2013 Wrap-Up: One Word

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This morning I got on my too-small-for-me-AND-broken-bicycle and began peddling like mad only to discover that thanks to several huge gusts of wind, my progress forward was rather pathetic. It was at the great waste of unnecessary energy that I propelled myself along the bike path, head down, hood up, only to watch the longer, leaner, stronger bikers around effortlessly pass me. And this guybike photo with two extra kids on his bike. —>

Yep, they passed me too.

So there was that.

And as I cycled (albeit rather slowly), I had a laugh-at-myself moment.

Like if I could just step back and see the uselessness of it all, I would probably get off the frick’n bike and start walking. It would probably be faster. The only reason I am even peddling a broken bike is because I fell over. Into a puddle. On Christmas Eve. That was after my bike that fit me just right made its final resting place at the bottom of a canal courtesy of some football hooligans. So perhaps I should just give up on biking all together.

This unfortunate bike effort feels like a metaphor for all of two-thousand-thirteen. 

Like, that was just way too much effort, and I still didn’t get anywhere

In case you missed it, my One Word for 2013 was purpose. I jumped into the year excited. With great anticipation that this year was going to be awesome. And I was going to accomplish… stuff.

Focusing on the things that really mattered.


(Purpose: Discovering the object towards which I strive.

Purpose: The motivating factor, the goal, the intention.

Purpose: Taking advantage of the gift of freedom.

Purpose: Knowing what I have today is only temporary.

Purpose: …)


I am not totally sure when purpose completely de-railed itself into so-busy-I-can’t-get-my-head-above-water-let-alone-answer-any-emails mode. I think at the six month mark my life was almost so exceptionally out of control that I dreamed about sleeping… as in, I would fall asleep, and in my dreams, I would get to sleep for a long, long, long time but then I would wake up and realise I hardly slept and the day was starting all over again.

After the six month mark, things just got hard. Lives were lost, tears were shed, I battled darknessI lamented, I kicked and screamed, I ran out of words, I collapsed on my bed, and I still struggle to get out of it every single day.

I was (am) a broken bicycle getting buffeted by the wind. And I felt like I wasn’t moving at all.

I guess I lied to myself when I chose just one word for 2013. I actually had a list. A list which I thought, ‘if I accomplish these in 2013, I will have used the year purposefully’.

Things like:

– Helping run the Shine Seminar (which I did).

– Going to Dutch class (which I did)

– Moving into a volunteer position at NFS (which I did)

– Writing more (which thanks to SheLoves Magazine, I did)

– Connecting with what is happening in Eastern Europe (which I did, through multiple trips and events)

– Moving to a house closer to work (which, praise the Lord, I did)

– Being involved in my local church (which I did)

Yet accomplishing each thing on my list didn’t give me purpose.

My wrap up label for 2013 was simply, a year of tears, and purpose has become something like putting one foot in front of the other. Choosing forgiveness over bitterness. Choosing to hope when I feel like despair.

For me purpose looks a bit like a broken bicycle, but it sounds like being real and vulnerable. It feels like late night whiskey drank around a table of friends. It looks like hands that write emails, even when they get no response. It smells like fresh flowers bought to mourn the loss of a girl who only a few people know. It costs dropping everything to fly to Canada and stand next to someone I love at a memorial of someone I never thought we would lose. It feels like waking Christmas morning in a big bed next to my Amsterdam sister while sunshine streams in through the windows. It tastes like drinking fresh fruit juice on a lazy Saturday when nothing is accomplished except perhaps taking a shower.

Here is my broken life, poured out and wasted on all my striving, damaged by the reality of this world, fighting for every step forward.

So with all that was accomplished and lost in 2013, I don’t really know how I feel about the word purpose anymore. Except perhaps to say that I am now acutely aware of how temporary life is. Yet my saving grace has been those temporary moments that speak to something so much deeper.

I am happy to say goodbye to 2013. I have no desire to create a list or goals for the new year. Except photofor one thing. This new one word.



In 2014 I will be taking a sabbatical, like actually for real, 6-months off. I have no idea what that will look like yet, all I can say, is I am so thankful for the people in my life who are willing to walk alongside me in rest, hold me accountable to it, and help me form something beautiful out of it.

How did your one word 2013 work out? What is your new word for 2014?

12 Responses to “2013 Wrap-Up: One Word”
  1. Helen Burns says:

    Oh how I love you beautiful, tender, raw, honest Saskia. Your year did have great purpose – mission accomplished! I think it is always in the places that we feel the weakest and can’t see progress that we are actually gaining great core strength and resilience and became so much stronger than we realized.

    I love that I am learning from you… you are inspiring and your life teaches beautifully. I am happy to hear that you chose rest as your OneWord and are taking a real sabbatical. May you find great strength and purpose in this season and know His sufficient grace and peace. Your thoughts make me think of Matthew 11:28-30 (Message):
    “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

    Happy New Year lovely Saskia – you are very treasured.

    Helen xo

    • justsaskia says:

      What beautiful words you have given me today Helen! I like this idea of gaining core strength & I think I need this version of Matthew 11 tucked away for the coming months as I enter into a sabbatical.

      As always your words of love and encouragement mean so much.

      Happy New Year to you.

  2. Katie says:

    I’m new to the idea of a “one word” focus for the year. But in everything else you wrote, I feel you. I’m so ready for 2013 to be over. I NEED something new. Not just that I want it but I need it. I’ve been praying/thinking about what my one word will be for 2014 and still haven’t found that right word that fits for what I’m hoping for or move towards. This year has left me feeling broken down and empty.

    Thank you for being open and real. Thank you for pouring your life out and sharing it with all of us (maybe there are others who are reading but can’t find the words to comment). I will be watching to see what you’re given in this coming year of ‘rest’.

    • justsaskia says:

      Katie – wishing for you the right word for 2014 and that this year will be one of healing from the broken and empty place you find yourself in.

      Thanks for your words and for commenting. I appreciate it.

  3. DeeMarie says:

    Beautiful, really. Rest up Saskia!

  4. Michaela. says:

    I’m so glad to hear you will be taking a sabbatical. It’s brave and wise, and so many of us need it too. Well done!

  5. JL says:

    I have been reflecting on my one word 2013 too. It has evolved to be something so different from how I had imagined, for better and for worse. BUT all in all, it has led to a more conscious transformation in and through me, and I hope that your time of sabbatical will give you the space and time to reflect! Blessings on you, Saskia, in your calling and your time of rest.

    • justsaskia says:

      Thank you Jenny! It is funny how the word turns out so different then we expect. Much love to you this coming year.


  6. Saskia you are an amazing servant. Well done.

    Sounds like you have given yourself, “to last drop” to quote Mother Teresa’s offering, she wanted to drink the cup of service, sacrifice, compassion, to the last drop. I don’t know what it is like to give from so deep a place. But I have heard that those who pour themselves out completely will be re-filled: To overflowing.

    I have worked hard this year, too much work. At Christmas I allowed Saturday-type days where I could make my easy ambition, like yours, simple, a shower is good. And you know what, food tased better, juice tasted sweeter, sleep felt richer, deeper aah.

    My word for last year: action. This year, present.

    • justsaskia says:

      Marilyn – your word of ‘present’ sounds healthy after a year of action.

      Thank you for your encouragement.


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