Word of the Year: Purpose

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It's time for our word of the year! You may recall that Nate and I always pick a word of the year that comes from a bible verse that speaks to us. There's always a specific word or short phrase that jumps out, and we usually do a little craft or make a frame to display that passage in our home. We keep it in our hearts to guide our decision-making from month-to-month. This practice has had a massive impact on our lives.

Contemplating purpose

Here are the words we've recorded on the blog in years past:

I feel like these words have been instrumental in guiding the development of our young family. We've laid a joyful foundation with confident, determined kids.

Six-year-old boy looks like he's ten

Those kids are growing older now, though. I can see them beginning to question their place in this world and frankly, Nate and I have gotten a little off-track with our own direction. I can pinpoint the exact day in 2015 when our baby almost died and our lives were jarred just a bit off-kilter. I certainly don't blame RSV for every doubt and confusion we've felt, but that day abruptly opened our eyes to some things. We saw the preciousness of human life. We started seeing a slight wobble in the spinning top of our everyday existence and the more we looked at it, the more violently it shook from side-to-side until there was no denying that the thing wouldn't hold its place for much longer.

Toddler sitting in a car seat

That baby just turned 3 years old, and he is still a hurricane ripping up every stable thing in his path. I feel like he is an ongoing lesson sent directly from God. Don't dare get too comfortable, none of this is even about you. I've always been laser-focused on my dreams and my plans. Perhaps I needed that drive to overcome my turbulent childhood and be even remotely useful in this world. But we've done that, we've gotten there, we've checked off all the boxes and now I can see the self-centered nature of it all. Maybe that's why these last two years have felt like a recurring undertow has been pulling me down with the sick baby followed by a slew of other health problems and a house flood and one thing after another until I started to genuinely question if we were somehow causing all of this.

Plans | Purpose #quotes #verse #bible

Which brings me to our 2018 word of the year. I'm seeing a trend wherein our plans and big ideas keep getting stifled. So I'm through with plans and I'm instead going to focus on purpose.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

As I was mulling all this over, we were setting out on one of our big road trips up through the Pacific Northwest.

Three kids in the back of a mini van

We were all packed into my mom van instead of the usual, trusty truck. Nate was in a bad accident with his F-350 during a shoot the week before, and we were left scrambling to reconfigure our overland route at the last minute, in a vehicle that couldn't handle the mountain roads we usually take. Some of our planned photoshoots had to be scrapped, and we had to re-think all our gear. The irony wasn't lost on me: from the very beginning of a new year, our well-laid plans were being thwarted.


Man in the woods

On a much broader scale, our well-plotted lives have recently been shaken up over and over and over in ways too numerous to count. The community we envisioned being part of in San Diego hasn't formed quite according to our expectations. Thinking back to that day in 2015 when we were sitting in the hospital watching our son gasp desperately for air, other people's reactions were painfully revealing. The lack of compassion from Nate's employers was shocking. He's been mercilessly teased, overlooked and insulted simply because he values his role as a father.

Not one to spook easily, he sat things out and patiently waited for the tides at work to shift.

They haven't.

5-year-old standing under a bridge

When you encounter enough road blocks over time, you start to realize that God may be trying to tell you something. Isaiah 14:27 asserts that nothing can stop his plan for your life. I truly believe that we've somehow come to a place where our actions are going against what God intended for us. And he's steered our path in ever more obvious ways until we've had essentially no choice but to throw our hands up and say, “We get it!”

We aren't in charge of everything. Each day's events are not for us to control. It's time to be okay with that.

Woman standing in cold Oregon road

So we're backing away from some areas that we've stubbornly pushed up against. We're trying to listen a little more and talk a little less. I'm learning to accept that many of my actions as a careful, calculated, goal-oriented person are actually coming from a place of fear. Letting God point us in the right direction feels terrifying on a basic human level, but it shouldn't.

Baby whacking dad in the face

We've been scouting out properties this week, feeling led to invest in a part-time residence in the Pacific Northwest. Spoiler alert: we didn't find what we were looking for. Not yet. Maybe that was all the wrong direction, too. None of it really matters. After our search, we were sitting around a friend's living room in Couer d'Alene, contemplating our pace of life and next steps. The ever-so-wise six-year-old burst into our conversation and managed to put things in perspective, as he always does.

“Dada, can we go camping more?” he asked.

We all looked at him inquisitively. I realized that lately, in the midst of everything, we haven't been camping nearly as much as we used to. Nate asked why he thought to ask that just now.

“I dunno,” he shrugged. “I just like being out in nature and seeing things and stuff.”

In the midst of feeling lost on just about every level, I have to admit that getting lost in the world sounds like a brilliant idea. Nothing sounds better to me right now than being out in nature and seeing things.

And stuff.


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