Usually, my word for the year comes to me around mid-November. It will typically be the result of prayer, thought, conversations I have with others, and books that I read.

Normally, I will mull on it for a few weeks and then, by mid December, I’ll share it with Jesse and a few others and start mapping out what it looks like to live out that word for the next year.

This year, it didn’t happen like that at all.

November was an emotionally exhausting month for me. We knew we were in the final days of fostering Champ and there were so many emotions to process with that. I couldn’t think much beyond just savoring the moments and loving well and walking with my family through this loss.

He went back to his mom full-time the beginning of December and I spent the next few weeks wading through grief, putting one foot in front of the other, and trying to adjust to a new normal with just one baby instead of two.

All of a sudden, it was three weeks into December and I realized that I didn’t even have a word for 2021. And I didn’t have any sort of direction as to what an over-arching theme for the year would be.

I’ve talked to a lot of foster parents in recent weeks and they all tell me this is completely normal. That the grief of saying goodbye is intense, that the emotional toll that foster care takes on you deeply impacts you, and that it’s hard to explain what it’s like to lose a child who is still alive — and to hold the tension of it being both thrilled and devastated at the same time. (Thrilled they reunited, devastated they are no longer with you.)

About three weeks into December, the fog began clearing and I felt myself slowly starting to experience motivation again. I wanted to read and bake and think about 2021 and what it might look like. And I felt less sadness and heaviness and more joy and hope.

At the same time, though, I realized that the events of this past year — of having my eyes opened to the great needs in our own community, of falling in love with this sweet little boy, of the countless doctor’s appointments and therapy appointments and meetings with social workers and middle of the night feeds and tears and prayers on his behalf, of the many conversations with other foster parents, of getting to cheer on his birth mama and see the joy and transformation in her life — it changed me deeply.

I know I won’t be the same again. I know I can’t ever go back to who I was before foster care.

I feel like my heart is more raw and tender and my resolve and passion for making a difference is much more intensified. As Jamie from Foster the Family says: “I could be sitting on the sidelines, in blissful ignorance of the brokenness that surrounds me, enjoying the whole-ness of a sweet and sheltered life. Missing out on the beauty of breaking off pieces of my heart and my life to make another whole.”

I can’t go back to sitting on the sidelines again. I can’t go back to blissful ignorance.

And so, as I contemplated these changes in my heart and thought about what it meant for 2021, the word I was supposed to choose came to me. I sat on it for a few days, talked to Jesse, and mulled it over some more, and it kept being reiterated to me in multiple ways. It didn’t take long for me to know that it was the word I was suppose to choose.

Well, it’s actually not a word, it’s a two-word phrase: Show Up.

Two simple words… but they pack a punch!

How I Plan to Live Out This Phrase in 2021

In 2021, I commit to Show Up in these ways:

  • Show Up for My Family — I commit to say yes more, to be more available, to be fully present, to live each day more wholeheartedly — knowing that every day is a gift and you never know when it will be your last one. I don’t want to take the moments and memories for granted. Less phone and screen time, more eye contact, face-to-face, listening, and bonding.
  • Show Up for My Local Community — I commit to being more willing to fling the doors of my home and heart open to people in my real-life. To not let fear of, “What will they think of me?” hold me back from following the Holy Spirit’s prompting to lean in and love well.
  • Show Up for the Most Vulnerable — I commit to saying yes to open our home up to foster care, even when it’s hard, even when it scares me, even though I know it will mean my heart will get broken again. We are actively praying for which child(ren) He is calling us to say yes to in 2021.
  • Show Up for My Online Community — 2021 is the year where I commit to stop worrying about the complainers and the naysayers and just fully show up as myself and as God leads me for this community. I don’t want to hold back sharing something that I know will help 97% of you all because I’m afraid of the negative response from the 3%.

So there you have it. My word of the year may have not come in the usual way, but it feels so right for 2021.

I don’t know what the next year holds, but I look forward to showing up for it wholeheartedly!

Did you choose a word for 2021? If so, I’d love to hear what you chose!

More posts on my words of the year in previous years:

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