|Me, Elliot & Ev (what joys they are to my heart) at Butterfly World on our Family Summer Vacation|
The most sacred place dwells within our heart, where dreams are born & secrets sleep, a mystical refuge of darkness & light, fear & conquest, adventure & discovery, challenge & transformation.
Our heart speaks for our soul every moment while we are alive. Listen... as the whispering beat repeats: be...gin, be...gin, be...gin. It's really that simple.
Just begin... again.
It was January 2004, my sophomore year of college, when my dad called each of us kids individually to talk with him. No warning. I figured he liked to shroud these sorts of encounters in mystery, which always made me anxious. Like most people, we did not have family meetings because things were going well and we just wanted to sit down and talk about how grateful we were for each other, eat lollipops and put roses in our hair. Nope. We had family meetings because something was wrong and it needed to be fixed.
However, this was different. This was an occasion that made a mark on my spirit and life and made me feel incredibly loved, especially as I think about it now. During our time together my dad shared that each year he would personally and privately reflect on his own character and pick three character qualities to work on in the coming year. (He used the list developed by the Character Training Institute, found here) That year he had also reflected on each of his children and three character qualities he saw could be developed in them. He wrote those on a piece of paper, along with some Bible verses to memorize and meditate on. We sat and talked about different practical ways that these underdeveloped areas could become stronger.
I don't know if my dad thought this was very effective because we never did it again as a family, but I asked for my own copy of the little Seven Leadership Perspectives card and their character qualities. He gave one to me and I still have it in my Bible, next to my Lifting My Husband through Prayer card.
Each year, now I go through my own reflection time, thinking about last year and the year ahead. This year only one of my "character resolutions" comes directly from my card, and I'm trying my hand at creating the other two. Here they are...
Endurance vs. Giving Up
The inward strength to withstand stress and do my best.
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."
1 Peter 5:8-10
Gracefulness vs. Carelessness
Having beauty of form, composition, movement, or expression in daily words and actions.
"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her househol and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her."
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."
1 Peter 3:3-4
Courage vs. Cowardice
The ability to confront fear, pain, risk/danger, uncertainty, or intimidation and act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, or discouragement.
"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life so that you and your children may live, and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life."
And so I begin again! Though my heart is more fearful than inspired, my body is tired and my mind is dull, that is often the way things have to be in the beginning for transformation to actually take place.
I am grateful for 2011 and the love and blessing it has already brought, and I look forward with hope to what it will bring in the days to come.