My Word for 2017 is Presence.

 Absent or distracted is the opposite of present. The root of distracted is "Tract" which means to pull or drag. When I am distracted, I am allowing myself to be pulled, dragged away from the present, one of our greatest gifts. The current moment in time if lost is never returned it is a one time gift and when we allow distraction we are stealing from ourselves.
I have come to recognize one of the greatest enemies in my current season is distraction.  
I find myself preferring the company of my beautifully curated Instagram photos than my breathtaking children.  I am being pulled away by my next NetFlix binge or romantic comedy than the man of my dreams upstairs in our bed. I am dragged away from the very Word of God by piles of dishes, laundry, and emails. My attraction grows for a pseudo community in my comments feed instead of flesh and blood in the pews around me on Sunday.  I could come up with a laundry list of resolutions to combat these distractions, but I know they will fall short because you must be captured by a greater attraction to not fall victim to distraction.  Brother Lawrence said,
“That many do not advance in the Christian progress because they stick in penances, and particular exercises, while they neglect the love of God, which is the end."  I know I am missing something because
 Psalm 16:11 says, "You Make known to me the path of life, in your presence in fullness of joy- in your right hand is pleasures forever more," yet my joy is often stolen by a spilled sippy cup, a disagreeable preteen or dirty diaper at an inconvenient time.   I want to look at my children instead of my phone, dance with my family in the kitchen when we should be in bed, linger longer on the porch with a friend not because I am trying to be a better person but because I am so overcome by God's deep extravagant love for me. A love so incredible he redirected all of history to demonstrate how much I am loved. 
Brother Lawrence in The Practice of the Presence of God goes on to say  this about God's love,
“The King, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastising me, embraces me with love, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the key of His treasures; He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and a thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as His favorite."
Being present with people is a sacrifice at times, but I believe if I allow the gift of the presence of God to go more deeply into my soul the people around me will become more of a gift and less of a burden.
I want to be rooted in God's presence so that I can remain Present with my people. 
 2017 is the year of my Presence Project.  I plan by God's grace to add things to my life that I believe will usher in more of God's presence and fight to rid myself of things that cause distraction from God and my people.  I hope and pray when 2017 closes I can say with a less distracted heart my people are a gift and in His presence is my full joy. 

Rachel Baxter