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The past several years I have began each new one with a word, deeper than a resolution, an intention that covers every decision, failure, success and step of courage. Even the very small ones. It started as a way to encounter my own life when I felt a bit lost. The past years have held words like, Refinement, Courage, Whimsy, and most recently – Freedom. It’s become a beautiful anticipation of what the word ahead might be and without provocation it will start to find it’s way to me during the Fall months.

Walking into 2015 on the heels of a year that was a daily act of bravery – a new city, new community, new church, building a brand/company from scratch, learning new jobs, living way outside my comfort zone – falling, getting back up, and falling again – the Lord put Freedom on my heart for the year ahead.  A thoughtful friend made me a banner flag with the words “Live In Freedom” printed onto the canvas. The flag hangs in my room and reminded me every day as I woke up to pursue freedom. That word began to infuse itself into my every thought and action – pushing me to places I didn’t know I could or was prepared to go. I’d stop for a moment and ask myself “ does this propel mine or other freedom (physically, emotionally, spiritually?”

Throughout the past year I walked alongside of friends darkest days, championed things I believed in, celebrated exciting beginnings with ones I love, pursued my relationship with God, uncovered important truths of myself, began sharing my stories of surviving abuse and the redemption that comes from healing, had my heart broken a few times, co-labored with some of my heroes.

The greatest takeaway from last year was how strong I feel.  The kind of strength that extends yourself a lot of grace for all the things yet to figure out. Holding a quiet reverence for how hard you fought to feel this strong – causing you to wonder what more beautiful stories are yet to unfold.

As I prepared for what this year may hold I knew that it must be one that compounds the previous ones and all the wonder, loss, hope and courage into something powerful. After reading Brene Brown’s newest book, I tentatively deemed 2016 as the year of Rising Strong.

The word choice has become important – there isn’t any pressure to it – but something I have come to believe in. So I let it sit for a few months. 

Rising Strong felt like the ethos and as I searched for the word, right before NYE a close friend said “ I think this is your year of the Phoenix”.  Yes, I replied, it most definitely is.

2016 has become the year of the Phoenix. No, (not Phoenix, Arizona) the kind that represents a mythical bird  that will burn itself on a funeral pyre, and to rise from its ashes in the freshness of youth and live through another cycle of years: often an emblem of immortality or of reborn idealism or hope (translation) 

Under the intention of this year’s word I am pursuing boldness, grace, greater depths in relationships, (both with God and friends/family)  continued healing, and extending the kind of love that leaves people and situations changed.  

Hope, has been on my heart a lot lately. As I wrestle with the current state of the world, personal dreams left unfulfilled, nearing thirty, and so many maybe’s out there. My thoughts are surrounded by how to use the healing, and strength I have found to help others. In my right now and in places far away who need us. Wondering how can I as a follower of Christ,  help bring light and real time support to those in the greatest need. Whether that be survivors of sexual abuse, friends with dreams deferred, The Church in it’s disarray but exponential potential for good, the innocent lives being affected by trafficking or ISIS, or the young people losing their life to suicide in my city. Other days, most importantly being the best sister, daughter and friend I possibly can.

Sarah Bessey wrote ” I guess I am foolish enough to believe they will know us by our love. I don’t want to be swallowed by the darkness. Nor do I want to be blinded by the beautiful facade. No, I want to be part of a people who see the darkness, know it’s real, and then, then, then, light a candle anyway. And hold that candle up against the wind and pass along our light wherever it’s needed from our own homes to the halls of legislation to the church pulpit to the kitchens around the world”. (excerpt from Out Of Sorts)

That’s what I hope Phoenix 2016 will be filled with – pursuing the light, covered in boldness and grace – finding ways to see the darkness but always lighting the candle anyways.

In this last year of my twenties, which has been one hell of a long decade, I am working to let the old hurts, dreams, scars, joys, pain and trauma burn off of me in a funeral pyre to come fully alive in renewed hope and purpose. Continually pursuing the purpose ahead of and within me. 
What would your word be this year? What kind of support would you need to see it through? Where could you push yourself or extend even more grace to yourself and others? What have you longed for? I’ll walk with you if you need a friend in it – I believe it’s a worthy adventure. 

Keep Daring,

Suzanna Rose

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