Choosing a Word of the Year Some folks choose a word to guide their year. It functions like a mantra to help them manifest a goal.
My word of the year comes to me. She chooses me. She appears one day, bags in hand, ready to move in. As the months pass and we get to know one another, the word offers me much-needed lessons and wisdom.
What’s surprised me most about receiving a word for the year is the way they abide. So far, all my words have their home in me. They continue to offer grace year after year like a tribe of dear friends. They collaborate with one another and encourage one another to share even more with me as I’m ready to receive it. (or need to receive it)
In 2019, Practice arrived. She gives me permission to experiment, risk, prototype, and fail.
In 2020, it was Rhythm. She’s not a driving, disciplined march. She’s like jazz, the pulse underneath improvisation and adaptation that holds everything together.
Truth joined us in 2021. She helps me say what needs to be said, making space for deep conversation, healing, and peacemaking.
Last year, Curiosity surprised me. I didn’t know how much I needed her. She helps me lead with questions rather than answers, opening the way for unexpected possibilities.
Struggling For My Next Word My word for the new year usually appears sometime in December, but that didn’t happen last year. The new year came, no word. Weeks went by, no word. Would one come?
I stepped outside myself and went searching for my word. Risk – Abide – Courage. Wonderful words but they weren’t my word. Others began sharing their word with me. Their words weren’t my word.
I wandered. I wondered. I worried. Was my grief blocking the way? Did I need to spend more time with the words I already have? It was unsettling. Where was my word? I knew I needed her.
Then last week, the knock came. I went to the door to meet Adventure. What a word! Expansive. Inviting. Eager. Daring.
I’d felt myself shrinking in recent months. Pulling back. Second guessing. I know it’s the shadow side of grief but knowing is not the same as making your way through it. Adventure is here, machete in one hand, compass in the other, cutting the clinging vines from the path, helping me move forward into places I’ve never been. Welcome, to the family Adventure.
What word is choosing you this year? I’d love to hear your story.
In November of 2014, I read a blog post encouraging folks to set aside a bookshelf for all the books read in a calendar year. As the year goes by, you see the shelf filling and are reminded of time well spent. (I wish I could remember who to thank.)
The project was so rewarding I’ve continued it every year. I’ve found the process of adding books enjoyable and helpful. Sometimes you forget a really good book.
In looking over this year’s list, it’s clear I like historical fiction, especially ones that read like a memoir. I also really enjoy memoirs on audiobooks when they are read by the author.
If you read most of your books electronically, or through library loans, consider setting up a virtual bookshelf on Pinterest.
Another option for a virtual bookshelf is to set up a profile on Goodreads. Be sure to fill in a start and end date for each book you complete. You can even set up a reading challenge for the year.
My list includes books I read and books I listen to while traveling. (I now have a short commute to church and a longer one to see our granddaughter.) There are wonderful, free audiobooks available through your local library. I’ve been buying audiobooks at deep discounts via Chirp.
So my friends here’s my 2022 bookshelf. I hope it encourages you and that you find a treasure or two. Should it be helpful to you, I’m glad to provide more feedback on specific selections. Just leave a comment below. Also, feel free to leave your book recommendations in the comments.
Happy reading. Happy exploring. Happy growing. – Lisa <><
God is constantly speaking, reaching out with wisdom, encouragement, and invitations. Yet, many of us have trouble hearing from God. We’d like an angel with a clear message. Well, maybe not, they’re fearsome. How about a classic red phone hotline?
There are classic spiritual practices to help us hear from God. One is Visio Divina – Latin for sacred seeing. Visio as in vision. Divina as in divine.
When practicing Visio Divina, we allow our hearts and imaginations to look at something deeply while listening for what the Holy Spirit has to say to us. You may have practiced this before without even knowing it. Have you ever stopped to watch a sunset, investigate a flower, or ponder a beautiful piece of art?
Psalm 19:1-4 says, “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world.”
There are four main movements to Visio Divina – Attention, Connection, Invitation to Action, and Prayer.
Attention – Let’s say you’re looking at a sunset. What specifically about the sunset captures your attention? A cloud formation? A color? The speed of the sunset? The wind?
Connection – How is what you’re noticing making a connection for you. It could be a connection to a situation you’re struggling with, a line from scripture, an attribute of God, an answer you’re seeking, etc.
Invitation to Action – How will your day be different because of this experience? Do you hear the Spirit inviting you to start or stop something, to say or not say something?
Prayer – Continue the conversation with God.
VISIO DIVINA – A CANDY CANE
Guess how many candy canes are sold in the US annually? 1.76 Billion
Candy canes are said to have originated in the 1670s at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The choirmaster gave sugar sticks to the boys’ choir to keep them quiet during Christmas services. They were eventually bent so they could be hung on Christmas trees.
It’s thought a German immigrant debuted the treats in Ohio in 1847.
In the early 1900s, the red/white stripes were added along with the peppermint flavoring. A real candy cane is white with alternating red stripes, a bold stripe alternating with a stripe of three strands.
Find a real candy cane and spend a few moments looking at it deeply. Since it’s delicious, you could also enjoy tasting it. What captures your attention? Where is it making connections? As you quiet yourself and open yourself, are you hearing any invitations?
Last week, I spent time with a candy cane making a list of items that caught my attention. It was more a mental exercise than a spiritual practice. As I practiced an actual Visio Divina with it today, the sweetness caught my attention. This reminded me that God wants good things for me and the world. God is working for good. I heard an invitation to allow myself to trust God even more as I make my way into the new year.
I’d love to hear about your experience with the Holy Spirit speaking through a candy cane. Leave a comment below.
1. The Color White – lamb’s wool, Lamb of God, purity, holiness, sinless, cleansing, virgin birth. Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” The song Jesus Paid it All says, “sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.”
2. The Color Red – blood, sacrifice, Passover, crucifixion
3. Stripes – flogging. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his stripes we are healed.”
One Stripe – We believe there is One True Living God, no others. This is confirmed in the Ten Commandments and in the Shema, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. And as for you, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
Three stripes – Trinity, the Magi brought three gifts to baby Jesus
4. Mint – In the time of Christ, horsemint was used for medicine and tithing. It grows wild, with large course leaves. Horsemint does not taste like peppermint.
5. Sweet – Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
6. Shaped like the letter J for Jesus. My friend Macon said it reminded him of a fishhook. Jesus invites us to leave our nets and to follow, to be his disciples and “fish” for people.”
7. Shaped like a shepherd’s crook – Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Jesus sits on the throne of his ancestor David, who was also a Shepherd. The lowly shepherds were told of the birth of the Messiah, not those with power, money, and position.
8. The candy is hard – God’s promises are solid, a steadfast and strong foundation.