Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Word of the Year: Presence

At the start of a new year, what are the deep longings on your heart? With each new year, each new season, new thoughts and desires often surface. And it is wise to pay attention to these stirrings of the heart ...

There has been a stirring in my heart. First, a few faint thoughts, then these thoughts kept surfacing, and now, at the start of this new year, I am drawn in to embrace them more fully. Some like to choose a "word of the year" , or a word to more fully engage with during the coming season. Something to focus on, and pursue with intentionality in the weeks and months ahead. 

At the beginning of this new year, 2018 ...

I will give a name to my thoughts, to the stirrings in my heart ...


In a world of busyness, of focusing on so many things; a world of hurry, and progress, and planners, and accomplishment ...

I just want to be present,
 to embrace the gift of presence.

I have been learning, but there is so much more to learn. I experienced this gift of presence in deeper ways throughout the past two months. I stepped into the holiday season the beginning of November feeling more overwhelmed than usual. I love the holidays - love so many, many things about the holiday season - but I was overwhelmed with all that I needed to do and be during this most wonderful time of the year. 

And by His grace, God reminded me through His Word, to not worry about anything, but to talk with Him about everything. (Philippians 4:6-7) The weeks of preparing for our Family Christmas (with 24 family members here!) were busy, but most of all, they were beautiful. Why? Because I talked with Jesus about everything. Instead of worrying about the whole picture and all that I needed to do, I focused on the being, on the talking with Him about everything. One day at a time, one step at a time, one moment at a time ... walking close, living in His Presence. It was a busy time, but it was a beautiful time. Giving Him my focused, undivided attention turned out to be a gift to myself ... the gift of His Presence each day, throughout the moments of each day.

This gift of presence spills out into every area of our lives. What a beautiful world this would be if we each gave our family members and our friends, and even strangers, the gift of our presence. Pausing even in the midst of our busyness, to listen, to love, to just be with someone. Giving the gift of presence in a big and often lonely world.

"Our undivided attention is the most 
precious resource we can give people ..." 
(Shelly Miller)

But how do we enter into knowing someone deeply - into knowing God deeply, into loving and caring for family and friends deeply? In a world that draws us in so many directions, how can we possibly take time? 

It takes a focus. It takes a desire. And it takes a depending on Him to help us focus on the things that are of most importance. It takes a pausing, a being still; it requires listening, sharing our thoughts, being present, giving the gift of  our presence.

"Be still, and know that I am God!"
(Psalm 46:10)

Jesus came to our world that first Christmas as 
Immanuel: God with us. 

"His with-ness is so important 
that every time we say His name,
 we declare it - 
Immanuel, God with us."
(Emily Freeman)

Loving Lord, may this be a year of living out these words, a year of living out "God with us". May we walk with You in the present, each day, each moment, giving You the gift of our presence, and experiencing the joy of Your Presence.

May we give each other - each family member, our friends, and even strangers - the gift of presence. May we live in the present, right where we are, offering love and care to others. All an overflowing of Your love and presence with us.

NOTE: As I journey through the months ahead, embracing presence ... you are invited to return here to read more thoughts. And I would love to hear yours - here, or on Instagram.

(free photo from pexels)

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