It was a lovely, long season of food and rest and being with people we love. I enjoyed every dark morning turning on sparkly lights, and every cozy evening and all of the chaotic crafty papery days. It was a most peaceful and joyful Christmas.
Almost as magical to me was coming home yesterday to space. Clear surfaces, clean floors, ordered rooms again. I love the clutter and joyful wreck of the season, and then I suddenly am ready to put it all away and clean house.
Looking back at 2013 I am struck by how much can happen in a year, anybody's year; the way that we weep and rejoice and hope and love, our heart breaks, we wander and get lost and think at moments we have found our way, we are in exile and we are at home, lost and found, all while we aren't looking, all in the span of fifty-two dull Tuesdays. It is a wide and sweeping story, this little life we live. This one wild and precious life.
In 2013 I chose to Pay Attention
To pay attention seems to sum up whatever it is I want to improve or change. I hope this will be my life word. I do not want to ever stop paying attention.
To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.
Best books of 2013:
I have three new favorite authors this year. Two have written non-fiction: Brene Brown and Shauna Niequist. The third is Kent Haruf who wrote Plainsong.
I read a lot of Frederick Buechner too.
It has been a while and I need to do a reading update. My last two books of 2013 were Bread and Wine and Cold Tangerines by Shauna Naiquist. I absolutely loved both of these books. Her blog is great, too. Ruth wrote a great review of Bread and Wine, with a really good description of Shauna and what her books are like.
In many ways the theme of both Shauna Neiquist and Brene Brown are the same: having the courage to be vulnerable, to accept your imperfections, to connect with others, to live with your whole heart.
Word of the year for 2014
I chose the word wholehearted to be my one little word for 2014. This word is a lot thanks to both of these authors, and I realize with some degree of dread that wholehearted goes hand in hand with vulnerability. This seems to be the theme of what I am learning, and the older I get, what I am avoiding. The older I get the more I find myself guarding against vulnerability, and the more I avoid vulnerability the smaller my world; the more I try to protect myself the harder I become, the less alive I feel.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” ― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and LeadSome of the best of 2013 . . .
An excellent babysitter who can find? . . . We did!
Is it terrible that when I think of our blessings this year, the very first that comes to mind is our babysitter? No! Here's why:
Bridget is my gift from God this year. I believe she is a confirmation to keep writing and trying to figure out how to make it all work. She loves our kids and our kids love her. I advertised what I was looking for and how much I could pay, which was on the low end, and she responded right away and is happy for the hours. She has been the brightest blessing to our family this year, a sweet and enthusiastic friend to the kids, and a great help to give me a few (six) hours a week dedicated to writing. Finding a few uninterrupted hours to write has been a necessary piece of the puzzle.
Annie and kindergarten
It is a blessing to watch her thrive. I did not anticipate the way Annie would wholeheartedly make friends- everyone is her friend. I'm afraid she hugs and kisses her entire class.
Josie. Just Josie.
So you know how some babies could be described as maybe highly sensitive or high needs or even a little fussy? Josie was all of the above her first three years. And then magically, she wasn't. It's like she used up all of her negativity in three years, and is now the happiest, hoppiest, most affectionate and pleasant little one. She brings so much delight to our home!
There are many more, of course, but I am running out of time and this post is long overdue.
So many many blessings, so much life, so much grace grace grace. God is gracious. And there is exile, too. We are always waiting, always a little bit lost in this in-between place, far from home. Our hearts are always a little bit broken, maybe a lot broken. And this is where God meets us, where we learn to long for Him, the desert is how we know Him, He saves us. And He does.
Lord, be gracious to us;
we long for you.
Be our strength every morning,
our salvation in time of distress.