Out of a quiet, soft sleep I can hear small whimpers coming from the next room. Soon that quiet whimper works it’s way into a full on wail.
I kick my feet, wrestling my way out of my warm bed to feel the cool air wrap itself around my arms. It jerks me. And I chase the sound.
The wailing subsides as a set of small, wondrous eyes lock onto me, her mother. And I see a smile.
I take her in my arms to nurse her.
Several minutes later, I watch as she lies waywardly across my lap. Her small but strong body was limp from the overwhelming state of contentment.
Not a care in the world.
Seeing my daughter content in the quietness of slumber always gives me joy. But at times, it gives way to this uneasiness at the core of me. I worry about whether I can truly do a good job being a full-time mother and CEO of my household. And I worry about whether I can make the most of this time away from the traditional workforce.
Will I make the right decisions?
I know the answer to that question won’t be an emphatic yes. But I think I can boost the percentage if I change my perspective and focus on behaving intentionally.
That is why my one word for 2014 is purpose.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, purpose can be defined this way:
1pur·pose noun \ˈpər-pəs\
a : intention
b : resolution, determination
I believe that, as President John F. Kennedy once said, “efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
I believe that being determined and acting intentionally will make me more effective in helping my daughter develop and shaping her world into something positive. I can also help make sure the world we call home remains financially stable and spiritually grounded.
So this year, I want my family and my Heavenly Father to be the compass in all of my decision-making. When I serve. When I spend. When I write. When I speak. And when I consider my next career opportunity.
I want to be mindful of the people around me, and a good steward of the things I have.
And above all, I want to enjoy life and enjoy it more fully.
“The best way to insure you achieve the greatest satisfaction out of life is to behave intentionally.”
-Deborah Day, author of Be Happy Now
What is your One Word for 2014? If you don’t have one, what would it be?
I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary, with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy Father, you have come
And chosen me now
To carry your son
I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now
Be with me now
(From “Breath of Heaven” as sung by Amy Grant)
In the week leading up to Christmas, I am thinking about what happens when God chooses you to do something great. I believe we all have a purpose, and are called to do something even though we may not know what it is or why
Mary was called to be Jesus’ mother. She was a young virgin…someone who appeared to be an unlikely candidate for such a calling.
But at the same time, she was the perfect candidate.
God saw in her what those around her could not see. They could only see an unmarried woman. But He saw beyond that. He saw potential.
Looking at Mary’s story reminds me that God sees the potential in all of us.
I’m so thankful for that because, Lord knows, we don’t always see the best in ourselves.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.
– Proverbs 19:21
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
– Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
You never think you’re going to take a vacation and actually learn something. But you can, if you’re open to it.
For months, my hubby tried to plan a nice beach vacation for us, but it didn’t work. We ended up going to Atlanta instead, and it was the best decision we ever made. We got the chance to see the city in a way we’d never seen it, and reconnect with friends.
The first stop was the Georgia Aquarium, where we truly saw the greatness of God. We got to examine creation on a whole new level. It was amazing! We honestly became like children, noticing how unique each creature was.
Then several times throughout our visit, we marveled at the beauty of the architecture and the engineering behind it. We couldn’t help but realize that people were created with such intelligence! (It’s up to the person whether they act on that intelligence)
Through all this, I learned that all creatures were excellently made with specific functions that allow them to live in their environment. We all have our purpose and a place in this great, big biosphere. And people have gifts that allow them to tap into their purpose.
I know people who are great writers, great reporters, great leaders, great counselors, and great performers. And no one can do what they do quite like they do it.
One of my hubby’s college friends is a great producer. And that’s just one of his many gifts. He knows how to facilitate a vision, and will do whatever it takes to see it through.
We didn’t know it when we arrived in Atlanta, but he had created an itinerary for our trip with the hopes of opening our eyes to the possibilities of a life filled with vision and an increased passion for our purpose.
And it worked. We could see the excellence of God in every moment. And were renewed because of it.
Now isn’t that what a vacation is supposed to be about? A true renewal of the mind, body, and spirit?
When was your last great vacation?
I didn’t do much studying, growing up.
When it came time to take tests in school, I relied on how well I took notes and processed the information when it was taught.
And I must say…I was an impeccable note-taker.
Not because I never made mistakes or misheard anything.
But because I covered up the evidence.
I would re-write an entire page of notes if I thought I put information in the wrong place. I didn’t really want to, but the thought of something being disorganized made me cringe. So for a while, you could say a pencil with a good eraser were my best friends.
You could’ve called me an overachiever with OCD, and I probably wouldn’t have disagreed. I was obsessed with staying organized and sticking to plans. My bedroom as a child was filled with storage units. And everywhere you looked, there were labeled binders, color-coordinated folders, and dividers.
Fun for me was buying school supplies and organizing them in my bookbag before classes started.
Fun for me was sorting through my parent’s mail when the pile of envelopes on their desk got too high.
Fun for me was re-designing my closet.
I was obsessed. I had to have a plan and a place for everything.
I guess you could say I was trying to control what I could in my little world, and avoid chaos at all costs. But that was so ironic, considering, the reality around me was pure dysfunction.
There was a lot of disrespect and disloyalty, and it all created a state of disorder.
All I wanted to do was plan my future and a permanent escape from that type of environment.
My planning worked for a while. It got me through college and into my first “real” job. Then God showed me that my plans won’t always come to fruition. And if they do, they won’t always come when I’m expecting them.
In the Bible, it says,
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)
“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
These verses allowed me to see that God wants nothing but the best for me. And He knows what must happen to accomplish that.
A great example of this is when I met my husband. I met him at a time when I wasn’t necessarily looking for a husband, but after a year of friendship and a three week courtship, I knew he was “the one.” He wasn’t in my plans and, at that time, I thought a whirlwind romance would throw my life out of order, but he was exactly what I needed.
He’s taught me how to love.
He’s taught me how to trust.
He’s taught how to be happy with a life that’s not perfect.
And now, I don’t fear things that appear out of order…because I know they are all a part of God’s plan.
Ever feel like an outcast?
I think I’ve spent most of my life feeling like I wasn’t quite like everyone else. I was the one who, in the 2nd grade, found myself straightening up the decorative pieces on the tables while I was supposed to be enjoying my best friend’s birthday party. I was the one who insisted on doing my homework at the front of the school bus even when everyone else was talking and laughing. I was the one who took high school math textbooks and quizzed my self for fun. I was called too quiet, too proper, and most times, just different.
Well, last night I heard a sermon from a youth pastor at my current church, and although the target audience was 11 to 18, it encouraged me. The message was simple: God created you the way you are for a reason, and that He doesn’t want you to be anything, but yourself. He just wants to redirect your focus and help you accomplish more than you can imagine.
The basis for the message was the battle between David and Goliath in the Bible (1 Samuel 17).
In it, Goliath challenged the Israelites to combat, but no one accepted the challenge but David. Saul, an experienced soldier in battle, expected David to be like everyone else and wear heavy armor when fighting, but David did not want to. David was young, small, and only knew his experiences using slings to keep wild animals away from the sheep he used to keep for his father.
David ended up putting on Saul’s armor anyway, but it was too big and uncomfortable. So he had to take it all off. And in the end, he won the battle. God used what made him different from the other fighters in that time to help him take down Goliath.
Through my late teens and early adulthood, I think I spent so much time trying to be like everyone else that I was never true to myself. I never thought it was okay to be me completely. But last night’s message and the story of David and Goliath finally made me understand why that wasn’t true.
There’s a mission out there where your drive, your strengths, and your talents can be used. And part of that mission is sharing this great revelation with others so they too can have greater understanding of their purpose in life.
Because like it says in singer Britt Nicole’s latest song, when you standout, it’s how “the lost get found.”