Sunday, January 1, 2012

Word for 2012: Grace

-Zora Neale Hurston

This quote has been sitting with me for awhile, and I keep turning over the possibilities in my brain, looking back at past years and thinking, "Was XXXX a year of questions, or answers?" It could quite possibly be that, for me, all years seem to be question years. Though, on reflection, that's not really true. More likely, each year, unless something very significant has taken place (2003 comes to mind, as does 2005, in a much better way) there is a mixture of both questions and answers.

I approach this year with the same anticipation as I usually do: clean pages, blank slates, new beginnings, wondering what the year will bring--questions and answers! But before I can really attack the next 365 days, I wanted to take a little look back in how I've blogged about the new year and resolutions in the past. (Lo, these long three years the blog's been around, ha!)

2009's resolutions were all about the food. Silly me, still thought I was a food blogger at that point. Ha. I have since reconciled myself to being a blogger who talks about food, but NOT a food blogger. How many posts have you seen from me that actually give steps? With pictures? That's what a food blogger does. I'm lucky to remember to take a picture (and/or write down any deviations I inevitably make!) before the food disappears off the plate. My initial goal of making this a place where I can record recipes for myself and others; that, I appear to have been able to do with some consistency.

But in the interest of accountability, I did keep quite a few of those resolutions. I have continued to blog about food (some weeks/months are better than others), and we've worked on getting some (but not all) processed foods eliminated from our household diets. Our family garden has been better and better every year, weather permitting (tomatoes were just bad this past summer, so late). I still want to get Seth's repertoire increased in the kitchen; that's definitely on the list again this year. And I have been doing really well at paring down my cookbook collection; in fact, I just tossed (well, bequeathed to a book sale) a few this weekend, and have plans for a few more. (Speak up if you'd like one... or two... or three.)

Kicking off 2010, I kept it simple--maybe a little TOO simple, since I said I was going to make 6 resolutions and then only wrote 5. I made progress with them all, but they are the kind of resolutions you make for life. At least, in *my* life, they are works in progress... being a better wife and mother? Yeah, not really something I want to relegate to 2010... same goes for body, brains, soul and household.

Somewhere in the middle of 2010, I decided to hop on the "one word" bandwagon and decided my word for the year was pause. It's still a word I think about frequently, as I'm rushing about. Just slow it on down, Sher. Take a beat. A breath. It--whatever it is--will be there tomorrow. Chill.

Last year's post was one of my favorites, answering questions about the year and then plotting a course forward from those questions. Again, I went with the one-word idea, and my word for 2011 was *supposed* to be focus. Ha. Double ha. No such luck last year. Not even close. Still as fragmented and scattered as ever most days, letting the flexibility of my schedule toss me around like a tissue in the wind. I'm thinking, in hindsight, that focus is truly a good word for me. But 2011 was not the year for that word and I to meet up, that's all... maybe somewhere down the road?

So, all that is to say, what's the plan for 2012? Well, I do have goals and such that I want to accomplish, but in an effort to really pare it down and go for the big win, I'm going to work on my word for 2012, and hope that the trickle-down effect of focusing on one thing big-time will permeate everything else.

And since I put my word for 2012 in my post title, there's not a lot of guessing:

No, I am not planning on becoming a ballerina. Or walking with books on my head to achieve some state of gracefulness--that would be a lost cause, I fear.

I landed on this word by way of a few others that didn't sit completely right--forgiveness, letting go, releasing... I couldn't arrive at exactly the right feel, until I hit on grace... accepting grace from God, and extending that grace to others and to myself. One of the more pivotal sermons I listened to this year from Timothy Keller was on the concept of forgiveness and grace, and he makes the bold assertion that until we have truly accepted grace from God, we will not be able to extend it elsewhere. And if we find that we cannot extend grace and forgiveness to others, it's because we have not accepted forgiveness and grace from God. Kinda stopped me in my tracks (I was running at the time, speaking of another resolution...). And it's been on my mind ever since.

I have always thought of myself as a forgiving person. Someone who doesn't harbor ill will or hold grudges. But I have found myself tested and retested this past decade, and have found myself wanting, sometimes seriously wanting, in the areas of grace and forgiveness, both for myself and toward others. I have struggled with moving forward in the face of continued pettiness, and what it means to still hold others accountable for their part while acting gracefully.

So, this year I am going to give it up to grace. And I'm hoping for a better outcome than I had with focus! I am going to look for books and sermons and inspiration that help me find ways to put grace-full living into a day-to-day walk.

I read a great post over at A Design So Vast that prompted my thinking in this area. She wrote about looking back over 2010 and what song, quote or poem would capture the year? In thinking about 2011, I arrived at:

We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God. -Thomas Merton

From peace to grace wasn't a hard leap for me, and in fact, I rewrote the quote above, using grace: We do not extend grace to others because we do not give grace to ourselves, and we do not give grace to ourselves because we have not accepted grace from God. Those words sum up how I want to move into 2012, where I want my compass pointed and how I want to live.

Other than that, I'm looking to get back to running, figure out yeasted breads once and for all, read more books that I already own (I've got a blog post already started for that one) and cook healthfully for my guys. Seems doable.

Wish me luck.

Any resolutions to share? Picked a word for the new year? I'd love to hear!


  1. I love your word for the year. Good choice.
    and the quote is right on!

    Here's is wishing you all the grace you need in 2012... and all the commitment to do the things that need doing this new year.

    Never fear to make big plans... and then compel events to conform to plan! That is my project management motto.

    Nice calligraphy.

  2. I guess you can tell I love your word :) Mine is "thrive". I'm ready to bloom where I'm planted. I'm writing about mine tomorrow... I'm trying not to get too caught up in speculating and I'm just working on catching the moments as they arise.

  3. My word is: Move. I will move down my path to get to where I really want to be. :) thanks, as always, for the inspiration.

  4. Beautiful...what a lovely word. Did you know the meaning of the name Ann is Grace?

    If we truly do take just one day as it comes to us (me) then it is easier to live with grace, both accepting it and dispensing it.

    The very best of wishes to you and yours in 2012.

  5. resolutions? not to judge. to enjoy food in moderation. bike, swim, walk...LOTS!

    My word? Trust.


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