Live Given {2017 One Word} {A Giveaway!}

When the new year approaches, most of us can’t help ourselves: we reflect on what has been and look forward to what might be. Me included. I love setting up my planner and writing in a new journal. 

But, this year’s been different. Little did I know, God began moving me toward the new year in August…

I am driving as my friend checks her email…

“I’ve not been reading Ann Voskamp’s blog lately, but listen to the one I just opened,” she says.

The summer I turned 40 — I felt a whole new kind of broken. Turns out what can happen when you’re halfway through your life, you wonder if you’ve found a truly meaningful way through your life?

What can happen is you would give nearly everything for more time just to get more right, less wrong. You can change — change into someone who’s begun embracing a love so large it broke her heart all over again in a thousand aching places, a woman who surprises you by longing to meet the world’s suffering with her own, because she knows that wounds can heal wounds.  

You can find out your heart is exploding and love and suffering are kin in ways we may not want to admit.

Honestly, what happened is — I didn’t quite know the way to put all these broken pieces back into place. And maybe that was the point?

Maybe — maybe instead of trying to put all the broken pieces of your life together again — maybe there’s deeper peace in reaching out to give those broken pieces away?

That’s what I had done. Instead of trying to put the pieces of my brokenness back together again, I began to give the pieces of my broken heart away though I didn’t know how, and I didn’t often want to even—didn’t even know what it truly meant. And I got it all wrong—in countless ways.

As I sat in the summer of age 40, these were my questions too. I’d like more time to get less wrong and more right. I mourn the relationships left in shambles. And in the midst of this, I find myself feeling just Ann described: completely broken for this world, longing to meet the world’s suffering with my own.

I wouldn’t read Ann’s book until October, but these words lingered…the question she asks became the one I ask:

What do you do with this one broken heart? This one broken life?

Because I did NOT want another program, diet plan, or Bible study. Not another self-help, how-to-get-better book. Instead of feeling anxious about what to do or follow next, I wanted peace…Jesus.

It sounds so simple. If I were reading this, I might say, “Oh goodness, the Jesus card.” {Eye roll.}

But, what God began in my heart with an August blog post, He continued in so many ways. A retreat in August when God spoke Isaiah 58 to me. When He showed me that silence and Sabbath are gifts. A prayer time in Honduras when a missionary humbly shared the futility of striving and list making and worrying. Want more Jesus, she said. Just follow after Him; He takes care of the rest.

And then the book from the blog post arrives on my doorstep in early October: The Broken Way. Page after page – highlighted, underlined, noted, and cross referenced with His word. A message resonating so deeply in my heart that I can barely speak of it…

For God so loves that He gave…Is there any word more power than giving? Thanksgiving. Forgiving. Care-giving. Life-giving. Everything that matters in living comes down to giving. (p. 67)

Our loves are formed by our daily habits. Our loves are formed by our daily liturgies. We are made into what we make habits…The self is ultimately never really sacrificed in giving, but our real self is ultimately found. In the sacrificial giving of ourselves, we give ourselves back our real selves, the self we were made to be – blessed to bless, given to givenness, loved to love…

Jesus said, ‘Whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

Jesus risked himself on me. How can I not risk my life on you? You may not love me back. You may humble me, humiliate me, reject me, shatter my heart, and drive the shards into my soul – but this is not the part that matters…What matters most is not if our love makes other people change, but that in loving, we change. What matters is that in the sacrificing to love someone, we become more like Someone…

I am what I love and I will love like Jesus, because of Jesus, through the strength of Jesus. I will love when I’m not loved back. I will love when I’m hurt and disappointed and betrayed and inconvenienced and rejected. I simply will love, no expectations, no conditions, no demands. Love is not always agreement with someone, but it always sacrifice for someone…

Love defies logic and keeps on loving when it makes no sense because that is that love does.

Giving away the heart – heals the heart. (pgs. 118-120)

As I read these words, chapter after chapter, one phrase becomes God’s answer to every prayer I pray: Live Given.

Losing weight, saving money, reconciling relationships, extending forgiveness, embracing silence and Sabbath, serving His people…the answer to each prayer? Live Given.

Give away the extra food and money saved. Give away gifts and money each month for His glory. Give away your comfort; be inconvenienced; placed others before self; give away time on self for time with Me. Give away your abilities and talents and time to serve others.

Live a life given away for Me.

So, I wrote my kiddos a Christmas poem and a letter. From Haiti to Honduras to Cambodia to Syria; to our church and community; to one another –  it’s our year to Live Given.

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And when I doubt and think, “what do I have to give? As a single mom with a tight budget and busy schedule, what can I “afford” to give away? How will this work?”

God sends a reminder through my pastor’s wife through one verse: The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing. Psalm 23:1

Sarah, you lack nothing. In me, you already have the abundance necessary to live given.

So, I want to begin 2017 with giving! Thanks to Blog About, I have a copy of The Broken Way and The Broken Way Bible study and DVD to give away! You can enter by commenting on this blog, commenting on the Facebook post, or sharing this post on Facebook. I’d love to hear your “theme” or “one word” for 2017!

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Happy New Year!


Thanks to Stephanie Alton from Blog About and Tara Brown from Givingtons for coordinating the purchase of 144 The Broken Way books for missionaries living and serving in Honduras. Without you, we would have never been able to deliver those books in time.

 

Comments

  1. You nailed me. I cried as I read your blog this morning. I sat in my rocking chair on my back porch watching squirrels scamper to the feeder while I drank my first cup of coffee. This has been a rough year for me personally. I have a health issue , I’m not near old friends and family and I have some struggles I am wrestling with in my life. My grandson has to have some therapy. He may be autistic and I’m feeling lost in dealing with this.
    My 2017 theme is Breathe and Listen. I know God is there and will guide me in the directions I need to go.
    Bless you dear friend for enlightening me on my spiritual journey. Your messages are heartwarming and the light I need at times.
    I wish you all a Happy New Year that’s blessed.

    • I love that your word is Breathe…after all, you were the one who taught me to Breathe. I still to this day picture you at your desk – me beside you – in that deconstructed classroom – you telling me to breathe – that all would be well. Know that I’ll be praying for your grandson and your health. I admire you so very much; you’ll always be a mentor to me! Happy New Year!

  2. Marla Taviano says:

    I want to read this sooooo badly, but not on my Kindle, so hoping someone can bring me a copy soon. Love you, friend!

  3. I love your message here! So beautiful!
    I’d also love you win this DVD and study course!
    Blessings!
    (I’m visiting from the link up from H*W)

  4. My one theme for 2017 is going to be “loved.” I’m great at loving others and convincing them that God loves them, but I am not very good at letting myself be loved – by others or by God. So I’m working on my heart this year, or rather, letting God work on it.

    • Love that, Aidan. Ann speaks a bit to this in The Broken Way. She notes how she is able to love, but can’t accept love easily. I pray much “love” over your world in 2017!

  5. I was praying on Christmas about what I needed most in my life … and as I watched our church Podcast (from here in Honduras) …my prayer was answered through the message! Let God LOVE you !!! I know He does, but believe He does. Ponder that He has, does and will continue to do so. Regardless how well I love others. He has no conditions on me, why do I have such conditions on myself? If I had to choose a word for 2017 I would say BELIEVE. I will choose to believe one day at a time that God loves me.

    • Thanks so much for sharing, TJ! I love hearing stories about God showing up in these small moments…He DOES love you so very much. I look forward to hearing how BELIEVE is manifested in your life in 2017!

  6. Robin Anderson says:

    Sarah I can’t tell you how much I needed that this morning!! I have been struggling for quite a while and your words this morning gave me such peace and hope. Thank you!!!

    • You’re welcome, friend! I know this has been a very hard season for you. Praying peace and hope over your 2017!

  7. I am reading The Broken Way slowly and deliberately with lots of notes in the margin. I resonate with it like you! Grateful to find another Hope*writer and Ann fan. My One Word for 2017 is Behold!

    • Nice to meet you, Dorina! I am glad you stopped over from Hope Writers. And I LOVE your One Word. I researched the word Behold as part of a conference theme last year. It’s so interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  8. A beautiful word for your year and I look forward to how the Lord gives through your family.

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