Stop all the busyness. Take some time off from the things you once loved but don't even enjoy anymore. Stop striving to please everyone around you. Take some time to rest in Me while you gather your thoughts and regain your focus.
And there it was: my word for 2017. FOCUS.
I listened. I pondered. I took a step back from my normal activity. And I made sure I focused on one thing at a time, my best yes.
Basically, God was trying to tell me, "I have BIG plans for you, but I need you fully present and focused so I can accomplish my will in you, through you, and for you."
To be able to find your best yes, you have to learn when to say no--or to realize what your YES meant you said NO to. Running from one activity to the next wasn't going to work anymore.
I took a step back from writing, barely writing a thing all year long. Instead I listened to that still small voice and started an online support group for anyone grieving a failed adoption, a group that has grown to over 120 members in one short year.
I took a step back from women's Bible study and focused on personal Bible study instead. That meant saying yes to a night at home and the opportunity to go to bed early at least one night a week. It meant using my Saturday mornings to work on scholarship applications with my son rather than using that time to keep up with Bible study homework.
I took a step back from trying to participate in every activity or volunteer requst that came my way (no matter how good it seemed) and focused on being fully present for my family, at both of my sons' athletic events, through my adoptive son's last semester of high school and first semester of college. Present with my parents when my dad sustained a life threatening brain injury from an automobile accident. Present with God for an entire week alone while my husband and sons were far away at camp. Present with Juan on our first international mission trip together and then fully present as we travelled to Spain to reunite with his sister. Present with my husband as we stayed connected over weekly dates on Sunday mornings, a time I used to devote to writing. And then present through the holidays to take advantage of the chance to visit and reconnect with both sides of the family over Christmas.
Learning to focus made a world of difference for me. I am starting this year much more energized than I was a year ago, energy that comes naturally, I believe, after seeing several very deep longings fulfilled.
2017 took our family all over the map, literally. From Texas to Missouri, Colorado, Guatemala, California, Spain, Oklahoma, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. It held soccer games, banquets,Senior night, graduation, mission trips, college orientation, camp, Six Flags, and Homecoming. In between all that, it also held moments of significant challenge, heartache, and loss. Those hard moments sometimes made the good ones hard to celebrate.
So now it's time to settle down for awhile (I hope) and just reflect and take it all in.
I don't want to just push forward and forget all the amazing things that God did for me and my family in 2017. I don't want to say, "Okay. Been there, done that. What's next?" I want to cherish them, to savor the richness of each moment spent connecting and reconnecting with my family.
Like the moment my son walked the stage to receive his diploma after only speaking English for three years. Or the moment my dad read the card my mom gave him for their anniversary after not being able to speak just a day before that. Or the moment the other leaders on the Gautemala trip told me how proud I must be of my son for how clearly he taught the gospel to a full room of kids and kept them fully engaged as he spoke. Or the moment I watched Laura run past all the barriers in the airport to embrace her brother for the first time in six and a half years. Or the moment she snuggled up beside me, held my hand, and looked at old pictures with me, remembering our phone conversations from eight years ago. Or the moment I read someone else encourage a new member in the failed adoption grief support group, saying how key the group has been in their own healing. Etc. Etc. I could go on and on.
My boys are so tired of me taking so many pictures, but the pictures are what I cherish more than anything because they are tangible evidence of the memories we made together.
So there it is, my word for 2018. CHERISH. To spend the next year counting my blessings, savoring each tender moment, cherishing each memory and every memory to be made in the year ahead.