You know the thing a lot of people have started doing recently, where instead of focusing on New Year’s goals and resolutions, they chose a single word to be the focus of their year? Well… I didn’t set out to do that. But I did all of my New Year’s-type goal stuff while we were on vacation in January, and that’s just kind of how it settled out. I had something like 75 divergent and nonspecific goals, but one word kept coming to mind. And I know it’s almost March. Believe me, I feel every ounce as silly as I should to be writing about my “2014 word” almost 1/6 of the way through the year. But stuff keeps coming up. And, I mean, the impact of it is supposed  to be evident all year long, so here we are. 



(as in me.)

I want to be present. In my body and my life. I know I can’t be the only one who is almost never here. I find myself living my days on autopilot. Which is kind of dumb, because my life is pretty awesome. I have been blessed beyond measure. My husband, my little girls, an amazing support network of friends and extended family, a healthy body… I think this morning’s blessings in my little “thankful journal” passed 1400. And that’s just the small handful a day I think to write down. 

But still. 

Get up. Girls up. Breakfast. Laundry. Eleventy-billion rounds of disciplining smart and fairly willful toddlers. Figure out what I’m making to eat this week. Take said (smart, willful) toddlers to the store. (Aack!) In and out of car seats. The never-ending negotiation that is nap time. Finally my favorite man ever gets home. Dinner. You get the idea. This is, give or take, every day. I’m not complaining, but do you see how it might be easy to do? To (at best) go on autopilot or (at… not best) kind of run away? I mean mentally. Like, with my phone. Or just getting lost in my scheming about how to finish all the things most efficiently. And it’s not just the stay-at-home-mom-of-toddlers thing. My life has always kind of involved some sort of oft-used mental escape hatch. Oh, sometimes it looks like I’m leaning into it all, but hours of to-do listing is still not the same thing as inhabiting. Abiding. 

So this year, I’m trying to feel what is going on in my body. I want to see the world around me. Use my senses. Spend more time being mindful and less time (a lot less) numbing out on Facebook and Candy Crush because I’m kind of stressed. 

This comes with some downsides. 

For one, it’s a lot easier to numb when I’m stressed than it is to actually find something useful to do with or about it. 

Also? This:

How is this a downside? It’s not, in and of itself. I love that I see more… this. But these are a few pictures from our vacation. And none of my pictures ever capture fully what I saw. Can I just tell you that there were many days that I nearly wept at my inability to absorb all of it? I just kept thinking of a line from the Rich Mullins song, “Here in America”“There’s so much beauty around us, but just two eyes to see, but everywhere I go, I’m looking.” Stuff like that happens when I choose to be present. It’s a bizarre anxiety. Near panic sometimes, in fact. 

And it’s not just when I get away in some gorgeous tropical location, either. This one is just ice that formed on the rail of our front deck.

When I start being here, present and open to the beauty around me, it gets a touch overwhelming. Sometimes autopilot seems a lot easier. Less awesome, but certainly easier.

So that’s what I thought this “present” thing was going to be about this year. 
Being here. Sensing the world around me. Paying attention to the people around me. Feeling my feelings, rather than finding ways to feel something else unrelated. (Eating. Facebook. Whatever.)

But then the more I kick the word around, the more I think of all the other things it means.


(as in gift.)

This year, I want to pay a lot of attention to the gifts I’ve been given. I want to start seeing blessings in the mundane and in the difficult. If 2013 had had a word, it would have been “grateful.” This reminds me that I’m not done with that. Thanking God for the gifts he’s given me isn’t something I can get and then move on to other things. 


(preeZENT, rather than PREHzint- as in put forth, bestow, give.)

I’ve been kind of hiding out the last couple years. Part of it is babies- I have so much immediate and urgent to focus on that I don’t put that much of myself out. But part of it is kind of self-focused laziness. I don’t look for opportunities to serve. (I mean, outside of my house. Because there is a LOT of serving that happens inside it.) Because I’m tired. And I haven’t been connecting well with women around me (despite the fact that I LOVE connecting with women around me) simply because I’m so focused on my little world that I hardly even see them. And I would very much like to change that. 

Also? I’m looking forward to using my gifts more intentionally and paying attention to the things God has placed in my heart and mind, so that I can give of my self a little more (and a little more usefully.) 


(as in Him.)

This is quite possibly the most important one. I’ve known from childhood that God is omnipresent. He is The God Who Hears. He is Emmanuel: God with us. I tell my kids that Jesus is always with them. We talk to Him in the car to thank Him for the pretty sunrise. I talk to Him on and off throughout my day. But somehow, presence has escaped me. I mean, I act like He’s here with me, but I don’t think about it in the same way (or with the same frequency) that I would if I actually believed it to be true. For instance, when my husband is home, I am aware of him. Pretty much constantly. Most of the things I do or think about doing run through the filter of “He’s home. How does this affect him or how does he affect this?” The fact that Jesus is actually present comes with no such filter. His presence hasn’t made its way into my worldview yet. Or something. I am hoping and praying that, by the end of the year, that has changed.

I’ll be honest… When I came home with a word this year instead of action steps, I was a little disappointed. I mean, I love crossing stuff off of lists. (Who doesn’t?) This does not exactly get crossed off, and that bummed me out. Also, I was worried that the discipline of bringing my focus back to a word (and my head back to my life) wouldn’t really… challenge me? Change me? I really hated the idea that December might find me basically the same as January, save, perhaps, for this one little area. 

Safe to say I’m not so worried about that anymore.

Published by robininalaska

Robin Chapman is a part-time writer, editor, and birth photographer and a full-time imperfect mama, wife, Jesus follower, and normalizer of failure. She’s trying hard to learn how to do this motherhood thing in a way that doesn’t land the whole family in intensive therapy. She has a heart for helping other mamas buried in the little years with hope, humor, and solidarity. You can find her hiding out in the bathroom with an iced dirty chai, writing and editing and making spreadsheets for where she is a cheerleader for mamas, or online looking for grace in her mundane and weird life. She lives in Fairbanks, Alaska with her four delightful (crazy) kids—some homeschooled, some public schooled, some too young for school at all—and her ridiculously good looking husband, Andrew.

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  1. Wow.
    1) A lot of people tell you that you are a gifted writer, but I'm not sure I ever have. Please hear this: You are a PROFOUNDLY gifted writer. I want you to write as often as possible – and post as many of your pictures as possible – because your communication in word and picture resonates with my soul. So, do you want a challenge? Think of a gift as a leather glove. With use, it softens and molds itself to the hand it is on (yup – ending my sentence with a preposition). I am stunned at what your glove will do as you continue to allow the Lord to put it on His hand …

    2) I want to give you a heads up: During the past 6-12 months, both you and Kori have piqued my interest in blogging. You are aware that I am (was?) a writer. In fact, I think I told you that I actually blew off God when he told me to start writing again 13 years ago. For years I have felt like a 5-talent servant with a 1-talent attitude. But I have begun to understand that the monumental emotional earthquake that I experienced in 2013 provides all kinds of second chances. I mentioned that God had given me the title for two books over the course of the past couple of decades. One of the things that I am going to start working on IMMEDIATELY is the tables of contents. I have no intention, at this point, to publish these books. But I am fairly convinced that God wants me to write them … or, to apply the glove analogy, God wants to write them through me. And I want to use the blog format to help me shape up the fragments of text as they start emerging. So, I'm letting you know that I'm going to jump on this bandwagon. Thanks for the inspiration!


  2. Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. It's hard to make time to do it (which is part of why I'm starting now, not a year ago), but it does such a good job of crystallizing ideas in my head. I'm glad you're going to do it! I'd love to read your writing. And I LOVE that you're moving forward on the books God's given you. As a thought, self-publishing has become a thing recently- Andrew met a guy who handed him a book that's for sale on Amazon, and every time there's an order, a book is printed, and he and Amazon each get a few bucks. So when you get down on paper what God has in your heart, it might be worth making available that way, so that we can benefit from your gift, too. If that's what He has for you. I love you! Thank you SO VERY MUCH for encouraging me as I do this. (Bizarrely, one of the more terrifying things I've done is hit “publish” and then “share.” Twice now. So encouragement is lovely.)


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