I used to follow ALL the rules. Every one. But the last six years, I’ve been inclined to buck every man-made rule.
So when it came to choosing my “one word” for 2021, I was absolutely NOT going to do it. Nope. NOT going to do it. I didn’t even give it a thought. In eight and a half years of having a website and 11 years of being closely connected to the writing community, I’ve only chosen “one word” once. I was compelled to choose “go” in 2014 and it was the only year I felt compelled to do so. I don’t like to do what everyone else does. I don’t play those games anymore. I want to take my own path, the path less traveled, the path God ordained specifically for me and only me. I don’t follow rules anymore just because that’s what everyone else is doing. I just don’t.
So last night when I woke up at 3:55 a.m. and heard a still small voice say “I want you to go big” when someone had JUST told me to “go big” earlier this week, then seemingly out of nowhere came another word “PREPARE,” I was floored.
Twenty six minutes of quiet listening and several noteworthy insights later, I heard “PREPARE for who she will become.” That’s WHEN and WHY I broke out my journal at 4:21 a.m., writing everything I’d heard the still small voice whisper during those middle-of-the-night minutes.
Whether I liked it or not, my “one word” had been delivered. I knew it in the depths of my heart. I didn’t WANT a “one word” in 2021. I didn’t NEED a “one word” in 2021. I didn’t PICK “one word” any other year except one. But there it was. PREPARE. I knew exactly what it meant, both personally and professionally. I knew that was exactly the word I needed. I knew that was exactly the word I needed to pick. And honestly? I knew that was exactly the word I wanted whether I was willing to admit it or not. PREPARE.
2020 was a life-changing year for me personally. My 46-year-old husband passed away from stage IV metastatic uveal melanoma on March 10, 2020. Life will never, EVER be the same. In fact, every plan I had for the rest of my life has changed. I planned on growing old with my husband; seeing our children graduate, get jobs, get married and have babies; enjoying retired life; holding hands till we were old and gray; and ideally dying within a few years of each other so neither one of us had to be widowed too long before reuniting in heaven. But God had a different story in mind. Since my husband’s passing, God has shown me there are beautiful and brilliant things still to come. My story isn’t over and I believe that with all my being. Yes, the best is yet to come. So I need to PREPARE my heart, my mind, my spirit and my soul each and every day for the things He has in store, for the rest of this story has yet to unfold. PREPARE. I will.
Despite the tragedy of my husband passing last year, 2020 was my very best year professionally, specifically in the areas of writing and photography. On what would have been our 22nd wedding anniversary, I released my first book, The Apple of My Eye, which chronicles our journey from the day of my husband’s eye cancer diagnosis to the day of his passing five years later. And my 2020 photography season was my best yet in both quantity AND quality. I am SO proud of what I accomplished professionally last year. Yet there is SO much more I’ve dreamed up, been called to, and have yet to fulfill. God knows that. I know that. In fact, I’m not anywhere CLOSE to achieving everything I’ve thought of, dreamed of, prayed about and been called to these past 18 years. So yes. PREPARE makes total sense. I can continue on this slow, steady, semi-safe and predictable path. I can continue to make incremental progress towards my long-term goals and dreams. Or I can dive deeper, quicker, more rapidly towards those goals and dreams. If you know me well, you know I’m careful and thoughtful about everything I do. I analyze. I prepare. I don’t leave any stone unturned. I make sure I KNOW I’m doing the right thing in the depths of my heart before I take action. Yes, this is still the part of me that follows the rules…perhaps too much. I want to do what is good and RIGHT. But after a while, after you’ve been called for SO long, after you’ve been dreaming SO long, it’s time to dive a little deeper, a little faster. So yes. It’s time to dive deeper, a little faster. It’s time to PREPARE more actively for that long-term vision. PREPARE *might* include another major website revamp this year, even if I didn’t plan on it. PREARE will include me beginning book #2, digging in HARD and DEEP to get that baby birthed and published sooner rather than later. PREPARE will have me monitoring COVID, looking towards 2022, 2023, and 2024 as potential years for the next major steps towards my long-term goals. PREPARE will have me setting quantitative and qualitative goals for photography, shooting humankind in a way I want to but haven’t yet fully achieved, shooting in places that push me creatively and challenge me beyond my borders. There is SO much more. It’s time to PREPARE for all of it.
Why do I let you in on this? Because you’ve joined me here for 8 1/2 years. I’ve shared so much of my journey. Why stop now? I’ve invested 18 years into this dream, this calling of writing, photography and more we’ve yet to explore. We’re getting there, friends. We’re doing this together. You and me. But there’s more for me. And there’s more for you. So stick with me, will you? I’m accepting this “one word,” PREPARE, for what it is. An undeniable gift from God. Delivered straight to my heart at 3:55 in the morning. My life will never, EVER be the same. But it isn’t over by any means. It’s time to PREPARE. Time to prepare for my life, part two. I knew I was venturing somewhere big when I left my career for writing and photography six years ago, but I had no clue life would change so monumentally the moment I stepped away. So here we are. In this together. I’m excited for me. And I’m HERE for you. Let’s PREPARE for ALL the things God has in store for this day and all the days moving forward. Good or bad. Good AND bad. Let’s do it. We’ve got this.