When thinking about the new year, do you ever set a New Year’s Resolution (or two)? I am the kind of person who is very goal driven. I always want to learn and grow, and before 2014, this meant that the days leading up to January 1st were filled with making lots of lists about all the ways I wanted to grow: eat more healthy, be more active, read my Bible more, make more memories, etc. The struggle I have with New Year’s Resolutions is that I have an awful memory sometimes. I can be such a big picture visionary that tiny details can sometimes get lost. Other times I set too many goals and I can’t focus on achieving all of them. One morning in December of 2013, I opened up the Two Writing Teachers Blog and read about the concept of creating one word resolutions. Instead of creating lists of resolutions that we could work toward in the upcoming year, we could search for one word that could guide us in the upcoming year. As a big picture girl, this set my heart on fire. Choosing one word to guide me is doable.
So that first year, I started with “grow.” In 2014, I found myself growing professionally with continuing to work on my doctoral degree and becoming an instructional coach and personally with the upcoming birth of our third son Ethan. The following year, in 2015 the Lord led me to the word “bloom.” Instead of thinking ahead to the “next thing,” I needed to grow deep roots right in the season the Lord had for us. To stretch my thinking in 2016, my word was “perspective.” The Lord showed me that it was so important to step back and see life through others’ perspectives and even a long range perspective instead of just the here and now. In 2017, the word “intentional” kept me grounded on being thoughtful about each interaction and activity that we were involved in and to make sure as we added our fourth child that I was intentional with making each child feel loved. As another year came, the word “awake” kept playing on repeat in my mind in 2018. Not only were we sleep deprived with four children under the age of seven, I found myself feeling numb and needed to wake up my heart after a challenging year. The growth that the Lord did on my heart that year helped me be ready to take on the word “present” in 2019. I am such a do-er. I have to really work at being present with those around me. I became much more intentional about putting my phone down and being “all in” with whoever I get to spend time with.
Then 2020 came. I started the year with so many hopes and dreams of what the year might look like and the word “margin” surfaced as a need in my life. I wanted to start prioritizing what mattered most and finally live out Lysa TerKeurst’s The Best Yes principles. (This book is incredible if you haven’t read it or listened to it on Audible, I highly recommend including it on your 2022 book list. Full disclosure: I had to read the book 3 times however to finally embrace that it’s okay to say “no.” I am sure that I will write another blog post about this book, because it really was life changing.) Who would have thought that by March of 2020, we would get a type of “margin” that I didn’t anticipate-a global pandemic! I remember during the first weeks of the shut down, the Lord put on my heart a new prayer and focus to live out for the year “Lord, please change me from the inside out. If we have to go through this immensely challenging time, I want to learn from the challenges and change from the inside out.” This led to healthier ways of coping with stress with exercise and eating foods that give me energy instead of turning to chocolate and Pepsi.
This year in 2021, a sweet friend and colleague, who has been on the “one word resolution” journey with me for years, messaged me a few days before January 31st and asked if I had created a one word resolution with my kids. This was a brilliant suggestion, and our whole family each picked one word that would help guide us individually and that we could encourage each other with throughout the year. If this could be helpful for you, we each created a chart like this:
We thought through goals we would like to achieve in each area of our lives and this helped us select one word to guide us. My word for the year was “cultivate.” I recognized all of the changes the Lord had been doing in our lives and instead of starting something new, I wanted to be intentional about cultivating the healthy habits that I started in 2020. My children picked words just as unique as they are to guide them: growth, positive, self-control, and optimism. My husband chose “flexibility.” Only the Lord knew the type of flexibility He would lead us to this year as my husband started a new job a few weeks into January, and then in the fall, the Lord guided our family to begin making plans to relocate to our hometown and build a house on family land. This one word journey is not always for the faint of heart, but the growth along the journey is absolutely worth the growing pains.
As I think about the next steps the Lord is leading me, my word for 2022 is “write.” In writer’s workshop, one of my favorite writing mentors, Lucy Calkins, inspires us to teach children to think about the stories in the world that they wish they could read. Stories that would give us hope, see the world through a different perspective, and encourage us to keep going in challenging times. Through the last few months, I have learned a lot about sensory processing disorder and most of the texts are very clinical in nature and leave out the faith component. I am a huge advocate for learning as much as we can about brain science and how we can strengthen our central nervous systems to work more effectively, but I can’t help but also come back to the truth that God created us fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139:14). He never makes mistakes and that includes the way our central nervous systems were created. The Lord has put on my heart a desire to write encouragement with others who are walking the journey of sensory processing disorder, not that I have all of the answers, because I don’t. But instead I want to walk this journey together, so that no parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, or friend would feel alone in the struggle. This is the type of writing that I wish were already in the world. With the number of children being diagnosed with sensory processing disorder skyrocketing, we need to feel seen, heard, and not alone, as we love our unique children. We need to connect brain science with God’s truth to understand that ALL children are fearfully and wonderfully made. Some children just have either more active or less active sensory systems that need help regulating.
To embrace the word “write” for me though is to really embrace being vulnerable and authentically sharing parts of the struggle to help others be encouraged and to also find encouragement with readers who have walked a similar path, too. Something I have already heard from readers is that embracing and finding God’s glory in unique children isn’t just something needed for Moms and Dads. Grandpas and grandmas, aunts and uncles, teachers, caregivers, and friends are also searching for ways to support and find God’s glory in the unique children they are blessed to know. We may not have the same story, but we all have unique children who need us to step back, take the time to see the world through their perspectives, and to help them grow. That’s where this blog fits into our cyber world. I want to share with you some strategies that I have been trying out with the unique children who I deeply care about both at home and at school in hopes of helping someone else know how to take one step forward and try one thing that might help.
Have you ever tried out creating “one word resolutions?” I would love to read about how that process has gone for you. If not, would you like to create one for yourself in 2022? Maybe this is your year to try out “one word resolutions” with your families or friends.
*If you Google “one word resolutions” you will find so many resources. Some of my favorites are: Two Writing Teachers One Little Word, One Word for Kids by John Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page, My One Word by Mike Ashcraft, and Bianca Juarez Olthoff’s Episode 38 podcast. Each year, I try to read or listen to a different perspective about the process and reflect on what this process looks like for me in the current year.