Thursday, December 31, 2020

Authenticity

The past few weeks have been incredibly hectic. My granddaughter’s first birthday (complete with birthday party), Christmas, two visits from my son and his family, and getting ready to move to a different community in early January, along with my normal tasks and responsibilities, have kept me very busy.


When I could find a few minutes here and there, I turned my attention to selecting my “one word” for 2021. 


As I explained in an earlier post (Just One Word), my “one word” represents what I hoped to develop or cultivate in my life in the coming year. The entire year. 


I had to choose just the right word.


I brainstormed a list Thanksgiving weekend and kept it close at hand in my bullet journal. Over the following weeks, I added some words and marked through others. I journaled and doodled and prayed. 


And finally, last Wednesday, I had my word. 


Authenticity


I was going to share my word here on the blog last Thursday, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. 


You see, every time someone I know or a character in a book I’m reading says that they realized one day when their children had grown that they no longer knew who they were, I cringe. I’m not very philosophical, and the whole “finding who I am" or "rediscovering who was before I was a wife/husband and parent” sounds so . . . well, cliched, that I felt somewhat hypocritical explaining why I chose authenticity as my focus in 2021.


I tried — quite hard, actually — to come up with another word. 


But I simply could not walk away from that word. Authenticity.


And then I realized something that made it crystal clear that this is the right word for me.


It’s not that I “don’t know who I am”.  I know exactly who I am. 


But all too often, my choices, actions, speech, activities, and so on do not reflect who or what I claim — and know myself — to be.


I haven't deliberately chosen to be inauthentic.

 

It’s just that for far too long I haven’t made the effort to be intentional in what I say, think, and do.


And that is something I want to rectify in 2021.


I don’t know where this journey toward intentional authenticity will lead me; I don’t know what the consequences of authenticity will be. 


But I’m excited at the prospect of finding out.

 

As you look ahead to 2021, what do you plan to focus on? What do you hope to have more of, to develop, in your life? What, if anything, do you hope to eliminate? Join in the discussion via a comment.


In 2021, my Wednesday Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts will focus on authenticity (#wednesdayword). Social media posts (Patti Miinch on all sites) on other days, as well as this blog, will continue to focus on various aspects of Prime Time Living. I hope you'll follow me at all three places and join in the conversation. 




Thursday, December 10, 2020

Just One Word

Words dominate our lives. We speak and sing them, read them, write them, hear them, and think them. The barrage of words — from both external sources and from our own internal dialogue — can be distracting, even overwhelming. 


It can be helpful, then, to step back from the barrage of words and focus on just one. 


Every year, people all over the world do just that. I first heard of the “one little word” movement in Spring 2009, when a friend told me about Ali Edwards, famous designer of everything scrapbooking, who had shared the “one little word” concept on her website.


In Edwards’ words, “one little word” involves “choosing one word for myself . . . a word to focus on, to live with, to investigate, to write about, to craft with, and to reflect upon as I go about my daily life.“


I’ve chosen a word 7 times in the 11 years since I first heard of “one little word”; I didn’t choose one for 2020. 


As the chaos of the past 10 months — personal life changes, the pandemic, violence in cities across America, and the election process — has swirled around me, I’ve felt scattered and unfocused. Perhaps that is why, for several weeks, I’ve felt compelled to chose a word for 2021.


Maybe you, too, have felt untethered, awash in the messiness and uncertainty of 2020. Perhaps, like me, you want to put all that behind you, regroup, and move into the new year with a fresh focus.


If so (or even if not), I invite you to join me in choosing one word for 2021. 


There are no “rules”. If you google “one little word ideas” or “word of the year ideas”, you’ll find that people have chosen words that range from the downright frivolous to extremely serious. The word can represent an aspiration, a dream, a character trait you wish to develop, a person . . . the options are endless. 


You can also choose from an endless array of ways to focus on your word. Some people share that they don’t *do* much; they are simply mindful of their focus in a way that is appropriate for the word and for them. For example, a friend who chose the word “pause” for 2020 shared on social media that she has been intentional about pausing before speaking and for at least 24 hours before making any decisions, including purchases outside of normal everyday/month ones.


Others take different approaches.


One etsy member creates and sells word-art featuring his one word every year; several participants have written books based on their word. The friend who first told me about “one little word” back in 2009 chooses a word with her husband (and their children, when they were still living at home). Each family member focuses on that word in their own way throughout the year; they also look for “their” word on signs, posters, etc., and take pictures of their finds. At the end of the year, they create a family photo collage and display it in the family room.


As 2020 draws to a close, consider choosing “one little word” for the new year. Think about it, pray about it if you feel so inclined;  don’t stress about finding the “perfect” word. Participants often share that while it may take a few weeks, perhaps even until a few days into the new year, the right word will simply become apparent.


I’ll be sharing my own word for 2021 at the end of the month and invite you to share your word then. I look forward to hearing what you choose!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Significant -- Six Ordinary Women, One Extraordinary God (Book Review)

Significant - A Study of Women in Jesus’ Genealogy: Six Ordinary Women, One Extraordinary God (Bonfire Books, 2020) is, as the cover states, a study of six women in Jesus’ genealogy. 

In the “Author’s Note”, author Rachel Risner, wife of a minister and mother of seven, stresses that her aim while writing this book was to stay true to God’s Word and, when necessary, to use only reliable commentaries. She also admits that she is a fallible human being and urges her readers to do two things: 1) hold “God’s word alone in the highest regard” and 2) know God’s Word for themselves. While it may seem that what she says here is a “given” and doesn’t need to be stated, readers of contemporary Christian nonfiction know otherwise. After studying the remainder of the book carefully, cross-referencing Risner’s study with the Bible and with credible and reliable reference materials, it is clear that the author has stayed true to her aim. 

Risner focuses on six Biblical women in Jesus’ lineage who are often overlooked: Sarah, Leah, Tamar (Judah’s wife, not King David’s daughter), Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba.  Each woman is the subject of one chapter, and the six chapters themselves are broken into five days of reading and activities. 

Relevant historical, cultural, and biographical background is provided in each chapter. This information is presented in a way that is concise and clear but at the same time interesting and engaging and makes more clear the women’s circumstances, options, and decisions. Risner goes into detail about each woman’s story, highlighting their weaknesses, strengths, and struggles. She shares how their stories are relevant in today’s culture and how they are mirrored in her own life, and she invites readers, through thought-provoking questions, to examine how they are mirrored in their own lives as well. She continually brings the focus back to God and to His Word, providing narrative and questions that lead readers to consider what God is both telling them and calling them to do. 

It is important to note that throughout the study of these six women’s lives, Risner shines a spotlight on evidence that, no matter what the circumstances, God was in clear and total control of these women’s stories. At the same time, she leads readers to see how He continues to be in complete control of their circumstances
today. 

While other Bible studies attempt to do the same thing — provide information about Biblical characters, show the parallels to life today, and ask the reader to make connections to their own life — Risner brings a fresh, and sometimes challenging, voice to the narrative. For example, she is candid (but respectful) about the life of Rahab, a liar and a prostitute. She asks the very important question, “Who are the Rahabs today?” and she brings into the discussion the very people — meth addicts, for example — that are (like the six subjects of the book) often ignored. 

Risner also provides other valuable resources through links to four add-ons: six (one per chapter) free video lessons with lesson notes; a free ebook on the effective use of social media by local women’s ministries; the authors blog, with encouraging posts, book giveaways, etc.; and promotional tools for use in sharing about a local Significant study group.  

Significant is an outstanding Bible study for both individual and group use. While it focuses on six women, men would also find this an impactful study, and it would be a thoughtful gift for anyone on a gift list. Never preachy, always engaging and relevant, this is a study that will bless the lives of those who participate in it. 



I received a free copy of this book and was not asked for anything — not even a review — in return. I have chosen to share this review only because I have found this study to be an excellent resource.