As of yesterday, I still hadn’t picked a word for the year. As much as I wanted that to mean I was too cool and self-actualized to need one, the fact is that wordless and directionless are two sides of the same coin, and anyway, I’m only slightly cooler than a mealworm. Lately, I’ve been ungluing myself from bed at the last possible minute before getting the girls ready for school, and then hygiene and breakfast and allergy meds follow (not necessarily in that order), and by the time I sit down to take soul-inventory for the day, it’s already 9:00 without a single stray epiphany to show for it.

I know that life is a dynamic, untamable tempestress and that if I ever try claiming to have her figured out, I can expect a bitch slap upside the head.  But really. “Huh” does not count as a mantra.

Here is what I’m talking about:
The delightfully dreadlocked Mandy Steward chose “vulnerable” for the year.
Sarah Bessey, whose writing is fire and water all at once, went with “fearless.”
My precious warrioress Rain honed in on “unafraid.”
Erika Morrison, who is cooler than a whole stage of mealworms with their own backup dancers, picked “celebrate.”
Alise chose “do,” and Jeff chose “start,” and all around me, I see bravery, the determination to live life to its fullest. I see how starting the year with a focus puts each day into hopeful perspective, how it catapults daily routines into another stratosphere of worth.

To be honest, I feel like I’ve gypped myself by not staking the same kind of claim on 2012 from the beginning. However, my main goal when the calendar turned was riding out a dust storm that threatened to keep me an ocean away from my husband and girls. January was turmoil and surprise and blinding uncertainty, and the only thing I found myself whispering on repeat was “God with us, God with us.” The concept of Emmanuel, carried over from the Christmas crèche, carried me back home.

Since returning, I’ve taken the gift of joblessness as a wide-flung opportunity to be present for the people in my life—saying yes to invitations, penciling in long afternoons for relationships, participating in this online community, being with instead of just around. And I finally saw it this morning, the thread strung like a lifeline between January’s upheaval and February’s calendar blocks:


God with me, the warmth of divine-to-earth whispers in my ear even when religion leaves me cold.

I with you, here, fully engaged in connecting through my words, offering my authentic heart.

I with you, our conversations growing well worn and becoming ever more Real as I care them threadbare.

Partnering with the causes that rip compassion-wounds in my defenses.

Communicating with the people I’m inclined to write off.

Walking with my loved ones, old and new (even if this means [thinking really hard about] answering emails in a timely fashion…).

Making eye contact with my own life instead of ducking away to hide when it gets overwhelming.

Waking up with us—all of us, you and me and Emmanuel whispers—on my mind and my path for the day stretching double-wide.

I might be late to the party, but man, it’s good to be here.

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  1. That’s lovely. Also, I’m pretty sure you’re much further up on the coolness scale than mealworms.

  2. I love that. I don’t think anyone could fault you for NOT arriving to your word until now – your January was pretty topsy-turvy!

    I chose MOVE, as a reminder to keep moving my body and my hand (in writing) but also, as the year has unwound, MAGIC just keeps appearing to me. I think it means embrace magic in all its ways. Make sure I have some in my life.

  3. I don’t know why I am all teary with this…but there you go. And? I love meal worms. But you are WAY cooler.

  4. oh beloved, what an exquisite and tender word! i LOVE it!!!! and what life lies with-in it! many of our happiest memories include with: me with you, you with others, peace with-in…

    i’ve been craving you. hope to send an email soon. but i knew this would happen; the emails just don’t cut it anymore. gah. needing some WITH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. What a beautiful word, Bethany. 🙂 So cozy and loving and perfect. 🙂

  6. wow … i love that. hummm … might have to think about the idea of a word for this year. i haven’t thought of anything for this year yet except to keep moving forward, even if just itty bitty bits forward.

    “God with me, the warmth of divine-to-earth whispers in my ear even when religion leaves me cold.”

    i totally get this. and it has become intriguing to experience and watch as formal religion takes less of a stage in my thoughts as well as my life, and my relationships with God, my husband, and my kids continue to flourish. causes much for pondering upon.

  7. …i haven’t chosen a word. i remember all the posts about such things trickling into my blogger dashboard day after beginning-of-january day, though…
    maybe i should choose one.

    i love the writing describing yours. <3

  8. Liz – What would you say then… maybe earthworms? Tapeworms? Oooh, gummy worms! 🙂

    Sam – I love the idea of choosing a word to guide your year and then discovering one along the way that describes your year. MOVE and MAGIC? Pure awesome.

    Meg – Awww… thank you. I’d offer you a hankie if I could.

    Rain – I know. Having an entire morning to ourselves spoiled us. Just think of the emails as placeholders until the next time? <3

    Krista – Cozy! I love that thought. Thanks, sweet friend!

    Ame – That genuine real-world spirituality is the main thing I embrace about God right now. No religious speak for me, please. I love that you're there too.

    Beka – Hey, I think I've proven it's never too late to join the club! 🙂

  9. oooooh! i love your word! so unique and creative… and POWERFUL.

  10. I love this, Bethany! What a great word of the year. It speaks intimacy, presence, and authenticity first from God which consequently frees us to be this to others.

  11. This is beautiful! I can’t wait to read more.

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