My One Word 2016

My One Word 2016

Genesis 41:1When two full years had passed….”

Joseph had been betrayed by his own family, wrongly accused by his employers, then let down by his fellow prisoners…….and two full years had now passed, during which time Joseph continued to be wrongfully imprisoned. Yet, the surrounding verses in the book of Genesis make it clear that Joseph continued to live an honest, upright life and never wavered in his trust in God.

The story of Joseph has always inspired me, (I wrote previously about Joseph here), but today the verse ‘two full years’ caught my attention. I have never before noticed that there was a two year gap between when Joseph’s ‘friend’ the chief cupbearer, was released from prison and the time when he remembered Joseph’s kindness to him and spoke up on his behalf so that Joseph also was released from prison.

I knew that there was a time lapse, I just didn’t realise that it was as long as two years. It must have felt like a very long time to Joseph, stuck in prison with no letters from home (they thought that he was dead), no emails, no texts, nothing. How hard it must have been for Joseph to keep his faith and trust in God and to continue to believe in God’s plan for his life, but apparently he did.

This week marks two years since we said goodbye to our beloved Leah. There has hardly been a day over this past two years that I haven’t cried and mourned as I yearn for Leah’s presence in our lives. I have struggled at times to believe in God’s plan for my life. The emotional pain has frequently felt overwhelming.

Around this time last year I wrote about the My One Word challenge and said that I had chosen the word HOPE:

I think that HOPE has been a fitting word for 2015. I think that I as a person and that we as a family have made progress in the areas that I had hoped for. Over this past Christmas and New Year, we have had some lovely times together with the people that we love, always being mindful of Leah’s absence and the legacy of her beautiful life.

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We ‘celebrated’ Leah’s 18th birthday on New Year’s Eve, by lighting eighteen pink heart shaped candles and getting together with friends and family. We planned to light the candles at her grave, but a very strong wind ensured that didn’t happen, so we lit them at our house instead.

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For Leah’s anniversary this coming weekend we are hosting Sunday lunch for our large extended family at our house – approximately 45 people. The last time that we hosted a get together for our extended family was for Leah’s baptism. Leah absolutely loved these large family get togethers, so this feels like the right way in which to remember her.

My one word for 2016?

CHOOSE

Choose this day whom you will serve……but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” Victor E. Frankl (1905-1997,  Holocaust survivor)

Leah taught me an acronym for HOPE:

Hold
On
Pain
Ends

So I thought I would make an acronym for CHOOSE:

Certain
Hope
One-Hundred-Per-Cent
Okay
Support
Encouraged

I’m CERTAIN that whatever 2016 holds, that God will be with me, giving me grace and strength. Matthew 28:20

We do not grieve as those who have no HOPE. 1 Thessalonians 4:13

When I’m fully committed to something, I try to give it my ONE-HUNDRED-PER-CENT. Colossians 3:23

It’s OKAY to have bad days and to feel like giving up sometimes. Matthew 11:28

Without the SUPPORT of family and friends, I would never have made it this far. Philippians 1:3

Despite all the sadness and the heartbreak, I feel ENCOURAGED that God isn’t finished with me yet! Proverbs 3:5-6

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The My-One-Word Challenge

The My-One-Word Challenge

Went for a walk in Ervey Woods today – my husband, our eldest and her boyfriend, our youngest and myself.

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We have gone for walks in these woods at various times over the past 20+ years – Ervey/Ness Woods contain much of our family history.

Miriam & Leah 2009
Miriam & Leah 2009

Our kids have ridden noddy cars, roller skates, scooters and bicycles in the large car park of these woods.

Leah was the only one of my four children who actually liked having her photo taken!
Leah is the only one of our four children who actually liked having her photo taken!

When the children were small we used to bring a picnic and spend hours in places like this. Sometimes our children’s friends came with us too, in our big seven seater car. Or occasionally we arranged to meet up with another family here.

A close family friend died tragically five years ago. Ervey Woods holds special memories for her family too. They even used to camp here.

The names of their youngest children are engraved in a tree – I photographed it last year.

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In 2010 they planted a tree here in their Mum’s memory after she died. We always go to visit Elizabeth’s tree when we are at Ervey.

We’ve had at least one Easter Egg hunt at Ervey. I remember on one occasion, Simon and Leah found all of the chocolate eggs and Miriam let a wail out of her and ran off at high speed. She disappeared out of sight and we had to run after her. Amazing how quickly a happy family moment can suddenly go pear shaped.

Now our trips to Ervey are bitter sweet – all of our family events are bitter sweet.

The present is always overshadowed by an awareness of WHO is missing, of whose voice can’t be heard, of whose laughter no longer rings out.

Yet, life MUST go on. New memories must be made. Hard though it is, we have to learn to appreciate what we still have.

In one of my Daily Readings recently, the writer caught my attention when she suggested that instead of making New Year’s Resolutions we should pick one word, just one word and make that our focus for the year.

“The My One Word challenge is simple: Lose the long the list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick one word. This process forces clarity by taking all of your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing. Your one word focuses on your character and creates a vision for your future.

It’s okay to want to be a better you—and the New Year is a natural time to start. The question is, how? My One Word replaces broken promises with a vision for real change. You are moving toward the future rather than swearing off the past.

This year, the goal is to see God work in one area of your life. And the tool is your one word.”

This almost sounded do-able.

According to the author of My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word, the Top Ten Most-Often-Picked Words are:

1. Trust

2. Patience

3. Love

4. Discipline

5. Focus

6. Faith

7. Surrender

8. Peace

9. Listen

10. Joy

I’ve been tossing this thought around in my mind since I read it, if I was to do this, what would my one word be?

I think I know – HOPE, or as Leah used to say:

Hold

On

Pain

Ends

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I don’t actually believe that the pain of grieving will EVER end but I………..

Hope that as a family we can learn how to live with our broken hearts.

Hope that I can learn to focus more on what a blessing it was to have Leah in our lives for 16 years, rather than on how devastating it’s been to watch her become ill, go through cancer treatment and die.

Hope that somehow, my life is part of God’s bigger purpose and that He can use me to be a blessing to others.

Hope that eventually, the constant ache in my heart will begin to lessen, even a little bit.

Romans 5:5 (NASB)

“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

MY HOPE

by Paul Baloche

Nothing will change
If all the plans I make are wrong, Your love stays the same
Your light will guide me through it all, I’m hangin’ on
I’m leaning in, to You

Nothing can reach,
The end of all Your faithfulness
Your grace is with me,
Through every shadow, every test
I’m hangin’ on
I’m leaning in, to You

I don’t know where you’ll take me
But I know You’re always good
My hope is built on nothing else,
Than Your great love, Your righteousness
I will not walk another way
I trust Your heart, I trust Your name
I’m holdin’ on
I’m holdin’ on, to You

You are my rock
When storms are raging all along,
You shelter me, God
I’m safe with you on solid ground,
I’m hangin’ on
I’m leaning in, to You

I don’t know where you’ll take me
But I know You’re always good
My hope is built on nothing else,
Than Your great love, Your righteousness
I will not walk another way
I trust Your heart, I trust Your name
I’m holdin’ on
I’m holdin’ on, to You

My hope is built on nothing else,
Than Your great love, Your righteousness
I will not walk another way
I trust Your heart, I trust Your name
I’m holdin’ on
I’m holdin’ on, to You