A Word for 2013

less

adverb
1.
to a smaller extent, amount, or degree: less exact.
adjective
4.
smaller in size, amount, degree, etc.; not so large, great, or much: less money; less speed.
5.
lower in consideration, rank, or importance
6.
fewer

I've been whittled down over the years. Less health, less money, less happiness, less hair, less friendship, less community, less flavor and smell to the world. But I find myself on the upswing of the pendulum at the opening of 2013: cancer in remission, hair full and thick, job productive and paying well, new friendships springing up, church community welcoming with open arms. I don't want to grow bigger again. I don't want to expand. Not that I resent all the more God is sending our way - I am so grateful!
Losing hair by the handful in 2011
It is complacency and pride and excess I fear - I smell it on the winds of change, smell it leaking from my pores, smell it in our home and in my children. The warning words of John the Baptist ring loudly in my ears as I sense the return of greed, carelessness, and egotism oozing filthy from my soul:
John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ He must increase, but I must decrease.” He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:27-36 ESV exc.)
EVERYTHING flows from the Grace of God. I cannot claim any possession over it, responsibility for it, anything less than providential gifting of all these things to us, to me. The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it...(Ps. 24:1) Elaine Olsen writes of her own journey in Beyond Cancer's Scars:
I walk that fine line in this season of planting kingdom seeds, and I pray for a heart to know when my suffering voice is needed and when it is better kept silent. I must come to the end of myself. To arrive there, I've needed more than a lecture or a recommendation from others. I needed a hard humbling, a strong wrestling, an exhausted spirit, and a broken heart. I've needed my cancer to lead me there. I'm mostly there, but if I'm not careful to keep my heart in check, I'm capable of making more of my suffering than needs making or saying more about my trials than really needs saying. There is a "certain place" in all of our journeys where we, like Jacob, must stop running and rest our ambitions. A moment when we say, "Enough is enough!" and let go of yesterday's striving in order to take hold of tomorrow's promise - God's promise, a promise authored from the portals of heaven that pledges provision, protection, and preservation. When we are able to rest at that certain place, then we are able to rise in the morning with humbled perspective, knowing that the road ahead is paved with God's intentions, not ours. When we've slept in God's house and climbed God's ladder with our dreaming, then we awaken in the morning no longer full of ourselves, but rather, full of our Father. (p. 66)
I read this, and my heart leaps in recognition, "Yes! Yes, this is my struggle this year. This is the battle to be fought, and won with God's help. This is the cry of my heart!"

Less.

Less is more.

Less of me, more of Him.
More and more, deeper and deeper understanding of how much the small things matter. How precious are the relationships and how unnecessary the "things" of life.
Less striving and more resting. Let us not grow weary. Let us not waste our energy doing things in our own power and culled from our personal agendas, but let us draw from the deep well of the Spirit and let our feet be easily led onto His path.
The pills I swallowed in a single day in mid 2011
Less help from man, and more from God. Fewer pills to calm the soul, and more of the Balm of Gilead. Yes, God provided this season of healing, He provided the anti-depressants and the counselors. They have carried me so far from the most broken place of my life in 2011. But now I am ready to go further. I read in Jeremiah a passage that echoes loudly in the halls of my heart...
Prophets and priests and everyone in between twist words and doctor truth. My dear Daughter—broken, shattered, and yet they put on Band-Aids, saying, “It’s not so bad. You’ll be just fine.” The crops are in, the summer is over, but for us nothing’s changed. We’re still waiting to be rescued. Are there no healing ointments in Gilead? Isn’t there a doctor in the house? So why can’t something be done to heal and save? Then comes a message from the God-of-the-Angel-Armies: “Don’t let the wise brag of their wisdom. Don’t let heroes brag of their exploits. Don’t let the rich brag of their riches. If you brag, brag of this and this only: that you understand and know me. I’m God, and I act in loyal love. I do what’s right and set things right and fair, and delight in those who do the same things. These are my trademarks. Stay alert! It won’t be long now”—God’s Decree!—“when I will personally deal with everyone whose life is all outside but no inside..." (Jeremiah 8-9, The Message, exc.)
The prescription order sheet for my radiation in 2008
Yes, cancer ravaged. And oh, how we have suffered! But in all things, let me be wise about how I wear these diamonds He's made out of the carbon dust of the ashes of my broken body and heart. From the lecture I give on thyroid problems each semester, to the sharing of my story here and in person, let me hold my tongue when I hear His whisper in my soul. May He move me to share only what is appropriate and not boast in myself, but only in how suffering has helped me to know and understand Him.
The sign my children welcomed me home with after I miscarried Teddy in 2009
Less longing to be free, and more longing to serve my husband and my family. This year, let my heart melt every time my children run out onto the porch at my return, waving their banners of "Welcome Home, Mama!" Let me melt into the welcome-home kiss of the husband, let the counters be cleaner and the meals more on time. Less of me, my needs, wants, desires. More servitude.

An old blog banner from 2008 reminds me of the darkness of that season
Making "do" with patched jeans: Katy in 2008
As we walk into the harvest, the first season of plenty in so long, may we continue to "make do" with less. We don't need more. We are so rich in the things of this world already. So let this year be another year of saying NO to clutter, to excess, to careless spending. I believe He really intends to prosper us in the coming years with His provision financially. May we be wise with that provision. Help me control the finger that clicks "Purchase" on the internet and the hands that pull unnecessary things off the shelves at the store. Help me push away from the table when my belly is full even if my soul still feels empty. Help me be filled with more of you, and less of this world, Christ.


In this year of "less", let us welcome more of You into a barer home and a barer heart. Empty the halls, literally and figuratively, so that You can pour in the harvest. 
...to miss these three things-His house, His presence, His heaven-is to altogether miss the point of this life. God is the point of our lives: the sooner we get over the strong impressions we have of ourselves, the sooner we live as a people who can be entrusted with the story of the kingdom. Maybe this day you're stuck somewhere in between where you used to live and where you're heading. You're running fast and hard to get there, maybe even running away from the pain you thought you had left behind. Pain isn't usually the leaving-behind kind. Pain is a follower, and if pain is your portion, then I invite you to that certain place of God's allowing so that you might find rest beneath His night sky. What is birthed there just might be the hope that will carry you through to morning. Come; enter into your certain place. God has something to finish in you so that He can begin His new work through you. (Beyond Cancer's Scars, p. 67)
I say with Samuel, "Here am I, Lord. Speak, Lord, for I am listening." I say with John, "This is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines." (John 3:20 The Message)

Make this the year of LESS. And because of that, MORE. More of Your story, more of Your complete satisfaction, more of Your love pouring out through us. Make me - and all of us, this family - empty vessels through which You can pour out onto any thirsty ground that surrounds us.







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