When You Don't Want Your Word {My #OneWord365}

by Andrea Kolber


Two years ago, I started identifying a word for the year with the #OneWord365 challenge. It’s been helpful because it acts like a thesis for my year, the main idea under which I place my goals. It’s become a focus of prayer and intention throughout some interesting seasons. I’m always amazed to see how God uses the word to grow me in ways I couldn’t have seen in the beginning.

I’ve considered my word for 2017 for a few weeks now. In the early morning and middle of night feeds for my son, I’ve chewed on it. I’ve watched other folks pick their words and felt a touch envious because I simply couldn’t settle on it. As I’ve wondered and prayed, I've felt like God gave me a vision for this year, and yet I doubted it. Honestly, I didn't want this word.

And in a way, isn't that the point?

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Just the other morning, I woke up and felt so optimistic about the day. Instead of remembering I have a 3 week old baby; I attempted to clean my house, complete too many projects, create time for writing, run a ton of errands, and think I would have energy for even more later in the day.

Bless my heart.

Only then I started to feel the settling of my word:

Small.

This is the year of small for me. This is the year I continue to give myself permission to not do it all. It's not like I ever had the ability to do it all; it’s that I tried.

And so, I feel the call to a season of less not more. It's a time where I pay attention to my people and my small calling in order to love better and flourish. I've decided to say no to the frustration and energy wasted from banging my proverbial head against the wall when I attempt to live outside of what is mine.

This is my story: I am an over responsible, rigid, perfectionistic, prone to depression and anxiety person who has healed by miles but still has a marathon to go. So while I've learned how to accept my limits in many senses, a huge life transition like a newborn brings me back to my start. So again, I am learning how I need to stay small, in the best sense of the word. In the sense that I honor my make up and limits and actually live further into my calling. When I honor how deeply I need Jesus and others I am better. When I accept some days I will literally accomplish almost nothing—at least according to productivity standards--I'm actually more life giving and loving.

** 

Even now as I type this, a part of me wants a “better” word. I want something a little more glamorous. But here we are.

As I look 2017 in the eye, I find a core need is to let go of the desire to be finished, perfected and accomplished. I know someday when I look Jesus face to face, then I'll be done. Until then, I want to look at the part of myself still asking for too much and say, “sorry.” Perfection doesn’t make me valuable, my identity as beloved does.

This is my calling for the year, to be small, to steward my tiny calling well and to live out of my truest identity.  


My Most Clicked Posts of 2016

by Andrea Kolber


Well, hello!

I haven’t been around here much as I’ve finished up my pregnancy and then welcomed our newborn son a few weeks ago. But, I love a good round up post for the year. With that in mind, I've come out of the newborn haze for a minute to compile my most read blogs of 2016. 

I'd be honored if you'd give it a read, share it, or shoot me a comment and tell me what moves you. Enjoy!  

5. 5 Ways to be Kind to Yourself in the Middle of the Storm

I love that this is in my top five posts for the year because who didn’t have a tough 2016, at least in some respect? But in all seriousness, much of what I wrote here stems from personal experience as well as teaching clients how to care for themselves through difficult situations. I hope it encourages you too! 

4. A Letter to Those Who Wait

This particular post is so dear to my heart. Last year, before I decided to discuss our struggle with infertility I wrote this post for the Glorious Table. It continues to be a favorite of mine as it points to God's faithfulness in the middle of whatever we long for. 

3. In the Meantime: Thoughts on grieving WEll

For our family, 2016 was a beautiful year, but also a rollercoaster. This post on grief came from my own reflections on grieving our miscarriage. Through the year I was honored and blessed as folks gave me feedback on ways it touched them and encouraged them through their pain. 

2. In Which Your Everyday Messy Life is Beautiful

As a recovering perfectionist one of the most difficult lessons I continue to learn and re-learn is engaging the messiness of life and letting it be what it is. The intersection of beauty and chaos has become something I love to write about. Primarily because it's a space I find God speaks to me and grows me. This post is all about learning this lesson in a deeper way. 

1. Learning to Celebrate in the Middle of Pain

Finally, this blog for Huffington Post was my most read of the year. In it I share about holding the joy of my daughter's life in one hand and the pain of losing a baby in the other. Even still, this piece moves me because of the way it shaped and grew our year. 

 

What about you? What was your favorite post this year? I'd love to know! 


Blessings to you in the coming year, and thanks for reading! 

Aundi


If Your Heart is a Bit Broken This Christmas {Guest Post for the Glorious Table}

by Andrea Kolber


I'm so honored to be over at the Glorious Table today.

But first, a bit of an update. As many of you know we have been awaiting our Christmas baby. Our little man arrived a bit early and in a hurry last Wednesday, December 7th. His name is Jude Christopher and he weighed in at 6lbs 10oz. Jude and I are doing well and we're all busy transitioning to a family of four as we go through the early haze of newborn days. 

Blessings to you as we all continue to await our coming Jesus.


“Come, Thou long expected Jesus

Born to set Thy people free:

From our fears and sins release us,

Let us find our rest in Thee.”

– Charles Wesley

I tend to have big expectations.

I’ve spent the last thirty-three years learning how to temper those expectations with reality. This can be a beautiful piece of my personality, in that I am often considering how things could be better or recognizing the small tug on my heart—questioning if we’re missing something. Holidays are no different.

I have spent many a Christmas feeling a touch let down, a bit sad—sometimes heartbroken—for multiple reasons. There was the year I was nine. I wanted a new bike badly, but only my brother received one. I cried secretly. Later on, my mom held me, and I could see no one was trying to exclude me. I surely felt the heartbreak then, although for a superficial reason.

There were the years my parents fought constantly during the weeks leading up to Christmas, and the tension felt unbearable. I wished I could fix it for our family. I wanted desperately for peace to exist in our house, but it didn’t come–at least not real peace. Later, there were the Christmases after the divorce when it seemed we were all a bit numb, not quite sure what to do with our family in pieces.

Then there was the Christmas, during my freshman year in college, when I learned a dear friend from high school died in a car accident. The grief nearly split me. I spent Christmas day in shock, which later turned to anger.

Click here to keep reading over at the Glorious Table. 


Waiting for a Miracle {on Finding Advent Hope}

by Andrea Kolber


Growing up in the Catholic tradition, I learned advent was rich with meaning and longing. I remember how the time between the initial advent mass and Christmas Eve felt like a sacred eternity. One year, I decided I would stick it out and make it to midnight mass with my dad. When the hour finally rolled around I was full with food and heavy with exhaustion. I barely remember the service, but I do remember the sense of beauty there.

While I no longer identify as a Catholic, I have always connected with the significance infused in this season. Perhaps, as a person who frequently searches and yearns for meaning, I find goodness in honoring the wait as much as the arrival of Jesus. I see a metaphor for our lives here on earth. We are the “already but not yet” people. Jesus came to us over 2000 years ago, and brought his kingdom. And though his work has absolutely begun, it’s not yet finished. And so we wait, still, for the fullness of his arrival.

**

So while advent has always been sacred for me, this year feels especially precious. Even now as I write, we are waiting for the arrival of our own miracle due on Christmas Day. We are expecting a baby boy; one we’ve longed and dreamed about for several years now.

Last year, a few weeks before Christmas, we found out I was pregnant with another deeply hoped for baby. We went through Christmas expectant for what was to come. My perceptive four-year old daughter knew something was happening and we shared with her our exciting news. Then January brought heartache and difficulty, as we found the baby in my belly didn’t seem to be growing. The entire month of January was filled with heavy waiting. A few days after my daughter’s birthday I had a D&C surgery because we finally received confirmation our baby wouldn’t be born on this earth. Prior to this news though, I felt God had given me a verse to meditate on and anchor me:  

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45 ESV).

This particular verse comes from the interaction between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth (the mother of John the Baptist). Mary had just found out she was pregnant via Immaculate Conception, and went to see her cousin. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit during her interaction and she knew Mary carried the Messiah. Elizabeth spoke these words to Mary, honoring Mary’s faith in God’s ability to do what he’d promised (Luke 1:26-45).

All through January, while we waited for news, I clung to this verse. And then when I knew our baby wouldn’t live, I felt confused and sad. I wondered why God had given me this particular verse? As I grieved the loss, and wept deeply for what would never be, I tucked these words in my heart and kept it written on my bathroom mirror. If for nothing else, this would be one of the thousands of questions I would have for God when I sat before him someday—why did he give me this hope in the midst of such heartache?

Then, just months later, I found I was pregnant again. For us, this felt astounding. Only a year before a doctor had told us our chances of conceiving on our own was about 1%. This meant the baby we had lost had been a miracle too. Surely, we wouldn’t keep receiving miracles?

But we did, along with the support of modern medicine; we did receive another miracle in the form of a new life.

**

As I’ve reflected on this year, after many breaths and moments and tears and pauses—I see God’s hand of faithfulness in my waiting. Not because I’m finally receiving the longing of my heart, but because I realize again how he loves us and blesses not according to our timeline or expectation but according to his.

I also think of Mary, waiting for her son Jesus. It seems Mary knew goodness and hope was growing in her, but I do wonder if she knew just how much the life inside of her mattered? I wonder when she was with Elizabeth, had she just begun to see a glimpse of what was to come? And yet all the while, she trusted God would fulfill his promise in the best possible way.

Advent in all its bittersweet beauty represents this blossoming hope of what is to come. We know in part, here on earth, how Jesus saves and loves us. But still, we continue to wait in faith knowing there will be a day when he will bring our hope to the fullest completion. For now, may we be like Mary, honoring what we know and expectant of what is to come.