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

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Choosing a Word of the Year Update © 2023 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com 

Jesus, You are Speaking – a prayer inspired by Hebrews 1

Hebrews 1:1-2
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.

Jesus, Word of God
You are speaking
Help us listen

You speak words of deliverance
Words of life

Wisdom and Truth
Healing and Hope

Invitations to rest and
Invitations to action

Jesus, Word of God
You are speaking
Help us listen and follow

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Jesus, You are Speaking © 2023 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com
Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12) is read on — Christmas — Nativity of the Lord – All Years
Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12 is read on Year B — Season after Pentecost — Proper 22 (27)

Listen and Act, a prayer for the new year based on Matthew 2.13-23

Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Luc Olivier Merson
Rest on the Flight to Egypt by Luc Olivier Merson

ONE:
Joseph is silent
He listens and acts

ALL:
Lord, help us listen
Still the noise around us and in us
Still the urgency and anxiety
Still the destruction and falsehood

Lord, help us listen
Break through with your still, small voice
with your calm and clarity
with your leading and light

You reveal the needed next steps
You provide all we need to make the journey

Lord, help us listen and help us act
Amen

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This prayer is based on Matthew 2:13-23, the Holy Family’s escape to Egypt and return.

Listen and Act © 2023 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Recommended Resource- Pray As You Go

Update: This post is from 2019 with a few updates. I recently returned to using Pray As You Go and wondered why I ever stopped. It’s a rich, beautiful resource which never fails to connect me to God through scripture and stillness. I still highly recommend it. 

Followers of Jesus nurture their relationship with God by “doing devotions.” We head to the bookstore, or maybe even our local church, to pick up a guide to read on a daily basis. It’s a great way to build a habit of spending time with God and very helpful for stretching us in our understanding of God’s character and Word.

Here’s where it can be problematic:

  • We’re always reading about someone else’s encounter with God in place of having encounters ourselves. We stay at a distance from God.
  • Our devotions become knowledge-driven or emotion-driven rather than Scripture-driven and encounter-driven. We may find what we read interesting, we may be stirred by the story, but are we receiving it as a call to apply spiritual truth to our life?
  • Our prayer life stays shallow if we only use the prayers of others and never practice praying ourselves.
  • We can become forever dependent on an “expert” rather than trusting God wants to speak to us right now, at whatever point we are in our journey of faith.

So do we dump the devotional books/guides and just read the Scripture? Well… Reading Scripture can be a powerful daily devotion option, especially when you use one of these approaches to give you some structure. “Just me and my Bible” can also be intimidating, confusing, and lonely.

It’s no wonder we struggle.

For many of us, we need something in between. We want to encounter God in a transforming way through the Scriptures, but we also need some guidance. I found this in between, this sweet spot of devotional practice, through a resource called Pray as You Go. 

pray as you goPray As You Go is an audio and written prayer practice offered seven days per week via a free website and app by Jesuit Media Initiatives. It is helpful for both Catholics and Protestants because it’s so Scripture driven.

  • Each session begins with a bell or chime followed by music to help you settle into a prayerful frame of mind
  • A Scripture is read
  • Reflection questions based on the Scripture are offered with time for you to respond by simply talking or listening to God
  • The Scripture is read again followed by a closing blessing

The aim of Pray as You Go is to help you to:

  • become more aware of God’s presence in your life
  • listen to and reflect on God’s Word
  • grow in your relationship with God

How I find Pray as You Go helpful 

  • Its peaceful meditative tone is a very different tone than my loud, full, rushed day. I need this time of stillness and contemplation.
  • The questions appeal to my imagination. They open me to explore the Scripture, to listen deeply, to engage it for myself. It is an experience. The questions can also challenge me to look at a passage in a new or deeper way.
  • The open-ended questions help me apply what I’m hearing
  • I feel connected to a community of believers rather than by myself. I especially like the music selections from around the world.
  • It uses texts throughout the Bible so I don’t just read my favorite passages
  • I like to settle into a comfortable chair when I use Pray as You Go. Others use it during their morning commute, on a break during the work day, while out for a walk, etc.
  • After the 10-13 minute devotion, I’m motivated to continue praying or journaling

I’d love to hear from you! 

  • Give Pray as You Go a try. How was the experience?
  • What is your current devotional practice? How is it helpful to you?
  • How have your devotional practices changed as you’ve matured in faith?

May the Lord bless you and bring strength and transformation into your life through your devotional practices. – Lisa <><

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Recommendation- Pray As You Go © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Breath Prayers Based on Mark 3 and 4

summer in the scriptures- Mark (2)Breath Prayers based on Mark 3:1-6
Jesus heals the man with the withered hand

IN: Lord of the Sabbath
OUT: Meet us here

IN: Lord of the Sabbath
OUT: Heal and restore

IN: Lord of the Sabbath
OUT: Soften my heart

IN: Lord of the Sabbath
OUT: Silence falsehood and fear

IN: Lord of the Sabbath
OUT: End our accusing, conspiring, destructive ways

Breath Prayers based on Mark 4:21-25

IN: Light of the World
OUT: Reveal your light in me

IN: Lord of All
OUT: Nothing is hidden from you

IN: Speak Lord
OUT: Your servant is listening

IN: Generous One
OUT: Make me generous, too

IN: Generous One
OUT: All that I have is yours

I’m new to breath prayers. Maybe you are, too. Pray the phrase after IN on your breath in. Pray the phrase after OUT on your breath out. Take your time. Breathe deeply. If no phrase is offered after IN or OUT, just breathe. If more than one breath prayer is provided, choose one, a few, or all of them as is most helpful to you. I find breath prayers especially helpful before times of stillness and silence with God.

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For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.

You’re most welcome to read along and to join the Facebook discussion group, Summer in the Scriptures. You don’t need to be a Methodist or attend a Methodist church. All are welcome and all means all.

As part of the Facebook group, I’ve been supplying prayers based on the day’s reading. Feel free to post your prayers and observations based on the readings here or there as well.

May the grace of the Gospels, the challenge, and the call, inspire us to great faith and great good works in Jesus’ name. – Lisa <><

Breath Prayers based on Mark 3 and 4 © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.