What the New Year Needs Most

When I wake up terrified on the first morning of the New Year, he’s shaving in front of the mirror.

“Afraid? Why?” He shakes the razor over the sink.

The rain’s falling hard on the windows, like this washing away of everything before.

If you count each “Fear Not” in Scripture, there’s apparently 366 — one for every day of the year.” He grins from over the bathroom sink. “That means even on a leap year you have to have enough faith to jump into His arms — every day.

I find my purple sweater dress for church. I try to just breathe slow.

The expanse of a whole fresh year knocks at the door and I have no idea how to rise to it — to scared to answer it.








How to educate six kids and read aloud a few hundred books and wash 3 loads of laundry for about 314 days and get 1098 meals on the table this year? How to bite my tongue more and eat sugar less and read His Word daily and never fear ever and lead these half a dozen kids higher up and deeper into God and not slip in my own sin? A woman can know faith in her head and fear in her heart. I bear the stretchmarks of my 2011.

“I think I should have christened this coming 2012: The Year of No Fear.” I rummage for my boots, speak the words into the dark of the closet.

“What did you name it?” He knows how I need a word to give the year a theme, a focus

2008, I had named the year, “eucharisteo.” And 2009: “communion.” 2010 was the “the Year of Yes” And 2011: “The Year of Here.” Some of those years, they really needed do-overs.

“The Year of No Fear” — it has a ring to it, don’t you think? Maybe next year?” I find my boots.

Last January first, I’d gotten out of bed, found my boots, and I had no idea that the odd, idiosyncratic words I’d tapped out in the dark of the margin hours, my first feeble book, would make it’s way out into the world during the second week of January, 2011 to spend 22 weeks on the New York Times Best-seller’s list — that the words would be translated into six languages, that a reader in Iraq would pick up the book and give their heart to Jesus. That there would be raw exposure and critics and awkwardness and so much joy. And that in the final days of that same long year, One Thousand Gifts, those pages with a bit a of my heart for Him in them, would come back after it’s wandering year in the world, with a mark on it , a scar of it’s own— an award in Christianity Today’s Books of the Year.

Sometimes you don’t know you’re taking the first step through a door — until you’re already inside.

And no matter what room you step into — every space holds the possibility of this profound joy and deep pain and the two always mingle together. There is no other place to arrive at.

There’s only one address anyone lives at and it’s always a duplex: Joy and pain always co-habit every season of life.

Accept them both and keep company with the joy while the pain does it’s necessary renovations.

I can see it out the window — how the rain’s washing away the snowman out under the spruce trees, how the snow man tilts, careening to the left, and still hangs on.

Koinonia. That’s what I’d already prayed about naming my 2012: The Year of Koinonia.” I put on both boots.

“Because?” He slips his shirt of the hanger.

“It’s like ‘eucharisteo’ — I like Greek words.” I wink.

I tell him that koinonia, it’s Greek for union — “communion.” That I never stop needing that: communion with God every moment of the year. That ‘koinonia’ means too — “community, communicate.”

That I need community with the Body to stay attached to the head, Christ. That I need to to dig deep channels of communication between my God, my children, my husband. A three-fold cord — communion, community, communication — ‘koinonia’ may be this lifeline that careening days can hold on to.

And more — ‘koinonia,’ it means sharing. Sharing — breaking of oneself and giving oneself away. We only have what we hand away.

It means sharing out of brokenness to bring healing to community. We only are broken and this is beautiful: in brokenness, we are instruments in the hands of the Wounded Healer.

It means in our brokenness, we share in the sufferings of Christ, and this is communion. God, He calls His people to share —  not out out any sense of perfection —  but out of brokenness, patterning life after the God who broke Himself and gave. Would koinonia let me accept my brokenness instead of being terrified by it?

We drive to the chapel.

On the first day of the New Year, we sit with community and we bow our heads in the sanctuary.

The bread is passed from hand to hand. We share it. We break it. We remember. We sustain on the brokenness of Christ. Could I really not run from mine?

We pass the cup. I swallow down this grace I never get over and never want to get over and I close my eyes and Christ alone washes clean. Christ alone washes clean. We begin the new year the only way we can begin anything — with Communion with God. With brokenness.

Maybe in communion, in koinonia, I could embrace the broken parts of my life:

Embrace every scar as surgery — to make me more like His Son.

Embrace every pain as a peeling away of something — to make me know it in new ways, that He is enough.

Embrace every moment as a miracle — that it might never have been. That makes me wake to all as grace.

When we get home from chapel, sticky cereal bowls are stacked and teetering on the counter.

One small person leaves her shoes strewn in the hallway — right behind a pile of her coat and mitts.

I didn’t have time to make my bed. There’s nothing in the crockpot and seven people want to know what’s for lunch. I try to breathe slow and smile and remember what is the thing:

Contentment isn’t a state of organization, a weight on the scale, a state of better: better kids, better marriage, better health, better house. Contentment is never a matter of circumstances; contentment is always a state of communion — a daily embracing of God. A thankfulness for all the gifts — and moments and life, just as He gives it. Trying harder may only bring harder trials and contentment, it won’t be be found in the resolutions, but in the revolutions – in the turning round to God.

Communion, koinonia — could it make it too, my year of no fear?

My year of contentment, of eucharisteo, the year of yes, the year of here? Might koinonia give me my do-overs?

Where else could the dare to fully live be but at the table of communion, the table of eucharisteo, of thanksgiving? Is this ‘koinonia’ the deepening of ‘eucharisteo’, the deepening of thanksgiving, the dare to really live?

The first day of 2012, it begins with a Sabbath rest. I need it. It sets the tone. And in the first work hours of the year, I paint the wall behind the farm table with chalkboard paint. The rain, it’s turning to to snow outside.

The year and day dawn. I put the last touches on the year’s fresh slate. I commune with God in the quiet — what the New Year needs most.

And it’s right outside the window in the first light — the snowman finding this fearless strength right in the midst of the deepening cold.

It standing straighter, surer, stronger….




coming to Him in the communion of thanks, taking the dare to Fully Live: Counting more of the endless, One Thousand Gifts… (gifts #2898-#2912 )

the smiling snowman

this free audio book

a hug from an older son first thing at the first of the year

the snow that keeps falling thick and deep

the way it feels when I say it, the way the peace comes: ‘koinonia’

ringing in the New Year with my brother and the lovely lady he’s courting (!)

little Ema-bean smiling over her Mama’s shoulder at me two rows ahead during Sunday Service

the relentless grace of my Mama

the laying low grace of being on this list of Book of Year awards and the way God uses the broken and imperfect, odd and messy anyways

cleaning out the school baskets

organizing the shelves

the way it feels to smile in the midst of a bit of a mess

living eucharisteo to God that leads to koinonia with God

the book button


Free Printables : 3 Ways to Find Joy this week

1. A Year of Graces {A Free 12 Month Gratitude Calendar} Click to print here
Picnik collagePicnik collage


2. Count all His Gifts Wherever You Are: {One Thousand Gifts Free App}:

Click here for the free #1000gifts app : The gift of joy for a friend? Print this card about the free app for a friend Picnik collage

3. 1 Paper = 1 Week of Joy
Tuck 1 sheet of paper in a pocket & jot down 7 gifts for 7 days:
(perfect booklet to cultivate the habit of the joy hunt for kids)

(folding instructions for booklet here)

Picnik collage


Will you join us? And happily change everything by keeping your own crazy list of One Thousand Gifts?

Please, jump in, make your life about giving thanks to God! — Just add the direct URL to your specific 1000 gift list post… and if you join us, we humbly ask that you please help us find each other in our refrain of thanks by sharing the community’s graphic within your post.

Give thanks to the Lord! His Love Endures Forever!