Have you ever had a moment in time where you KNEW God himself just told you something and that you had better pay attention?
Maybe it was over a specific issue or something in your prayer life or maybe just a feeling… you just KNEW you had to listen and obey!
I’ve had that happen several times over the course of my life, but never so clearly as when God gave me my first word of the Year. Before that time, I never really understood the whole idea of a “Theme Word” or “Word of the Year”. I admit that I sometimes thought it silly and overused in Christian circles. Other times I thought I just wasn’t “Godly Enough” for Him to actually give me something so particular. Looking back now, I chuckle at myself and shake my head at my attitude (and thank God for his loving patience with me).
My first theme word was given to me in late December 2014 as I sat in a hospital emergency room with my daughter with what would later be diagnosed as Ehlers-Danlos, Mast-Cell Activation Disorder and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. At the time it was a bunch of random weirdness and we were being sent to the rare disease specialist. As I am sitting there and praying for my child, God tells me
At that time, I thought that was the silliest thing I had heard and questioned if that was even from God. By February of 2015, as my daughter was 2 weeks into a hospital stay and I was so incredibly exhausted, I KNEW that was my word from the Lord and that it didn’t have to make sense to me. I had to press FORWARD and look FORWARD and learn to guide my kids FORWARD through some deep dark waters. My first word was a learning experience for me in obedience, trust, and faith. Through it, we saw so many blessings and truths given and received that year.
When 2016 rolled around, I had learned my lesson – Listen to the word the Lord gives. That year’s word was
The lesson for 2016 was Joy – in the suffering – as it was the year my marriage fell apart, and life changed forever. That’s a story for another day, but suffice to say that by the end of 2016 I knew where my Joy came from and I had learned to protect it and fight for it. I had also learned to PURSUE it. After the difficult year of hard-fought JOY, I was equal parts excited and nervous about what word would be next (as you can imagine)
would be for 2017 and it was a year I had to learn to walk one step at a time and never know where my footsteps were going to land. It was a year I learned just how much I can trust and lean on God and expect him to carry my family safely through the darkest, murkiest waters I had ever been in. It was also the year my daughter would be put on hospice and told she would be lucky to make it to 18, 4 of us would be diagnosed with trauma-induced PTSD, we would lose our home and we would move (again) to try and save my daughter’s life – the year that would bring me to Mobile, AL as a single mom trusting long-time friends to house us indefinitely.
I learned that year how to be obedient in my responses to Christ as I allowed God’s word to fill my mind, will, and feelings.
By the end of 2017 and into 2018, God had provided safety, a rental home of our own, work for me, counseling for the kids and healing for my daughter (who was released from hospice by February 2018). That year’s word was slow in forming, though the definition of the word was pouring out abundantly. 2018’s word was
It became a year of rest, physical healing for my daughter who made it to 18 thriving, emotional healing and rebuilding for us. It also became a year of hard work, forgiving unforgivable things, and an internal battle within myself on trusting others and letting people in. On top of that, it was a year of catching up with our academics as life had been our teacher for the year prior. By the end of 2018, I honestly didn’t know if I was ever going to be thankful for what had come before… I was really struggling.
Last year, when God told me my word would be
I argued with him. I told him that I didn’t understand how on earth I could go forward with joy abiding in him with a thankful spirit of HOPE if I never finished working through the thankful part!!! Do you know what he said to me? He said –
That is exactly why your word is HOPE… trust me
I still wrestled, but said ok and wrote the word down and then pouted for a few months. Yes, it’s silly and foolish – you would think I had learned not to do this. By late April/ early May of 2019, I learned my oldest 2 were going to graduate! We thought they had 1 more year to go since we had taken a year off for hardship and I was NOT prepared for my first babies to take that big step!! We had two weeks to adjust to the idea and then I got to watch my first babies step into their new life as they walked across that stage and took their High School Diplomas. Shortly after that, God opened the door for us to buy a house and put down roots (I am still not sure HOW that happened), one daughter got an amazing scholarship to a local school for college, and things just suddenly became “normal”. I have learned over this year that BECAUSE of my HOPE in Christ I am able to ABIDE with JOY as I move FORWARD with a heart that is now overflowing with THANKFULNESS towards those that have walked through the trenches, those that have persecuted us, and those that God placed for a season. I have finally started to understand the lessons in THANKFULNESS, though not all in the traditional sense of the word.
That leads us to 2020, the start of a new decade, the next new beginning and what seems to be an annual cycle of just adding more to every word I’ve had since 2015. This word will be
It will be interesting to see how God uses that word to build and grow my family and me personally in the year to come. I’ll try to keep you posted.
For me, words have been pretty powerful and have shaped some of the hardest years of my life – they have shown me the power of my God, His love for me, and His care! Some of you may not have a word of the year, or a decade, or a season – and that’s OK. Maybe that isn’t how God has chosen to speak to you and to teach you. NEVER compare yourself to someone else but, please,
ALWAYS keep your hearts open to hear God’s voice.
If you DO have a word of the year, I would love to know what your words have been and hear how God has used those words in your life!
Let us encourage one another as we walk this journey!!!