And my word for 2017 is…

She poured the bubbling acid, waited for just the right moment, then scraped and scraped and scraped. It was a laborious process, requiring much patience and precise depth. We groaned at another piece of old, musty furniture that did not look worth salvaging. Yet, she saw beyond the layers of paint and deep gouges to the beauty of that turn of the century bird’s eye maple grain, stained a warm, inviting blond.

My mom saw it restored, envisioning something the rest of us simply could not see.

Restore.

That is my word for 2017.

After 2016 began by burying my last remaining parent and ended with a brutal, unjustifiable 2 months of unemployment for my husband, I look towards the beauty of what will be.

2017 will hold its own heartaches- this, life has taught me with certainty. Yet, the restoration I envision is no wishful thinking or wearing of rose-colored glasses finish.

Instead, with great deliberation, I will strive to find purpose in the layers of pain, broken expectations, loss. In the gouges, I will behold the grand details of life’s intricacies and the redeeming qualities of the blemishes.

Restoration is: reclamation of something lost, a bringing back to full capacity, a revitalization of original beauty. It takes seeing beyond what is on the surface. It takes hoping for a future promised. It takes valuing the painful moments alongside the exquisite ones.

It is a laborious process at times, but one so worth the effort. I will hope. I will imagine what’s underneath. I will endeavor to renovate the ugliness. I will have faith in God’s renewal. I will anticipate the loveliness of a salvage completed.

Here’s to a restored 2017!

1 Peter 5:10

“And the God of all grace… will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

absolutely resolute

I am absolutely resolute. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Never. Ever.

Instead, I pick a theme, song or phrase that sums up what I’d like my year to resonate with. Last year, it was this song:

 

 

This week, as I sat in my new home, in a new city, not knowing a soul outside my family, I felt a tiny bit overwhelmed by it all- awed, really.

Then it hit me- we are far too easily awed -by things or people which/who should not capture our attention or affection for more than a passing moment.

We are awed by: someone’s musical talent, acting skills, fashion choices, strength, expertise, genius, inventiveness, parental success, beauty, wealth or persuasive talk.

We are awed by: nature, books, movies, structures, vehicle designs, art forms, inventions, etc.

We are even awed by intangibles like: bravery, knowledge, dedication, courage, heroism, tenacity, fame, or even evil and monstrosity.

Honestly, none of these are inherently bad to find ourselves overcome with a strong sense of respect, mixed with fear or wonder. This is good expression of human emotion. Yet, in this world of instant and constant media, we are barraged more than centuries before us and find ourselves too easily awestruck, star struck, selfie struck, et al.

So this year, my desire is to be awed first and best by the God of the universe. He deserves, even commands, my reverential fear, respect and awe. All else pales in comparison.

Yes, I will feel overwhelmed as I stare at the face of a rocky cliff or soak in the SoCal sunset. I will be moved to emotion by a piece of artwork, movie or song. On Sunday, I watched the Golden Globe awards and was struck with the beauty of the celebrities in their couture gowns. But all of this is because I see the creative artistry of the Creator and profoundly appreciate that same creativity He put in the hearts of human kind.

I am astonished by God’s peace, kindness, love and mercy and I will look ahead with pleasant and earnest expectation for more.

So Over That

Agonizingly, I put my pencil in the journal’s spine. Was I missing something? Did I overlook an important goal or area of needed improvement? Were the resolutions I made realistic and attainable? I fretted. Reviewing them, I felt the list complete yet already there was this sense of weight, expectation, pressure.

This was me, the first week or so of every new year, dutifully listing out what I truly believed would head me in the right direction towards accomplishment. I had catagories with sub-points (which often included goals for OTHER family members inadvertently).  Little did I know how it would eat away at me, undetected, because breaching my own personal “contract” was a blow of momentous proportions. I would, by mid-year, slunk away from rereading my resolutions, defeated.

You see, this fit in so nicely with my type-A, “get ‘er done” mentality. I couldn’t IMAGINE life without my yearly list! I mean, just creating it gave me a sense of security- I knew where I was headed and why I was headed there. Then about five years ago, through my own series of unfortunate events and the wise counsel of someone, I stopped. January, two thousand something came, and my resolve was NOT to make that list.

I WAS FREE- free at last- from the torment of my own expectations. I could breathe and just live life, come what may. New Year’s Resolutions = bosh and poppycock!! Jane was unshackled!

In the spirit of this same freedom, I embark on the unknown journey of this year. Yes, I have some personal benchmarks in mind. Yes, I will endeavor to become a better version of myself. Yes, I expect growth, change, and accomplishment; all the while knowing full well that divine plans DO prevail, that often I let myself down and other people I love disappoint me.

I accept that, no actually, I embrace that- happily.

Nowadays, come January, I ruminate on a theme for my year; a phrase that I hope will embody the 52 weeks to come (should I be blessed to live that long). I discovered this song the other day. It spoke the words of Psalm 100 to me and I decided that my theme for 2014 is: I shall not want.

http://youtu.be/LjGExaRTCvA

Bits and Bobs

So, forgive me. I’ve taken a weeeee bit of a break. The respite offered was truly needed this year. Besides a lovely family vacation, I have taken some time to inventory- my life, my house, my priorites.

Back in December, I wrote a little ditty called, “Meet Grinchetta” about the stresses of Christmas (maybe I’ll post that NEXT year).  It was during the midst of my own personal Grinchmas that it happened.  The street was perfectly quiet and still as I walked the dog. Despite my mad rushing mind, I suddenly became acutely cognizant of the carefully laid lawn décor and colored twinkling lights. Instead of my knee-jerk response of a possible eye-roll or disdain over the gaudiness, I smiled a genuine smile. I paused- this was pleasant, a sight to take in, appreciate and remember- a season fleeting. From that moment on, I vowed to let Christmas enrapture me.

I would stop the madness, stop worrying about my Amazon orders or wondering how to strategize my next Costco trip without feeling like I was in a stampede.

I made batches of my favorite candy, a recipe handed down from my great grandmother. I lingered over the recipe card written in my mom’s impeccable penmanship and shrugged at the vanilla extract stains on it. I didn’t bake a single cookie though, which is a first.

I played the shmultzy Christmas music and sung along out loud to the likes of Dean Martin and Bing Crosby. I REALLY listened to the rather steamy lyrics of: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” (Who knew it was so scandalous?)

Then a new year snuck up on me. Maybe I was enjoying myself a little too much. 🙂

It came anyways. 2014. And I didn’t make any resolutions. Oh the bliss! But that’s a story for another post…