Choosing a Word of the Year – 2023 Update

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. 

2023 word of the year


Choosing a Word of the Year Update © 2023 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, 

Sermon Recording: Shall, Making the Path (Isaiah 40)

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Message 4 of 5
Scripture: Isaiah 40:3-5
These are the notes from a message offered 11/4/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. I’ll be posting the series on Fridays in the coming weeks. I pray they are an encouragement to you.

Romans 5:1-5, The Path to Hope
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Isaiah 40:3-5, The Way to Make the Path
A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Shall, by Lisa Degrenia
The time is now, for you have called, O God
The place is now, for you have spoken

Yes, it is a wilderness, a desert even
So dry, so rough, so uneven
Yes, the gap is so very wide between the high and the low

But, you have called
You have spoken
Not an if or when or maybe
Not even a try

You have spoken shall

Every valley shall be lifted
Every mountain shall be made low
The uneven shall be made level
The rough shall be made smooth

So we will persevere in this wilderness of preparing
We will not forge a path or blaze a trail but make a highway
A highway for your coming
For your glory, O God shall be revealed in this place
And all shall see it
All shall see it together

Book Recommendation: Canoeing The Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory by Tod Bolsinger


  • Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson in 1804 to find the Northwest Passage
  • Purpose: Commerce
    • Finding the route believed to connect the Missouri River with the Pacific would make commerce possible across the continent and the riches of Asia that lay beyond.
  • Purpose: Control
    • Whichever nation found the Norwest Passage first, and then controlled it, would control the destiny of the continent.

What they thought would happen:

  • Travel the Missouri River to its source
  • Over the next hill, they would find another river. They could then calmly coast to the Pacific Ocean because that’s the way the river would be flowing
  • What they found was the Rocky Mountains, mountains like they’d never seen. So high, so long, so steep. They were unprepared. Everything they had been told was absolutely wrong.

Lewis and Clark List of Hardships 

  • ANIMALS: Plagued by Mosquitoes and Small Pesky Flies. Encounters with Grizzly Bears
  • MISSOURI RIVER: Fighting against strong currents and shifting sandbars. Dangerous hazards caused by navigating rapids and obstacles in the water
    • Exhaustion from the daily grind of moving the heavy keelboat up the Missouri River that involved arduous rowing, pulling the keelboat through shallows using a rope from onshore (called cordelling) or pushing the heavy boat with long poles (poling)
      • The boats were not canoes but a keelboat (55 feet long, 22 oars at its sides, and a cannon mounted in the bow)
    • The Great Falls proved to be a difficult challenge. The men had to bypass the falls which involved carrying their canoes, supplies, and equipment all by hand for over 1 month
  • THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS: Later in the journey it was necessary to abandon travel by water and physically carry the boats. This process called portaging, proved to be very draining and extremely time
    • Traveling over harsh, tough terrain
    • The harrowing journey on the rough Lolo trail through the Bitterroot Mountains
  • WEATHER: Enduring extreme weather conditions such as intense, blistering heat, the bitter cold, blizzards, hailstorms, snow, and continuous rain
    • In the winter months, it was often difficult to find food
  • NATIVES: Confrontations with hostile Natives and Natives who were invaluable to their survival and success. (Sacagawea)
  • LENGTH OF THE TRIP: The outward journey and the return journey home covered over 7000 miles. May 14, 1804, to September 23, 1806 – two years, four months and ten days
    • As the journey progressed illnesses became an increasing problem
    • Hard to find supplies along the way

Their journey was nothing like what they expected. Everything they had been told was wrong. They were unprepared.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? Somewhere you never expected? How does it feel to be that out of your element? That unprepared?

At that point, you have a decision to make. Lewis and Clark had a decision to make. You can turn around and go back. (Sometimes you can’t go back.) Or you can just stay where you are. Pitch a tent. Build a city. Or we can try to move forward. Off the map. Into the unknown.

Lewis and Clark decided to move forward. They adapted. They abandoned the boats, their safety net because they were no longer helpful. They were known for their skill on the water and now they would need to become hikers.

They moved forward. This is resilience, perseverance, endurance. Moving forward in the face of adversity. Moving forward in the face of the unknown. Moving forward in the face of suffering. Moving forward.

So many of us find ourselves in these positions. I did not expect to be here- divorced, fired, widowed, my family in multiple states, financial crisis…

So many of us did not expect to find ourselves in the face of the unknown but because of the grace of God, the power of God, the presence of God, we can move forward.

Lewis and Clark were able to move forward because

  • they made the decision to move forward
  • people came alongside them to move forward

We too can move forward. We can make the decision, we have people who will come alongside us, and we have God in Jesus Christ, the pioneer, and perfecter of our faith who is already out there ahead of us. For us, with us, behind us, before us, above us moving us forward.

I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. Christianity is a movement. A movement forward. We are a pilgrim people.

Isaiah 40:3-5, The Way to Make the Path
A voice cries out: The voice is God shouting “Come on!”

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.

This is what our God does. Our God moves that mountain so we can keep moving forward. Our God raises us up out of that valley so we can keep moving forward. Our God fills in the potholes so the rough places are made smooth. Our God takes those winding, curvy, rollercoaster-y ways and makes them smooth so we can move forward

It may not feel that way when we’re walking it. It may feel like a mountain high or a valley low or rough and twisty. But God is making a way where there seems to be no way.

This is resilience. Do you trust God to make a way where there seems to be no way? Trust God.

God is not only going to make a way for you, but God is also going to help you make a way for others. All of a sudden you’re going to find yourself a Sacagawea helping someone make their way.

It’s all grace. It’s all goodness. That’s the God we serve, we know, we love. That’s the God who saves us.

Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

In Christ we are resilient!

I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

2016 TED Talk Experiment- Week 5

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Here’s what I chose for week 5. I found them under the heading Hidden Gems on the TED website.

The Shared Wonder of Film
Beeban Kidron
TED Salon London, Spring 2012
What a fantastic idea- using great films like great literature to broaden experience, encourage understanding, and spark thoughtful discussion on a variety of important topics.  Where do I sign up?

How I Became 100 Artists
Shea Hembrey
TED2011, March 2011
Hembrey is the poster child for cleverness, imagination, and creativity. I didn’t know whether to giggle as he spoke of his fictional artist personas like they were real people or wonder at the breadth of voices,  subject matter, and mediums. I think both.

Love- you’re doing it wrong
Yann Dall’Aglio
TEDxParis, February 2014
In earlier ages, persons secured their love/value by fulfilling their role in traditional, communal structures. The freedoms of modernity changed this in radical ways. “On the free market of individual desires, I negotiate my value every day.” Thus the drive of consumerism isn’t materialism, it is actually the acquisition of “seduction capital” to prove and enhance our desirability. This creates incredible anxiety. The speaker encourages us to embrace humility and tenderness as another path to love of self and others.

Fashion and Creativity
Isaac Mizrahi
TED 2008, February 2008
Here’s the nugget of wisdom I found in this very random talk: Give yourself permission to try many different things and to chase random moment of inspiration.

The Surprising Thing I Learned Sailing Solo Around the World
Dame Ellen MacArthur
TED 2015 Vancouver BC, March 2015
1. This is one of the most exciting, adventurous, and focused persons I’ve ever encountered 2. Thank God she’s now working for all of us- to help establish a sustainable, circular global economy which will make the best possible use of our very finite resources

I’m trying an experiment in 2016. Maybe you’d like to try it with me.

Here’s where I am
I’m tired of the spin. I’m tired of ideas, news, and entertainment really being one long sales pitch for profit or power.

I’m longing for creativity, curiosity, and inspiration. I’m in search of passionate people willing to speak to the truth and complexity of living with a heart of hope. I want to hear from authentic humans who are in the trenches working for the greater good.

I think I’ve found them in the TED community.

“TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On, we’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other, both online and at TED and TEDx events around the world, all year long.”

TED’s been around for 30 years. I’ve heard about them and even watched a couple of talks, but I’ve never spent any concentrated time mining the good stuff. So….

Here’s the plan
Watch 5 enthusiastic, inspiring TED Talk presenters a week for a year.
Apply and share the goodness.