one word 2010

one word 2011

I've never been a New Year's resolutions girl.One Word 2011 I just can't bring myself to do it. I think I tried once. And a few months later when I couldn't even remember what my resolutions were --- or where my list was --- I felt like a miserable failure.

And I've never resolutioned again.

But last year I decided to choose one word to focus on. My own personal non-resolution resolution.

No list. No specifics. No goals. Just one word.


And I stayed mindful of it all year.

It helped me make decisions. Take steps. Share my heart. It spurred me on. Challenged me. Inspired me. I loved it and I hated it, but I didn't forget it.

It was just one word.

But it made a huge difference in my year. In my life.

Many of you joined me in the one word challenge. All year, I journeyed with you through your blog posts, twitter statuses, and conversations. I watched as you embraced your word. As you allowed it to lead you through your year. As God used it to mold and shape you.

One word.

One simple, powerful word.

It's time to choose a new one for the new year.

I finally settled on mine. It felt like a difficult decision. I had lists of options. All good words. All things I want to be, or live, or do. But ultimately, I needed to choose just one.

And in line with the rest of 2010, I had to risk even in this.

Which, after the year I've had, feels like no small thing.

But I felt like God was drawing me to this word. Like it was less about me choosing it and more about it choosing me.

So I held my breath, shut my welly eyes tight, and committed to it.

Will you consider one-wording it with us this year?

Maybe a solitary word grabs your heart right this moment. Maybe, like me, you need to make a list and then ask Him to guide you from there.

And then let's walk this road together. As a community. As a family.

What do you want to focus on in 2011?

Who do you want to be?

You can do this.

We can do this.


One Word 2011.

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my love/hate relationship with risk

Risk. I say it under my breath as though it's a a four-letter word.

Well it is a four-letter word, but sometimes it really does feel like a curse.

When I decided to make risk my one word focus for 2010, I knew it would be hard. I knew I might even regret it. I had no idea it would challenge literally ever fiber of my being.

My heart has been stretched threadbare this year.

And in ways no one will ever comprehend, simply waking up some mornings has felt like a painful risk.

Never mind my health issues. Or the ongoing pain of my divorce. Or a long, grueling fundraising trip, only to have to close the ministry because of a lack of funds.

My heart can only take so much.

And I seemingly kept inviting more with my commitment to risk.

I don't necessarily think the year would've been easier had I not made that choice. That's not at all what I'm saying. But I do know that I willfully leaned into hardship because of it. I stared the fiery furnace in the eye and said "But even if He does not..."

And then He did not.


Oh how I hate you.

And yet, somehow, with tears in my eyes... Oh how I love you.

I may have been stretched to my limits, but I discovered my limits went further than I ever anticipated. I may have hurt more deeply than I imagined possible, but the plumb line of pain showed me just how deep my heart runs.

I may have tentatively opened my heart a bit at a time, but I've experienced the matchless gift of being loved well. I may have trusted again only to have it stolen or abused at times, but I learned that I haven't lost that skill entirely.

I may have held my breath as I stepped into potentially joy-filled moments, only to realize I still have laughter in me. I may have doubted more than I believed, but I've seen what a mustard-seed-sized dollop of faith in a mind-blowingly big God can do.

Oh risk... You've been worth it.

I've been worth it.


Tell me about your word... your year... your heart. And start thinking about your one word for 2011, but don't tell us what it is yet!

trusting God

I woke up with this phrase running through my mind--- "Trust in God, and trust also in Me."

Jesus said that. Right after He said "Don't let your hearts be troubled." Which means I'm allowing my heart to be troubled when I choose not to trust in Him.

I need to hear that again.

I'm allowing my heart to be troubled when I choose not to trust Him.

I'm gonna stop right there, because that one sentence gives me plenty to think about and try to put into action today.

Sheesh... if only trust were easy.

And if only I hadn't chose to risk more this year...

sweet victory

My friend Laura summited Mount Kilimanjaro yesterday. I got an email from her not long after she got back down the mountain. It was incredible to get to experience the sweet joy of that victory with her, even from an ocean away. In her email, she tried to wrap words around the dichotomy of what she was feeling. She described both the painful difficulty of the final push to the summit and the overwhelming sense of accomplishment that came with it. She was in serious physical agony (and would be for some time still), but she almost didn't even care. The taste of victory was just that sweet. She had pushed herself hard, for a very long time (the rigorous training, the grueling hike, the labored breathing in air so thin...) --- and the few moments she had on the top of that mountain peak made it all worthwhile. She was on top of the world in every sense.

I'm sure Laura is sore today. I bet she aches in places she didn't know could ache. But I also bet that she feels amazing! To have set such a challenging goal and to have accomplished it?! Wow. What a matchless feeling!

I'm feeling challenged to push myself harder in at least one thing today. Time to take stock of my commitment to risk this year and be intentional to actually do it. Even when I don't want to. Especially when I don't want to.

I'm also feeling challenged to celebrate my victories. I can be so hard on myself, so focused on all I'm not doing as well/much/hard as I should, that I don't rejoice over what I've succeeded in. Even the smallest victories are worth celebrating. Like the fact I've blogged 4 times this week. (A "norm" for me just 6 weeks ago, but impossible to do lately...) Or that I'm pushing myself out of my introverted comfort zone at a time when I just want to crawl inside my shell.

I'd love to hear some of your recent successes---big or small. Pause long enough to rejoice over your accomplishments, thank God for the grace to get there, and let others encourage you from the sidelines.

Let's celebrate our victories together!

it's time for a check-up

Isn't it crazy to think that 2010 is more than half over? Seven months gone; only five months left. Time to take stock. Focus. Realign as needed. I wonder how many of you have been working toward your one-word goal.

Actually, I wonder how many of you even remember your one-word goal.

(Go back to the comments here and here if you need a reminder...)

Mine is risk.

In all honesty and fairness, while I've tried to stay focused on risking more this year, there are entire days weeks that go by when I don't even think about it.

I don't usually wake up wanting to risk that day. This isn't one of those things that gets easier the more you do it. Every single time is hard.

But still... I continue to challenge myself to risk.

When faced with a decision or a situation, I can't help but think... RISK! It has caused me to do things like have hard conversations, spend time with challenging people, do things I wouldn't ordinarily do, hit publish on especially-vulnerable blog posts.

I should be keeping a "risk list" somewhere... because sitting here now, I'm having a hard time thinking of all the specific ways I've risked. Even though I know have. I blame it on my Fuzzy Brain Syndrome. So, starting right now... I'm keeping a "risk list." Somebody ask me in a couple weeks to make sure I'm still doing it, k?

What about you?

Are you still focusing on your... focus? Are you regularly doing what you set out to do with your one-word goal?

Maybe you weren't around The Grit in January and didn't pick a word for your year. It's not too late to start. Choose a single word to focus on for the remaining five months of 2010.

Let's finish this year with intentionality.

friendships lost

My heart hurts tonight for friends I've lost. And after spending hours looking at pictures, stalking websites, and wiping my tears, I'm hoping my heart will find solace with some words... When my husband walked away, so did some friends.

Some, I think, simply didn't know what to say, so they chose to say nothing. And they still say nothing.

Some, I think, felt uncomfortable because of their continued friendship with Niel. As if it had to be one or the other.

Some, I think, made assumptions rather than asked questions, So they passed judgments about me, my character, and my heart.

Some... I don't know that I'll ever understand what happened or why. They're just... gone.

And it hurts. Deeply.

Tonight I let myself feel it. I let the tears come for friendships lost... For histories that seem to be washed away by futures that will never be... For not knowing if the missing is mutual... For what was... For what is...

Tonight I talked to God about it---about them---for maybe the first time. And I asked Him to help me trust Him with this, even though---or maybe, because---I don't understand it.

Tonight I'm trying choosing to "rejoice with those who rejoice". They all seem very happy, and I want to simply be happy with and for them.

Tonight my heart is letting go... And saying goodbye to those I never got a chance to.

And I pray I never stop loving. Stop letting people in. Stop trusting. Stop showing my heart.

Because I know love isn't love if there's no risk involved.

from start to finish

When I decided to do the Half-Marathon, I knew it would be hard. But I also knew it was something I had to do. For me.

It took just about as much effort for me to sign up as it did for me to cross the finish line. A very different kind of effort, but very similar all the same.

I have some health issues that I knew would make it incredibly challenging, so I really went back and forth about whether or not I should do it. As soon as I decided to go for it, I announced it publicly.

Which I rarely do.

For lots of reasons.

But I knew that saying it out loud would help with my follow-through. And I knew the accountability would provide some motivation for me.

A lot happened between the day I signed up and the day of the race. A lot.

Several friends expressed their concerns about me doing it. But for reasons I couldn't really explain, I knew I needed to.

On race day, it may have taken more courage to join the crowd at the starting line as it did for me to cross the finish.

But by God's grace, I did both.

And I did both for me.

I needed to tackle an unbelievably difficult goal, and unquestionably complete it.

I needed to feel like I accomplished something.

I needed to see a finish line and actually reach it.

And when I did...

For a few minutes, I felt like I could conquer the world.

And that was so worth every risk and every mile.

What's something you did just for you recently?

what happens in nashvegas...

I'm Nashville-bound today. It's gonna be an eventful week with some incredible friends.

On Saturday I'll be conquering a half-marathon.

(Please Note: By conquering I mean walking.)

(Please Also Note: Remember my commitment to risk more this year? Yeah, this is that health risk I told you about!)

I only have two goals for the Half ---

1.  Cross the finish line. 2.  Have fun along the way.

By Saturday night, I will most likely be aching in places I didn't know could ache.

But I have a feeling the sense of accomplishment will be worth it. I'm hoping so anyway.

It's a risk I have to take.

I'm banking on the boost of strength and encouragement that will come as I cross the finish line. I need it because of the main purpose of my visit to Nashville.

It's the start of an 8-week fundraising trip for Thrive Africa.

(You should seriously see me trying to figure out how to pack for eight weeks! Oi vey.)

There is a lot going on in my heart in regards to this trip. A lot. There's a veritable tsunami of emotions, hopes, fears, and vulnerabilities crashing around inside me.

So it's just as well that I have 13.1 miles to talk to Jesus about it all.

My heart needs the workout just as much as my body does.

Well, please excuse me while I go wrestle a few remaining items into my suitcase.

I'll see you in a few months, Atlanta!

If you're anywhere near Nashville, come say "hi!" on Thursday night.

risky faith

Remember when I said I wanted to trust God for even greater things? Apparently God was listening.

Our financial situation at Thrive Africa is extremely tight right now.

I wrote an email to our partners, letting them know what our needs are and how they can help. It was an unbelievably challenging letter to write, even though I've been raising funds for missions since, ohhhhhh, 1992.

This email took me waaaaay outside my comfort zone.

It's the biggest, boldest ask in Thrive's history.

We are trusting God for $80K in new support by June 1.

And my faith is being stretched to almost-painful extremes.

But I know God has greater things still in store for Thrive.

So we're moving forward in active trust.

I'm working on the details of my huge fundraising trip that starts in just a couple weeks. I'll be in Tennessee, Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, and Virginia. (Let me know if you want to help!)

We launched a new website that shows how you can impact South Africa, and each week we're going to celebrate 10 Buck Tuesday.

If you've been around a while, you know I don't ask for prayer very often.

But I would really appreciate your prayers right now.

For Thrive. For provision. For my trip.

And for my faith to be strong in the One who is strongest.

Easy Links: Big, Bold Ask Thrive Africa Fundraising Campaign 10 Buck Tuesday Thrive Online Store

four-minute friday: tight

Go. It's been one helluva week.

I've been crazy-emotional. I don't feel well. I'm exhausted. I received some rough interesting emails. I have more to do than I have time to do it in or energy to do it with. I miss my friends. I'm desperate for a real hug.

And that's the short list.

On top of which I went and did something crazy.

Posting about my new normal was by far the biggest risk I've taken this year.

I was scared of being that vulnerable; I was anxious about the responses that would come.

But then there was the hug in the form of a blog post about me that caught me completely off guard in the best way possible.

There were the phone calls, texts, emails, and comments I received from people who care deeply for me.

There was the "I love you" from God that came in the form of "I love you"s from people.

As this crazy-hard week comes to an end, I'm assured that I'm not alone.

He's holding me tight.

And so are you.


maybe this is my new normal

I still choose indoors over outdoors, even on a gorgeous day. I still come to life when I talk about vision, passion, and Africa. I still make strange faces (and noises) without even realizing it. I still love deeply.

For the most part, I'm still the same me I was before my world shattered out from under my feet.

For the most part.

But there are a lot of ways I'm a different person than I was before my husband left me.

Emotional trauma changes us.

It changed me.

My life is forever split between before and after.

And after-me isn't the same as before-me.

Some of the changes are healthy, good, freeing.

But many aren't.

I "lived tired" before, but I still kept a fast (and full) rhythm in life and ministry. Now I simply don't have the energy to keep even half that pace. I've taken living tired to a whole new level while doing far less in a day than I've ever done.

My heart is more tender and my skin is less thick. Things that shouldn't hurt me, hurt me. My emotions are all over the place. I can spiral from high to low very quickly. And that scares me for a long list of reasons I'll never be able to share in this space.

Trust has always been the Achilles' heel of my life. But now I physically feel the fear of trusting in a way I can't even begin to describe.

I get overwhelmed far easier. By to-do lists, emails, appointments, the pile of books I want to read... everything. It all just overwhelms me. And by overwhelm, I mean incapacitate.

I tell people I have Fuzzy Brain Syndrome. I lose my concentration. I'm constantly distracted. I can't remember things---things I should remember. Things I want to remember. I so often can't even think of the word I'm trying to say. Not just occasionally. Frequently.

I'm just not the same person I used to be.

And, to be honest, I don't like who I've become.

I'm living with diminished capacity.

It's frightening, frustrating, angering, and crazy-making all at the same time.

And I'm starting to think it might not be temporary.

Maybe this isn't something I can bounce back from.

Maybe this is my new normal.

Which means I need to face yet another loss.

The loss of ... me.

Of who I am. How I am.

Before I can accept who I've become, I need to grieve the loss of who I was.

I need to let go of before-me.

And trust that God can still make something beautiful out of after-me.

four-minute friday: risk

Go. The first two months of 2010---can you believe it's the end of February already?!---have held lots of risks for me. Y'all remember that's my one word focus for the year, right? (What? I'm living in Georgia. I can say y'all.)

My year of risk is well underway.

I went on vacation with a bunch of near-strangers.

I rappelled 100 feet into a Mexican canyon.

I've intentionally endured quite a few awkward situations.

But those have paled in comparison to the risks I've taken with my heart.

I've prayed risky prayers. I've been more authentic in the moment. I've wrestled with truly forgiving my wayward husband.

And as I look toward the horizon, there is a lot that makes me very nervous.

Like the six week ministry fundraising trip I'm embarking on this spring. By myself. It feels incredibly daunting after always having a wingman (who was also the extrovert and public speaker of the two of us).

I signed up for a half-marathon. Which I fear will be a health risk more than anything else. But I am determined to cross the finish line no matter what.

And I'm going to continue risking big with my heart. Although it hasn't started getting any easier yet.

Your turn to check in.

How have you done with your one word?

I'd love to see us rally around each other to cheer one another on!


even greater things

I've seen God do some incredible things through me in my lifetime. He used a poem I wrote as a nine-year-old girl to bring my separated parents back together.

On my mission trips as a teenager, He spoke through my faltering words to lead people to salvation.

I've stepped out in faith for eleventh-hour financial provision, and had money miraculously show up at the last minute.

In my early years of living in Africa, I rubbed cataracts out of a woman's eyes.

I saw a man's leg grow out six inches as I prayed over him.

I pulled a lame man to his feet and watched him take his first steps.

I get goosebumps just thinking about the amazing things God has done. And I feel humbled that He's chosen to use me.

But it all feels like ancient history.

It's been a very long time since God's done something supernatural through me.

But I know it's not because He's changed.

I think somewhere along the line, I stopped believing Him for the miraculous.

My faith grew dim.

I got "busy".

And I stopped actively trusting.

But I want my faith back. I want to trust Him for the miraculous again.

I want to trust Him for even greater things.

That feels like a huge risk right now. My battle-weary heart is scared to hope, to believe.

But every mighty move of God in my life has required an act of faith.

And, Lord knows, I need Him to move mightily.

Not just through me, but in me.

So I'm asking Him to strengthen my faith and fill me with the assurance that He is trustworthy.

Whether He ever does another miracle through my hands or not, I want to live with heart-risking trust that He can.

coffee talk: authenticity & faith

coffee talk 3As I wrestle with the risk of being more authentic, I'm struggling to find the line between authenticity and faith. I grew up in churches filled with happy, plastic Christians.

They answer "How are you?" with "I'm blessed!"

They don't admit to being sick even when they are, saying instead that they are "healed in Jesus' Name!"

And though I can't judge their hearts, it always seems more fake than faith.

It seems like denial.

And hypocrisy.

The implication is that if things aren't going well with you, it's because your faith just isn't strong enough.

And that's crap.

But things can get out of balance the other way as well.

Under the banner of authenticity, a lot of people are just plain negative.

They complain. A lot.

They're always responding to "How are you?" with far too much information. They let it all hang out, even at times when they "shouldn't".

And they just chalk it up to being real.

So how do we balance faith and authenticity?

When is it time to be honest about where you're at and when is it time to speak words of faith?

Talk amongst yourselves.

authenticity isn't found in the rearview mirror

I’ve often prided myself in my ability to share openly about things I've gone through, things I've struggled with. But then I realized it was only because they were past tense. I am being open and honest, but about my then, not my now.

It's easier to share my weaknesses after I've strengthened them. It's safer to talk about my failures once I've bounced back from them.

But it's not really authenticity if it's after the fact.

Genuine authenticity is transparent and unguarded and vulnerable.

And while there is some level of that in sharing about past struggles, nothing is quite as authentic as sharing about current struggles.

No matter what else I do in this year of risking more, nothing will be as hard as the risks I take with my heart.

But they are risks I want to take.

I desire the intimacy and closeness that comes with true authenticity. I crave the matchless relational connection that's borne out of putting my heart on the line.

Even though it leaves me feeling exposed and vulnerable.

I'm learning that with those I trust, I can be naked and unashamed.

So I'm stripping down and working on being more authentic in the moment.

And hoping the "unashamed" part will follow.

how do you say "risk" in spanish?

I knew choosing risk as my one-word for the year would be risky. And I seem to have jumped right in with both feet. I'm sure a free vacation doesn't sound like a risk to most of you, but it certainly was one for me. It even took me a few days to respond and say "Yes" when I was offered this wonderful gift. Partially because it's just hard for me to receive personal generosity, and partially because of the risks involved.

Not the least of which was spending ten days with people I'd met only three weeks before---and three others I didn't meet till I landed in LA!

But I felt instantly comfortable to just be myself. And I hit it right off with the Pennsylvania gang. We had so much fun together. I'm incredibly grateful for these new friendships.

all of us

Some other ways, big and small, that I risked during the trip:

  • I left my laptop behind. It was the longest I've gone computer-less in almost a decade!
  • I did an outdoor adventure tour in Cabo. I zip-lined 1800 feet, rock-climbed, rappelled, and cable-walked over a gorgeous canyon. Invigoratingly frightening!

cable walk swing bridge

  • I braved the pool on the roughest day at sea. The swells in the pool were ridiculously huge, which was enough to get this non-water girl hyperventilating. But I did it.
  • I went dancing. And I can't dance. But I had a blast, and I might go so far as to say it was therapeutic.

IMG_0789 IMG_0806

Most of my time (when I wasn't sleeping past noon... a -hem...) was spent just chilling and being ridiculous with my friends. [I discovered that I make a weird face in 95% of pictures...]

And while we went to Karaoke pretty much every night, this is as close as I got to singing...


a gritty siesta

It just needs to be said: My year is off to an unbelievably better start than last year was. And the next two weeks are gonna push it over the edge. In the best way possible.

I'm eeeeeeeeeee-ing inside (and out) with excitement over what this January holds. This much I know is true: It's gonna be good!

I also know it's gonna be hard.

I'm taking some big risks. From the outside looking in, it may not appear that way. But believe me, I am. My heart already feels it.

The Grit's gonna take a bit of a siesta while I'm enjoying every risk-filled moment. Aside from a couple pre-scheduled posts, you'll only hear the sounds of crickets here at the Grit for the next couple of weeks.

But I promise to tell you all about it when the siesta's over.

And I'll have some pictures you won't want to miss.

risky business

I'm not the most daring person. I tend to lean toward comfortable and familiar rather than new and exciting. I usually order the same favorite meal anywhere I eat. I even describe myself as an "indoor girl".

I have done some things in my life that were adventurous. I whitewater-rafted the Zambezi. I zip-lined through an Alaskan rain forest. I pulled the cord on a bungee swing in Cape Town. I ate grub worms. (Okay, maybe that's not exactly adventurous. But it is pretty wild!)

And my bucket list includes a few more daring things I'd like to someday accomplish. But in general, I don't think many would describe me as a thrill-seeker.

So choosing to focus on risk this year feels, well, risky. Which, I suppose, was the whole point.

My choice to risk is all about active trust. I'm being intentional to trust God, others, and myself more.

I've already told you that I doubt myself more than I ever have before. But I have the Holy Spirit who guides me into all truth living inside me. I want to live like I actually believe that's true. I will get it wrong sometimes, this I know for sure. But I choose to trust the power of Christ in me and the discernment God's given me. And that can't happen without risk.

I know that trustworthy people will still, at times, betray my trust. Even the best of friends will hurt me. But I still want to risk more in trusting them. I desire to know others intimately and be known by them in that same way. And that can't happen without risk.

Trusting God more means exercising my mustard-seed-sized dollop of faith more than I have been. I want to actively rely on Him for strength and wisdom. I want to see Him work through me in greater ways than He has before. I want to trust Him to answer the silent prayers of my heart for the changes I desire in my own life. And none of that can happen without risk.

So I've decided to risk this year.

It's definitely gonna kick me in the pants in my relationships. And it's going to carry a lot of weight whenever I'm faced with a decision. And I've started praying for it, which is a risk in itself.

Trust is the Achilles' heel of my life, my very own thorn in the flesh. But I'm stepping into the ring by making the decision to risk more.

It's gonna make this year a whole different kind of hard.

But, once again, I choose the hard.

'Cause I'm risky like that.

Why did you choose your word for 2010? What are you doing to focus on it?

one word

I've never been a resolutions girl. But this year, I'm starting a new tradition that's a bit resolution-esque. Well, in a non-specific-goal-so-I-don't-disappoint-myself kind of way. I'm choosing one word for 2010.

Just one word that I can focus on in my everydayness of this year. A word that can be a reminder, a nudge. A word that can help steer my decisions. A word that I can reflect on, that will challenge me, that will inspire me.

How about you?

What's one single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2010?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought or a feeling or an action. It can be a character trait or a goal or a location. All that matters is that it has personal meaning for you.

This isn't your mother's word. Or your spouse's word. Or your friend's word. This is your word. It needs to resonate with your heart, no one else's.

Maybe a word popped right into your head. Maybe you need to let the idea percolate a bit longer. Either way, will you consider one-wording it with me this year?

One little word can have significant meaning in our lives if we let it.

And I want to let it.


What single word captures what you want to focus on in 2010?

Oh. And in case you're wondering...

My word?