- Leah Outten
2022 Reflections + Word Of The Year
If you read my last post back in September, or on recent social media you've seen that I've been in a place of wrestling spiritually. Confusion. Anger. Withdrawal. I couldn't understand why God would give me the word Flourish for 2022 if He essentially asked me to walk away and cease "flourishing" in the career that I loved dearly and had been such a blessing to our lives. In these first few days of January 2023 I've wrestled some more, prayed, begged for clarity, sought His word, and talked to wise people who know me and love me well.
Finally, it makes more sense. What I thought flourishing meant was only in the blooming. The beauty. The color. The sunshine. Thriving. Producing. Dreams coming to fruition.
Yes, that can be part of flourishing, and I did experience beautiful moments like those in 2022. But when I stopped producing, stopped thriving in my definition of it, when the Lord clearly called me to step back to rest and heal, I felt like a failure and felt so confused.
What God taught me recently is that I wasn't looking at the broader definition of flourishing. Flourishing is the process, not the bloom.
The Lord kept bringing me to the image of plants, specifically annual bulbs, and how He designed them. The University of Illinois explains, "They have a period of growth and flowering. This is followed by a period of dormancy where they die back to ground level at the end of each growing season." As He tends to do when He's making His masterful point, this symbol began popping up everywhere. Yesterday I was working on my new planner and randomly decided I needed to go read the beginning pages. What did I find?
"Seasons of stillness, growth, blooming and rest allow us to flourish."
- Cultivate What Matters Season by Season planner
See, it's a process! While I bloomed right along with the flowers of springtime and the summer in my personal and professional life, the fall and winter became my dormant resting season. I realized finally that THAT IS OKAY. It doesn't make me a failure to need rest. It doesn't make me any less worthy or less of a writer or anything I unhealthily attached to my identity in my blooming season.
And truly, I know this season of pause and resting from producing has been the Lord's protection and the Lord's gift. The gift of time. After a busy year and a half, with often trips at least once a month, meetings, schedules and project deadlines, my kids needed me.
Because of this dormant portion of flourishing I was able to cuddle up at home with them, with nothing else to do but focus on our needs as a family. With my birth daughter living with us beginning in October, I was able to relish the morning quiet hours with our tea time and cat snuggles. As one child began needing my advocacy and support in a deeper way, I was able to be there for every appointment and focus on connecting with her soul. I am grateful for all the beautiful, fun moments of 2022. It started off with lots of movement and excitement, it withered into hibernation. Stepping back I can the Lord's hand in it all.
Visiting Magnolia Silos in Waco, TX
Filming, writing, and launching Seen the birth mom healing curriculum
Seeing a friend from camp and visiting Garden of the Gods again
Visiting my longtime friend from Kindergarten in Texas (So many texas trips this year!)
Traveling to Indianapolis for the Pro-Life Women's Conference
My birth daughter graduated high school and turned 18 😳 Crazy.
Many wonderful memories with my birth daughter whether in her hometown during a visit or while she lived here with us for a season. Such a rare, amazing, gift as a birth mom.
Camping and hiking in the NC mountains with my family
A beach trip (where the pool was the best part 😂) with my best friend's family and feeling grateful for the relationship
A FREE DISNEY TRIP with birth moms thanks to Funding Love in September. How amazing and how needed it was.
Getting to paint and help with Military Makeover filming (I was bossed around by Design Star winner Jennifer Bertrand! She's such a joy!)
So what about 2023? I prayed and it took longer than usual this year but again, I kept seeing a theme popping up in sermons, in verses, in songs. For the first time ever I had trouble narrowing down just one word. Replenish. Renew. Restore. They are all so similar and just slightly different meanings.
"For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish." Jeremiah 31:25
God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
Still, one finally stood out.
For 2023 I am feeling the Lord promising to Restore.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit." Psalm 51:12
"He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." Psalm 23:3
"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." 1 Peter 5:10
to bring back into existence, use, or the like; reestablish:to restore order.
to bring back to a former, original, or normal condition, as a building, statue, or painting.
to bring back to a state of health, soundness, or vigor.
to put back to a former place, or to a former position, rank, etc.:to restore the king to his throne.
to give back; make return or restitution of (anything taken away or lost).
to reproduce or reconstruct (an ancient building, extinct animal, etc.) in the original state.
In one definition it said restore means to bring back to a former condition or vigor. So I looked up vigor. Guess what was in webster's definition? More plant references!
One way to define vigor is "Active healthy well-balanced growth, especially of plants." I would love to be restored to well-balanced health and growth. That could look so many different ways in a few areas and I know that it usually never looks quite as I think it will 😂 But, it's always better because there is sanctification and important growth lessons from the Lord within it. He does far greater than what we can imagine, even if His ways are a mystery at times.
I'm beginning this year (now) feeling more hopeful. Sitting patiently. Waiting. Trusting. Nourishing my soul. Trusting the flourishing process. Re-focusing my heart on Jesus.