Theme Word 2020: Love

Wow, 2020 is here—and that can mean a lot of things, but one thing each new year means for me is deciding on a new theme word for the year.

I’ve never adopted New Year’s resolutions, but for the past several years, I’ve chosen a theme word to help guide me through the year. Focusing on an over-arching word—a quality, an attitude, or an action—can give me direction throughout the year and also helps me focus on more fully implementing whatever the new word is.

I usually start asking God to direct me to a theme word for the upcoming year sometime during November or December. This year lots of words came to mind, but one of them seemed to encompass practically all of the others. In fact, if I implemented that word, I would be implementing most of the others as well.

That all-encompassing word I’ve chosen for the year? Love. Scripture actually explains why I felt like the word love is an umbrella for so many others. Galatians 5:13-14 says, “serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (NIV)

Also, as in previous years, God was so good to confirm my choice. This time his confirmation came through a book I was reading at the time. In fact, as I remember, he confirmed it within hours. The author actually mentioned that her word for the year was love. Pretty clear confirmation, huh?

As usual, I’m not sure what all the Lord has up his divine sleeve this year in leading me to the word love. But as I try to let love be my guide, I’m sure to live out many other qualities and actions as well. Things like kindness, compassion, forgiveness, patience, mercy, endurance, faithfulness, helping, believing, as well as following and obeying God. I bet you can think of even more to add to the list.

One thing I’m doing to help me keep my focus on love this year is reading through Bob Goff’s new book Live in Grace, Walk in Love: A 365-Day Journey. The book actually released in October, but I didn’t discover it until December. And when I did, I knew right away it would be the perfect daily devotional for me in 2020. So yes, you bet I ordered a copy pronto.

If you haven’t chosen a word for the year yet, you’re welcome to join me in focusing on love. I think I’m safe in saying that I’ll (we’ll) be challenged by it every day. And yes, I know that I’ll fall short—and probably daily—but the Author of love himself will be standing ready to forgive and offer his helping hand and perfect example once again. Yes, the Lord will keep showing me what love is all about.

“‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.’” John 15:12 NIV

*Have you chosen a theme word or anchor verse for the year? I’d love to hear about it!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flicker photo by Captured Heart, Creative Commons License

Theme Word 2019: Depend

*FYI, I won’t be posting next week but will see you back here on Jan. 22. Blessings to all!

I love the practice of choosing a theme word for each new year. Having an over-arching word—a quality, an attitude, or an action—can give me direction throughout the year and also helps me refocus on the word—this thing God has directed me to do.

I usually start thinking and praying about what my word for the upcoming year should be sometime in November or December. This year three or four words came to mind, but as I prayed and asked God to direct me to his word for me for the upcoming year, one word resonated with me more than the rest.

The word that resonated the most with me for 2019? Depend. That may sound like an odd word to choose, but with the changes, situations, and tasks that 2019 may hold for me (or for my husband and me), I need to depend on God each step of the way. I can easily start to worry if I don’t remember to trust God and rely on him and his guidance and strength for whatever the future may bring. So depend it is.

Of course, as in other years, the word depend may end up with applications I haven’t even thought about yet. We’ll see. However the year plays out, I want to be found depending on my faithful and able God. My loving heavenly Father. My strength.

“You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” Psalm 59:17 NIV

*Have you chosen a theme word or an anchor verse for 2019?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by  Khánh Hmoong, Creative Commons License

Walk Worthy of the Lord—Whatever Happens

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1:27 NIV

A friend’s quick status update on Facebook a few years ago reminded me of her family’s need for prayer that morning. They were dealing with some folks who had not only waged a legal war against them but had lied about them as well. As I began praying for my friends, the Lord brought the above verse to mind, and I immediately prayed it for them.

“Lord, no matter what happens, no matter what they face, help my friends conduct themselves in a manner worthy of you. Help them react to all that happens with calmness and grace.”

As I continued to pray, I felt led to share this wisdom from the Word with them. I went back to the status update and left a comment, assuring them of my prayers and then shared the scripture with them. A few minutes later, I saw a reply—they were trying their best to do the very thing the verse exhorts us to do.

And yes, this verse is for all of us. Whatever happens, we are to walk worthy. Worthy of our Lord and Savior.

When times are good and we are rejoicing, we need to walk worthy. In other words, when good things happen or we succeed, who gets the praise? And are we careful not to lose our heads and do something unwise in the thrill of an exciting moment? Do we follow the admonition in 2 Timothy 4:5 (NIV)—“But you, keep your head in all situations . . .”

Of course, the more difficult times to walk worthy are when times are bad. When a friend or loved one betrays us . . . when someone hurts our kids . . . when our husbands or wives lose their tempers with us . . . when someone gossips about us . . . and yes, even when a devastating crisis knocks us to our knees. What do we do then? Do we walk worthy?

How are we able to do this? How can we conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel no matter what happens? Only by his grace. Only by his power.

 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV

*When do you find it most challenging to walk worthy?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*I hope this slightly revised post from Sept. 2011 blessed you today!

*Flickr photo by peasapCreative Commons License

Listen Acrostic: More on My 2018 Theme Word

Since a third of the year will soon be gone, I wanted to give more thought to my 2018 theme word listen. For me, the creative exercise of writing acrostics is an excellent way to go deeper in my consideration of certain words. Doing so helps me think of different aspects of the word.

So as I remind myself of and reflect on listen, I pray you are blessed and inspired to listen more carefully as well. And not only that, but if you chose a theme word of your own this year, maybe reading this creative exercise will inspire you to do something similar with your word. Whatever the case, friends, may you be blessed as you read!

Listen 

Lean close and be attentive to every word and to nonverbal cues as well.

Invite others—including God—to speak by asking questions and waiting for their answers. 

Silence distractions by turning off or putting away electronic devices and by setting aside time for communication.

Think about what I’ve heard, processing it and letting it sink in instead of quickly forgetting it.

Empathize with concerns shared with me and also grant understanding to my own thoughts and feelings.

Note action I need to take in response to what I’ve heard.

I pray that I—and you as well—will have hearts to become better listeners and that God will help us grow our listening skills. Now what was that you were saying?

“‘Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.’” Isaiah 55:3 NIV 

*Which aspect of listening is the most challenging for you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out next week. One lucky subscriber will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by sea turtle, Creative Commons License

Theme Word 2018: Listen

Any other theme word junkies like me out there? Yes, I am indeed hooked on the practice of choosing a theme word for each new year. For a goal-oriented gal like me it seems only natural to have an over-arching word—a quality, an attitude, or an action—that I can focus on and that can give me direction throughout the year. 

In November and/or December I start thinking and praying about what my word for the upcoming year should be. Some years I think I know what it will be and then the Lord brings another word to mind or to my attention through multiple avenues. When that happens I know God is at work directing me to the word he has for me in the upcoming year. I so appreciate his guidance. After all, he knows the future and he knows what I need to help guide me through it.

This year the Lord has directed me to the word listen. As usual at this early stage, I don’t know all the ways God will use this particular theme word in my life over the next twelve months. I just know it’s a word I’ve been noticing and that has been resonating in my spirit. And so, I want to listen to those inner nudges and begin to focus more on listening this year.

So here’s hoping by the end of 2018 I will have grown in my listening skills. Listening more often and more attentively to God, to my loved ones, to others, to the natural world, and even to myself—to what my body or spirit may be trying to tell me.

And as ever, it will interesting to see what God has in store this year and how he will use listen in my life. He has a way of surprising us, doesn’t he? So I say, “Lord, help me keep my ears and my spirit wide open so I don’t miss a thing!” 

“. . . Everyone should be quick to listen . . . ” James 1:19

*Have you chosen a theme word or anchor verse for 2018? If not, feel free to adopt mine!

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by mpeterke, Creative Commons License