This is my fourth year to choose a theme word. This year’s word is Be–a word God is using to teach me to live in the moment, delighting in Him where He has me instead of always living in some future moment.
This word is important to me because I have a planner’s mind. While this has its usefulness, it means I always have approximately 8,962 things buzzing in my mind at one time. This was quickly turning me into an anxious person who was rarely present but whose mind was always pulled in dozens of directions. It was hurting my relationships, especially with God. So He made it obvious it was time to fight hard to trust Him moment by moment.
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Here are five ways he’s calling me to Be this year:
Use a Gratitude Journal
Bill bought me this five-minute gratitude journal a couple of months ago. As the title suggests, it only takes about five minutes each day. One of the greatest struggles when we’re busy is to slow down to see beauty and good around us. Before I look at my phone in the morning, I fill in my journal. I also fill it in as I’m getting ready for bed in the evenings. Twice a day, I take five minutes to list three ways God has given me cause to be thankful. As the months have gone by, I’m slowly seeing myself transform from struggling to fill in these lines to struggling to limit myself to only three things.
When I initially heard about mindfulness, it sounded like heresy to me. All I could think was Eastern meditation, an emptying of the mind. Scripture instructs us to fill our minds with truth so they can be transformed, not to empty them. Then I kind of got feisty-mad thinking about how often scripture tells us to meditate and how, once again, something God ordained has been twisted into what others want it to be.
I heard about an app called Headspace, and after trying it out for a few weeks, I was sold. Literally, I paid for a subscription. But also I saw how much it was transforming me toward God. Most of us who are planners tend to struggle quite a bit with focus because our minds are so busy with all the tasks we want to accomplish. Headspace doesn’t so much teach to empty your mind but rather to focus on only one thing, usually your breath. As I’ve practiced this more and more, I’m thinking less about my breath during the exercise and more about the Breath of Life, the One who lives at my core, the One I want to be the center of my focus all day.
I cannot tell you how much this one practice has helped me focus. I can pray longer, pay attention more closely in conversations, and stay more joyful in the moment I’m in. We had a huge snowfall recently, and I just stood outside with the kids for two hours, not really doing anything. My mind is simply far less busy. This is completely the work of the Spirit. As usual, he used something I’d historically run far from as a tool to draw me closer to peace in him and in the moment he has me.
Still before looking at my phone in the morning, right after journaling and mindfulness, I pray. I feel like the temptation here is to say something like, “I probably should have listed this first.” But that’s not true for me. I’ve found that taking a moment to see God’s goodness followed by taking a few minutes to quiet my mind first helps me talk to God with much more focus.
This makes me cry as I type, but God has been faithfully growing me in prayer. He’s teaching me to be more intimate with Him, to trust Him, to see the power I already have to fight Satan because of His spirit in me. And this has given me a rest I’ve never known. One of my dearest friends recently gave me the greatest encouragement I’ve received: “You’re carrying yourself differently. There’s more joy and peace.” I have no explanation except God in me, but it’s been almost two months since I’ve felt fear or anxiety. I’ve been able to Be in the moment, not two days, weeks, or years ahead.
It’s His grace, and His grace alone. And His grace has displayed itself partly through these first three ways I begin my mornings.
Take a Photograph a Day
As part of relaunching the blog, I wanted to learn about photography. Since I’m a perfectionist, my natural tendency is to learn first, try after. My perfectionism is one of my worst enemies when it comes to Being because I can never just do something now. I have to figure it all out first. So I decided to take this Photo a Day Challenge.
I’ve been pushed to simply look for something around me and see it differently, to jump in and enjoy it, working with the photo according to my knowledge today. It’s been crazy how much this has brought me delight. It makes me notice my surroundings and work to emphasize the most beautiful parts.
Be Outside with the Kids Every Day
Our kids are getting older and more independent. Gone are the days they need me to accompany them to the park so they’re safe. So the past couple of years have seen a decline in time spent with them outside.
I bought this book a couple of years ago, and I decided it was time to start making a plan to incorporate the author’s suggestions. I print a bucket list each month of outside ideas that work for our family and choose one to do each day. Can I tell you how much more connected this has made our family?!
Because this is one of my five top priorities this year, sometimes I’m forced to set aside other important things to make time for this. And I haven’t regretted it once. Sometimes fresh air, a little sweat, and a lot of laughter put things into perspective and help you realize that thing you believed was so important wasn’t nearly as necessary as I believed.