one word 2012

rearview mirror: choose


It's the one power I really have. I don't have control. I can't dictate my circumstances or call the shots on what happens to me. But I can always determine how I will choose to respond.

That part is mine and mine alone.

My choice is always entirely up to me.

It doesn't depend on my situation or those around me. It isn't dictated by what's going on in my world or in my heart. My power to choose rests solely on my shoulders.

Sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I despise it. And sometimes I cling to it like the life preserver that it is — mindful enough to lift my eyes, take a deep breath, and choose.

There were times this year that I chose joy. Patience. A soft word. I chose to trust when my heart didn't want to. To give grace when it hurt to. To extend grace to myself when I felt I didn't deserve it.

I chose to keep breathing, keep walking, keep loving, keep believing.

I chose to engage when I felt like withdrawing, and I chose to walk away when that was the healthiest course. I chose to love loudly even after I've been hurt. To lean in when I felt like retreating.

I chose to celebrate with others their victories, and grieve with them their heartaches.

I chose to use my words, written and spoken. I chose to hold and give and serve. To engage and work and create. To see and to make feel seen.

I chose to not give up, to turn the other cheek, to stand up for myself. I chose to seek out His divine fingerprints even in darkness and pain.

I chose.

There were also countless occasions I let slip by without willfully choosing anything. And I discovered that my un-choosing was a choice all in itself.

So while I haven't always gotten it right, I'm grateful for this year of intentionally remembering to choose.

I'm thankful for the new habit of being mindful of my response, inward and outward. And while I move into a new year with a new One Word, my commitment to choose goes with me — along with my diligence to look and to risk.

Glancing in the rearview mirror, I don't like everything I see. But ultimately I see growth. Progress. Change. And that makes me choose to smile and whisper, "Thank You."


Did you write a year-end wrap-up post for your One Word 365? Be sure to go link it up HERE >

{and it won't be the last}

I am quickly skimming through my inbox when I see it. An unexpected name. I hastily open the message only to read—of course—a hateful remark. Teary eyes. Deep breaths. Conscious effort to stop the spiraling thoughts.

And I remember the truth I know so well: Forgiveness is a choice. It's time to choose it again.

'Jesus Does Maths' photo (c) 2008, LivingOS - license:{And it won't be the last.}

Frustrated with myself at first—Ugh. I shouldn't still have to pep talk myself to forgive!—I realize something. I haven't thought of the situation in a long time. Not like this. Not in a way that leaves me feeling hurt or betrayed or upset. Not in a way that reminds me I still have a long way to go in the forgiveness journey.

The things that have come up, oddly enough, have all been good. Appropriately reminiscent.

So while I may get annoyed with my seeming lack of progress when a "surprise attack" catches my heart off guard and requires conscious effort to forgive, I also have to acknowledge that the days, weeks, and even months that go by without even a second thought about it is a sure sign of progress.

And I am grateful.

Lifted eyes. Thankful breaths. More graciously—less gritted-teeth-fully—forgiveness is mine to choose.

And so I choose.


{And it won't be the last.}

it all comes down to choice

'I'm with you' photo (c) 2010, rosmary - license: asked me the other day where I'm at in my journey. She was talking about the traumatic loss and transition I've endured in just about every single area of my life over the past few years. "Do you feel like you're on the other side of it?" I didn't really know how to answer that question because I don't think she fully understood what she was asking (though I know she certainly meant well.)

I'm in a much better place than I've been in a long time. Although I'm painfully aware of how fragile it all is, life feels good right now. And I haven't been able to say that truthfully in years.

But that doesn't mean I've gotten over—or even through—my loss.

I think the idea of "recovery" from loss is a harmful and misleading mirage. It's unrealistic to expect that life could ever go back to normal after catastrophic loss of any kind. In a way, life will be forever divided by before and after. And to strive to go back to normal—to return to how things were and how you felt before your loss—is like trying to get somewhere on a treadmill: exhausting and impossible.

I don't know if I'm meant to come out on the other side of my heartache. At least not in the usual sense.

I'm discovering what it's like to live in the delicate tension of sorrow and joy. What we deem to be opposites are not actually mutually exclusive. They can be—and maybe they should be—embraced together. We don't move out of sorrow into joy, as if we've recovered from our heartache. Instead we learn to choose joy even when that seed of sorrow remains ever present.

Jerry Sittser, in A Grace Disguised, said it so beautifully:

"I did not go through pain and come out the other side; instead, I lived in it and found within that pain the grace to survive and eventually grow. I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather, I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am."

What happens in me matters far more than what happens to me. It's not my experiences that define me, but my responses to them.

So instead of making it my aim to get through what's happened to me, I am learning to focus on my response to what's happened to me. As with most things, it all comes down to choice.

That's the reason "choose" is my One Word for this year. Because I need constant reminding that even when I have nothing else, I always have the power to choose.

While I can't control what's going on in this world or in my life, I do have control over my responses to those things. So today—same as yesterday and the day before—it's entirely up to me to choose how I will respond to pain and sorrow and loss. I need to continue to choose to face, feel, and work through it, rather than to avoid it. And I need to continue to choose joy and trust right here, right now.

So if you're wondering where I'm at in my journey, know this: You can always find me right here, in the middle of the tension between joy and sorrow, grief and gratitude, weakness and strength, questions and faith.

Join me here, won't you?

Originally posted on Deeper Story. Read the comments there >

flotsam and jetsam

Have you seen the Spring Update post on the One Word 365 site? I wanted to make sure you didn't miss it, because I'm really looking forward to reading how everyone's word and year are taking shape...

Maybe you've written an update in the past several weeks that counts as your Spring Update, or maybe you need to force yourself to stop and write one.

I'm in the latter category.

Although I'm feeling overwhelmed by more to do than time to do it in, and honestly don't know when I'll get my update post done. But hopefully the fact that I'm putting this on my blog will motivate me. (If only that could stretch my time and my energy too. Hmm...)


Please help spread the word and direct people over to the Update page on the One Word 365 site. Let's rally our global community and actively encourage each other to keep on keeping on.

Also -- in completely unrelated news -- I had the incredible honor or writing for Prodigal Magazine this month. You may have already seen it (if you follow me on Twitter), but if you haven't...

I shared a piece of my journey I've never shared before. On getting tested for HIV...

Things here in Africa are going well. My days have been very full and busy, but lots of work is getting done. I am really enjoying and appreciating being back in a team work environment again. It's been so great to have amazing people to brainstorm with and work alongside.

Thank you all for your amazing encouragement, prayers, love, and friendship. It is definitely making being on the other side of the world a bit easier. And I am so grateful...

Okay, your turn.

How about you leave me some flotsam and jetsam of your own. (I've spent about 7 minutes trying to determine if that's a question or a statement — my own personal crisis of punctuation!) (Okay, all my rambling is clear evidence of how exhausted I am...)

What are some random thoughts and happenings going on in your world?


'DSC03442' photo (c) 2008, 凱文 - license:'s Leap Year. And today, February 29th, feels like a bonus. It's an extra day,  and it's got me thinking about what I want to do with it.

I know every single day is a gift. Even Mondays. I know today is no more special than yesterday or tomorrow. But still it seems to be challenging me a little differently.

It's got me thinking more uniquely about the fact that what I've been given -- these 24 hours, these however-oh-so-many breaths, these moments -- are once in a lifetime.

I want to live today with purpose and intentionality. I want to see what's in front of me, hear what's between the words being said, and live from my heart. I want to give more than I get, focus on others more than myself, and choose the next wise thing.

I want to steward today -- day 60 of 366 -- as best I possibly can. And I want to steward every day that follows just as well...

Leap Year. February 29th. Let's do this thing right...

What will you do with the gift of today?

one word: choose

Control is the greatest of all illusions. We don't have as much control as we think we do, and yet, at the same time, we have more control than we realize.

Let me try to explain.

I have no control over other drivers on the road or how fast (or slow) my Starbucks barista makes my drink. I can't control what people think about me. I can't control the answers to my prayers or the ways I'd like to see God show up in my life. I can't control crazy circumstances like accidents, surprise illnesses, or high pain days. I can't control the ways other people's decisions impact my life.

I have zero control over any of those things, no matter how badly I wish I did.

But — and this is a big but — I do have control over more than I like to admit. It's just not over the things I'd like to be in control of.

I don’t have control over my circumstances. But I do have control over myself.

No matter what happens to me or what others do, I can control my own choices, responses, and actions.

If I choose to.

But the choice is mine.

In difficult situations, it's up to me to choose joy. When the wait is long, it's up to me to choose patience. When trust is hard, it is up to me to choose to trust anyway.

So my One Word for 2012?

I want to be more mindful of the choices I have when everything seems out of control. I want to be more intentional to choose Him and His ways, even when it's hard. I want to be more purposeful in my responses and reactions to circumstances and people in my life.

I want to remember that while there may be many things I lack, I always have a choice.

And I want to choose well...

Have you chosen your One Word for 2012?

one word 365

The challenge is simple: Scrap the long list of resolutions you want to make this year (even though you know you really won't keep them) and instead, pick just one word.

There is so much clarity in the simplicity of one word.

It narrows down all your big life-change plans into one single thing. It paints a picture for your future — a clear vision you can take steps toward. It focuses you more on the journey than a to-do list, because that's where character is built.

One word that will serve as a compass for your actions, decisions, and priorities. All year long.

One word. 365 days.

Deep-down heart change can be found in a single word.

What's yours?

Check out the brand-new One Word 365 site:

one word 2012

I have had so many incredible conversations about One Word over the past few weeks. I love hearing and reading about people's journeys this past year and how God's used their word to shape their life. A. Ma. Zing.

If you write a year-end post, make sure you come back here to link up. (Which reminds me... I still need to write mine!)

I'm working on a new website for One Word 2012... I'm so sorry I haven't rolled it out yet. I'd hoped to, but... well... technical and schedule difficulties prevailed...

In the meantime, start thinking about your word for next year.

And have an amazing Christmas, my friends.

God is with us!