One Word 2016: Return

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2015 was a wild year for me: I gave birth to a beautiful boy, moved to Southern France, and began leading a Discipleship Training School with my husband. We fueled our 12-hour workdays with baby-interrupted sleep and an unspeakable amount of coffee.

RISE was my vision word for the year, and it couldn’t have been more accurate. There was much rising from sleep this year, and even more ‘rising to the occasion’ as I took on two new jobs—motherhood and school leadership—with little training and no idea how difficult each could prove. It was a year of high capacity, and though I’m tired, I also feel more accomplished than I have in a long time.

As the new year begins, it’s time for a new season and a new vision word.

The other day, I sat down to pray about my One Word for 2016. I’ll be doing much of the same work this year, so I expected my word to be another lean-in moment: maybe ‘perseverance’ or ‘discipline.’ To my surprise, God began speaking to me about the sensitive and creative little girl I used to be. He told me He wanted to give me the word RETURN.

I promptly asked Him if I could have the word ‘brave’ instead, because it sounded less scary than revisiting my childhood.

You see, while most people I know reminisce about their carefree childhoods, I had just enough big scary bad things happen to me that they dominate every other memory. It’s hard for me to remember who I was or what life was like before divorce, suicide, spiritual abuse, and chronic illness entered the picture.

Which is, of course, why God wanted me to return. To restore what was lost, and lay down what never should have been carried so long.

My mother tells me about a little girl who used to twirl in her “shimba-shimba” dress, make crafts out of junk, and cry when someone else got hurt. This year, I’d like to get to know that little girl again. I’d like to stop self-protecting so much and start living from a place of vulnerability and free-spiritedness.

Thankfully, I have a wild-hearted, curious little boy to guide me on my way. Being a mama has already retaught me so much about play, and I’m sure that as James begins to walk and explore, we’ll have even more opportunities to see the world afresh together.

As it happens, this year begins with another RETURN as we visit our old home in Kosovo. Our school has both a lecture and an outreach phase, and we were excited to send our students to Prishtina for the latter half. Though we as school leaders don’t spend the full three months with them, we do get the privilege of making a pastoral visit to check in on the students and staff there.

To be honest, I am equal parts delighted and anxious to return. There are so many beautiful people I love in Kosovo, but the place itself harbors difficult memories for me. We’ll be going in the smoggy winter, which I remember as one of the most isolated seasons of my life.

I have immense hope that God will restore that season, but it’s still hard to revisit. As always, my instinct is to burrow and self-protect, rather than let God touch that tender area of my heart. But in the spirit of returning, I’m resolved to go with an open and vulnerable spirit.

And finally, my hope is that this blog will RETURN to regular posting. Though I love my job, I’ve missed writing immensely and am planning to carve out more space for it this season. Stay tuned for more posts on marriage, French living, motherhood, food (maybe even some recipes!) and evolving faith.

Happy New Year, dear friends. May you have a clear vision for the year and the grace to live it out.


What’s your One Word for 2016?


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One thought on “One Word 2016: Return

  1. Hi Liz,
    My one word for 2016 was “Purpose”. It seems, to date, that I am being shown my purpose now, am intact living it. Exciting! Loved this post.

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