Sunday, December 28, 2014

Word of the Year

Success is not final;
Failure is not fatal;
It is the courage to continue that counts.
-Winston Churchill


A couple of years ago, I joined the “word of the year” group of bloggers and selected a word for 2013. My word for that year was Endurance and boy did I have to endure many challenges that year.  My word for 2014 was Aspire because there was so much I wanted to aspire to.

But, like most human beings, I fell short of my goal. I accomplished some, but failed to accomplish all that I had in mind for the year.

When I came across this quote by Churchill, it truly spoke to me because I know so many people who are afraid of failure. In fact, the fear of failure paralyzes them. It defines them. If they cannot succeed at something, they pretty much won’t even attempt it.


What is it? 

Webster’s defines it as nonperformance, proving unsuccessful; lack of success.

Churchill knew of what he spoke. He felt like a failure during World War I in which he made bad political decisions about Gallipoli that left him ostracized in the political community. He failed at government. He failed at leadership.

Winston Churchill was a failure.

But did that fact paralyze him? Did he never attempt anything again?


He learned that failure isn't fatal. After having served as an officer in the British army in the Second Boer War, he rejoined the military and fought alongside British soldiers in World War I and succeeded at leadership so much so that he enjoyed much favor in politics when he returned home and ultimately became Prime Minister of England during World War II.

And the rest is history.

But even then, Churchill realized that success wasn’t final. He continued on and endured much during World War II. He saw more successes and more failures in his life…but he continued and that’s what counted most of all.

For me, I set goals for myself in 2014:

I aspired to finish and publish 2 books.

Success! I completed my first self-published book, "The Children Under the Ice", and released it to much acclaim. My readership truly enjoyed it and immediately requested more. The last book of "The Dragon Forest" trilogy was completed and is with my publisher today. 

It’s always a tremendous feeling to complete a goal.

I aspired to be a better teacher this year so I took a professional development course in teaching writing. I aced the course and saw my teaching improve. To meet that professional goal was a sweet victory after my horrible first year of teaching.  

I aspired to participate in and finish the Marine Corps Marathon in October. I trained all year and even endured an injury over the summer, but my husband and I made it to Washington DC so that I could meet my goal. Even after a car accident the night before the race, I was able to run and finish that marathon…the hardest race I have participated in yet.

Having my husband of 26 yrs there with me as I accomplished that goal truly was a blessing.

But did I accomplish every goal I aspired to this year? No.

I aspired to gossip less this year…and I failed.
I aspired to be more zealous for God this year…and I failed.
I aspired to study God’s word more fervently this year…and I failed.

So, like many people of the world (including Churchill…) I am a failure by my own standards.

I am a failure.

But not to God.

You see,  although I did fail to gossip less this year, I did succeed at spending more time in prayer everyday than ever before. I knew I needed the Lord’s help with this particular weakness and He met me at my desk in my classroom every day for prayer.

I did fail to be more zealous for God this year, but I did succeed in providing a Christian witness in my classroom each day without uttering one word about the Lord. At the end of the school year, one of my former students told me she saw Christ in me and knew He was there with me all year.

I did fail to study God’s word more this year, but I did write a Bible study based on one chapter of the Bible I studied over and over again all year.

So I was successful after all!

But, as Churchill said, success isn’t FINAL.

 I will not stop here. 

I will have the courage to continue on with setting more goals and committing to more efforts to improve this year.

And that’s my word for this year: Commitment.

I will commit to be a better witness for Christ, a better teacher overall, a better runner, and better writer than ever before.

I will commit to trying new things I have never tried before: a sprint triathlon and a 52mi ultra marathon.

With the Lord’s help, I will commit to serving Him with my gifts and talents this year. I know I cannot do it alone, but I am excited to see how He will do these things through me for HIS GLORY and not mine.

That’s what it’s all about: watching God move through us for His glory.

As I look back over 2014, that’s what I see. I see how the Lord worked through me and used me in and out of the classroom, with my writing, and with my running to inspire others to keep going no matter what.

As Churchill said, "It is the courage to continue that counts."

Commit your way to the Lord;

Trust in Him and He will act. 
Psalm 37:5