What’s the Word?

Happy New Year! We had a full Christmas and New Year, hence the radio silence here. But I’m happy to say that though it was a season of newness, (we celebrated my brother’s wedding and bought a new van while on vacation), we are settling back into our familiar routines. Homeschool, playgroups, making bread and finding order amidst chaos. Hopefully this also means some more regular posts from me, along with a few new resource ideas I was dreaming up on our long car rides this holiday season.

Have you seen the Veggie Tales rendition of the story of Jonah? It’s quite comical, as Veggie Tales stories often are. Jonah, played by an asparagus, teams up with a caterpillar named Khalil and a band of pirates whose theme song revolves around their pride in not doing anything. In the opening scenes, Jonah enters the town of Joppa while the villagers sing a song asking Jonah, “What’s the word?” They want to know what God’s Word or message is, and they know Jonah is the prophet through whom God speaks.

As we have officially entered the New Year, it is a great time to pause and ask this same question: What’s the Word, Lord?

I recently listened to the New Year’s episode from Abiding Together, a podcast hosted by 3 lovely Catholic women. Every time I listen to the podcast I feel uplifted, inspired and usually convicted to dig deeper into some area of my life. This episode was no different. The women discussed their twist (and others have done this as well) on a New Year’s resolution. Rather than making a commitment to do or not do something on their own, each woman has prayerfully and thoughtfully chosen a word to serve as a theme for 2019. This isn’t something they came up with all at once, but is the fruit of nearly a month’s discernment. For each of them, they spoke about how the previous year had gone and how this new word for 2019 is building upon or growing out of 2018.

I love this idea! I loved it so much that my first instinct while listening was to pick the first thing that came to my mind and claim it as my word. (Exactly the opposite of their process.) Thankfully, I’m slowing myself down and plan to spend a good portion of January reflecting on this question: What’s the Word?

The women had some great ideas for how to go about this, especially if you are someone who is just starting to deepen your relationship with God. Go to the Scriptures, especially Isaiah 61:1-3

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.”

This passage holds special meaning for the podcast and is full of hope and comfort for the New Year.

Other ideas for lectio divina would be the Beatitudes, the Psalms, and John 17. You might also consider spending some time in adoration, devoting yourself to talking through this question with God. If it is a challenge to get that solitary time away because of your family schedule, maybe talk with your spouse about spending a few extra minutes in prayer after Mass, or arriving early and you spending that time speaking with God (perhaps from a different pew *wink wink).

If you’ve struggled with New Year’s resolutions, or are already struggling with this year’s, maybe a word for the year will work better for you. I think it’s going to for me and I’m excited to explore its possibilities.

Have you tried this before? Would you consider it now? What ideas do you have for discerning God’s Word for your year? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Use the comments or head over to any of my social media spots and let us know what you think!

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Reflection

I think one of the scariest things that has happened to me as a parent is hearing my voice mimicked back to me by my children. My son, who is 4, is a particularly excellent parrot. It is not uncommon to hear him shout through the house lines memorized from his favorite books, movies or TV shows. It’s especially fun to hear him tie different storylines together, weaving such complicated web that only he can decipher. Consider this recent tale:

“Rapunzel! Merida is stuck in the seaweed. We have to call the Octonauts to save her. Calling all Octonauts. Captain, we have to save Merida. On my honor as an Octonaut, we will save her. Peso! We have to figure out how to get her out. Can you do it? Yes Captain. OK, let’s go!”

It was so funny! I’m glad I was in the kitchen listening in so that he didn’t get self-conscious.

As cute and sweet as these kids can be, sometimes I wish they weren’t always listening. Like the other evening when John said that dinner “was gross.” He must have heard me me the previous day when I said that a rotten clementine was gross. Or when Rosie says “Mommy, you don’t get to talk like that. I don’t like that voice!” which she frequently hears from my husband and I when she starts to have an attitude about cleaning up the toys.

Speech may be one of the most important things that we teach our children. They learn it from us, in my experience, by listening to what adults say and how we say it. Kids are brutally honest and their speech pattern holds us accountable to our own. A child is more likely to say “please” and “thank you” if they hear these works spoken to them and around them, not just because they are told to say them.

When John was quite young, I went to a play group. There was a mom there who had a few older children and her youngest was about 1 and a half I would say. I noticed how every time she had to tell her daughter “No” she said “No thank you.” Even when we were leaving and her daughter ran into the parking lot, as her mom ran after her she was shouting “That’s a No Thank You!” I realized that this mom had trained her speech to always say “No Thank You”, modeling for her daughter a more polite speech pattern. When I retold the story to Ben, we both decided to make the same change. So, we are the “No Thank You” family.  We also try to be very aware of saying “Excuse me” to the kids, trying not to interrupt them, and always saying “Please.”

As parents, we are charged with raising up our children to live, work and contribute to society. Part of being a parent is recognizing that we still have room to grow and sometimes we make mistakes. Fortunate for us, we are all children of a forgiving and merciful God, who we call Father. As His children, still learning who we are and what His will for our lives is, we can look to His example, just as our children look to us. Scripture tells us that God spoke and creation came into being. God spoke, imbuing all of the Earth with His Word. If this wasn’t example enough, God sent His Word to live among us, to be with us, to die for us, and to bring us safely home to heaven once again. When we turn our gaze, or to continue with the speech example, our ears, to the Word of God, we are better able to mimic or reflect the speech of the Father.