What's the Word?

 January 2, 2012

Last year my good friend Angela challenged me and a group of friends to choose a word rather than a resolution to represent 2011.  I 'm seeing this as a bit of a trend this year but when Angela proposed it a year ago it was the first time I had heard of the exercise and something about it struck me as elegantly simply and utterly brilliant.  Right away I worked to find my word.

After some thought I settled on an unlikely word.


Unlikely because the term is seeped in Christian meaning which was not my focus at all.  My interpretation was far more humble than predicting the return of Christ. For me it had to do with being swept away with joy, ie

1. the state of mind resulting from feelings of high emotion; joyous ecstasy
2. (often plural) an expression of ecstatic joy
3. the act of transporting a person from one sphere of existence to another

This is what I wrote to Angela and my group back more than a year ago...
"I want to let go of reserve and concern about what other people think. You know, dance like nobody's watching, sing off key at a karaoke bar and snort (if I must) when I laugh. I want to fully appreciate and enjoy the people in my life and the sun on my face and the lines etched on my face (YES WRINKLES) caused by smiling "too much". I want to be swept up in it all that is beautiful."

Then I shared this amazing Mary Oliver  poem that sort of captured it all for me...
All summer
I wandered the fields
that were thickening
every morning,

every rainfall,
with weeds and blossoms,
with the long loops
of the shimmering, and the extravagant-

pale as flames they rose
and fell back,
replete and beautiful-
that was all there was-

and I too
once or twice, at least,
felt myself rising,
my boots

touching suddenly the tops of the weeds,
the blue and silky air-
passion did it,

called me forth,
addled me,
stripped me clean
then covered me with the cloth of happiness-

I think there is no other prize,
only rapture the gleaming,
rapture the illogical the weightless-

whether it be for the perfect shapeliness

of something you love-
like an old German song-
or of someone-

or the dark floss of the earth itself,
heavy and electric.
At the edge of sweet sanity open
such wild, blind wings. 
And so how did I do?

Honestly pretty great!

Last year I worked hard to strip away the reserve, the fear and self doubt from my life.  In many ways I felt like I was channeling the movie Yes Man.

In the movie Jim Carey changes his life for the good when he starts saying yes to every opportunity that presents itself, (that's way oversimplified but basically that's the premise-its funny you should watch it).  Anyway, that's pretty much what I started doing in my life.

And I'm telling you it was good...really good.

One of the small things I did was start this blog and submit a couple of articles for publication.  I did that last December and by March we hit the #1 spot on Top Mommy Blogs and we've had 500,000 visits to this site.  I've had two articles published and we were voted on of the 25 Most Inspiring Family blogs.  More importantly I have been able to use the blog to advocate for orphans.

Which brings me to one of my cherished rapture moments of 2011.

I didn't start out thinking I would use the blog to find homes for kids.  The first child I advocated for was a child I wanted to adopt myself.  She was a very ill child and she was already 7 years old. Everything before "the word" (lowercase), would have led me to say no way but somehow when I saw this child's photo and read her story instead of thinking of all reasons why we couldn't adopt her I found myself thinking why not? Inexplicably all the fear I should have had was pushed aside.

I know I just said "rapture" was not intended to be religious, but I have to admit something I still can't quite explain happened at that moment.  As the usual thoughts of worry and self doubt entered my mind I heard a voice (I know it sounds crazy but it's the truth) and it said "It's OK you can do this" and then from my head thorough my heels a wash of peace and calm came though me.  Was it God, Jim Carey or just the voices in my head?  I don't know but what I do know is I embraced it, felt the rapture of the moment and everything was changed.

I did not adopt that child instead she was the first child I advocated for here on this blog.  She found her family (and was home long before we could have adopted her) and several other kids have since been advocated for and also found families including our dear daughter whom I never would have found or been brave enough to adopt had this entire sequence of events not taken place. Pretty awesome huh?

But that's not all. In my year of yes, I went on two mission trips, something I've always wanted to do but never had the courage to do.  The first one to China back in June was with a group of people I didn't even know, the result of me saying YES to a perfect stranger (now dear friend) who sent an email asking me to join her trip. As part of that trip I did soemthing else I'd never done...I asked for help.

Here and on Facebook I asked people to donate supplies and money to bring to China.  I will never forget the night the commitments to help started pouring in. I cried for hours, tears of absolute joy.  I thought my heart would burst with the emotion of it, the goodness of it.  It still amazes me. I've never been good at asking for or accepting help before but this time I said yes to the offers of assitance and it turned into something miraculous.

My trip to Kazakhstan was no less emotional and in fact WAS a religious experience for me. Although the feelings and situation were complex there were many things that became more clear for me...most of all my passion to serve and my need to share and do more with dear friends.

What else did my own personal rapture lead me to?

I dared to ask to have my daughter moved from a Chinese state run orphanage to Shepherds Field Children's Village and actually made it happen!

I trained for a half marathon....and finished!

I exposed a long time vulnerability to my closest friends...and was encouraged and lifted up by them.

I started a new business...one that had been in development for years

Now I didn't sing in a Karaoke bar but only because it didn't come up; something to keep on the to do list I guess. Because while the year is over my desire to embrace this life with ecstatic joy is here to stay!

So what is this year's word?


While my kids run and hide, I will say this has nothing to do with them. It's about me staying focused on what is important and having the commitment to keep to those things. David Campbell put it simply enough..."discipline is about remembering what you want".

OK now it's your turn...what is your word for 2012?

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