One Word Update – Wrong Word for 2018?


By most people’s standards, I picked the wrong word for 2018.

For several years now, instead of making new year’s resolutions, I’ve practiced selecting one word to focus on each year. Actually, it’s not so much that I select the word, it’s more that it’s the word I believe God gives me.

As I posted this past January, my word for 2018 is gratitude.

My husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the beginning of 2017, and after chemotherapy, radiation, and more chemo, was declared to be in remission by October. When I selected gratitude as my word, we had not yet learned of the remission. Still, as we waited for my husband’s PET scan results, I knew the choice I had to make. To choose gratitude regardless of whether the cancer was still present. To hold on to thankfulness, no matter what.

Sadly, the cancer returned with a vengeance early this year. It metastasized, yielding a terminal prognosis. We are walking that journey today.

If gratitude is based solely on pleasant experiences, then I did, indeed, select the wrong word for 2018.

But despite the hurricane-force winds ripping through my circumstances, one thing will never change. Because of my relationship with Jesus Christ, I will always belong to my heavenly Father. And I have the comfort of knowing my husband has the same assurance.

We’ve been given the gift of eternal life. The incomparable gift of eternal life. A gift that will always eclipse our physical circumstances. It overshadows the worst diagnosis and outlasts the saddest prognosis. And it speaks hope into our brokenness.

So yes, gratitude is still my word for 2018. It’s still the right word for 2018. I’m grateful for the forty years of life my husband and I have shared together. Despite the terminal prognosis, I’m grateful for the remaining time—however limited—we do have, whether months, weeks or days. And I’m grateful for the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is upholding and strengthening us during circumstances that would otherwise be unbearable.

Surely that is reason enough to always be grateful. Grateful for what I have, regardless of how long it will last. Grateful for who I have, regardless of the soon-to-be fulfilled prognosis. And grateful for who I—and we—belong to, because He is holding us close and wrapping us in His love.

Did you choose “one word” for 2018?
Share your update…

Running Out of Time

Running Out of Time

We’re careful about how we spend our money. And we’re careful about exhausting our energy reserves. We’re also careful about how we spend our time…or are we?

When I worked in the corporate world, I taught training sessions on time management. The components of time management in the business world are well known. Prioritizing, planning, and staying organized are all habits of an efficient person. And all for the goal of saving time.

But what are we saving it for? What if time isn’t a thing to be managed? What if the purpose of time is something else?

All too often, I’ve fallen into the trap of viewing life as a rat race, filled with things I have to do and crowding out the things I want to do. It’s so easy to forget that we get to do life together. It’s a privilege. And a joy.

Yes, we have responsibilities and jobs. Obligations and chores. But what if those duties are simply components of our life that provide the resources and abilities to do the things we want? To be with the people we want to be with?

Jobs and careers consume us. So we come home exhausted, only to face a never-ending to-do list. Worse yet, studies have shown that we spend less than 2 minutes a day in meaningful communication with the ones we love. I don’t know about you, but most days I feel as if I’m chasing the clock. Constantly running out of time.

It’s so easy to lose balance. To forget that work isn’t meant to consume us. To forget how important the people in our life are to us.

Until they’re not there anymore.

Time is a limited resource. Once it’s spent, it’s gone. Never to be reused. Never to be recycled. And never to be recovered.

Enjoy the time you have with the people you love. Relish the moments. Create memories to savor. Memories that will keep those people emotionally close even when they’re no longer physically close.

So pay attention to the prompting of the Holy Spirit when He nudges you to make that phone call. Meet that person for coffee or lunch. Take time to listen—really listen—to your spouse or your children instead of turning up the volume on the television.

Gratitude is my “one word” for this year. Be grateful for what you have and who you have. Prioritize the important over the urgent. People over phones. Face-to-face interactions over Facebook posts.

People aren’t perfect. Life isn’t perfect. And time is limited. The people in your life won’t always be there. Be grateful for the time you have with them…while you still have them.

Packed for the Journey

packed for life

With our 40th wedding anniversary approaching in a few days, I thought you might enjoy this personal account from the day Russ and I were married…


“There’s no room!” I squeezed back the tears, but my husband of just a few hours stood resolute.

Romantic contemplations of “happily ever after” dissolved as I stared at the four open suitcases. How could we live happily ever after when we couldn’t even agree on how to pack for our honeymoon?

The wedding reception had passed in a blur of activity. We said our good-byes and prepared to leave for the romantic island of Bermuda. After a brief stop for our luggage, we would take a taxi to a hotel near the airport in preparation for an early morning flight. My life of wedded bliss had begun.

Then it happened. Our first argument as a married couple—married for less than eight hours.

“We’re not lugging five suitcases on a one-week trip.” Russ pointed to his own bag. “I fit everything into one suitcase. Why do you need four?”

I needed four because I was young (20 years old), had zero travel experience with no clue how to pack, and because I was a woman going on her honeymoon!

My luggage included three suitcases and a matching makeup case with a mirror inside the cover. (Do they even make those anymore?) Each case contained everything needed for our dreamy get-away, each article of clothing gently folded and packed to ensure it would emerge in pristine condition. And no, none of the suitcases had wheels.

“The makeup case doesn’t count. And I need everything in the other three suitcases.”

“Combine them. We can each carry two bags.” Russ looked at his watch. “And we need to hurry—we’ve got less than twenty minutes before the taxi arrives.”

I sat on the floor surrounded by the suitcases and looked at him. Instead of Prince Charming, I saw an ogre of fairy tale proportions. I had carefully chosen each garment and painstakingly nestled it in its place for our journey. Now he expected me to toss everything in one or two suitcases, and who cared if I looked like a wrinkled mess during the most important week of my life?

I began the arduous task of consolidating my luggage. Piece by piece, refolding, rerolling, and repacking. To my naïve surprise, I had more than enough space in the two remaining suitcases for everything I needed. And it turned out I even had enough room to pack souvenirs for the return trip.

Crisis averted. But it wasn’t really a crisis. Life would throw many events in our path much more serious than that. Still, I learned something that day (besides the fact that I was an absolutely clueless traveler).

Someone once said, “men are from Mars, women are from Venus.” And I love the book by Bill and Pam Farrel, Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti. We’re most definitely different!

My version? Men are “one suitcase” people, and women are “two suitcase” people. Our married life became much easier when we accepted our differences. So, 40 years later, I smile at hubby’s comments about the weight of my purse. Because when he asks, I’ll have a nail clipper, tissue, aspirin, his sunglasses, or any one of numerous other items he couldn’t fit in his pockets.

In the past 40 years, each day has opened to a new journey. Our life has taken a multitude of twists and turns, mostly good, and occasionally not-so-good. Still, regardless of our circumstances, my suitcases have always been packed as I travel this journey…the journey of a lifetime.

What differences have you noticed between you and
your spouse?

Describing Marriage


June is traditionally the month for weddings. All the planning and expenses come together for a grand beginning as two people join their lives together.

If only we put as much effort into preparing for the marriage as we do preparing for the wedding.

For most of my adult life, I’ve heard various definitions of marriage.

I’ve heard it described as an equal partnership. A 50-50 partnership. A contract between two consenting adults who agree to mingle their assets and their lives. And, if you happen to be a Hallmark movie fan, a guarantee of life lived happily ever after.

But after 40 years of marriage, I can say with assurance that marriage is not an equal partnership.

It is not 50-50.

It is not merely a contract.

And it is not a guarantee of life “happily ever after.”

So, what is marriage?

For the Christian, marriage is not simply the union of two people. In a Christian marriage, Christ is the center of the relationship, because Christ is the center of the life of each individual.

For the Christian, the goal of marriage is Christlikeness. Of course, that’s our goal in all of life, including each of our relationships. However, marriage, unlike other relationships, provides daily opportunities to become more like Christ by putting the other person’s needs before our own. Did I say daily? More like minute by minute, even in the best of marriages.

Marriage is also a covenant, not a contract. Contracts can be broken with the help of skilled attorneys. But consider the traditional marriage vows: “Till death do us part…so help me, God.” Regardless of what our culture tells us, marriage is meant to be a lifelong commitment.

Marriage is also a partnership. But not an equal one, nor a 50-50 one. Marriage is a dynamic relationship in which both parties give 100% (or more!). Depending on the circumstances, it may seem as if one person is giving more than the other. Still, life is in a constant state of change. Children. Physical health. Finances. Mental health. Career. But if each party is committed to give 100%, then even if the other does not or can not, Christ is still at work, reproducing His image in us.

Finally, marriage is an exercise in submission. The apostle Paul wrote, ““Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21 NIV). What does that look like? Yes, the wife is called to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22). But the husband is called to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25)—a sacrificial love that holds nothing back, including his own life.

Yes, marriage is a lot of things, but one more thing it’s not is easy. Not easy, but definitely worth it.

What advice would you give to a couple getting married today?

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