Laura J McDonald photography | My New Year's Declaration

My New Year's Declaration

January 31, 2016  •  4 Comments

At some point over the Christmas break in December my daughter asked me what her New Year's Resolution should be. As tempted as I was to say, "No more visiting abandoned buildings or train yards in search of adventure photos," I simply told her it was not my place to decide that for her. Resolutions are very personal decisions — requiring introspection, followed by the discipline to then carry them out. Plain and simple, a resolution is "a firm decision to do or not do something." Which is probably why I stopped making them years ago (there's not a whole lot of "firm" left in me *wink/cough*). I've made the same ones everyone else has — exercise more regularly, eat more healthily, memorize a scripture verse or two — the usual. But all too quickly resolution turns to resignation, and I choose the couch over the running shoes, the chocolate mousse cheesecake over the quinoa, or the mind-numbing Candy Crush over Romans 8:37, and end up sighing, "Oh well, maybe next year." 

But not today. Today I am embracing and celebrating the power of words, specifically the difference between a resolution and a declaration. By definition, a declaration is "a formal or explicit statement or announcement." The difference between personally resolving to do (or not do) something and explicitly stating or announcing it involves others/community/audience (or in my case sisterhood). You cannot hide from a declaration. It is "out there" for the entire world to see and hear. A declaration has a recipient. A resolution does not.

Two dear friends and I have been journeying our way through Macrina Wiederkehr's book Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God. It is rich, transformative stuff — the kind that urges contemplation, conversation, and conversion. I tried to read and apply it on my own but knew deep down something was missing. I needed community in which to process and pray. Macrina encourages the reader to acknowledge the power of words and invites us to offer the Word of God hospitality in our hearts. Seriously, picture that — God's Word cozied up inside the walls of your heart's bedroom, with a mug of hot coffee and a vase of fresh flowers on the proverbial nightstand (*tranquil exhale here*). Macrina states (emphasis mine):

"Words invite us to feel included, loved, honored. They call us to play and to work. They teach, comfort, praise. They forgive. They ask us to be authentic and true. They summon us to go deeper into the mystery of our lives . . . . When our words are united to the Word of God, the result is a new creation."

I embrace the creative, "organic" (which is artistic code for unorganized) side of me, and I freely acknowledge that my brain works on a 12-hour delay. The perfect answer to that "deep question" asked of me across the lunch table usually surfaces in the middle of the night, occasionally the next day. I hate to admit it, but my heart's delay is even longer. This internal overhaul has been brewing in me for a LONG TIME. But I am just back from a weekend retreat with Transforming Beauty where the question was asked of all attendees, "What is your voice and where do you think God is calling you to use that voice?" My answer is here. I have heard the whisper of God for years saying, "Write it down. Write it down" and I have PILES of journaled thoughts and prayers dating all the way back to 9th grade. But they are all private. Hidden. Personal. . . .

There's something about retreating from the ordinary for a weekend (with a sisterhood of believers, in a dreamy beach house - bonus) that roots up emotionally buried treasure and sheds glorious streaming light on the cloudy corners of our minds. The white space of this house, this weekend, gave me clarity — a blank page or canvas on which to create anew. Words were spoken, prayed, and declared over me - words like "freedom," "new anointing," "worthy," and "door opener." Words that sunk in, took up swift residence, and started fluffing the pillows of my creative couch. 

Michelle Benzinger, the creative director/visionary/crazy-in-the-best-way dreamer at the helm of Transforming Beauty urges all of us to live into our baptismal anointing of "priest, prophet, and king." She speaks life to the world, encouraging everyone she encounters to do the same. And so I pledge/declare/proclaim, that this blog is the place I am going to start working on that more intentionally - speaking LIFE. Listen, I am no teacher or theologian. But I CAN be a voice of love and hope in a world that is often deluged with the clamor of hatred and pessimism. Honestly, I believe we can ALL be that voice, in one way or another, if we are open to God working in and through us. (Call me Pollyanna. I'll take it.)

Because photography is so deeply ingrained in the creative me, I will of course incorporate images into each blog post. Photographs speak to me, and the literal/visual sides of my brain are in constant competition for dominance. My goal moving forward (at least for 2016) is for the literal to triumph. So cheers to the New Year. Here's to the Words. I declare that I will write. 



So, so proud of you! This is a wonderful message of truth, love and hope! I can't wait to see what else you have hidden in your journals that you choose to share ...
Jill Gibbs(non-registered)
So excited for you Laura. Great job! I look forward to more
Leslie Albizzatti(non-registered)
Beautiful Laura! Thank you for sharing your heart and for speaking your voice.
So proud of you Laura. Can't wait to read more and to share with dad
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