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…………………………… Order.
…………………………… Offering.
…………………………… Opportunities.

…the “C” set pressed in on me with a crushing sense of oppression and lostness,
while the “O” set is opening up a greater sense of clarity and hope.

Not so long ago, a friend of mine shared that for many years she has been given a focus word for each year. She had quite the collection of words, representing areas of opportunities, challenges, and growth. I’ve come to the conclusion she must be a quicker learner than I am.

As I reflect on the past several years, I would have to say my focus words extend well beyond a single year. For the past couple of years (at least), my focus word has been “presence” – and the challenge to know presence has been front and center in every area of my life.

I have been challenged to recognize and revel in God’s Presence in my life and to learn to bring my whole self present before Him.

I have been learning what it means to be present with myself and to be able to fully live in the presence of my true self.

I am growing in my own ability to be present with others and to not lose my own presence in the exchange.

It has taken a few years, but I am beginning to feel securely rooted in the fertile soil of presence. This is where the friendships, networks, and finding boundaries comes into play. One of the areas of desired growth identified through my Practicum* facilitator is for me to learn more about my self as a separate, unique person. Perhaps you are wondering why on earth I would need to “learn” that. Well, the truth is, I am a very social, other-focused, community-oriented, “we” kind of girl. I didn’t realize it till recently, but it has been very difficult for me to define myself apart from the significant people in my life.

Did you know, it is very difficult to be fully present anywhere with anyone if you are scattered far and wide because your identity is so wrapped up in being identified with others? Go figure! I think I may actually be onto something here!

This growing understanding is a process. I am grateful to be in process. And I am excited to see what happens as I continue to be in the process of greater application of becoming more fully ME!
…To be ME in friendships… present and active and free to let us each express the unique nature and characteristics God created us to display to the world around us.
…To be ME in the networks of my life… social, professional, spiritual, personal – confident that I am uniquely equipped to both offer and receive life without losing myself or requiring anyone else to provide my motivation.
…To be ME within the boundaries of who God created me to be, and to be able to fully claim the wonders of my inheritance** and everything that comes with it!

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
…Psalm 16:6 ESV

And so, as the year 2011 draws to a close, I am grateful to be able to reflect back and see my own personal growth in PRESENCE. I am looking forward to discovering the fruit that will come as a result of God’s amazing and gracious husbandry in my life. I have been pruned, watered, had my soil turned over and weeded and plowed where necessary. His tender, loving care will produce fruit; it is His promise to each of us.

I hope your 2011 has been one of a deeper sense of His Presence in every detail. And here’s to 2012 – a year of UNITY.

*Practicum is one of my classes at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. Best described as a practical learning of what it means to be present with others, designed with counseling in mind, for both psychological and spiritual counseling.
**I am thinking in particular of inheritance in the same context that Beth Moore presents in her study, “The Inheritance” – which I highly recommend!