Word of the Year – 2021

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. – Jeremiah 31:25

As has been my tradition for the past few years, once again I am reflecting on the past year and selecting a word to define and focus my intentions for the coming year. I have selected a word that feels a little ambiguous but I always find that it takes shape as we go through the year. 

Certainly that was the case for this past year as I chose the word “serve.” My dear friend made me a bracelet to help keep this word at the front of my thoughts–it simply said SERVE. I wore the bracelet on my right wrist and had it constantly before me as I walked through the year.

I cannot remember a greater time of need for virtually everyone I know and for the world. Between CoVid 19 paralyzing us in March through the rest of the year, and the unrest with racial disparity, and the most tumultuous Presidential election, and real, heartbreaking needs in my own family, I have been stretched to offer myself in a hundred ways, to serve, while sometimes tearing my heart at its core as loved ones suffer and deal with difficult circumstances.

One thing I have taken away from this year is simply that serving is pouring your heart into another. To serve is to invest in another’s hardship, and to unite two hearts in purpose and kindness.  I also have found such joy in being about others. Places where I certainly could have felt self absorbed, I found  practical ways to give purpose to this senseless time. One more beautiful part of the equation this year was finding much of the world’s despair and difficulties were too big for me, and I learned surrender and trust. An inexplainable peace accompanied me. Certainly God was the one Constant as the world teetered on insanity in so much uncertainty. I went about each day doing what I could and letting the rest go, letting small accomplishments be enough. Simplicity was another bonus. As life slowed down in quarantine, much of the peripheral busyness in my life ceased. And I learned I was just fine without it. That opened the door to serve where I previously had been too busy.

I have found that single verbs are especially good words to focus in the year, as they inspire action on my part. So, my word for 2021 will be RENEW. I already see this focus lending new and fresh optimism to areas of my life including my thought processes, my relationships with friends and family, and my spiritual life. Where else it will lead, who knows but the Lord above, whom I pray will lead and guide and show me new paths that grow me and refresh others with renewal and revitalized joy, motivation, and perspective.

the great unknown

I haven’t found a rhythm to my days yet. I miss that. Nothing like knowing where and when I am supposed to be somewhere to anchor my days.  The one scheduled appointment that I keep each day to work out has been a grounding tool for me. It gives me a reason to show up, to know what day it is and time, and to center myself and focus on the moment. Conveniently, the class is about the same time when I used to go to swim, so that feels familiar to me. I crave familiar right now. I also have lots of questions. More than anything, we all have this big unknown future before us.

Questions that I am entertaining currently include:  Is my husband’s job going to survive this downturn? Who might need some help right now? Will my grown children have their jobs? What am I doing to help where I can? How can I have connection with those with whom I can’t have contact? When will this end? How will it end? Who will be hurt in the process?

The biggest challenge so far for me is how to live with uncertainty. I wish I could say I instinctively know that this is not in my hands and my first thought would be to offer it to God and pray for His Help and watch how miraculously He resolves this mess. It is not. As I write these words, I still find myself swirling with worry. Right now, everyone is fine. Everyone is safe. We have a beautiful right now. We have this moment that we don’t want to waste. We have now. Worry robs us of now. I heard recently that we have two pandemics going–the Covid-19 and fear. And fear is overtaking more of us than the virus. But there is a way to stop it.

What the coming days hold God knows, and in this, I can rest. Because we know He will work it for good. There is no where too far that His Loving Hand cannot reach. There are some things too big for us, and this is just a perfect place to ask God for miracles and sit back and watch the show. May we all find rest in placing it in His Hands today.

How about you? have you stopped and taken a look inward? Where are you finding joy these days? How are you making your time meaningful?

One thing I know we all can do to help relieve some of this pain: we can call someone today who needs some hope. My 90 year old cousin who lives alone called today and we chatted for a short while. I am ashamed to say it was she who made the call and not I. She simply said as we closed, “Thank you for being there.” Show up for someone today. It might make their day.

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I’ve been cooking a lot! Here are some blueberry muffins.

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Before the “stay at home” order, we got to take Mike’s dad out for a look at the bluebonnets, which were especially beautiful this year.

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As soon as some of our grandkids got home from Alabama, we had a play date at our house! SO good to see them again.

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Lauren and Mike got back just in time before South Africa closed international travel. We watched their beautiful KCC, Victoria.

 

 

thankfully, another year

Like most years, as this year draws to a close, it brings pause for reflection and a little optimism for a new start with another year. Did you ever see the Disney movie, “Pollyanna?”  It is a classic and well worth your time if you haven’t seen it. Pollyanna is an orphan of missionaries who comes to live with her aunt. She shares new perspective for her Aunt Polly and much of the her new town as she plays the Glad Game. The Glad Game involves turning bad things that happen to her and to others into a positive, all based on how they choose to look at it. I believe that game can be played on most of what life hands us. Find the good in everything, even challenges.  In almost any situation, circumstances aside, life can be so sweet and rich and full all by how we perceive it. And that is the trick.

The year ahead will be filled with both wild good and most difficult. As we peek around the corner to take a look at 2019, I see challenges ahead for us, but I know that we will tackle each one with all the grace God gives us as we commit to focus on the sweet moments. Mike’s parents will be joining us here at the ranch and that will be a gift to us to spend time with them and take a more active role in their care.  I want this to be a gift of care and love to them as well, but I also know Mike’s and my patience is not what it should be. So, while we approach this task with trepidation, we recognize what a privilege it is to have them with us as our mentors, our example of what love means, and our sacrifice of joy. It will be a privilege to be part of their lives as they round the next corner of their story.

We also will be sharing in the lives of our seven grandchildren as they show us how to look at life with wonder and enthusiasm and wild imagination. We are very blessed to live near them. It is a rare week when we haven’t seen at least some of them.  We will never take this gift lightly, and will continue to soak up every moment, as time goes so very quickly.

Other things I hope to pursue in 2019 will be to return to photography and learning more about light and developing an eye for the shot, and return to writing more here on the blog, whether it’s about spiritual revelations or spicy recipes. It is my plan to share here more, and it might be a place to come to vent a little, too. I suppose that is yet to be determined. The story continues, and one thing is certain. Whatever will appear, it will be from my heart.

How about your new year? Are you looking forward to your next chapter? I surely hope you are. Wishing you a most blessed 2019! Love and hugs~ annie

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Mike and Annette in Denver. Aug 2018