Word for the Year 2019 – Intentionality

A few years ago, I came to the end of the year and did what so many do – I looked back at the year about to end and thought about what I wanted the next year to look like.  This wasn’t about setting New Year’s Resolutions.  I know myself well enough to know that my brain and my life don’t function well that way.  But I did desire a focus point.

You may ask, “If you don’t set resolutions for yourself, why look ahead to the next year?”

Remember that “focus point” I mentioned?  I was intrigued by the idea of a “word for the year”.  It was an annual habit for a handful of my friends and I thought I’d give it a go.

I still remember my very first “focus word” – alignment.  It was a year-long reminder to myself to only say yes to those activities which most closely aligned with my God-given passion and design.  I even got a bracelet with that word stamped on a disc as a gift to myself!  (Check out “My Intent” here.)

In the years since, it has become an annual habit to find a word or phrase or passage of scripture that is my focus for the year.  It usually connects to a habit I want to change, a new hobby I want to try, a character trait I’d like to strengthen or develop . . . you get the idea!  That phrase/word/verse sort of becomes my “North Star” for the year.  I don’t really choose them.  I pray for awareness and sensitivity to what the Holy Spirit wants me to focus on and go from there.  The system hasn’t failed me yet.

My 2019 word has finally become clear.  I have to admit – I had to look it up to make sure it was really a word!  The word is “intentionality”.

Intentionality (noun) – the fact of being deliberate or purposive; the quality of mental states (thoughts, beliefs, desires, hopes) that consists in their being directed toward some object or state of affairs.

The process of arriving at this word actually started with, of all things, technology.  A system update on my phone and iPad meant that I started getting daily reports on how much time I was spending on my devices.  These notifications don’t only give me the overall time I spent on the device.  I get a specific breakdown of the amount of time spent on individual apps.


clockWith that daily statistic, I had no excuse for the things I wanted to do but hadn’t done.  There was no asking “where did the time go?” when my devices were laying the answer in front of me EVERY DAY.

I wasn’t completing desired or needful tasks because I wasn’t being intentional about where or how my time was being spent.  True, some of the time on technology was productive.  But far too much time had been wasted with distractions.  Don’t get me wrong – I know that everyone needs downtime and a little bit of fun is healthy.  But I was out of balance.

My discretionary time was not being intentionally allocated.

I lack intentionality.

As I find ways to keep this word in the forefront of my thoughts, it is my prayer that my daily choices will be different; that my discretionary time will be more productive and exhibit a healthy balance between work and play.

What about you?  Are you a resolution setter?  How do you embrace the possibilities of the new year?

Short and Sweet

Resolutions? Don’t really make them in the traditional sense. Working on setting some short and long term-goals for the year WITH deadlines. Some will be very personal and may never be shared. Others will be shared as I choose them and (hopefully) make progress. At least one I have already shared – the 2016 Reading Challenge. 

So some of tomorrow will be spent setting goals, creating a plan of attack, thinking about who trust as accountability partners, etc. 

Happy New Year, one and all!!

Lighting a Candle

“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

(Motto of a group called “The Christophers” founded in 1945)

The quote above is attributed to many people.  Just Google it and you’ll see what I mean!  It’s been used by former first ladies, the head of Amnesty International, and others.  The oldest record of the entire quote anyone can find is in the paperwork created when “The Christophers” was founded by Father James Keller.

The fact that this statement has been quoted over and over says something.  Something powerful.  And it perfectly sums up my focus for the year 2015.  It’s easy to rage on social media about things that annoy us.  We argue with one another in the “cyberworld” really well.  But it doesn’t fix things.  And it tends to leave the individuals involved in the argument all worked up.

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe others get involved in the argument and then walk away, never to think of the issue again.  Maybe.  But I doubt it.

So my goal for this year is simple.  Whenever I can, where ever I can I am going to “light a candle”.  It may take the form of a financial donation or a shoulder to cry on or educating myself on a particular cause and then sharing what I know with others.  The actions may vary, but the purpose will always remain the same. I’m tired of the arguing. I’m tired of watching people make ugly assumptions about total strangers they are arguing with online.  I’m tired of the stress and grumpy attitude that tends to accompany that kind of negative engagement.  So I’m choosing, in 2015, to be a “candlelighter”, for lack of a better term. It is my intent to brighten up my own little corner of the world one candle at a time.

Out With the Old . . .

I am not one for New Year’s Resolutions.  I am all for trying to improve oneself.  But setting goals for an ENTIRE year seems a little overwhelming.  Instead of setting myself up to fail, I tend to reflect on the past year’s experiences – lessons learned, joys, frustrations, big moments, etc. – and then focus on writing down goals for the next weeks/months.  Short-term goals, long-term goals, whatever I need to move into new habits.  I revisit them every so often and “tweak” as necessary.  I may discover that I have reached a goal earlier than expected so I take that one off the list and add a new one!

With December just days from being over, I am still in “Reflection” mode.  I will move forward into the goal setting stage soon but for now, taking hold of lessons learned is the focus.


I was one of several people who took the “100 Happy Days” challenge.  This was an online campaign that encouraged people to use their social networking platforms and a “custom designed” hashtag to share the moments in their day that made them happy.  So I went to the site, registered my hashtag and spent 100 days looking for reasons to be happy.  Some days were busy and I missed posting so I caught up the next day.  On some days it was EASY to find things to post about.  Almost too easy – I had to narrow it down to just one or two things.  Some days were accompanied by a photo, others weren’t.  But on some days I had to looked hard – REALLY hard – to find one thing to be happy about.  But over those 100 days something interesting happened – I was happier!  Not goofy, laugh out loud, super perky kind of happy.  Maybe the better way to describe it was “joy-filled” or content.  On those days when almost everything went wrong except for that ONE happy moment, the old me would have grumped about all the bad.  But somewhere in those 100 days – which ended in late November – and in the days since, I look at the rough days, find the “happy” and think to myself, “It was a tough one today, but there was this!  This one shining moment in all the ick.  Today was happy.”  I cannot speak for others who took the challenge, but it definitely had an interesting impact on how I look at my circumstances.

Phases of Life

In the summer of 2014, my baby turned 18.  Every child in my family is now an adult.  The eldest is renting a place with a friend and working a full-time job (she’s such a grown up!), my second born is in her Senior Year of college and applying for graduate school next fall, my youngest daughter (child number 3) is in her Sophomore year of college and just recently got engaged (wedding in December 2015), and my baby is an adult and a Senior in high school.  For 23 years I have been a mother with dependent children living in my home.  That reality is shifting and hubby and I will soon enter that phase of life known as the “empty nest.”  It’s a bittersweet time.  The purpose of raising children is to see them spread their wings and fly.  It is what they are supposed to do.  And I am BEYOND proud of them for chasing their dreams.  But I do miss having them around.  I look at pictures from when they were little and get a little teary-eyed.  I know they need to move into their independence. I WANT them to move on. But I will miss them when they are gone!  It’s not bad.  Just different.

Choosing Who to Hear

I know I am not unique in this – I am so much quicker to hear and believe the negative things that people say about me than I am to hear and believe the positive things people say.  But the recent counsel of a friend drew my attention to that in a unique way this year – if one person criticizes something about me and five people pay me a compliment about the exact same thing, why on earth would I give more weight to the minority opinion?!  I didn’t have a good answer for her.  Thanks to that conversation – and a couple of others – I have been carefully choosing how I spend my time as far as the people I seek counsel from, those I interact with online, and those I spend time with.  Let me be clear – one negative comment does not get a person cut completely out of my life!  I do NOT want to surround myself with those who will not correct me when I need it.  But a pattern of negativity just might be a deal breaker.  It should not be a surprise that being selective about those who have access to my life has made a significant difference in my attitude, my focus, my emotional energy . . . I just feel better about life in general.  Thanks to some upcoming projects, I have been able to practice being selective and am committed to working with people who will hold me accountable, encourage me, challenge me, and hold me to a standard of excellence.

2014 wasn’t perfect.  The beginning of the year found me in a work situation that drained me emotionally, mentally and physically.  That situation has changed and I am absolutely IN LOVE with my work situation.  I have had the opportunity to work with local college, high school and middle school students in the performing arts and that is my FAVORITE thing to do!  Don’t get me wrong – there have been challenging people I’ve had to work with along the way.  But the joys far outweighed the frustrations and I wouldn’t trade any of the experiences for anything.

I’m excited to see what 2015 holds!  The baby graduates high school, my second born will start grad school, and we will add a son-in-law to the family just before the end of the year.  I have some short-term plans and long-term plans that I’m working on the details for.  There is also a project for Easter that involves working with another church here in town (which also means working with the Pastor’s wife, a darling woman named Toni who is becoming a treasured friend!).  I feel more emotionally and mentally sharp and focused than I have in years.  Maybe in forever.  This year I’ve had the chance to grow, succeed, fail, learn, try new things, take on new responsibilities, let “old things” go . . . I like where I am right now and look forward to what lies ahead!

Feeling Reflective

Maybe it’s the recent New Year holiday. Maybe it’s my age or the fact that I just celebrated my 24th anniversary or the fact that my number 3 child will turn 18 on Sunday. Whatever the reason, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in recent days “looking back”.

Are there regrets? Things I wish I has done differently? Sure. I am human after all!

Were  there situations that were lousy to walk through? You better believe it!

Would I change any of it? Hmmm. That is a tough one. It might have been nice to make fewer mistakes. But what effect would that have on lessons I’ve learned?

Maybe I would choose to avoid some painful experiences. But If I’m being totally honest, some of my greatest blessings resulted from those moments. God closed doors while preparing things for me I couldn’t fathom. He answered some of my prayers with a firm, loving “No” because what He had in store for me was SOOOO much better than what I was asking for.

So what has my period of reflection taught me? Simple: God is good and I can rest fully and peacefully in his never-changing, never-ending love for me. What else could I possibly need to know?

New Year

I don’t really do resolutions. At least not in the traditional ” tell everyone what my resolutions are” kind of way. I tend to write goals down somewhere private and date the list. Then I can pull it out in December and see how I did.

Without getting into the details, I will say that two of the areas I’ve set goals in are my use of and planning for “discretionary” time (aka time I’m not at work) an the summer theater program I work with.  There are others of a more personal nature and I’m guessing some of that will show up here!

For now, I’ll simply wish you all a blessed 2013!