Word of the year: elevate

Elevate–to move or raise to a higher place or position; to lift up.

The past couple of years, I jumped on the “word of the year” bandwagon. I liked the idea of choosing a word that could encompass many of the things I hoped to work on during the year without feeling the pressure that seemed to follow specifically listing out “goals” or “resolutions”.

Last year, I chose the word savor because at the beginning of the year, I was hoping to savor the last few months we would spend as a family of three before Nora was born. I then wanted to savor the moments of her being a newborn because that was something I truly struggled with after having Blake. I wanted to savor sweet, tender, everyday moments. I also wanted to savor the big, obvious moments that come every year through holidays, birthdays, and vacations. I wasn’t always perfect at savoring every single moment…but I don’t think that was ever the goal. I wanted to be more intentional at recognizing big and small moments that were worth savoring, and I did.

This year, I’ve chosen the word elevate.

I want to focus on building up the people in my life and myself better. Yes, it’s something I already try to do…but I want to do it better. God has called me to be the cheerleader in many areas of my life. First and foremost, I am the helpmate to my amazing husband, Dylan. I’m so thankful because God has truly blessed our marriage and helped us to get through many hard times. It’s not always easy to have two kids under the age of three. If we want alone time together, our options are basically nap time and bedtime or pay a babysitter. I’ll admit I’m not always the best at putting Dylan first. At the end of a long day teaching, cooking, cleaning up toys, and dealing with whiny children, I tend to collapse after the kids’ bedtime. I want to be selfish and just take a long, hot shower and go to bed. I don’t want to be touched, I don’t even really want to talk sometimes. I want to be unneeded. But God hasn’t called me to be a vegetable after my kids go to bed. I have a hard-working husband that needs to be elevated through conversation, physical touch, uplifting words, and love. If I’m honest, I need all of those things too.

Second, I have two little ones that look to me to understand the world around them. My husband and I are the two biggest influencers in their life (for now at least) and we have to make it count. When my kids look to me, I want them to see someone who is constantly lifting them up and pushing them forward. The world is already negative enough. In my home, I want them to always know that they are loved, safe, important, and a child of God. Yes, there is a time for discipline, and I’m human, so I know there will be times when I lose my temper, yell at them, or don’t set the best example for them. However, my goal is to elevate them. I want to lift them so high that they feel confident and ready to handle whatever the world throws at them. I want them to look at their mommy and see her walking with the Lord, speaking sweet words to others and herself, and always putting others first.

Third, I want to elevate the women (and the two men) that I work with at my job. This school year has been a bit different than in years past. We have a new assistant principal, and she is incredible. Her first priority is for her staff to feel supported, encouraged, and empowered to do the job set before us. She has been a constant source of love and support to me from the first day I met her. She pops in my classroom at least three mornings a week to tell me that I am “awesome blossom” and to wish me a wonderful day. She asks if I need anything and truly wants to know so that she can do something about it if I do. My second grade team is also amazing. It’s the first year that I truly feel like I’m on a team that gets along, works well together, and aims to be the best. The ladies on my team have had to work at it. We’ve had to be vulnerable and honest–even when it’s been hard–but the outcome has been that we are close, connected, and unstoppable. I want to continue to and even bump up my elevation of them. I want to find ways to go out of my way to encourage them and uplift them.

Side note: Did you know that teaching is a hard profession? Hug a teacher the next time you see one and tell them that what they do matters and that they are stinkin’ awesome. I guarantee that they probably haven’t heard someone say that to them that day. It will, without a doubt, put a smile on their face and help them to press on to teach another day.

Fourth, I want to elevate my students. Again, these are all things I already do–but I want to do them more intentionally and do them more! Just like my own children need to be told that they matter and that they’re loved and important, so do my students. I can’t guarantee that they hear words of affirmation and encouragement at home. But, for the time that I’m blessed to pour into them during the day, I sure as heck want to make sure they know it from me. Every day. No exceptions.

Fifth, I want to elevate everyone around me. Again, the world is negative enough as it is. People are not always kind, friendly, thoughtful, or uplifting. With the amount of shootings, suicides, wars, and bullying today…I want to be an example of positivity. I want everyone I come in contact with to know that I see worth and value in them, even when the world is shouting the opposite at them.

Finally, I want to elevate myself. Negative self-talk is a big thing I struggle with. I am my own worst critic. I see my faults and failures before I recognize anything good. Anyone else? But again, in a world full of negativity, I can’t always rely on those around me to elevate me. Sometimes it has to start within me. Apart from choosing this word for the year, Dylan and I each decided to challenge ourselves to read at least one book a month this year. I’ve already picked the first four I will read and I’m super excited about them. My hope is that through reading these books (and reading my Bible, praying, going to church, etc), I will continue to open my eyes to the beautiful way God has created me and that through those eyes, I can pour into others and uplift them as well.

Do you have a word of the year? Do you make goals and resolutions for yourself? I think those things are great and we should always try to keep challenging ourselves to be better. But, I also think there is this tremendous amount of pressure to “fix” ourselves with each new year and I don’t think that’s what God intends for us. He sees us as broken, but beautiful. He wants us to draw near to Him and through that continued closeness with Him, we start to transform and change. The closer I draw to my Father, the more I feel elevated and I want others to feel that way too.

So…lookout 2018. You’re about to get ELEVATED!

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