Word of the Year {2013}

I've been on a journey of late.
Each year I pick a word for the year. 

A word to flesh out in day-to-day life. 

A word that I focus on for the year. 

A word that I sense comes from God, in some way or another.

{Here are the links to my words for 2012 and 2011 and 2010 and 2009 
if you're interested in this journey.} 

Usually, I begin the process late fall of praying about what word that might be.
This year, not so much. 

 I ran so hard that I didn't even give it a thought until my dear friend Cleary, on New Year's Day, said, "So what's your word for the year?" I looked at her with that deer-in-the-headlights look and thought, Oh crap. Forgot all about that. I suck." 

I ran hard this year. 

November and December are a blur. And I hate that.  

And I wondered why by the time January 1st rolled around I was plum weary to the core. I mean, I can't even describe the level of weariness. {Never to fear, in a much better place, even 10 days later.} 

And while I took zero time or effort prior to January 1st to figure out what my word for the year might be, it came pretty quickly when I gave it, oh, three point two seconds of time to ponder. 

So what I love about my friend Cleary is that she's a great person to chit chat with about ideas and thoughts. She's insightful and asks great questions and before long, we had picked my word. Basically. It was a joint thing this year. 

And it has been confirmed over and over again the past 14 days, through other conversations with other friends, and through sermons and reading and just KNOWING in my gut that this year, my word should be .... 

Ready .... 

HOME. 

So there you have it. 

That's my word for 2013.

HOME. 

Believe you me, there are many, many layers to this word. 

And boy howdy do I wish this was the front door to my home.
But alas, it's not. 

I haven't quite been sure how to articulate the why behind HOME, but here's my feeble attempt. 

Here are the over-arching layers. 

1. My home should be a SAFE SWEET HOME for my kids. 

2. I should desire to actually BE at home and IN my home. 
Slowing down to make my home what it should be. 

3. My home should continue to be a home that SHARES
Resources. Meals. Time. Love. Hope. 

Here's where I try to unpack it all. 

Feel free to skip all this, knowing that this isn't a neat, concise post. 
I do a little bit of rambling. 
I'll be honest and raw. 
One paragraph has a swear in it. 
{Sorry Mom. Sometimes you just have to let one slip out. 
I know you taught me better. Way better.} 

Where to start: 
From May 1st through December 31st this past year {8 months}
I was GONE more weekends that I was home.  
Almost twice as many weekends GONE as I was home. 
And of the weekends I was home, there was only ONE time in those eight months that I was actually home three weekends in a row. And only TWICE in those eight months, was I home two weekends in a row. 

I'm absolutely EXHAUSTED just thinking about all the packing and unpacking and late night Sunday night runs to get groceries for Monday morning lunch boxes that happened since May 1st. 

Now don't get me wrong. Every last one of those weekends away was doing FUN things. 
You know me. 
I'm CRAZY about traveling. 
I mean come on. 
I was in Mexico and Canada and Los Angeles and to the lake in Michigan umpteen times. And a little bit of everywhere else sprinkled in-between. 

Seriously. I love traveling. 
I was basically gone every other weekend. 
One stretch I was gone four weekends in a row, and another stretch, gone three weekends in a row. And several two weekends in a row. Plus throw in week long vacations {spring break in Canada, our annual Rock Lake week to Canada, a teacher's strike where I took the kids to Canada and Christmas in Canada}. That's some serious time away from home. And I wondered why I've been desperate to just be in MY HOME

But that's just the SURFACE. 
I WANT HOME TO BE A SAFE, SWEET HOME FOR MY KIDS. 

My sweet sweets and my little buddy.

The reality is, since June I feel like God has really been tugging at my heart to make my time at home a RESTFUL, SAFE HAVEN and SWEET place for my immediate family

Jack and I are great. We really are -- we treat each other lovingly, not many cross words between us. And I'd tell you if there were. I have an incredible husband who treats me with love and respect and I do believe he's downright crazy about me. 

So it's really the relation with the kiddos in our home. 

Bottom line. I'm often not patient with them. Bottom line. I suck. {Okay, okay, I know I don't suck. I really am a great mom. That just saved you the need to write to me and tell me that. I make a MEAN pot roast in the crocker AND I let Jackson win at Go Fish. I'm good like that.} 

Here's where it gets tough. I need to work on making HOME that place where my kids are treated with gentleness {last year's word} and kindness. 

You see, my words to the kids themselves aren't bad words. Rarely -- I truly do mean that -- are they inappropriate. 

But it's the edge to my voice. 

The harshness in my tone. 

The "I'm completely irritated with you" tone. 

And honestly, THAT makes my heart break. And pathetically enough, it's pretty common place. Sad to admit that's more the rule than the exception to the rule. You see, I tend to possess copious amounts of patience and gentleness for EVERYONE but my own offspring. Why is that? I spit these two out of my bottom and I AM crazy about them and I WOULD die for them ... 

And yet I treat them like crap. 

 And quite frankly, that HAS to stop. I can't give them my worst any more. 
 And I'm so not lying when I say, they get my worst. 
It's sad, but as I was chit-chatting about this with a dear friend, I mentioned that the reality is, I would NEVER EVER think of using the tone and edge I use with others so WHY IN THE HELL do I think I can do so with my little ten-year-old and her little six-year-old brother? 

Where is the disconnect? 
Seriously, am I wacko? 
I don't really care that they can be irritating at times. 
And frustrating. They are LITTLE people. 
And I'm supposed to lead by example and be the big people. 
And I'm supposed to let them be little people and not expect them to be big people. 

 See what I mean? That's just wrong. And I promise, it's not bad word choices. My kids have NEVER heard me say things like shut up or those types of words. 
Not once. I will not cross those lines. 
I'm honestly not even tempted to call them names or berate them like that. 

It's simply this aire that I possess that sort of shouts "You're interrupting me and my agenda AGAIN or you're irritating me AGAIN."I'm sure the irritability in my voice makes them feel lousy, like they can't please mama. 

I don't know. 
Does that make sense? 

Raw emotion coming in this next paragraph. Fair warning for those that can't handle it. Just skip this paragraph. Secretly, deep down in the very corners of my heart, I wonder if I haven't scarred them for life. You know, like, are they gonna need counseling for decades because their mama was harsh and irritated.  
Do you ever feel like that?  
Ever feel like your kids are gonna go off the deep end some day because of how you failed them day-after-day? 
I'm so hoping I'm not the only one feeling this way. 
And I just have to say that I'm so thankful that my bff is a doctor of psychology and she seems to think I'm an okay mama, and I know her well enough to know she'd knock me into tomorrow if she really thought I was ruining my kids. 

But still. 

So let's see. 

How's that for happy happy joy joy?

Bet you're glad you stopped in to read my verbal vomiting about my shortcomings! 

So that's one layer about HOME that is my one and ONLY goal for this year. Jack and I have talked about it and that is our family's priority this year and we're VERY serious about it. 

Nothing else matters in the grand scheme of things. 

If we can't love as Jesus would love in our own home, than everything else is meaningless. We will become a home where gentleness and kindness and loving tones are spoken. 

{Enter the Fruit of the Spirit please.}  

There's nothing that makes me more nauseous than hypocrisy and quite frankly, I think that is why this has bothered me at such a deep place. I feel like a hypocrite, treating others better than I treat my own kids. 

And so, with God's help and by His incredible grace and love and mercy, this year -- twenty-thirteen - will be the year where the harshness comes to a 
slam-on-your-brakes-with-all-your-might-STOP.  

You can ask me about it every time you see me. 
You can say, point blank, have you been tender with your kids today? 

And I am going to beg the Holy Spirit that lives inside of me to transform this ugly part of who I am. I don't have to live in that because I am free to have victory in this area of my life. 

And for THAT, I say thank you God for loving me like crazy, even when I mess up. 

I love the HOPE that Jesus gives. I believe with all my heart that He is up in Heaven saying, "Alysa, make the right choice today. Ask Me for help when you are irritated. Treat those babies of yours like the INCREDIBLE blessing they are." 

Okay. Whew. Enough of that.

Enter next layer of HOME. 

I have been on a journey the past six months. A journey where I actually long to be HOME. I'm a traveler by nature. You know that by now. I really, really am. That's why I'm a bit surprised in my "I've-got-to-stop-traveling" feelings that have taken over my core the past month or so. 

And if I'm being honest, I probably haven't wanted to be home much in the past because, well, let's face it, I'm not on my A-game with my kids when I'm home so why not avoid it, eh? Maybe an underlying sense of guilt or sadness at who I am when I'm at home. 

 But Coco {our little 3 pound Morkie with 75 pound spunk and sass} waltzed into our lives and I truly do feel like God gave her to me so that I would begin to slow down and hunger for being at home. 

Who woulda thunk it?
She arrived on Mother's Day weekend last year {we were out of town, surprise, surprise} and since her first night in our home, something switched inside of me. 

Because she was all of 1 pound 4 ounces when we got her, I had to move SLOWLY or I would, how shall I say it, squish her like a bug. It wouldn't be pretty. 

So not only did she slow me down, but I actually had to be home because her bladder was the size of a pine nut and we didn't want her little 'treaters' all over our house so someone had to take her out every thirty minutes.
And so, with that sudden screech to my running around like a crazy woman, I felt something inside changing. A desire to be in my home, nurturing both little Coco Butters AND my kids. 

Hmmm.
Curious. 

And interestingly enough, while the last eight months have been busier than they have been in years and years, there has been this INTERNAL desire to BE AT HOME, like never before. 

Funny how I think God has been preparing me for what He wanted me to work on THIS year. He was getting me ready to lean into the work He has cut out for me and my home. He was planting that desire to BE HOME

And then there's the last layer. 

I want our HOME to continue to be a welcoming place for others that need the gift of family and a loving home environment. I want our HOME to be a place for weary travelers. A place where people leave feeling 'filled up' with love and hope and goodness and kindness. A place where they feel like part of our family. 

There is something SO rich and fulfilling when we open up our doors and say, 
"Come eat with us. We wanna hear your story. 
We wanna see what God has been up to in your lives." 

I've said it before and I'll keep singing this song until the day I die. The Lord puts the lonely in families. I love that verse in the book of Psalms ... 

He put me smack dab in the middle of several families when I was all alone in Indonesia for three years. 
He gave me that gift. 
And I LOVE giving that gift with others. 

 And so the layer of SHARING OUR HOME is a top priority, too.
And that's super exciting. Not daunting. Rather natural.  
SO much easier than the "completely-change how you're parenting" layer. 

So there's really nothing hard about this one, other than just being intentional and making sure that days don't slip into weeks without having people over. 

And when you come over, our house most likely will have dust {because I really don't see the necessity of performing menial tasks that no-one -- save a a few OCD types -- really cares about anyway.  
Can I get a hallelujah from SOMEONE out there in cyberspace?  
Cleaning is SO over-rated.} 

  So I'm excited about our HOME being my number one priority this year. 
It feels like the right thing to be focusing on in twenty-thirteen. 

 Last year I said that I felt like God was up to something BIG and I really couldn't nail down what that "big" was, but over the last week I've felt like the "big" thing He was up to was really about the BIG transformation He wants to do in my life. 
He wants me to walk so closely with Him this year that I can't help but be a new woman as I relate to my kids. 

So there you have it. 
Nothing uber profound. 

 Just a girl. 

In a home. 

Wanting to please Jesus. 

Wanting to be changed so that who she is at home 
matches who she is out there. 
 In the world. 

Because that's what Jesus expects of me. 
And my desire is to please Him. 
Nobody else. 
Him and Him alone. 

And so if you think of it, I'd love your prayers for all that I mentioned above. 

I believe SO strongly in the power of prayer. 
I do. I really, really do. 

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." 
Joshua 24:15

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