My Word for the New Year {2013}

There's a lot of me that has been altered through the past few years; taken or temporarily taken over by chronic illness and bouts of severe, unrelenting pain. It snatches bits of sanity, social life, creativity, inspiration, it takes the dreams, the goals, the best parts of self, even as I've fought to retain them.

This last fall I changed my treatment plan, and began feeling significantly better just over a month ago. 2012 closed with me feeling alternately battered and vibrant. Battered by much of what happened in 2012, and vibrant because the relief leaves me breathless, weightless, floating... so much weight off my shoulders.

I've chosen a Word of the Year for the past three years. In 2010 I chose NEST to remind myself of my priority of building a sacred, safe, nurturing shelter for my young daughters and our family. In 2011, fighting Ankylosing Spondylitis in earnest, I chose STILL to remind myself to be still and know that God had a plan, to be still and rest, that no matter what happened in my future, I was still God's and I still had purpose. In 2012, yearning to not let life pass me by regardless of a life with chronic illness, I chose AWAKE. I wanted to focus on staying awake to life, to dreams, to opportunities, and to the everyday moments of grace and joy. 

Awake was a word of mixed results. I gave it a valiant effort -- I traveled cross-country with my family for 2.5 weeks, I attended a writing conference, I joined a writing critique group, I focused on my book, I enrolled my girls in ballet class, and saw a passion for dance awaken in Hannah.

There were also times that Awake seemed a bad joke. Severe fatigue and pain dragging me under water, at times making it impossible to join in to life. The last few months of 2012 were particularly difficult and grueling. But as the saying goes, the darkest was just before dawn, and less than a week after Thanksgiving I began to awake once more: ideas, more energy, less pain, more smiles and more laughter, and simply feeling more like myself again.

I'm still battling AS, but it's not as big of a foe right now. So I'm going into 2013 inspired to RECLAIM the me that chronic challenges threatened.

I want to Reclaim parts of myself that were put on the back burner while so very ill. I want to write, I want to reclaim stability in our home, reclaim the dreams and the goals, reclaim ability vs. disability, reclaim so very many things.

I know that I may continue to improve, or that my pain may climb back up the scale along with my fatigue. If that happens, I will fight again, and I will give myself the gift of grace and understanding, knowing that I have always done my best, no matter the degree of difficulty.

I want to claim space for myself, and claim physical space for writing in our home. I did that today, creating a little corner of my own with a rolltop desk and my writing supplies. I organized my art supplies and put stacks of notecards in the cubbies of the desk.

I am reclaiming the precious relationships I have with my daughters, now that I once again have the ability to be emotionally present in our conversations and one-on-one time, not sequestered away from them by the barrier of pain I couldn't ignore.

I feel inspired and intentional going into this new year. It will be my mission to reclaim my identity apart from chronic illness. 

Reclaim: to rescue from an undesirable state; to restore to a precious natural state.


  1. How incredible, Jennifer. What a beautiful word and even more beautiful way to usher in this new year. I'm reclaiming it along with you, sister.

    Much love...

  2. I'm relieved and excited that you are able to reclaim yourself and your life! May the year be full of blessings and things that matter. Thank you for sharing your word.

  3. I am proud of you!! I know this is not easy for you, but God is right beside you helping you awake to him and wanting you to awake for wonderful family times!! Hold tight to him. Love you very much!!

  4. PERFECT! I can so see you focusing and intentionally reclaiming all the things lost- thinking of you as you enter into this year of reclaim!

  5. god bless as you reclaim what is yours this year. thanks for leaving your words of encouragment on my year of discovery.

  6. Great thoughts and word for the new year!

    Epiphany is my word for 2013. I'm excited to see God revealed in new ways in the coming year.

  7. I love your word! I hope this year you are able to find relief from the pain and enjoy more time "reclaiming" that which was lost when you had to succumb to the pain. Praying for you!


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