That Time I Bought a Condo

At the beginning of this year, I picked one word I was supposed to focus on, one word to to provide a sort of framing and direction for the year. I attended an event at my church where we painted or decorated little canvases showcasing our word, meant to be a reminder we could hang somewhere we’d see it often so we would look for it and be aware of the way that theme was playing out in our lives. For the first few weeks, I did look back at it often and tried to seek it out in my daily life, but I never found a great place to put that little canvas in my room. After a while, I mostly forgot about it. It sat on my desk, more and more layers of papers and receipts and random paraphernalia collecting on top of it.

Until, finally, I unearthed it. I hadn’t forgotten my word, not in a large sense, but I had forgotten to let it soak into my everyday–which is a bit funny, considering my word is dwell. When I chose it, I wrote:All at once a command, a reminder, and a promise. It feels gentle though, and kind. Something I can manage.”

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And while in one sense it felt manageable, in another sense it felt so very, very far off. The spiritual component, of seeking to do more dwelling with God while also more fully internalizing the mysterious beauty of him already dwelling in me, seemed doable. That was a space I had been before, and while it had been a while, I could see there being a path back. In the physical sense though, I had no idea what dwell would mean for me in 2016. As a young, unmarried adult, housing had been complicated for years and there seemed to be no end to that in sight. Since graduating from high school, I hadn’t lived in the same place for longer than 14 months. For someone who often struggles with change and doesn’t do well with uncertainty, it had become incredibly taxing. To dwell in a physical sense seemed nearly impossible.

Yet, when I finally found my little canvas again, I did so with a sigh of deep, deep gratefulness. Because I found it when I was starting to pack to move into a place of my condo, a condo I bought, a home that will be mine for the next while and hopefully won’t cease to be mine until I decide otherwise. A place where I am throwing away the boxes because I likely won’t need them again in a year, a place where I am thinking of affixing shelves to walls instead of decorations hung up with poster putty. For the first time, I changed my permanent address to something other than my parent’s house. I’ve been in my new place for a few weeks now, and it is slowly beginning to feel real, to feel like mine.

It also feels like such an immense gift.

Through the whole process of looking at condos, making an offer, getting finances squared away once my offer had been accepted, having the inspection done, and waiting to hear that everything had gone as it was supposed to, I kept expecting something to go wrong. Being the largest decision of my life, and one I both had and got to make completely on my own, I prayed furiously through the whole process, begging God for something to go wrong if this was not supposed to be my place. People talk about the excitement of buying a house, but they rarely talk about the sheer terror that accompanies it. But everything fell into place. I signed a stack of papers, and suddenly, I owned a condo.

Dwell had come true in the way I least expected it to.

Now, my little dwell canvas lives on my fridge (I have a fridge) in my kitchen (I have a kitchen) in my condo (I have a condo). 2016 is far from over, and that word may take on depths of more meaning in the coming months. But already, it’s a reminder to not only look forward to what is to come, but also to know that God is at work even when we forget he is.  

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. If you have a one word for 2016, how have you seen it shape your year so far?

One Word 365

The only time a New Year’s resolution has ever “stuck” for me is the year I resolved to write every single day–that one has turned into a habit I’ve continued for over five years. Most of the time, resolutions seem too overwhelming to commit to. There are certainly changes I could stand to make in my life, but trying to figure out this Adulthood and Personhood thing feels like quite enough most of the time.

This year though, my church did a One Word event for women. I was familiar with the concept of one word, as I’ve seen many tweets and blog posts about it over the past few years, and the concept intrigued me. As explained by the #OneWord365 website, the idea is thus:

Choose just one word.

One word you can focus on every day, all year long… One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.

It will take intentionality and commitment, but if you let it, your one word will shape not only your year, but also you. It will become the compass that directs your decisions and guides your steps.

Discover the big impact one word can make.

The complication then becomes, of course, choosing a word.

When I asked People of the Internet for guidance on how to select my word, one of the first responses was, “Just pray about it.” In theory, that sounds great–except my difficulty with prayer is well documented. I did pray about it, and heard…nothing. God doesn’t work like that for me, at least not right now and not in my recent history.

So after a while I just picked two words that felt fitting, and over time, neither felt right anymore–except a new word came to mind, bringing in aspects of each of the original ones.

 

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All at once a command, a reminder, and a promise. It feels gentle though, and kind. Something I can manage. I can’t even think of it with proper capitalization, because there’s something about that capital “D” that feels too harsh for it. So dwell.

That’s my word.

Initially, I took it mostly for myself–a reminder to dwell, to simply sit, be with, and enjoy God–but it’s actually a two-sided reminder. Over and over again in the Bible, God is dwelling with his people. They remain in him, and he remains with them.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. ~Psalm 90:1

Spending time with God is not something I have excelled of lately, but this year, I hope to relearn what it means to dwell with God. Whether I “succeed” at doing so or not, I can be continually reminded that God is already with me. I have not, and can not, drive him away with how much or little time I spend with him. His affection for me is not conditional on me dwelling with him, for he already dwells in me. And oh, do I need that reminder.

As much as dwell is a spiritual reminder, there’s also a physical component to the word. For several years, housing has been a complicated issue for me, and it continues to be so. While I hope 2016 will hold a longer-term solution to that, the reality is that I don’t know. In the meantime though, I can seek to be content and grateful for wherever I am physically dwelling, even if it’s not what I would term to be ideal. There is action in the word dwell too though, so my contentment doesn’t have to be the idle kind–I can, and will be, actively working towards something new.

 

Having never picked One Word before, I have no idea what to expect. It’s a little exciting and a little scary. Maybe this One Word won’t seem to come into play much at all, or maybe it will suddenly pop up everywhere and color everything.

 

dwell

 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. Did you pick a word for 2016? Will you tell me about it?

3 Things from 2015 I’m Taking Into 2016

For several years now, I’ve written in a notebook almost every single day. Many times it’s an account of what I did that day along with thoughts and feelings about those events. Other times they’re deep spiritual thoughts, or frustration over a relationship that feels difficult, or angst over a life situation. Bits and pieces of my life, recounted on some sheets of paper bound together.2016

Looking back at this past year, it’s tempting for me to get stuck in the past few months, which haven’t been the easiest time of my life. Except to let those be the ones to color my perception of the entire year would be inaccurate, and, in a way, unfair. As I looked back through my daily writings from 2015, I saw difficulty, certainly—sadness over changing relationships, frustration over uncertainty, dismay over things gone awry—but I also saw so many moments of delight, good memories made, and perhaps most importantly, how even the unexpected pieces of life can have positive aspects to them. As I head into 2016, while there are things from 2015 I am glad to leave behind me, there are at least three I’d like to take with me as well.

  • The people we surround ourselves with have incredible power to shape our lives, in ways good, bad, ugly, and otherwise. This past year has brought new people into my life and added new depth, and sometimes complexity, to many of my existing relationships. For the most part, I’ve managed to find truly wonderful people that add so much to my life. As much as I’d love to cling to all these good people and keep them in my lives for as long as possible, I also recognize there’s a measure of impossibility to that, so I have to simply be grateful for the time we do have in each other’s lives. I don’t think I will ever be good at this part, but I am trying to be better at the thankfulness part.
  • Asking for help is hard, but okay. Just as people are in our lives to add joy, richness, and knowledge, they are also available to lend support. I like to think of myself a somewhat self-sufficient person, and I never want my family or friends to feel like I’m using them or don’t appreciate them, so asking for help does not come naturally to me. No one is capable of going through life completely on their own, all the time though, so sometimes the wisest thing we can do is know when it’s time to ask for help. This is something I’m only just beginning to see, and it will take me into 2016 and likely far beyond to fully grasp its importance.
  • “Never” and “Always” statements are quite often dangerous. To say we’ll always do this or never do that is often a refusal to acknowledge change. Life happens, often in very unpredictable ways. Sometimes rules have to be rewritten based on new information. We usually can’t see the future when we make a decision, so we make the best decision we can in that moment, with the information we have, and sometimes that decision lands us in a spot that we couldn’t have known about before. There are moral “always” and “nevers” I think are good to cling to, but many others that need to be tossed.

If it wasn’t for my habit of writing every day, I’m not sure I’d be able to sort through the haze of these past few months to identify these tangible takeaways that have threaded themselves through the entire year. While 2015 Brianna may not have enjoyed every moment of it, 2016 Brianna can learn from these insights and take them into the new year and beyond.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What have you learned in 2015 that you’ll take into 2016?

Looking for the New Things

As one often does at the beginning of a new year, I’ve been thinking about what 2015 may hold for me. Last year around this time I wrote myself a letter for the end of 2014, and while I’ve certainly gone some places and done some things in the last 365 days, much of that letter still rings true. My biggest hope for 2014 did not come to be, as is evidenced by the slew of singleness posts that made my list of top ones.

And hope? Well, I find that hope is often slippery. Easy to grasp for a moment, perhaps, but trickier to grab onto for the long haul.

Which is the beauty of a new year, I suppose. Learning to write a different number–2015–is an unavoidable reminder that something new has come. And if there can be new years, there can certainly be renewed hope–right?

I came across Isaiah 43:18-19 the other day, and I found the words so fitting I was inspired to attempt some artwork for my wall.

Behold, I am doing a new thing. 

I love the boldness of BeholdIt is booming, rich, inviting–see here, look, pay attention. You don’t want to miss this.

There is so much hope laced in those verses, hope I desperately want to cling to and claim for myself. I don’t know what that “new thing” might look like, though I certainly have my list of suggestions for God–but my biggest hope is that I have the eyes to recognize the newness even if it doesn’t look like I thought it would.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What new things are you looking for this year?