To be candid, I have needed a lot of personal strength in the last few months. It makes sense that my need and search for it showed up in my writing. We all search in the way we were built to learn, process and grow.
Start Your Search
Searching starts with a need. Although the type of need we have changes, the expression of the search is unique to the person. When I am empty, depleted, confused or disappointed, I begin my search.
First, I ask God to help me think of a verse that reflects my need and his power in that area. I write out why that verse matters in my particular situation. I see where that takes me. Sometimes, other insights come to mind. I may remember a quote, a passage from a book or a conversation. Once in a while, I get lucky and an image will come to mind.
Next, my personal expression of the search results come in. I must document because I am worried that I will forget or lose the wisdom or insight. I end up talking a note into my phone or texting myself. My cousin Leslie suggested I name myself “Queen” in my phone, so I text Queen Sasha the insights from the search.
Then, I sit with the newfound jewel. I have the sense to meditate upon the insight and wait to see what God may add to it. Sometimes there are layers and sometimes there is simply wisdom for the day.
Time to Share?
A younger version of myself would have to share immediately. I would have to share the thing even if my brain and heart hadn’t completed considering the need and fulfillment of it. That’s because I am built to share. That’s my bend. I can’t help the bend, but I’ve learned to work with it.
In some cases, my writing and self texting turn into something to share. I am in my happy place when I think I have something to share. The sharing takes a few forms. It could be a text to a friend. Sometimes it’s a phone call. Often enough, it’s a post with an email to you. My writing is the evidence of my searching. It is the culmination of God’s presence in the center of my need.
What ways does your searching show up in your life?
I am so curious about your answer to that question. Please do share in the comments or by sending me an email at email@example.com.
PS, I did not share where we are going next. When I am walking at the beach, I have lots of thoughts. I keep track of them in my phone notes. Queen Sasha has accumulated many thoughts. A bunch of them are listed below. If you take a liking to any of them, let me know and I may just write about it next week!
Today is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Isn’t that the truth?
Isn’t it also true that most days are made of small movements and small actions that may or may not feel worthy of rejoicing?
Both are true.
Since both are true, I have a tried and true practice to share with you. My bucket lists get to the heart of everyday joy and gladness – – even when you have no great reason to rejoice or be glad.
With bucket lists, we can intentionally choose to lean into Psalm 118 and build into our lives authentic happiness. We can light up the mundane, spark hope from burdens and shine rays of light into any day, week or month – – with the simple practice of creating and living out bucket lists.
I create bucket lists based on the small things I may overlook or not include in my daily planner or in life in general. My four buckets are love, self care, creativity and hospitality. Here are my reasons why.
I chose love because I never want to lose sight of loving others. Most of the time, expressing love to someone else takes the focus off yourself and expands your perspective. Whatever may be taking center stage in your own life can take a step back while you direct care to someone else.
In the same way I don’t want to lose sight of loving others, I don’t want to neglect myself either. I have been down that awful road of neglect and desire to forget not the value of a strong mind and body. Self care is an essential element to my bucket lists.
I have a taxing career. Law lends itself to deadlines and conflicts and has little mercy for human error. Moreover, work does a good job of yelling louder than the other areas of life. For that reason, I must make space for creativity. My joy comes from creating, sharing and filling needs in creative ways. My creative outlets allow positive energy to flow into my career and the rest of my life. Hence, including creativity as an element of my bucket list keeps me moving toward a balanced life.
Last, I believe deeply that Jesus was the most hospitable person who ever lived. He welcomed others from the heart. As follows, wherever he was, he gave invitations. To dinner. To fish. To spend time talking. To follow dreams. To encourage. To see. To walk. To preach. To make disciples. Heartful hospitality is one of the ways I seek to mirror Jesus. I use bucket lists to help me pursue that end.
How ToCreate a Powerful Bucket List
When I begin to write a bucket list, I start with the four buckets of love, self care, creativity and hospitality and intertwine them with the season of the year. I search for inspiration on Pinterest, in the books that I read and in the conversations I have. I sit with a journal and colorful pen. I scribble, cross out and write some more until I have a working list. I usually have 4-5 items within each bucket. At that point, I organize the items so that the list is cohesive and distributed evenly among the buckets.
From there, I share with two or three friends to see what they think. After the feedback, I make a few changes and head to Canva to create a design.
Build Your Life with Bucket Lists
The truth is that not every day may lend itself to rejoicing and gladness. Despite that, we can lean into Psalm 118 and build happiness into our lives.
Today is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.
As a practice, I clip my bucket list into my daily planner. I glance at the list from time to time and check off, with joy, the little things that I have done to make life sweet in every season.
Now that it’s the end of January, I’m sharing my bucket list progress update. More pics to come as I work through my New Year Bucket List.
Intentional joy matters. I would love to hear how you are pursuing joy in your own life. Share in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you missed the New Year Bucket List, here it is again.
One December long ago, I was recovering from trigeminal neuralgia – – which is basically nerve pain coming down the side of your face. My pain traveled to the back of my mouth where my teeth meet my gums. There rested the pressure of a fire hose with no outlet.
My pain wasn’t just the physical kind. A key relationship appeared to be at its end. In addition, my income was terribly down due to the physical and emotion pain within.
As I spent time at home that December, I found a blog series that helped you reflect upon the last twelve months. After completing the process, your hard work brought you to a word for the year, a vision board and goals. I particularly loved the process because it included lots of paper, colorful pens and a path toward growth. As many of you already know, these are a few of my favorite things (as the song goes).
The Long Journey of Healing
The following January, I began my two year long counseling journey. I had so much learning to do over those two years that I didn’t pay any attention to words for the year or an annual vision board. Initially, I spent a lot of time laying down the pieces of my life and finding my voice again. I let God and the counselor help me rebuild my faith. I learned many tools to help with anxiety, depression, expectations and the hard things in life we go through.
A few years later, I circled back to Lara Casey’s blog and followed her steps for annual reflection. Her process has become an integral part of my new year practice. Lara Casey is a fantastic lady, full of authenticity and lots of colorful pens, stickers and pretty paper (all for a purpose). She recently sold her business Cultivate What Matters. My friend Sara and I both use her tools and find that we do more of what matters in all areas of our lives.
Today, I’m sharing the fruit of my reflection of 2022.
I asked and answered all of the questions below:
How do I want to grow in 2023?
What is holding me back?
What are my passions and desires?
What lessons from 2022 can I build on in 2023?
What good things from 2022 will continue in 2023?
What am I grateful for?
What’s the big picture?
These questions come from #powersheets (Cultivate What Matters)
I reflected on all of the areas below:
Home (Meals, Décor, Rehab, Hospitality)
After all that, I came up with a few important truths for 2023.
I am taking with me the sense of AWE God showed me in the summer of 2021. Instead of being the master of my own life and helping God make all the things happen, I aim to live by this mantra.
Be Still. Be Present. Let God Point the Way.
After experiencing so much disappointment in 2020 and 2021, I am channeling the endless optimism that I was once made of. I aim to key into my younger self with this mantra.
Believe Again in Endless Possibilities.
And, finally, I am throwing off some guilt I’ve been carrying a long, long time. Like a few decades worth of guilt.
All Parts of My Life Matter.
Part of me wants to end this paragraph right here. I don’t need to say what we both see, know and feel.
I see you seeing your reflection in the screen in which you are reading this. You hear the words. All parts of your life matter. The silent parts of yourself emerge. The parts that you haven’t set free because duty calls.
Duty calls is the first layer. Other layers exist too.
I’m not that good at _________________.
So and so will never agree for me to ____________________.
What a waste of time ____________________ will be.
It’s too late in life to start _______________________.
Others will think it’s dumb if I ____________________.
You’ve concluded that that part of you doesn’t really matter.
Today, I am here to say that
All Parts of Your Life Matter.
You were made to be physically healthy and strong.
Your mind was made for work and relief from work.
You are an equal in your marriage or relationship.
Your children need to know you are real and imperfect and you can let them see that.
You need friends and extended family with you and for you and time to build that is important.
God wants you to have what you need and more when it comes to finances and resources.
Your home is a place of peace and hospitality and it’s okay to put time to that end.
Your career, your calling and your ministry all glorify God and you can spend time on all these things.
You were made for hobbies and skills that make no money or have no end except your pure joy.
As you look at your reflection on the screen in which you are reading this, acknowledge what you see, know and feel. Let the silent part of yourself emerge. Don’t stuff her away or head off to duty calls. Let her speak. Let her have a moment to speak her vision. Then, with all of your bravery and honor, start finding
The colors that represent her voice
The words that tell her truth
The people that will love and support her
The things you will do to bring life to her vision
The things you will change to create space for this glory in you
Put all of these things on a cork board with cute pins.
Put up the cork board in a place you can view every day.
Two weeks into the New Year, I am ready to put pen to paper.
From November until now, the calendar has been moving me. From gathering to gathering. From place to place. From person to person. Because of good practices and policies, the movement didn’t knock me down. This season’s calendar was not easy living, but planned and possible.
In January, my oldest moved into his college campus after returning from a semester in Italy. My daughter and I returned from a service trip to the Yucatan Peninsula with her school. As I began this post, today is the first day of 2023 in my book.
A Word for the Year. But First, a Wrench
For the last three years, I have been choosing a word for the year. I tinkered with the idea prior to that. Because no intention backed it, the word choice blew with the wind and didn’t serve any long-term purpose. As I spent more time choosing it, I was able to let the word of the year lead and bleed like a watercolor painting into the next twelve months of the year.
Before I get into tips for choosing a word of the year, I am throwing a wrench. James throws a lot of wrenches at us in his short book. The verse below casts deep reality into literally everything we set out to do in the month of January, i.e., words, resolutions, goals, lists . . .
Now listen, you who say:
Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
Instead, you ought to say,
If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.
As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
James’ words are harsh. If we can move past the sharp edges, the wisdom will flow with us as we choose our word for the year.
The wisdom is that God is in the words, resolutions, goals and lists. God is also omniscient and sovereign. Only he can work together good beyond our human understanding.
As he works, our words, resolutions, goals and lists have to be moldable in his mighty, loving hands. Therefore, be committed and flexible with your New Year choices as 2023 rolls out. Legalism or, in the alternative, passivity won’t serve you. This is the wisdom we will take with us as we delve into the joy of choosing a word for the year.
How to Choose Your Word for the Year
Part One: Reflection
Reflection is the way to begin. Go backward to 2022 to go forward to 2023.
Categorize your digital photos into the twelve months of year. Write a list of the events, trips, birthdays, places and people that were meaningful for each month.
Page or scroll through your 2022 calendar. Notice busy seasons, projects, checklists, the color of the pens, emojis or stickers you used. Be aware of your patterns, highlights and highs and lows. Write down any takeaways from this practice.
Page through your journal. Notice when you consistently wrote entries or had significant gaps of time. Look for recurring emotions, verses and inspiring quotes. Write down a few that are meaningful or jump out at you.
Write a list of the books you’ve read, podcasts you regularly listen to, bible studies you completed or your favorite tv shows or movies from this past year. Jot down your take away as you see your media choices.
Bullet five successes and five failures or disappointments from 2022.
Review anything else that is important to your daily, weekly or monthly practices.
Part Two: Observation
What are the common threads? What do you see recurring in your notes and lists? Write down three themes that have come up the most.
Now, narrow down each of the three themes to one or two words.
Part Three: Choose
Which of the three resonates with you the most? What makes you the happiest? What lifts your spirits? What brings a tear to your eye? Which word do you feel the most motivated by? What word or phrase can take you into 2023 with peace and inspiration?
If you are wondering how long this process will take, I suggest reserving 1-2 hours. You can split the time into two sittings or one long spread of time. I usually do this alone, but there is also value in meeting with a friend. You may not do a ton of talking as you work through this practice. However, the accountability of starting and finishing together is valuable.
My Word of The Year
The last few years, my words of the year have been a continuum. I included a few notes so that you can catch the flow.
Shed the Overwhelm. Shed the Need for Stuff. Quit the Things. I did that in 2021. You can read all about it by clicking here. The quick version is that I removed from my calendar every event that was not work, family or close friend related. I didn’t go to church in person either. I resigned from organizations and leadership communities. I let the white space in and waited through this sacred season of winter in my life.
2022: Rise Up
After all the shedding of 2021, the time came to Rise Up. I was ready to be unmuted. I revisited my desires again. I wrote about the process of being unmuted in July of my Summer Discovery Devotion. You can download the PDF and read the July entries.
Rise Up was a year where I endeavored to be consistent with my creativity – – something I had not accomplished in the past. I wrote bucket lists, a summer devotion and blogged regularly.
I vowed to honor my body and committed to beach walking and yoga. I attended 118 yoga classes. I walked more than 100 times as well.
I committed to walking the long road of SAT’s, college apps and decision making with my son. We did that together and he is now living his next season of life with confidence and commitment.
In 2022, I had a few more Rise Up goals, but these are the three I am most proud of.
For the last two years, I have met with a friend only once a year. In 2022, she asked me how my year of Shed went. I shared that it was hard to shed the overwhelm and quit the things.
She then asked, “what is different now?”
The answer spontaneously came to me. I was getting my inspiration back.
A long time had passed since I looked out into the blue sky or basked in the sun or stared into nature and heard the Holy Spirit speak to me. Of course God had been with me. However, I love the part of myself that hears and sees inspiration, and that got lost.
Inspiration has been found.
Inspiration is my word of the year.
If you’d like to share with me your Word of the Year and your process choosing it, email me at email@example.com or share in the comments below.
If you are curious about what is next this month, I plan to share my process of creating New Year Inspiration Boards – – which I think you will love. You can view my Pinterest Inspiration Board in the meantime!