2016: Pursue

We started last year with a hush. It was a quietness of spirit hovering slowly over a blanket of grief. And yet there was this burst of light sprinkled inside the fog, because for those who believe, death is victory.

And so it is that we enter into this new year with another victorious hush. We celebrate and we mourn as we head into the one year anniversary of Herb’s death. We celebrate that he’s had a full year to sit at the throne, though I imagine for him it’s been but a moment in time.

Entering into last year, I didn’t set any resolutions. I had no word to dictate my days. Or…well, actually maybe I did, but I didn’t know it at the time. In hindsight, if I were to pick a word for last year, it would be survive.

We survived the death of a parent, increased travel for Lee, a baby who didn’t want to sleep through the night, busy sports schedules, and my parents living in Europe. It was hard, but it was also overflowing with blessing.

fambeach

There was a lot of good in 2015, and for that I rejoice.

Heading into 2016, I’m a little more focused. My mind isn’t quite so numb, and the fuzziness of the past year has lifted considerably. So I’m focusing again on a new word for the year.

Pursue

I don’t want to survive this year. I don’t want to get lost in the haze of life again.

This year, I want to pursue.

The idea of a resolution is intimidating. A resolution demands some sort of success. It begs for, well, for resolution. An end. A satisfactory result.

It also sets one up for failure. Anything short of resolved feels undone, and I do hate for anything to be undone.

Pursuit, however, feels more open-ended. To pursue something means to chase after it. Perhaps you catch that which you pursue, and perhaps you don’t, but if the goal is to simply pursue, then whether or not you catch it isn’t really the point.

The goal is in the chase, and so I’ve set PURSUE my word for 2016.

There is no satisfaction in stagnancy, and I refuse to allow it creep into my life. There’s this sort of mentality that creeps up on you when you all approach forty – a feeling that perhaps the best years are already behind you.

I refuse to entertain such thoughts.

Pursue

This year, I’m pursuing that which is ahead of me. And so I’ve written down bullet points of the things I want to pursue:

  • A deeper intimacy with the Creator: What is life if we don’t constantly long to know Him more?
  • The hearts of my children: I often get so caught up in the day to day moments of our days that I forget to pursue my kids – to really know who they are deep down, beyond their outward gifts and abilities; beyond their personality quirks and challenges. This year I want to pursue their hearts.
  • The heart of my husband: We will celebrate sixteen years of marriage this summer, and I’m still learning more about this man I love. I want to pursue a greater depth of knowing who he is in the coming year.
  • A better use of my down time: This year I plan to read more (I’m open to book suggestions – preferably fiction!), and to spend more of my time pursuing those things that expand my mind, rather than simply shut it down (I’m talking to you, Facebook).
  • Excellence in the use of my talents and gifts: I hope to write another book this year. I will be launching two books in the summer and fall. I want to  continue to pursue excellence in my career.
  • Health: I’ve simply let it slide in the last year. I refuse to let my laziness make me old. This year I’ll pursue more healthy living.
  • Friendships: I’ve been richly blessed with dear friends both near and far. I want to continue to cultivate and grow those friendships.
  • Laughter: I just want to laugh more heartily and readily at the days to come.

These are the things I’ll pursue, and in the pursuit I’ll offer myself loads of grace. I don’t have specific goals inside these pursuits as I want to simply enjoying the chase. 

2016 is here. The future is upon us! This is our time to pursue all the beauty that life has to offer. Won’t you join me in the chase?

Have you chosen a word for the year? Feel free to share it in the comments!

The Good Truth

Good.

I like that word.

When I think of the word good, I like to think happy thoughts.

Good is smiling. It’s warm and colorful. It’s happy endings and Christmas mornings. Good is the thing that makes you smile. It’s the light that drives out darkness – the opposite of evil. Good is just so…good.

But sometimes good doesn’t really look like good.

I sat against the back of the pew at church last week and let myself sink into the plush material a little more than usual. I wanted to make myself small, to maybe shy away from the honesty of the message. I wanted to shield myself from the hardness of Truth – a Truth that reveals God to be good.

Even if good doesn’t look good.

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.”

Luke 1: 46-48; 53

GodisGood

We’re now engulfed in the post-Christmas fall out, and I’m currently sitting at my kitchen table surrounded by a holy mess. There’s an open can of dog food sitting next to me, a dirty coffee cup, three dirty glasses, several napkins, and a huge stack of yet-to-be-mailed Christmas cards.

The table is scratched and scarred, an homage to this life I live. It’s well-worn, three out of the four chairs just a few sits from falling apart completely. We need a new table. We keep saying this over and over.

But there’s something about the scarred table that I love.

If I look to my right I see a kitchen counter piled high with crusty dishes. Just yesterday, I mentioned to Lee as I cleaned the house for the eleventy-frillionth time that had someone told me early on in marriage I would spend the better part of the rest of my life cleaning, I might have been tempted to run far away.

Because motherhood doesn’t always feel good.

With Christmas behind me, I’m reflecting on where we’ve come in the last year. In a very real sense, there’s been so much good for our family this year. Good that actually looks and feels good.

But there’s been heartache, too.

This time last year, my father-in-law was swinging his final punch at cancer. He fought valiantly through Christmas so that he could meet his newest granddaughter, and then it was time to let go.

It didn’t feel good.

The way it all went down when he passed away still doesn’t feel good. Not to me. I will never get over not being there when he took his final breath. It doesn’t feel good.

Likewise, this week is exactly three years since Putin signed into law the ban on American adoptions, an event that has continued to shape and mark me. Three years ago, every hope and dream I had for my family hung in the balance, and as I wade through the darkness of that time, the benefit of hindsight allows me to now claim God’s goodness.

But at the time, I couldn’t see beyond my devastation, disappointment, and doubt.

And so it is that I must continually embrace the hard truth that God alone is good. He is the giver of good things, though my eyes veiled by this earth tend to miss it.

Last week, Lee asked me what I would say to a younger version of myself. What would I tell the fresh-faced, wide-eyed, newly married, twenty-two year old Kelli to prepare her for the journey to come? I had to pause and think through that question. It’s not that easy to answer.

Of course, the obvious first response was, “Dear child – you will have four children, and they will be awesome. You will love them immensely. But you will also spend the better part of the rest of your life cleaning up after them. Prepare yourself.”

But that was a lame answer.

After some thought, I finally gave my halting reply: “I’d tell her that God’s goodness doesn’t hinge upon answered prayer and fulfilled dreams. I’d tell her that God is good because He is God, and that is enough. The heartache to come isn’t a stain on God’s goodness, but is rather an opportunity for you to lean into it.”

As we head into 2016, I pray that each one of you has the opportunity to lean in to God’s goodness; to fully embrace the beauty of who He is, simply because He is God.

May He fill you with good things, and may you all laugh at the days to come.

Happy New Year.

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