the spiritual process of choosing my word for 2017


I started choosing a word to focus on each year in 2009.  That was just after our family moved from the SF Bay Area to a little town in Minnesota (we also moved back only six months later, but had no idea when we were gearing up for this big move.. we thought it was for good).  My word that year was savor.  I wanted to soak up everything around me.  Moments with my babies (then, ages 11, 9, 3 and a baby), time with family and friends, and all the things I loved about where we lived.  I was also determined to savor the experience of moving and being intentional about creating new memories and adventures with my family, and embracing our new life in the midwest. Choosing the word savor and keeping it in mind throughout that season really helped me keep my focus on what was important and make the most of that time.  That was also the year I started blogging.  It all started as a means to help me gather and record my thoughts and feelings as we went through the move, and to ponder and remember in my heart the precious everyday moments with my kids.  Looking back, I can say that I truly savored that year.

Other words I've chosen through the years since then are hope, whole-hearted, transition, trust and rise.  This year, my one little word is illuminate.

I thought I'd share how this came to be, because in the weeks leading up to the New Year, I had an inner struggle going on and maybe someone can relate.  My sister asked me one day if I had chosen a word, and I sent her this lengthy email, asking her to help me sort out my thoughts and clarify what my word should be.  Here's part of the email I sent her:

...this was from an email I got back in December (from Karen Gunton of Lighthouse Revolution), and immediately I was like- that’s my word!  


to light up.

to cast light on a subject.

to enlighten with knowledge.

to make clear.

to make brighter.”

But then I felt like that was kind of a scary word.. like who am I to think I can illuminate anything?  My original intention was that I want to light things up.  I want to be a light where there’s darkness (like in the little things.. hard days at work and home, I want to make things lighter instead of settling in the struggle and letting it darken me).  I felt like I was a dark cloud for a while, and I want to be someone who offers hope and makes things brighter (both in real life, online and in business).

Then, just before the New Year, I was thinking about the word MAKE.  I had a whole list of how that can be utilized in so many different ways. (make time, make art, make peace, make do, make it happen, make friends, etc.)

I loved all the ways I could incorporate that word, and that it felt safe.  But at the same time, there was something stirring in me to step out a little more, to stop playing it safe, and I started seeing a similar theme coming up as I heard songs, scrolled Instagram and even in emails I received.

There was a video from Lisa Bevere on Instagram.  Kind of about stepping out of what’s holding you back.

Another Instagram post from Beth Moore that said, “Do not let anybody or anything undercut your confidence in Christ.  On the other side of perseverance is reward.”

This was a quote I saw on Instagram from Exodus 33:14-18, “The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then Moses said to Him, ‘If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.  How will anyone know that You are pleased with me and with your people unless You go with us?  What else will distinguish me and Your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?’  And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.’ Then Moses said, ‘Now show me Your glory.’”

Another one simply said, “Say Yes to new adventures.”

A quote from Angela Thomas Pharr, “She has been created to declare Your glory with her life.

And then this one from my friend Homer really made me take notice (kind of an “ouch”)  “God’s strength is perfected in our weakness.  So why would we choose to only serve and minister using skills and talents we’re confident in?”  His comment under the picture was, “God wants to use you for HIS glory not your own.  By using you in your weakness He makes sure this happens.”  I commented back, “Thanks for this.  I read it yesterday and it stuck with me.  I came back to it this morning and copied it in my journal.  Then I read something else that very closely related to this message.  I’m taking heart.”… to which he replied, “So glad this helped you, like it did me.  I love when Holy Spirit says stuff like this to me.  I realized too many Christians are paralyzed to minister because it’s not their “strength”, but God is more perfectly shown when we’re such a tiny part of the equation.”

This is from She Works His Way, a membership site for Christian women entrepreneurs:

God needs to know our “yes” is on the table. We need Isaiah 6:8 attitudes that say, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.”

Even if it’s small. Even if it seems insignificant. Even if we don’t understand how it ties in.

That’s how we’re going to spend January here in the portal: focusing on the every day “Yeses” we live when we give ourselves fully to God for His work.

It’s a hard prayer to ask God to expose our weaknesses. It seems dangerous to ask Him to expose our selfishness. But when we remind ourselves of where we fall short, it’s much easier to protect ourselves against pride. Ask God to use 2017 to strip you of things that are getting in the way of You living boldly for Him. Ask Him to strip away pride, fear, and shame. Pray He would help you walk humbly in the small things. Pray for a teachable spirit this month. We’re praying He will bust down walls and break chains in our lives. Bring on 2017!

Last references:  I get KLove daily Encouraging Word emails.  The last few days were:

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  Matthew 7:7 NLT

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.  Matthew 5:16 NLT

For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the things He planned for us long ago.  Ephesians 2:10 NLT

So you see, faith by itself isn't enough.  Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.  James 2:17 NLT

I want to make a difference at home, at work and in my business and stop dwelling in my limitations/ shortcomings, but believing that God has a purpose for me in each area, and that His plan is for abundant life.  I want to glorify Him in all of these things, not just make it through each day grudgingly, discontent in my circumstances, but living (that auto-corrected to loving, which also fits) to the fullest in every area.

By the time I had finished typing that email, I knew that my word was ILLUMINATE.  Just this morning I read in a devotional these words that kind of sum it all up:

God didn't give us our gifts and abilities to use for our own glory.  He gave them to us so others would benefit. (She Works His Way)

Too often I give in to the inner critic asking, "Who do you think you are?"  And feel like I don't really have much to offer.  I don't even admit that things that come naturally for me, like creativity, word study, administration and empathy are actually gifts that God wants to use to bless others.  My shortcoming isn't so much in wanting glory for myself, but in not wanting any sort of attention so that I don't operate in my gifts at all.  So this year, I want to step out into my calling.  I'm not even totally sure what that looks like yet, but I'm saying YES and embracing that I can be an instrument of His light.

How about you?  Are you shying away from something you feel burning inside because you feel inadequate?  Is there some theme or purpose that keeps tugging at your heart?  I encourage you to lean in and really pay attention to those things.  They can show up in a song you hear, a commercial you see, something you read or something that pops out to you when scrolling through social media.  If you've been noticing a common message, it may not be coincidence.  Spend some time in prayer and ask God what He is speaking to you.  And if it's a little scary, it's probably because He wants to work in and through you in ways that you couldn't on your own.

Let's let this be the year we rise up and let our lights shine!


Inspiration and resources to encourage you in creativity, faith, dreaming big and taking action