Story is my word for 2020.
If you’d rather read the story, just scroll down.
My friend JennRene Owens always gets me searching for a Word of the Year. This year, Story is my word, and today I have a mystery for you. I’d love your help solving it, and I’d also like to hear about any mystery you’d like solved. Let’s crowdsource some clues together!
I go to the woods to think. I often find myself looking inwardly at my mental list of things to do, so intently a bear could sit down beside me and I wouldn’t notice. When I go to the woods, I go (sucking sound with fingers pulling eyes from closed to open) and unstick my eyes so they can roll to the front. When I look out, up and around, I see God just EVERYWHERE.
On December 9, 2015, the inside of my head was a blizzard. Thoughts whirled and piled into drifts. I was torn between huddling in place (at least I knew where I was) and shivering, or moving into the white unknown. I put on my hiking shoes, picked up my keys and headed to the woods. The trees had been falling down that year. I didn’t know why. It had me a little worried, but I had spent the summer photographing the mushrooms which feathered the rotting trunks. Humans see something beautiful, like a tree, and think, “Hold it! Stay exactly like that forever.” We try to freeze beauty in place—if you don’t believe me, just count the face creams at Walgreens. Our Creator doesn’t work that way—change nurtures life.
December 9, blizzard in my head, I drove toward the woods, seeking understanding among the mushrooms. I never made it there.
“Kristi, what makes you cry?” my friend Kim had asked me. She’d called me around 5 on December 8 and said, “Hey, can I come over? There’s something I want to talk to you about.” We’d stood in my driveway until after midnight. At 2am, I lay in bed feeling the blood surge in my veins—HMMM—HMMM—HMMM—HMMM. I had a 7am meeting at work, but I could not sleep. Thankfully, it was a call-in meeting, so nobody knew I’d rolled out of bed at 6:45. Afterwards, I texted two of my coworkers and my bestie for prayer. Bob was the first to call, then Stacy.
Bob and Stacy are instructional designers. We’d met that summer and worked together to create training material for a system we were developing at my job. It was a night-and-day project. I often logged off at 11 pm and discovered programming changes at 8 am. When you work under that kind of pressure with people, you see what they’re made of. Bob and Stacy are golden.
What makes me cry, Kim? Not much these days, but on December 9, 2015, I cried a lot as I talked to Bob and Stacy. 2 weeks prior, at the end of November, I’d put in my college application. My band had broken up, I’d lost my grandparents, and I was floundering as I tried to write a book. I had so much fun with Bob and Stacy that I’d decided to get a degree in Instructional Design. The moment I hit the “Submit” button, my inner creative started sobbing uncontrollably.
That was a shock. Logical me said, “WHAT? What is going on? Stop crying!” Creative me sobbed, “Why? Why are you (hiccup) abandoning our dreams?” Logical me tried to argue, “It’s for our good. This is for us!” But creative me was too busy throwing things at logical me to listen.
Yep. I know. You’d have thought I was nuts.
Then came Kim on December 8. Now it’s December 9 and I’m still on the phone with Stacy as I put on my shoes, grab my keys and head toward the woods. I’m not sure when we hung up, but I missed my turn for the highway. As I aimed for Yale, one word became a sign in my mind. “Cultivate.”
I turned the car toward Woodward Park. In the woods, everything springs up and grows in whichever direction it can, untamed and unencumbered by anything except the elements, competition, and time. At Woodward Park, every plant has a place of honor, where it’s pruned and treated and fertilized. At first, to my hippy heart, it seemed too structured, too tame. But I’d asked for a sign. I needed a word. You can’t ask God to speak if you aren’t willing to move when He does. I walked through the gardens and saw love.
Hmm, Love. That’s where today’s mystery comes in. But not yet.
Standing in my driveway December 8, Kim had rolled out a plan to help me create a conference with my friend JennRene. I hadn’t even known that was possible. Two years before, I’d told Julie Clinton at the Extraordinary Women’s conference, “I’d like to be doing this in 2 years.” It was a pipe dream, I had no idea how I’d do it. Now, as I prepared to pause my dreams and go back to school, it suddenly seemed possible.
As I walked at Woodward, my eyes turned outward to the red and brown leaves skirting the trees, the winter herbs in their beds, the rose bushes still bearing flowers. I saw love.
Literally………………..But not yet.
As I walked, the snow in my head melted and the conference theme unfolded. I thought of the (ahem) “compost” in my own life and knew “Cultivate” was a key word for our audience and for me. “Kristi,” Stacy had said, “you already know what you’re going to do.” She was right.
As I turned away from the Linnaeus Teaching Garden to descend toward the rose garden, this was written on the steps.
“I will love you every step of the way.”
What makes me cry? Those words. It’s been 4 years, 3 books, 2 conferences, nearly 1000 videos and amazing collaborations with dream breathers like Kim White and JennRene Owens. I’ve even had the opportunity to learn instructional design without student loans.
But I can’t go on.
I can’t go any further, without knowing who wrote those words in Woodward Park, Tulsa, Oklahoma, December 9, 2015. I firmly believe God sent them to me, and I am so grateful.
But I need to know. What happened? Did someone make a romantic proposal on December 9, 2015? I can imagine some sweet 20-something down on one knee, making a lover’s heart stop in that moment of OMIGOSH, this is it!! “I will love you every step of the way.”
Maybe it wasn’t a proposal. Maybe someone else was going back to school, or starting a new career. Who wrote those words? Who drew the little chalk hearts I stepped around? What has happened since? I want to ask that person, “How’s your marriage?” I want to say, “Thank you. You have no idea how you changed my life that day. No matter what you’re going through, your willingness to open up and love have made an impact.”
So, if you’re watching this, would you do me a favor? Would you please share this video? If you’re listening on the 1 Moment Wiser podcast, would you please share this podcast and the photo in the link attached? If we can just get this out to everyone we know, surely somebody will have the answer.
And what would you like to know? Do you have a mystery to share? Reach out to me on Facebook or Twitter, or email info@1MomentWiser.com. I’d love to help you share your story.
Psalm 37 NIV says
23 The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
I can tell you from experience, it’s true. God bless you today!
If there’s a writer in your life, I bet that writer has a birthday coming up this year. Plan ahead and get the Every Step of the Way laptop case here.