for my life.

2018: My word this year has been INVEST. Admittedly, I went back and forth between GROW and INVEST, but I decided to go with INVEST. The financial meaning of this word rings true from the get-go, but I mostly chose the word for people and skills. As mentioned yesterday, the specifics revolved around my photography skills, my Community Group, and my family.

I’m still praying through what my word for 2019 will be, but I’ll be sure to share it with you once it’s settled. For now, let me leave you with a few verses that have stuck out to me this year:

Luke 16:10 He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.

Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

Proverbs 16:8 Better is a little with righteousness than vast revenues without justice.

Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Jeremiah 29:5

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you. Bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Proverbs 3:14

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 1 Peter 3:8

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Ephesians 4:2

Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving kindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:1-2

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4