Our New Year’s Day started at the table eating Steve’s delicious omelets in our pj’s while reflecting on 2016 and dreaming about 2017. As we sipped on mimosas, each of our friends shared a word that summarized 2016 and a word that expressed our longings for 2017. Words like Live, Hope, Unhurried, and Healthy popcorned around the table.

I started with, “2016 was a good year!” My friend Kelly, who recently lost her sister to a long battle with multiple myeloma, couldn’t grasp how 2016 could have been a “good year.” After all, our group of friends had not only lost her sister but other loved ones, too. But it was a good year for me because I was able to be with those loved ones – really be with them – during their loss. I also had quality time with my three adult children and a great year with my husband. I spent time with my extended family, and I developed new meaningful friendships. 2016 was a good year for me because my longing, my word for 2015 was Relationality. Through the good, bad, and ugly, I was present – really present. That’s a win!

I recently read Sarah Bessey’s blog; her word for one year was Survive, and the next years was Holdfast. Sarah is in the middle of the hourglass of life. I was there, too. Raising a family of three, working full time, getting a doctorate, engaging in ministry life – well,  she describes it as exhausting and like her, I too often felt like I merely survived and found myself “limping into December.” I recognize there are seasons in life, and the middle of the hourglass (my mom’s term) is a time of hurriedness, spreading thin, holding multiple balls in the air all while trying to look great. For that season, Sarah’s word Holdfast fits, a time of embracing the stage and recognizing there will be a time in the future where life slows. During that harried season of life, my mom would provide encouragement, “Holdfast Jackie, there will come a time when life slows.” (She called that season the bottom of the hourglass.)  

Mom was right, life does slow down. I’m over 50 and grateful for the education and experience of my younger years, but also keenly aware my time is running out. No, I’m not dying today; I’m just saying I’m on the other side of the hourglass. It’s a time in life when you ask some serious questions about where you’ve been and where you’re going. For me the questions have revolved around who and what will get my time. Where will I expend myself? On whom? For what? The answers get clearer on the bottom side.

I’m over 50 and grateful for the education and experience of my younger years, but also keenly aware my time is running out. No, I’m not dying today; I’m just saying I’m on the other side of the hourglass. It’s a time in life when you ask some serious questions about where you’ve been and where you’re going. For me the questions have revolved around who and what will get my time. Where will I expend myself? On whom? For what? The answers get clearer on the bottom side.

Ken Calderia, an expert in the field of energy, has run a series of learning sessions for Bill Gates on different topics related to climate and energy. Ken states what I mean so clearly in his interview on working with Bill.

The thing that I have learned the most from interacting with Bill is to value my time and use it thoughtfully.

I have never seen Bill Gates try to multi-task. I have never seen him check his text messages or email in the middle of a meeting. He does one thing at a time and gives that one thing his full attention.

Bill is limited by resources in many of the big things he wants to accomplish: eradicate diseases, bring prosperity to the poor, solve the climate/energy problem, etc. However, in terms of personal consumption, Bill is not limited by money. He is limited by the amount of time he is willing to allocate to an activity. For Bill, time is his most precious resource. And he thinks very carefully about how to allocate his limited time… As one progresses through life, it becomes clear that time is very finite. Time is in short supply and there will not be time enough for everything.

Time is our most precious resource, and we must learn to use our time wisely.”

When I look at Jesus, I don’t see him using or moving through or over people. Jesus, God in flesh, became incarnate and dwelt (tabernacled) with his people. He hung out. He had much to do while he walked on earth, but he never did God’s work in ways that severed his relationship with his Father or followers. Small. Present.

At this stage in life I want to be appropriately small. I don’t want to push so hard and fast that I’m harried, hurried, and burned out. Being overloaded and hurried are incompatible with loving well. In 2017 I want to love like Jesus so I’ve decided my 2017 word (or phrase) is: “Small incarnate ministry to so I can be largely present.”

What word summarized your 2016? What word captures your dreams for 2017? I’m not sure where you fall in the hourglass of life but I suspect you too want to love well. If so, then you may want to ask, “What and who will you give your time to?”

Even more so, as you expend yourself in 2017, ask yourself,  “What and who will get your life fumes?”

Further interesting insights about being incarnational in your relationships check out Simon Sinek’s video on millennials in the workplace or read Michael Frost’s book, Incarnate: The Body of Christ in an Age of Disengagement.