I have spent a week researching and praying and even discussing it with my counselor. More than any other year in recent memory, I am feeling ridiculously intentional and serious about “my word” for 2018.

A little background….

I believe in naming your years, but the last several years it has felt like the names chose me and my year instead of me choosing them. So interesting enough, the day after Christmas I read this HERE, a piece by Claire Diaz-Ortiz who in many ways is my mentor (besides the teeny tiny issue that she has no clue who I am). In it (and the embedded links to previous writings that she shares in it), she describes her process of choosing a word for her year; I became inspired. Pages and pages of notes, multiple internet searches, and then some translating apps later….I land the plane on lionheart and in Haitian Creole it is translated to lyon kè. Then I spent the rest of the week mulling and praying over the word. Each day through scripture and circumstance, I could feel the word becoming my own.

As I look up to the heavens now I whisper, “Thank you God.”

I want to say to you reading this now, before it gets to deep, read the posts I have linked and pray about a word for your year. It is a very healthy exercise that has been fruitful in ALL of the seasons of my life.

So….I could stop here. You have my word. I have documented it. Moving on….

BUT…I am not going to do that. 😉

After reading Claire’s post, I thought about 2017 and looked at the year ahead and really asked myself what did I want for 2018. Really want?

The truth is that the past 5-6 years have been FULL of lots of changes and soul-searching and purging and laying down of idols and building up of dreams and travel and growth and loss. When I really started looking at the words since 2012, the seasons I have survived….God revealed to me the pattern. {prepare yourself for one gigantic run-on sentence}

The piercing of my heart in December 2011, the facedown moment (i.e., the crash) in January of 2012, the brutal wilderness that followed throughout 2012, the #threeyearpurgefest of 2013-2015 where I tore my life down to the foundation, 2016 or the year of the excavation (i.e., brutal was the word that year) where my newfound simplified life helped me see that my foundation was not stable….AT ALL, and I began to dismantle ALL of the things that I (had) felt confident of prior (i.e., thank you counseling)….which left me in 2017 still reeling from some of the truths discovered in 2016 as I embraced “peace” (my word for 2017) and spent the year making peace with all I found under the rubble…who I had been, who I was, and I went on a journey of touchstones where God just walked me through my life (generally saved for the #lifepassingbeforemyeyes end of life scene in movies). I went back to Colorado to Haiti to all of the former “homes” to old dreams….and I just laid them all down, one by one…again. Then….God took more from me…loss and grief have dominated the past 45 days plus, and I have found myself #facedown once again at the feet of Jesus’ wailing, “Why?!?!” only to be met with silence….and then JOY. I am smiling as I type because I love Jesus more today than ever in my life, and I know that I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet. 😉

All of this brought me to here….December 31, 2017.

What in the bless-ed world?!?!?!

I sat on my bed cross-legged and asked God to make sense of ALL of this journey we had been on and give me direction for 2018. In the midst of my speech to him, I told him that I wanted to be more brave. Looking back, I realize now that all of my past “bravery” had really been bravado, false, and superficial. I wanted a bravery that came from him. I didn’t want to be a “poser” (in the words of John Eldredge), but I wanted to be brave with my whole heart…from a place of reliance on God and God alone. Not me. Him. Only him.

A funny thing happens when you Google the definition of a word and it brings up every variation of it. There are a lot of variations of brave, but when I saw “lionheart” I knew…somewhere deep I knew. Lionheart is the adjective (meaning the attribute of the noun it describes). I want THIS word to speak to others of my life. Who are we kidding?!?! I want it to speak to ME about my life.

I look at a life built on self-reliance that while from the world’s standards has served me well, it has never served my heart well. I never again want to be described as self-reliant. If my life does not SCREAM God-centered and God-reliant, then I have failed. Truly.

I started a board on Pinterest which you can see HERE to save images I could use to remind myself throughout 2018 of my word and my goal. I also ordered a necklace from The Giving Keys with my word on it (in Haitian Creole). Learn more about them HERE. I chose my word in English and Haitian Creole for two reasons…I love Haiti and the translation is shorter (hence able to be put on a key). Also, the story behind The Giving Keys is in the giving them away (I have given two of my necklaces to others over the years) when the word needs to be shared with someone else. Their story is beautiful, and I recommend reading their story on their website at the link shared above; it will touch your heart. I also have post-it notes up in my bathroom with my word on them, Bible verses, and a few of my other top goals for 2018.

I share all of this because I want you to know that I am just as prone as you are to forgetting and becoming distracted as the year gets away from me, so this year I am putting some action items in place BEFORE the year even starts to remind me of who I am, to whom I belong, and what this year is about for me. It doesn’t simply stop with figuring out your word…it is how do you hang onto that word? Even when the fear creeps in…

So….back to my word. I really see 2018 as the year I take this new foundation out for a spin and see what God wants me to do with this one life of mine. That doesn’t mean I don’t have more to purge, or more to unpack in counseling, or that there will not be thousands of more lessons for my heart….but it does mean that we (me + God) have done the work….the good, good work, and it is time to set aside the old and walk boldly into the new.

I am finishing up my goal planning for 2018 today. I have spent hours and now days on it, and I have never been more content at where I am in the process the last day of the year. I really just want to bawl, not in sadness, but in pure unadulterated JOY. This is going to be a GREAT year. Not because I am going to accomplish everything I want or do everything I want to do or have success upon success, but because it isn’t my year, it is God’s. Truly, only God’s. I am just the door holder for the King. My work, my money, my possessions, my talents, my weaknesses, my story…my one LIFE here on earth. All his, all for him, and I am the better for it today…and on all the days to come.

While In Israel last year (2016), I had a ring custom-made for me with “Where you go, I will go” (from the book of Ruth) engraved in Hebrew on the outside, and on the inside I had them engrave “Heather Ruth + Jesus” along with the date of my re-baptism in the Jordan River the day before (you can read that incredible and precious story HERE which ironically I used to kick-off my word for 2016 (laughing out loud now). I wear that ring on my right hand (a girl can still dream about her prince coming someday) every single day as a outward covenant of my commitment to Christ.

In 2018, I know that he will be telling me to GO in new ways (and GO doesn’t always mean travel, as much as this #wanderlust addict wished that it did), and I am sitting here staring at my ring and committing to him once again…I am all in God. My “yes” is yours. Where you go, I will go. Always.

I believe that is the most we can ever dream for a new year…where you go, I will go.

Maybe that is just this girl. Either way, my heart is at peace in new, fresh ways, and after all that I have walked through….the only way that is possible is because of God. In him and him alone do I find my true desired rest.

So…here is to 2018 and I am offering up a new heart, one fortified and strengthened by God, not me. One that is brave and valiant, gutsy and spirited, daring and bold, unflinching and unshrinking.

I love you God, Holy Spirit, and Jesus. The Holy Trinity. You are my king, and I am your lionheart.

For all that was, all that is, and all that is to come. (“All That Is To Come” by Christy Nockels)

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*Also, “Starlight (Live)” album by Bethel Music was the perfect soundtrack to finish this post out. So grateful for music…my love language with God.