Saturday, December 31, 2016

Revisiting 'Seriously?!'

Last year was the year of taking things “Seriously?!” As always, I had no idea the places God would take me during the year with that word. But he used that word to stretch me and challenge me and inspire me. Last year I wrote, 

There was it was! My word. I cannot begin to tell you how many dozens of times a day I hear my teen ask (sarcastically, of course), 'seriously?' Everything about her questions whether we are serious about what we say. It is a teen-friendly word to challenge diligence and gospel-living. It is my challenge for 2016. What will it look like? Here are few things that I hope will take root:
* I want to take my pursuit of God's heart through Bible Study seriously.
* I want to seriously memorize Scripture.
* I want to seriously consider what it means to be the temple of God--and to take serious care of that temple physically, mentally and emotionally.
* I want to open my eyes and heart to the plight of the weak and poor, and seriously pursue doing things that make a difference.
* I want to have serious discussions with my children--about Scripture, about life, about living for Christ in a broken world, about their hopes & dreams.
* I want to take opportunities to have serious discussions with friends and strangers alike.
* I want to live with an intentionality that allows others to see that I take Jesus seriously.

We live in a world of a lot of competing ideologies. I need to be intentional about what my motivations are. My kids will hear ideas and recommendations that sound like edicts from all types of people who take their beliefs seriously. I hope that when my kids look back they can say the same about what they learned at home through both word and deed. This year, I'm taking that mandate SERIOUSLY.

Probably the area that this stretched me the most was in discussions with the girls, and in particular Jewel. The year 2016 did not disappoint in things to discuss and take seriously. Refugee crises, sexism/racism/classism and political futures, the presidential race in general, relationships/marriage/definitions, war in Syria, bullying, Brexit, natural disasters and more. We have had deep conversations and sarcastic interchanges. We have laughed together and cried together. We have agreed and debated. We have gotten angry, and then had to decide if it was selfish anger or righteous anger. We’ve decided where we could help and we have admitted when we felt helpless. I have been proud of the girls this year that they have struggled with current events and tried to find their own responses, not just parroting our responses. It has been some of the best parenting challenges I’ve faced head-on and felt like I’ve succeeded, sometimes.

Whilst conversations at home are easier, those kind of conversations outside the home are more challenging. Surprisingly, Brexit and the US Presidential election opened doors to talk. People would ask for my opinion as an American. Whilst trying to avoid blatant political statements, I had opportunities to express my dependence on God in these areas. I’ve had difficult conversations about immigration (remembering that I am an visitor in this country) and race and feeling alienated. Who has been the most willing to engage in these conversations has often greatly surprised me. But I am grateful for the conversations I have had.  

A challenging study of Acts followed by a more daunting study of Proverbs gave plenty of opportunities to decide if I wanted to take the Scripture seriously. I did not learn twenty-four verses, but the ones I did memorize have challenged me even more.

I am thankful for this word. I plan to leave my Seriously?! sign up in the kitchen as a daily reminder that these issues are not frivolous and I need to be intentional in my responses. Several of the books I read this year pointed me to the plight of those who are not as financially blessed or who live on the fringes of whatever society they find themselves. These books and these thoughts have  informed and developed my word for 2017. Tomorrow, I’ll write more of that.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Way Back

Finding a way back to the blog has been easier said than done.  It is not that I don’t miss blogging, I do. A lot. But I find it not making my priority list day in and day out.  I write in my head, but not on screen or on paper. I miss that. There are many excuses I could make—home schooling three kids (one kindergarten, one middle school and one *gasp* high school) takes up most of my time. But I still find time for other things I enjoy, so it doesn’t excuse not writing. The truth is, I miss the old days of blogging. I miss the community. Most of the early bloggers I followed and with whom I communicated have also stopped regularly blogging. That sense of dialogue has gone, and with it some of my motivation to keep writing. I miss that.
I am going to try and find my way back in 2017. Despite missing the blogging community, I miss the accountability of writing more. The old days of writing for “In Other Words” forced me to write to deadlines, thus I wrote more, thus I was developing my voice and style. My writing was better because I wrote. And by not writing, I have lost that push to improve. I also miss my personal accountability.  If I post goals, I am more likely to try and meet them. If I post memory verses, I am more likely to memorize. Just by putting it on my blog as a reminder, helps me to follow through with the things I want to accomplish.
All that to say, hopefully you will see me more in 2017 (all three of you who still check in to see if I’m alive *wink*). I’ll post my verses on the first and fifteenth.  I’ll post monthly goals.  I’ve already chosen a word for 2017 and will write about it. And, I’ll give an update on how a year of living “Seriously!” changed my life. Maybe the changes were small, but this was a good word choice and year, despite how difficult the year has felt in many other ways. I hope to discuss books and life more. Thank you for still being a part of my blogging world.  See you soon!