Last year, I chose the word focus to represent 2012. I wrote about it here and here. I didn't even choose the word until February, so that should give you an idea of how scattered my thoughts were last year. We moved three times in one year, not always by choice. Lil Sis' autism took center stage as we began to work through the realities of living with the diagnosis daily and finding the best therapies and approaches for her. Even our homeschooling felt disorganized due to reviewing so many different things for the Schoolhouse Crew. Although it was a blessing to have the variety, it was also a source of stress as I juggled deadlines and finding our stride, learning when to say no and not overextending ourselves. In just about every way, I was overwhelmed. I could no longer see the forest for the trees. That is why I had to take a deep breath and focus. I do feel that choosing that word was beneficial as it became my motto. Anytime I felt stressed out, I reminded myself to focus on what really mattered, one small step at a time instead of the whole huge picture.
This year, I made a list of character traits and positive words that I thought I could choose from for my yearly word. Faith, hope, love, grace, trust, perseverance, joy, contentment, and many more like those made the list. They're all great attributes that I strive for in my life. I prayed over the list, but nothing jumped out at me as the one. I considered putting them into a hat to choose one. Or maybe I'd let Big Sis choose one for me. She's great at giving thoughtful input when I need another opinion. Of course, I didn't want to just leave it to "chance." I knew I had to choose a word that really meant something to me or there was no point in choosing a word at all. So I slept on it. Or rather, I didn't sleep.
You see, Lil Sis (5) has sleep issues related to autism. There are many nights when she sleeps only 2-4 hours, then wakes for several hours, then goes back to sleep. I can't always go back to sleep because usually by the time Lil Sis is going back to sleep, Big Sis and Baby Girl are getting up so I have to be up with them. More often than not, I only get 2-4 hours of sleep per night. If I get 5-6 hours, I consider it an awesome night! Anything more than that is virtually unheard of for me.
Last night happened to be an especially bad night. I'd only been asleep about a half hour when Lil Sis woke up. I was so tired. Baby Girl and Big Sis had stayed up a little later than usual, while Lil Sis had gone to bed a little earlier, so I was caught in the middle of their "sleep shifts." I didn't want to get up, but Lil Sis cannot be unsupervised, obviously. I got up with her. I tried to coax her back to sleep. I kept the lights dim. I read to her. I played soft music. I got her a little snack of bananas and Cheerios. She just couldn't go back to sleep. I prayed. Sometimes when you're so desperate for sleep, just a chance to stretch out and take a deep breath, you feel a little dismal that things will ever improve. Life's obstacles come rushing at you all at once when you're least able to process coherently due to exhaustion. I'm sure all the special needs moms out there can relate! As I prayed, begging God for some rest, just a few nights of decent sleep, a word came through loud and clear to me: PEACE. I almost laughed, just like Sarah in the Bible. Peace? That seems like something I don't get much of. There is always turmoil and striving and working and disagreement and miscommunication and . . . peace? How could that relate to my life now? I went to my Bible and concordance and began to read these verses:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. ~ John 14:27
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Romans 5:1
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. ~ 2 Corinthians 13:11
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ~ Matthew 11:28-30
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. ~ Psalm 34:14
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. ~ Isaiah 26:3
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. ~ Psalm 4:8
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. ~ Psalm 46:10
The Prince of Peace Himself offers not just peace for the world, as in the absence of war and strife that we'll have once He returns, but peace of mind and heart amidst the troubles of this world. He is reaching out to me now, teaching me something. Sometimes these lessons are painful, like growing pains, as we stretch onward and upward. Sometimes the lessons come gently, just like a mother's hug can soothe away the cares of her child. I believe the Lord is showing me that it's okay, He's in control. I believe He's allowing me to rest in His peace. I only have to surrender to it. That's why I believe my word for 2013 is meant to be PEACE!