As 2008 comes to close amidst tiny white lights, gingerbread houses, roaring fires and scrumptious feasts, I begin asking God a question I’ve been asking Him for almost 10 years now.
“God, could you give me a theme for the coming year?”
My close friend Beth started me on this journey. She told me, at the end of every year she asks God to give her a theme for the coming year. A phrase. I thought it was a great idea, so I started the tradition.
One year it was: “Some years ask the questions and other years answer…”
The next year: “This year, live the answers…”
In January 2006, just weeks after Mom left, I heard: “The stars shine brightest in the deep darkness of night…”
As last year came to a close, I heard the most exciting theme yet! “Love extravagantly!”
Now You’re talking! I love to love! I love to give! I love extravagance!
My thoughts were this: the 2 best ways to love extravagantly:
1~Giving…over and above giving!
My mind worked in overdrive planning the ways I’d love extravagantly. I planned a year’s worth of family get togethers (one about every other month) and I do mean planned. I mailed out Family Fun Schedules on adorable card-stock (if I do say so myself!),complete with magnets for the fridge. I prayed every day for God to help me love extravagantly, thinking all the while about buying this for this person and that for someone else. Thinking how proud Mom would be of us all getting together regularly.
Then in August we got a deep pay-cut which directly effected my extravagant giving. Wonder, what’s up with that?
And, I kid you not, I’m still smarting from this one, almost everything I planned this year was met with some kind of resistance. Something like: “Oh, that’s just one more thing to do” kind of attitude, or “I had no idea you were planning that” (hum mm, check the Family stinkin Fun Schedule on your fridge)..or the best…”I threw that schedule thingy away!” Seriously God, are you hearing these people?
Over and over I kept getting my feelings hurt. Feeling unappreciated. Watch for it, you see it coming...
Feeling sorry for poor little ole me.
I’m just going to keep my extravagant love to my own bad self!!!
Then in early autumn I had a falling out with someone very close to me. Afterwards, I tried to love extravagantly. I sent gifts. I sent cards. No progress. I was at the end of my extravagant loving rope when Mike pointed out the way God loves extravagantly in conflict…he runs to the person. He runs to make peace. Hum mm, this is not what I bargained for. Seriously, I thought loving extravagantly would be more fun than this!!!
There are about a hundred ways to Sunday that God loves extravagantly. And I’m convinced after 2008, that most of them are not as thrilling as heaping little love gifts and quality time on those around you.
There’s unconditional love. There’s turning the other cheek. There’s putting aside your ever-loving pride and making amends. There’s mercy when your heart jumps to judgment.
Jeez Louise, why didn’t I see that coming?
And this brings me to 2009.
I’ve been hearing this little jewel whispered in my ear for a few weeks and when I asked for the theme for next year, I almost thought I heard: Well, duh…
(I didn’t put that in quotes, as though God was being sarcastic, so as not to offend anyone…He may or may not have said Well, duh…)
I believe my theme for 2009 is:
Tickled by Joy!
I’m cautiously optimistic about all I’ll (hopefully) learn this coming year! If there’s one thing that’s for certain…the journey is never boring when you’re walking it with the God who made the universe!