There is no special formula for choosing a word for the year. But, if you’re not sure where to begin, ask yourself these questions:
What is the one thing I struggle with?
What is my deepest desire?
What do I want to accomplish this year?
What character trait do I want to develop?
Is there a verse that resonates in this current situation?
What do I need the most in my current season of life?
What word or topic do I want to explore?
Is there a word that repeatedly shows up?
Unshakable: My first word
My first year, I chose a verse that resonated with me. During that time, my husband’s company was restructuring, relocating employees, and forcing extensive traveling. All of which wreaked havoc in our family dynamics and in my spirit. For an entire year, I read, journaled, pondered, and meditated on this promise within Psalm 16:8:
“I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)
These pursuits provided a foundation of unshakable faith. Years later, a diagnosis of a rare genetic disorder would test my faith. However, because I had engraved ‘unshakable’ and Psalm 16:8 in my spiritual foundation when the diagnosis came, I swayed a bit but remained steadfast in faith.
Ask God to guide you in the word choice. By seeking God’s direction, you are relying on His Sovereign nature, and are involving Him in the process. One of the attributes of God is that He is Omniscient. This means God is all knowing–He knows everything there is to know, past, present, and future. By involving God in the process, He is eager to whisper to your heart the area you most need.
Rest: My 2018 Word
Rest was the word God gave me for 2018. To be honest, I didn’t like this word. Rest felt lazy. At the end of 2017, our family had moved to a new town. I wondered how in the world I was going to rest in 2018 when I had a gazillion boxes to unpack. By involving God in my word, He revealed over the course of the year, that He wanted me to enter into His rest–a soul rest. The verse I selected to accompany the word rest was Psalm 46:10, “Be still [cease striving] and know that I AM God.”
My soul was at rest in 2018. My soul was at rest when the scans confirmed my daddy’s cancer. My soul was at rest when the ER doctor told me both of my lungs were full of innumerable blood clots. My soul was at rest when mom had hip, knees, and shoulder surgery. Rest—this type of rest only comes from God. My lungs are now clear and healthy. My dad had surgery and undergoes immunotherapy every three weeks and mom is in physical therapy and doing great.
As you pray for the right word, you will notice words begin to catch your attention. This is where the fun comes in. Document or brain-dump these words onto paper. Grab a journal, sticky note, or index card and jot down each word that rises to the surface of your mind. For me, this is the fun part. I love to use colorful pens to document each word in a journal.
Even if you don’t like the words that come to mind, jot them down anyways. You are not selecting a word yet, but jotting down ideas. One word will lead to another. Continue to pray for guidance. As you do, your senses will heighten. You’ll notice song lyrics, street signs, and phrases like never before. God will guide you in the process.
Choosing the Right Word
After you have asked yourself the probing questions, prayed involving God’s guidance, and documented words, you’ll notice one word or phrase rises above the rest. This is your word. For me, when one specific word keeps showing up, then I know it is my word. It as if God is giving me a heavenly nod or nudge.
During my morning coffee with Jesus, I read Psalm 59-63. My face broke into a wide grin when I landed on Psalm 63:8.
“My soul clings to you, your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:8)
Ever since I’ve been actively purposefully walking with the Lord (for the past fourteen years or longer) this has been my life verse. The visual concept of God’s mighty right hand holding me up brought comfort in the years I battled depression, parenting a strong-willed child, dealing with prickly relationships, and loss.
More recently, it dawned on me when I chose this verse or it chose me (or however that works) I would end up with an illness that often required my need to be upheld up.
Sometimes I am too weak to hold myself up and I must walk with the the assistance of another person, or cling to the wall and “cruise the furniture” as my physical therapist calls it. Occasionally, I use a cane. On the rarest occasions, if I want to enjoy an amusement park with my children, I surrender to a wheelchair.
While I am often being upheld by family, the invisible hand of God is holding me up spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically too.
My soul continues to cling to the Lord and God’s mighty right hand never fails to uphold me.
Restless, I wandered room to room searching for a place of solitude—finding none. The house was bustling with activity. Dash, the rescue kitty, sneaked a peek at our two Jack Russell terriers. A symphony of chaos erupted when Guinness and Kinsey saw the cat.
“Take the dogs out! The barking is driving me crazy!” I commanded.
Heavy footfalls of five grandkids, ranging in age from ten to nineteen, stomped through the house to tend to the barking dogs and a barking Mama.
“Lord help!” I pray.
Opening my Bible, the Lord answered my plea for help with praise from David in Psalm 145. As I studied God’s Word, I underlined each attribute of God contained in this passage. My heart swelled as I read of God’s goodness and His compassion and active care for His children.
In between the barking dogs and kid chaos, God met me and provided the solitude my soul craved. From the ancient Psalm of David God reminded me of these attributes of Himself:
Worthy of Praise
Slow to anger
Rich in love
Faithful to all this promises
Upholds the fallen
Lifts the oppressed
Satisfies with His open hand
Fulfills desires of those who fear Him
Hears our cry
Watches, preserves, and guards all who love Him.
God also taught me we cannot control our circumstances, but we can control our response and the direction of our praise.
How does reading these attributes of God change the outlook of your current situation?
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)
Stop! Before you read anymore please click play the song Good, Good Father. Let the song play in the background and please continue reading.
When sorrow like sea billows roll, praise and gratitude move God’s hand to push back the dark clouds.
Good, Good Father, a song written by Pat Barrett and Tony Brown of Housefires, soothes the aching soul. This week, this song has helped to push back the swirling clouds of darkness in my mind.
Each time I sing this song, snippets of Scripture verses rise to the surface of my mind. This morning I chose to annotate this song. Annotate simply means to analyze or dig for deeper meaning. The next several pages explode with Scriptural truth packed within the lyrics to this beautiful song. I choose to share the video featuring Amy Renee of Bethel Church. I love how she sings “He is faithful, faithful, faithful. He is able, able, able” (four minutes into the song). This is not part of the original lyrics, but shew its good stuff!
This blog is overflowing with truth. You may have to return to it again and again to take it all in. My hope is that each time, God will speak to the specific area in your heart.
God is a Good Father:
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1, NIV)
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26, NIV)
““What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:12-14, NIV)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3)
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:1-2, ESV)
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)
“Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13)
God’s Tender Mercies:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36)
“Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old.” (Psalms 25:6, KVJ)
“Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.” (Psalm 40:11, KJV)
“The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:9, KJV)
“After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.” (1 Kings 19:12, NET)
“A word was brought to me in secret; my ears caught a whisper of it.” (Job 4:12, NET)
“He hushes the storm to calm and to a gentle whisper, so that the waves of the sea are still.” (Psalm 107:29, AM)
God Speaking at Night:
“By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:8, ESV)
“For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men, and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed, and cut off pride from man; he keeps back his soul from the Pit, his life from perishing by the sword.” (Job 33:14-18, RSV)
“I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.” (Psalm 16:7, NKJV)
“You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night” (Psalm 17:3, NKJV)
“When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.” (Psalm 63:6, NKJV)
“He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:4, NIV)
“For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.” (Psalm 149:4, NASB) He brought me out to a spacious place; he delivered me, for in me he takes delight. (Psalm 18:19,ISB)
You’ve Never Alone:
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, NKJV)
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11, NIV)
Loved by God:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39, NIV)
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians, 2:4-5, NIV)
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NIV)
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17, ESV)
Searching for Answers Far and Wide:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6, NIV)
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2).
“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6, NIV)
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5,NIV)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28,NIV)
“’For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
God Knows Our Needs Before We Speak:
“Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” (Matthew 6:8, NLT)
God is Perfect in All of His Ways:
“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30, NIV)
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4, NIV)
God’s Fingerprints Are All Over My Life:
“You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:1-6, NIV)
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.” (Psalm 139:13-18, NIV)
God is Able to Complete the Good Work He Started in Me:
“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” (Philippians 1:6, MSG)
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NIV)
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV)
God is Faithful:
“I am faithful, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 3:12, NIV)
“The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all he does.” (Psalms 145:13, NIV)
“The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.” (Psalm 111:7, NIV)
I know this post was longer than most. I hope you came away feeling a stirring in your heart in a new and fresh way. If so, please reply with your favorite theme or verse.
I know there are many different artists currently singing this song, but the Amy Renee version is my all-time FAV-OR-ITE! Around the four minute mark, she begins to sing from the heart. Since it is not part of the original song lyrics I can share her words:
He is faithful, faithful, faithful. He is able, able, able.
Faithful and able are the key ingredients to the balm healing my heart. Knowing this, my friend (singer, writer, and artist) Sonia Hancock designed this image especially for Red Chair Moments!
Now you know the story behind today’s Friday Freebie. This image is a free public domain image created for me to share with you. Download it and make Valentine Day cards, book marks etc.
Designed especially for Red Chair Moments by Sonia Hancock
A gaggle of children ran down the hall, anxious to beat the bell. Meanwhile, my friend and I met to pray in the school cafeteria. Prior to praying for me, she asked two heart searching questions.
First she asked, “What song is God singing over you?
“You mean, God singing over me in Zephaniah 3:17?” I questioned back.
“Exactly!” she remarked.
“I don’t know. I’ve never actually thought about God singing over me.” I replied.
“You should think about it. God is singing over you.” She continued, “Ask Him.”
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness ; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17, ESV)
The following morning, I prayed, “Lord, please reveal what song you’re singing over me. Please sing louder, because I can’t hear you.” Cupping my mug of liquid mercy, I gazed out the window. It felt like an eternity passed. I begged, “Lord, please sing louder.”
A soft tune waltzed in my mind and I began to hum. Words joined the dance and I began to sing “Good, Good Father”
by Housefires II.
God tenderly reminded me I was not alone in my struggle. He is my Abba Father. He is a good father. He has his fingerprints all over my life and I am loved by Him!
Friend, I ask you the same soul searching question. What song is God singing over you in your current season?
P.S. Stay tuned next week for the second heart searching question.