If you followed my previous blog, you may remember my One Word post from last year. After a difficult season, I chose RECLAIM as my vision word for 2014, and it turned out to be more than fitting. Since writing that post, I’ve reclaimed my health, creativity, and identity. I left behind oppressive systems and theologies, and I walked into a new understanding of God’s last-will-be-first kingdom. Everything blossomed again.
This year, with all kinds of exciting opportunities on the horizon, I’m finding it easier to choose a vision word and expect good things to come of it. My One Word for 2015 is RISE. I love its various definitions: To move upward, to increase, to get up from sleep, to return from death, to exert oneself to meet a challenge.
Pregnancy often wakes me up in the wee hours of the morning, and it was during one of these bouts of insomnia that the word came to me. I’m going to be doing a lot of rising this year: rising in the middle of the night to nurse a newborn, rising in the early hours to prepare for work, rising when all I want to do is sleep one more hour. I’m not naturally a morning person, but some of my best seasons have been the ones when I’ve been forced to rise and shine. A little coffee and fresh morning air, and I usually end up not only productive, but actually happy in the early hours.
I’m looking forward to mornings this year, especially since they’ll come with a sweet face and that soft newborn smell. I’m looking forward to the ways God will meet me in those tender hours, and how I’ll learn to appreciate the small and slow things in life. I’m expectant that His mercies truly will be new every morning.
I also love the idea of “rising to the occasion.” A few weeks ago, the leaders of the mission base my husband and I will be working with in France asked us to co-lead a Discipleship Training School—meaning we’d be in charge of staff, students, and curriculum for the whole six-month intensive. I was absolutely floored by the offer. Having spent the last few years in an extremely patriarchal country, it’s been a long time since I’ve been allowed to lead anything, let alone asked. But it has been a desire of my heart to walk into a more pastoral role, with my equally-gifted husband at my side.
The only problem with the offer is that we’ll have recently had a baby and very recently moved continents. Of course, these factors didn’t stop us from giddily saying yes, but they will make the whole endeavor more difficult. Fortunately, I love a good challenge. I love that the base leaders knew exactly what a wild scenario it would be for us and still thought we were the ones of the job. I love being asked to step up and do more than I could ever have imagined as a new mother in a new country.
Finally, as I think about rising this year, I can’t help but think of Maya Angelou’s iconic poem, “Still I Rise.” With all the terrible news and racial tension of the last few months, I am hopeful this year not only for my own ability to rise, but also for the rising of minorities and the oppressed everywhere. I’m looking forward to a year of learning how to be a better ally and affect positive changes for these communities. My prayer for the year is best summed up in Maya’s own words, “Out of the huts of history’s shame / I rise / Up from a past that’s rooted in pain / I rise.”
May that rising be a reality in our world, in our neighborhoods and churches. May we rise together in the power of Jesus’ resurrection, which restores and unifies all things.
As I learned with my year of reclaiming, God has a lot more in mind for my word than I do, and I’m excited to see what he’ll bring to the table this year. Come next January, I’m sure rise will have a whole new meaning for me.
Do you have a vision word for 2015? Check out the One Word 365 website for ideas, or simply ask God to reveal a word for you, as I’ve always done. Then tell me about it! I love hearing your hopes and dreams for the coming year.