Posted by: Robin~AllThingsHeartandHome | December 10, 2008

Looking Back ~ Looking Forward…

 As 2008 comes to close amidst tiny white lights, gingerbread houses, roaring fires and scrumptious feasts, I begin asking God a question I’ve been asking Him for almost 10 years now.

“God, could you give me a theme for the coming year?”

My close friend Beth started me on this journey. She told me, at the end of every year she asks God to give her a theme for the coming year. A phrase. I thought it was a great idea, so I started the tradition.

One year it was: “Some years ask the questions and other years answer…”

The next year: “This year, live the answers…”

In January 2006, just weeks after Mom left, I heard: “The stars shine brightest in the deep darkness of night…”

As last year came to a close, I heard the most exciting theme yet! “Love extravagantly!”

Now You’re talking! I love to love! I love to give! I love extravagance!

My thoughts were this: the 2 best ways to love extravagantly:

1~Giving…over and above giving!


My mind worked in overdrive planning the ways I’d love extravagantly. I planned a year’s worth of family get togethers (one about every other month) and I do mean planned. I mailed out Family Fun Schedules on adorable card-stock (if I do say so myself!),complete with magnets for the fridge. I prayed every day for God to help me love extravagantly, thinking all the while about buying this for this person and that for someone else. Thinking how proud Mom would be of us all getting together regularly.

Then in August we got a deep pay-cut which directly effected my extravagant giving. Wonder, what’s up with that?

 And, I kid you not, I’m still smarting from this one, almost everything I planned this year was met with some kind of resistance. Something like: “Oh, that’s just one more thing to do” kind of attitude, or “I had no idea you were planning that” (hum mm, check the Family stinkin Fun Schedule on your fridge)..or the best…”I threw that schedule thingy away!” Seriously God, are you hearing these people?

Over and over I kept getting my feelings hurt. Feeling unappreciated. Watch for it, you see it coming...

Feeling sorry for poor little ole me.

I’m just going to keep my extravagant love to my own bad self!!!

 Then in early autumn I had a falling out with someone very close to me. Afterwards, I tried to love extravagantly. I sent gifts. I sent cards. No progress. I was at the end of my extravagant loving rope when Mike pointed out the way God loves extravagantly in conflict…he runs to the person. He runs to make peace. Hum mm, this is not what I bargained for. Seriously, I thought loving extravagantly would be more fun than this!!!

 There are about a hundred ways to Sunday that God loves extravagantly. And I’m convinced after 2008, that most of them are not as thrilling as heaping little love gifts and quality time on those around you.

There’s unconditional love. There’s turning the other cheek. There’s putting aside your ever-loving pride and making amends. There’s mercy when your heart jumps to judgment.

Jeez Louise, why didn’t I see that coming?

And this brings me to 2009.

I’ve been hearing this little jewel whispered in my ear for a few weeks and when I asked for the theme for next year, I almost thought I heard: Well, duh…

(I didn’t put that in quotes, as though God was being sarcastic, so as not to offend anyone…He may or may not have said Well, duh…)

I believe my theme for 2009 is:

Tickled by Joy!


I’m cautiously optimistic about all I’ll (hopefully) learn this coming year! If there’s one thing that’s for certain…the journey is never boring when you’re walking it with the God who made the universe!



  1. Oh Robin,

    “The Family stinkin fun schedule!!!!!!” My new all-time favorite Robin quote! Girl, you are digging deep, but clearly in a joyful way!

    I’ve been shown myself time and again that when you get off-course in life, the universe throws a little pebble your way. And if you don’t notice that, next a rock is thrown your way, and if that still doesn’t get your attention, you are shown the brick wall! And you just gave the perfect example of that principle. Such a great lesson.

    How exciting to think that this is the year of being tickled by joy! I will love seeing how this shows up in your life!

    Blessings and love to you Robin!

  2. What an extravagant way you love. Remember the year you surprised me? 1980-something. We were out shopping together at Christmas for our children. I commented that I loved your brown leather jacket.

    I think it was Christmas Eve when you surprised me with my very own brown leather jacket just like yours.

    I know it was waaaaay over budget. Definately beyond friend gift exchange limits. I still cry when I remember how God loved me through your gift of extravagance and sacrifice.

    Tickled by Joy,


  3. I don’t know if I can stand a whole year of you being tickled by joy! I am just teasing. It is such a joy for me to see you loving life and experiencing it in so many new ways.
    Rob, God is using you mightly in my life and many others. I truly believe your attitude is amazing and contagious. The things you write leave everyone encouraged, with new ideas and a sense that life can look different at different times. Sometimes we cannot all be in that place but can enjoy someone else being their. It gives hope, new perspective and laughter to those who could not find it in their own life at that time.
    I am THRILLED you are tickled right down to your cute little pedicured toes!

  4. Oh my gosh, I love you to pieces.

    You have loved us so extravagantly on this blog. Because you give us YOU.

    And you tickle me with joy daily. You’ve got yourself a great jump start for the year ahead! Can’t wait to walk through it with you…

  5. Robin-
    I just love you and I don’t even know you well! You inspire and encourage me. I just caught up on your blog. I have a good friend, K, who has two little ones and she is back living with her parents b/c her husband is divorcing her. Please pray for her during this season. You can pray best.

    We made the Advent Garland tonight and it was so fun. I never would have tried that without your suggestion but I am so glad we did:)

  6. You have definitely loved me extravagantly this year. I have felt God’s touch through your kindness and caring nature. Your excitement has carried me, your tenderness has broken me when I desperately needed someone to reach in for me. You definitely don’t need money to love extravagantly. Maybe God was trying to show you what a treasure your love is to those around you.

  7. Joy comes in only one size: unspeakable HUGENESS of heart.
    A heart “tickled by joy”is the normal result of a heart burning
    with love.
    God promises a bountiful harvest to those who sow
    bountifully…………..write on!



  8. What a great idea to ask God for a theme for your year. Wow! I never would have thought about doing that but why not? I will begin praying for guidance and for Him to lead me to be who He wants me to be this year, showing me an area to focus on. I love it! You have definitely brought me joy through your blog already and have shared so many valuable insights and lessons – thank you. You are such an inspiration. I’m kicking myself for not even really getting a chance to talk to you at the blog party – ugh! Maybe next time.

  9. […] When I asked God for a theme for 2009 I wasn’t really surprised by what I thought I heard…~Tickled by Joy~ (I wrote about it here, if you haven’t read […]

  10. […] read this post by Robin back in December about praying and asking God for a theme for the upcoming year – a […]

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