One is upstairs, reading. One is downstairs, Wii-ing. Two are in the living room, watching It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s New Year’s Day and it’s good to be surrounded by them all, doing their holiday things, and to think about all the new ahead.

Here’s the thing.

I have some plans, it’s true. I bet you do, too.

I bet you’ve spent time thinking about the 365 blank and perfect days to come, and you’ve wondered how to fill them. Maybe you’ve resolved some things or dreamed some things. Maybe you’ve already – halfway into Day One – maybe you’ve already started some things.

I’m moving slowly into the new. Not hesitatingly or cautiously, but savouring still the sweetness of holiday and family. In the quiet and the peace and the slow of this first day, I’m making friends with twentyfourteen. I’m introducing myself and shaking her hand and maybe even giving her – brand new uncertain thing that she is – a little hug.

I chose a word for her. One word to frame the year around, to inform 2014’s days and decisions. A word on which to build a year. My word is do.

They don’t come much smaller, as words go. But as I thought and considered and prayed about the year ahead, this is the word that kept tugging at my sleeve, insistent. I’ve spent a lot of time, you see, living in the word be, a good and necessary word for who I was and for what I needed.

I don’t want to lose the being, but I’m ready for the doing.

I’m ready for some rollupmysleeves and some getmyhandsdirty and some hustle.

I’m ready to start some challenges and finish some projects and take some chances.

I’m ready to do.

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Let’s do this thing.

 

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I see these words used, here and there, but I just can’t bring myself to use them. Words like peeps, or expressions like hot mess, or using y’all even though I live about as far away from Texas as one can live. I just can’t make myself write a word I would never actually say in conversation.

I think this makes me a bit of a snob. I don’t like this about myself.

my peeps

my peeps

It’s not like I write great stuff. It’s not like I don’t dangle a participle now and then, or start a sentence with and or but. So I’m not exactly sure where my snobbishness comes from, but I kind of cringe when I read a middle-aged white woman address her peeps on Facebook. Call me a hot mess, but it just seems wrong, y’all.

A few of my other hangups? You don’t unthaw meat for supper, you thaw it. If you were unthawing it you’d be, well, freezing it. And a person is a who, a thing is a that. As in, She was the one who… not, She was the one that… And a bunch more peeve-y things that get under my skin, but you know what? None of it really matters. Because I’m sure my writing bugs the heck out of some of you, too. I use too many commas for your liking, or you hate my winky Facebook faces, or I overdo it on the exclamations!!!! Or something.

I’m sure there’s something.

So go ahead and peep away. It’s none of my business, anyway. We can still be peeps friends. Really.

Today I’m noticing my selective snobbishness.

 Joyful : Wonderful : Graceful : Playful : Useful : Colourful : Grateful : Helpful

:: Beautiful ::

IMG_1005… I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple.

Isaiah 6: 1

May He be lifted up, and may we be filled.

Dad’s post from last week made me think about the books in my life. Some have been life-long friends. Some hung out with me for a while but over time we’ve lost touch. Some are new acquaintances, and the relationship has yet to be proven.

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Of course there are old friends like Anne, way over there in Eastern Canada, and Tom and Huck and the Mississippi that was their playground. But there were others, less popular maybe, who loved me well. I could never relate to Nancy Drew, but tomboy Trixie Beldon drew me right into her mystery-driven world. My first romance was found in the pages of Daddy Long Legs. The Dragon Riders of Pern series gave me a taste of fantasy, and every bite was delightful.

As a girl, I read and read and read. As I grew, my interests and maturity led me to works historical and theological and psychological and classical. Words upon words upon words. Book after book. How blessed I’ve been. How richly blessed by this life-long feast that has nourished, informed, and entertained me all these years.

When I was pregnant with my first son, and was so sick for so long, I read the entire series of  Anne of Green Gables books again. All the way through her growing up and marriage and children and the awful war. I’ve read Anne and many other favourites with my children. We’ve pioneered our way through the Little House books. We’ve laughed over The Borrowers and we’ve cried over Where the Red Fern Grows. We’ve been Around the World in Eighty Days, and we’ve been shipwrecked on a deserted island with the Swiss Family Robinson. We’ve sat at the round table with Arthur and his knights, and we’ve travelled all over the world with stories far and wide.

Stories. They raised me and they’ve raised my kids. And a good one, found among all the many, many words out there today, is still a great gift.

e8067c1c342e11e29bac22000a9f13d0_5I read Dad’s post last week about words, and I thought, I’d like a speech writer. I’d love to have a Life Editor who just followed me around, filtering my words as they left my mouth so that what I said was eloquent and meaningful. Someone who would take out the umms and hmms and who could take the swirling thoughts and uncertain responses and make sense of them.

Wouldn’t that be great?

Instead, I’m left with my own daily mess of words. I’m left wishing I’d said or not said this or that, or said it differently. Wishing for a do-over of a conversation that didn’t go the way I wanted it to. Praying I’ll say the right thing, the important thing, the best thing. Feeling regret sometimes for the things said badly – for the angry, insensitive, thoughtless words.

Sometimes I’m muted by word-fear. Fearful of saying the thing that might offend. Worried I’ll say it wrong, be misunderstood, be falsely quoted. Because it’s happened, of course.

These written words, too, are hard sometimes. It’s a worry, this sharing of life in print. Could it be too much? Is it getting annoying? Why do it, really?

These written words, they’re sneaking around in my head lately. They’re hard to find, hiding themselves away. It’s a game of hide-and-seek, finding them and writing them and writing them and worrying about them. It’s work, you know?

Why then? Why do it when I wonder if it matters, or is done well? Why keep on?

The answer is elusive. Why does anyone do what she does? Why does she go back to school, or cook something fabulous, or day after day do her best work at her job? Why dream or try or keep it up?

Because. Just, because.

Because you and I are made to create.

Because we’re made to try and worry and then try some more.

Because we’re gifted in unique and different ways, and these gifts are meant to be opened and shared.

Because best always takes hard work.

Because, once in a while, someone says thank you.

Can I just say thank you to you? Thank you for reading. Thank you for being whoever you are. Thank you for getting up today and working at your art… whether that is the making of family, or a job, or words, or kindness, or compassion, or prayer.

Because, Friend, your art, whatever it’s form, whatever your medium, matters.

Keep making it, even when it’s hard.

Especially when it’s hard.

May we paint today with beauty, each of us.

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)

As a testimony to the nearly constant state of confusion in which I live, I forgot that yesterday was Tuesday. The holiday Monday, I suppose, is my excuse. Yes, that’s it. The holiday Monday messed me up, and so yesterday, which was Tuesday, felt like Monday. All to say that I forgot that yesterday, which was Tuesday, was my Dad day.

So I’m making today, which is Wednesday (I think?), honorary Dad day, instead.

I share Tuesdays on the blog with my dad. Tuesdays with David, so to speak. These posts have developed into a series we call My Dad and Me. I love these conversations. I love being able to share words with my dad, and I love that the readers of this little blog get the opportunity to be blessed by what he has to say. It’s been fun.

Last week, Dad posted some wonderful words about Old vs. New. This is one of the things I so appreciate about Dad. While he cherishes his past, he is not stuck there. He may have travelled twenty miles through raging storms to get to school (barefoot and uphill both ways, of course!), but he appreciates the fact that now he can drive places in a vehicle with heated seats.

There is value to be found, both in the past and in the present.

As I thought about his post, and as I thought about how things change over time, I wondered about those things that shouldn’t change. Those things that I’d really like to remain constant. And I thought about a little word that Dad used in his post last week.

Integrity.

Dad referred to his dad, my grandpa, as a man of integrity. (My cousin May wrote a lovely tribute to our grandpa recently. You can read it here.)

So I was thinking about Dad’s post, and about Grandpa, and about raising boys in today’s crazy world, and I was wondering if  the whole idea of the word integrity is about not changing?

Not changing isn’t a hot topic these days. With the fast pace of our lives, with the emphasis on growth, with iTech changing, changing so quickly I don’t have a prayer of keeping up…

I need some anchors. I need some constants to hold on to as I raise my boys, as I raise myself, in these fast-paced times.

I’d like to think that integrity is one of those stabilizing, wrap-my-rope-around-and-hang-on, unchangeable things.

1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.
3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship’s hull.

 

As I raise my boys, I’m very conscious of this word. For myself and for them. And I’m thinking that while it’s a weighty characteristic and while it suggests stability, morality, and perfection, it still hinges on growth. Which implies change.

I can’t get away from it.

Perhaps what I hope will remain unchangeable, then, is the pursuit of such things as integrity. The desire for such characteristics to be foundational in ourselves and in our children. To work toward integrity, to maintain a desire for sound morality, honesty, and those things that contribute to an “unbreacheable hull”.

I’m thankful for those men and women of integrity who have influenced my life. I can think of many. None of them perfect. All of them, though, adhering. Clinging tight to the goal of honesty, morality, and wholeness.

Clinging to the One who never changes. Who is perfection.

Maybe this is the real definition of integrity. A rock solid grip on THE anchor.

Changing some things. Not changing others. But always, always clinging.

(I have this thing about using my own photos on my blog, and I couldn’t find anything on topic, so here’s a picture of our little farm.)

I’ve loved the word kingdom, but I’m a realist. It will leave us, I know. It will go the way of words like emergent or evangelical. It will fall out of favour and will be replaced – recycled, upcycled, repurposed? – with something new and bright and catchy. I will miss it when it goes.

I’ve loved being part of the kingdom. I’ve loved talking about kingdom work and kingdom life and kingdom whatever. It’s been a good ride.

What will the new word be, I wonder. What word will some cool pastor with carefully-coiffed bedhead and untucked shirt and the newest old-looking jeans … what word will he launch from the pulpit and write a book about that will bring fresh new meaning to this idea of, you know, living with God?

I’m thinking the ending of the kingdom will coincide with the departure of other words, like missional and community. They’ve been good words, too. But the kingdom – that’s the one I will miss the most.