Monday, January 2, 2017

What Saved My Life Last Year

We've eagerly flipped our calendars, we're looking straight ahead.  And while we see 2017 through a glass dimly, we're dreaming, planning, and hoping.  Venturing, striving, and leaning forward.

To help us navigate well, we grab hold of goals, songs, resolutions, words, verses, images {and yes, perhaps numbers ... I love this!}, claiming them as our own.  And for many accomplished seekers, leaders, dreamers, and creatives this is exactly what's needed to move ahead with great purpose and enthusiasm.




I'm such a wet blanket.  I'm sorry.  

The whole One Word thing doesn't work for me.  I choose a word, it looks good to me, I write a post or two, we all chit chat about it and within weeks it's completely off my radar, never to cross my mind again.

And I'm not so much for goals and resolutions.  Maybe it's my age, but I seem unmotivated, I get bored quickly, those good intentions seldom stick around long enough to see the ink dry.

Songs and verses stream through my mind by the hour but it'd be hard for me to narrow down THE one to hang my hat on.  And the only number that keeps me on my toes is the digitalized one that quickly appears when I stumble onto the scale each morning.

*

For some reason, looking backward equips me to proceed forward, hopefully a bit wiser than the year before.

And the question that floats my boat is ... 'what's saving your life?'

I need to examine what worked and what didn't.  I'd prefer not to make the same boneheaded mistakes and thought-less choices as I have in the past.  The least I can do is learn from my messes.  It's helpful for me to actually lay the past to rest, and in doing so, a brighter light is somehow freed up to illuminate the steps ahead.

So ... before I go barreling full steam ahead into this chilled, gray January, the lifesavers below have come to mind.  Actually, they came tumbling out without much thought over at Lois's place mid-December.  Yet, they beg for me to recognize them, to acknowledge their impact, to honor their importance in my life.




Always, always the sure foundation, Jesus has saved my life from the pit and from my sins, from my self-absorption and my ugly heart attitudes.  He has been faithful, strong, and true when I have been the polar opposite.  I am fully, wholeheartedly committed to His Lordship in my life.  He's never abandoned me for one single second.

Where would I be without the blessed Trinity ... Father, Son, and Spirit?

I absolutely shudder to think.

*

Reflection has been a major player this past year.  Most days flow one into the next, rather free and unstructured.  I'm home much of the time, I write, I read, I rest, I do a bit of work.

I walk the neighborhood or maybe a beach's shoreline.  I sit and look out the window, I putter, I look in the refrigerator.

I've been in the waiting room for a good year and a half.

While one or two well-meaning people have told me I've got far too much time on my hands, all this space has been profitable.  My pace has slowed, I am {usually} fairly calm.

Body, mind, and spirit have slowly but surely been recalibrated.  I have shed unwanted pounds.  I am working on making our house a home.  I have survived a breathless transition.  I have grieved well.  My dearest relationships are in a good place, a few sweet friendships are developing, and I'm grateful for the Bible Studies I now attend.

*

Contentment has emerged as a lovely gift borne from the hours of reflection, morning devotional time invested with the Lord, a purposeful focus on naming and speaking gratitude day in and out.

Yes, there's unfinished business here and there, there are situations I am concerned about, and I wonder about more things than maybe I should.  But contentment laced with thankfulness has become a soothing reality, an energizing constancy.

I can breathe deep, I am at peace.

*

A sure foundation is that relationship with Christ.  Reflection and contentment have been icing on the cake.

Anticipation is the bright red cherry on top.

What does God have for me to be, to do?  Which door will He unlatch and swing open wide?  He has put a call on my life ... what's that going to look like in the days ahead?

The options and details are still a bit fuzzy, but that's ok.  And while I have my fair share of wondering moments, I choose to anticipate instead of go into any kind of default worry / hand-wringing mode.

In one of my most favorite quotes ever, Ruth Haley Barton said it all.  'God does not waste His gifts or His calling.  As I am engaged in the process of becoming the kind of person God can use, He will place me where I can be of greatest use to Him.'

He's never let me down.  I've found His timing to be impeccably astonishing.  And I'm ready to say, 'yes, please, Lord.'  

*

Meanwhile, let's talk about what navigating tools you're claiming as you head into this fresh new year.  If you've written a post about launching into 2017, feel free to share those links.


READ MORE
August 2016
i simply loved these gifts

January 2016
vision for the year proved to be spot on

December 2015
3 immense graces

creative wisdom from Emily Freeman

*


*

you guys are the best ever ...
thanks for sharing & subscribing

*

you'll find me at Holley's
on Wednesday

50 comments:

  1. What a fantastic post Linda. It is so good to hear of your growth in body, mind, soul and spirit this past year. Like you, I am not a One Word person. I have no clue what it would be or be like. I prefer to live my life as an adventure. I'm trying to get back on track with that. I pray God will bless your socks off in whatever way He chooses and however He thinks you need it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Bill! Welcome back. You've had an incredible few months and more than a few of us have been pulling for you.

      And because you see life as an adventure, there's no doubt in my mind that yes, you will be on track with that sooner than you think. Maybe in a different form?

      But on track for sure.

      Blessings in this new year to you, your family, your congregation.

      Delete
  2. My motto for 2017 is "no more just surviving, its time to start thriving!". I've been in survival mode a very long time and its time to step out. Not sure how, not sure where but I'm willing to sit quietly and wait/listen because I'll know when He tells me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I love this Valerie! Thriving. YES!

      I can see you doing this. Yes, I can. And I really look forward to see how this pans out for you.

      Keep me posted, ok?

      Happy new year ...

      Delete
  3. Refreshing to read your words!!
    Happy New Year Linda. So thankful and content with God's Blessings.
    Thanks So Much.
    Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you're here, Ifeoma! And congrats on your new website ... beautiful!

      Happiest new year to you.

      Delete
  4. Once again, it sounds like you've written a page from my life. Declined by (in)courage, don't make resolutions and have failed attempts at the one little word thing (though I'm going to give it a go again this year) but yes, Jesus continues to save me from all my failings and saves me to more of Him. Thanks for sharing so openly, Linda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, we're often tracking together, aren't we, Debby. I kind of like it when I'm in good company.

      And surely, that's the case here ...

      Delete
  5. So glad you've found an anticipatory contentment, Linda! This post is a blessing, and I think it may become a life-goal for many.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/01/your-dying-spouse-253-work-as.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're generous and kind. Thanks, Andrew ...

      Delete
  6. Like you, I find choosing a word for the year does not work for me. And neither have New Year resolutions. So this year, my word of the year is "food" and my resolution is to keep eating otherwise ... and my song of the year is "Food glorious food" from Oliver.

    Wishing you the best year ever, and even more to follow. May God bless you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Food.

      Yeah, I can do that. Is chocolate invited?

      Let's eat!

      ;-}

      Delete
  7. JESUS! Yes! This year, with my daughters getting older and smarter, and really learning about life, my husband and I are striving to make JESUS the center of our family and home! Great post my dear. - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Who better than Jesus to be front and center, to lead our individual lives, our families, our days, our plans.

      Blessings on you and your husband as you model Christ's love and grace to your beautiful daughters, Gingi.

      You've filled my heart with joy by your visit today ...

      Delete
  8. You spoke my heart today friend! Wow!!! This is a post I will need to come back to over and over because as much as we didn't plan it, God planned for us to be walking similar journeys at the same time for the last year and a half. Your trusted friendship and wise words have carried me through and I am forever grateful. I "get" what you are saying here and your words could be my own.

    I love your question "what's saving your life?" because when we answer that it comes back to God every time. Without Him we lack direction, hope, anticipation, contentment and the list can go on. You are such a dear! I look forward to the new year and new journeys that we both will travel. Who knows, maybe we will meet along the pathway again!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've been such a faithful companion, Mary, encouraging me in my own walk through transition and grief and letting go of so much that has been precious.

      I just can't help believe that God has something significant for us to do in these upcoming months. He's given us the break and the rest our souls required and now ...

      Let's continue to wait on Him to unfold His plans.

      He's never late, always on time.

      Blessings to you as we travel on ...

      Delete
  9. I love this Linda. It's so important to recognize what works for us, motivates, and brings peace. I know I will strive to be like the latest goal trend, to only fail. But I recognize this has to do with how I'm wired, and it's okay. I'll be writing on this learning sometime this January! You inspire me to just be me, and that is okay!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point, Lynn, on how we can be prone to head toward the latest trend. Social media can really sweep us along in its seductive power. But I see you more as a trend setter and look forward to reading what you're discovering on that upcoming post.

      And oh yes, in the whole process, please be delightful you!

      ;-}

      Delete
  10. I'm not one for goals or resolutions either, Linda. The one word is more of an over-arching theme for me, rather than a restriction as some seem to view it. You are much, much better than I at looking back over the last year and presenting an articulate reflection. I love that Barton quote. Such a good word to remember! Wishing you a blessed 2017!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh good ... I'm not the only one!

      Yet I can see how an overarching theme can be compelling and I'm guessing that many of us have, in fact, adopted a keyword without even naming it and calling it our own.

      I appreciate your creative approach to viewing life, friend ...

      Delete
  11. I love how you encourage us to just be ourselves and follow what works for us, Linda. I love the picture of Jesus being the foundation, reflection and contentment being the icing on the cake, and anticipation the cherry on the top. :) Oh yes, where would we be without the Blessed Trinity!? I can't imagine life without God. Sometimes when we're in a situation, we can't always feel Him, but He is always working for us, not against us. Blessings to you in this new year! Love and hugs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen, Trudy! God is for us, loving us, working out all things for our good.

      Yes, all will be well.

      May you, may we, see the fruit of that truth in the months ahead.

      And let's hear it for the cherry on top!

      ;-}

      Delete
  12. Fantastic question: "What is saving your life?"
    Definitely, something to ponder deeply as we review the past year and move with confidence and courage into the next, knowing Jesus is with us every step of the way.
    I do choose a word for the year, Linda, and 2017's is "huge," because I want to love and serve my huge God in a huge way this year. It will challenge me to leave my comfort zone and trust He will lead and guide.
    Blessings to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I smiled when I saw your One Word today, Martha. I'm pretty sure I've never seen HUGE chosen and I think it's winsome and fabulous and the sky's the limit!

      Can't wait to see how it unfolds in your life. Leaving our comfort zones is a HUGE challenge for many of us. Please know I admire your courage.

      Delete
  13. Dearest Linda, As always, you get to the HEART of everything. I totally get how you feel about the one word thing because I feel I've responded the same way when I've tried. Also, picking just one word is too hard for me -- I love words! There's too many important ones! I'm not sure I picked my number as a number for the year so much as I'm reaching some sort of new understanding about where I am in life. The number 55 is up next ... maybe I could use it as a framework of some sort or a starting point ... not sure. I just know I need to move forward into a new place. Eyes front and focused. I'm here and now. Almost 55. And ready. Thank you so much for sharing of yourself - and sharing the link to my writing as well. You're a special lady!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 55 ... and still alive! Thriving, creative, and ready to roll. You know I love the perspective you continue to share at your online home. It's one of my favorite places to visit ... I always leave breathing deep, feeling lighter, my horizons expanded just a bit, inspired to reach higher.

      Keep going, friend ...

      Delete
  14. Just today God put this word into my heart as I heard the news I have a heart issue that requires a heart cath to see where the blockage is and if stints or surgery will fix it. Yep, right at that moment, trust came to mind. After reading Martha word I think I will steal it and say, huge trust, opps thats more then one word. Lovely post Linda and as always you lay truth out so neatly one cannot question.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Betty, I am so sorry to hear this. You've had quite a year, more than challenging, for sure.

      I'm sure Martha would be delighted to know that you're claiming 'her' Word ... truth be told, most of us are searching for something way bigger than ourselves right about now.

      Please keep me posted ... and I hope you'll find this a place of solace and encouragement.

      Delete
  15. Happy 2017 to you, Linda!

    I'm with you on the one word idea -- I love it -- but am never sure if I choose a word that sounds good to me or I wonder how it can be more impactful to me -- so I haven't chosen this year (yet). :) I love how well you are waiting with contentment until you see what God has for you just around the corner, because I have no doubt that this is just a time to store up his wisdom and goodness for the next purpose he has already planned out for you! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy, happy to you, too, Valerie!

      I feel like one of those rose bushes that was pruned down to the nubs and is coming to life, reaching for the light, expanding and ready to bloom. It's kind of exciting yet a bit unnerving.

      I feel like your last line was a benediction, friend. Thank you, thank you for that grace.

      Delete
  16. It's important to find what works for us. I wasn't sure what to expect with focussing on one word last year but it worked for me. Your question about what saved your life is a good one to reflect on and I definitely think looking back and reflecting helps us as we move forward.
    I love how you are finding peace and contentment in the waiting and I feel that sense of peace whenever I visit here. Excited to see what God has in store for you this year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Lesley, I am so grateful that you sense peace when you come to call. If there's any, it's of Him alone.

      Praise God.

      Delete
  17. I am so with you on what you have shared here! (I know you know that from what you have read that I have written on my own blog as well as emails shared between us.) It is so releasing to be in such a place and how I wish I would have discovered it earlier in my life, but perhaps it is gift that only comes to us in this later season when we can appreciate it even more!! Love and blessings, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, kindred spirits we are, Pam. I am so very grateful for your wise and insightful presence in my life.

      And age certainly can bring wisdom and a perspective that would have served us well in our younger years.

      Better late than never, yes?

      Delete
  18. Oooh Linda, I love this! I'm always looking for new things to incorporate into my new year repertoire and this concept may just have to be added for 2018! Interestingly, for 2016, my word was receive. I had no idea why it was my word, but I couldn't turn my back on it. While I was working on my year-end review, I realized the major thing that saved me was receiving - the love of God, and the love from those around me. I had chills. I love how God pressed that word into my heart at the beginning of the year and tied it into a bow at the end. He is so good!! Happy new year, friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear ya', Kylie. Sometimes there's just a knowing, a whispering of the Spirit that says, 'this is the way, walk ye in it' {Isaiah 30:21}.

      And we put our hand in His and venture forward, trusting that every little detail is in His control. He's figured it all out.

      Months, maybe years later, we can trace our story, His story written for us.

      Oh ... God is so good!

      Delete
  19. That quote by Ruth Haley Barton is a keeper for sure, Linda. This post blessed my heart when I read it a few days ago, and again this morning. Isn't it wonderful when someone else's words trigger a rush of your own? :-) Such good stuff here ... anticipating is so much better than hand-wringing, and yes, God's timing is just as you say--"impeccably astonishing." :-)

    My holiday season, though good, was full of necessary busyness and some unavoidable stress. I'm looking forward to the year-end pondering and year-ahead planning that can take place now that the kids are back in school! Happy New Year, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for re-reading, Lois. That's encouragement for me this morning and I am grateful.

      Don't you love how choosing gratitude can quickly morph hand-wringing into pure anticipation? Amazing what the Spirit does when we open ourselves to His activity in our hearts.

      And yes, a bon voyage to all that necessary busyness and unavoidable stress. Go ahead ... breathe deep!

      Delete
  20. What a thought provoking post! Thank you, Friend! No words for me either--depending upon the day or season--I claim a great variety of words. You are speaking to many, My Friend, and they are growing from your wisdom.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And you said this and I wholeheartedly agree -->'depending upon the day or season--I claim a great variety of words.'

      I'm with you, Lulu! Although sometime there are no words at all, are there.

      ;-}

      Delete
  21. If you read my latest post, Linda, you'll see that I'm not always up for the "one word" focus either. I try to determine a daily focus from my Bible study times and those are the real driving force--with the Holy Spirit as my guide--that keeps me moving in the right direction. But I did choose a word this year and feel very good about that being a secondary focus for my life. I like reminders that are visual too, so I'll be creating a graphic that reminds me of this important word. Maybe it will impact me more deeply than words I've chosen in the past, I don't know. But it's something I'm glad to start this year. But you won't hear me manipulating you with guilt to get on board the word train! It's got to be something every person feels "called" to do, otherwise it's just another gimmick.

    I'm also glad to hear that you're settling in well and making friends is icing on the cake of the prayers I've prayed for you! But thrilled to lift you up in 2017 as well! Hugs from afar!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the flexibility yet the strong focus that you talk about, that you live, Beth! As long as we're hearing from the Lord with direction, discernment, peace ... I'm for whatever it takes to put us in that longed for place.

      Actually, the word KINDNESS has been weaving its tendrils into my mind in recent days. A response, I'm guessing, to the coarsening of our culture's dialogue.

      Lord have mercy ...

      Delete
  22. I remember talking about that "saving your life" question in a book club discussion of Barbara Brown Taylor's book. I think what saved my life in 2016 and will continue to do so is acceptance. I have 2 teens with special needs and sometimes I am completely overwhelmed, but acceptance helps:
    - I think my daughter "should" go to her social group, but at 18 she's not enjoying it anymore...OK, let's accept that maybe it's run its course for her.
    - My son "should" be able to do X by this time but he can't...OK, let's accept that and try a different approach.
    - My daughter "should" be using her year off more productively but she seems to lack motivation and I feel too exhausted to provide it...OK, let's accept that and stop nagging and worrying.
    I think when I engage with situations and people as they are rather than as I want them to be, life goes so much better. This is an ongoing lesson. Thanks for sharing what is and isn't working for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh what a great book club discussion, Jeannie! Would have loved to sat in on that one!

      I really appreciate you being here, jumping into the dialogue. You bring a perspective that we need to hear as a mama with special needs teens. In our interaction this past month or so I see an openness and great big love and commitment to your kids' wellbeing and growth, despite that 'overwhelm' that lingers.

      Praying for you right now, even as I tap on these keys ...

      Delete
  23. Happy New Year, Linda๐Ÿ˜˜
    Don't worry much about the One Word thing... You aren't alone here. There are different words for different seasons....
    I have a new blog now ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ l look forward to seeing your thoughts on it http://purposefulandmeaningful.com/pnm/
    My long awaited miracle right ??

    Hugs and Blessings to you my friend

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congrats on your new home space, Ifeoma! So much work goes into the re-creation, doesn't it ... I remember that well {and also how I almost lost 2 websites in the space of 1 hour when I was setting LindaStoll.net up!}

      I think I aged 100 years ...

      ;-}

      Delete
  24. This is beautiful. All of it. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks for this, Linda. I so appreciate testimonies about just ordinary walking with the Lord through seasons of life- and you phrase things so well. Lois' post was one of my favorites as well! I'm also more of one to look back and recognize what's been helpful or harmful in life over a certain season. My husband and I have a tradition of looking back every anniversary and sharing what we learned that year about love, the Lord, life, and each other. It's been really helpful! This year I'm trying "one word"- courage- because I never have, but just as a private thing I think the Lord is teaching me a lot about, I don't intend to write about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bethany ... I love your anniversary tradition. What a way to celebrate and reflect and glean.

      Courage. What a word for these months ahead. Keep forging on.

      I'm glad you're here.

      Delete

'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda