Choosing a Word of the Year

For the past few years, I’ve chosen a word for the year. Well, the word actually chose me. Yes, there are online quizzes or reflection questions you could try, but I’ve found just opening yourself to receiving a guiding word will bring one your way. Just listen for it.

In 2019, my word was practice, as in try and try again. Practice gave me permission to experiment, risk, prototype, and fail. Growth, progress, and skill take time. She’s the word of grace this perfectionist needs.⁠

My word for 2020 was rhythm– the movement of practice. Intentionality, flow, consistency. I imagined a spiritually rich and disciplined year. Ha! Instead, it was a boatload of practice. Rhythm was jazz, not a march. Improvise. Keep showing up in the midst of constant adaptation, heartbreak, and lament. Rhythm has so much more to share with me.

My word for 2021 was truth. She arrived in the middle of a Zoom gathering with my author buddies at the Light House. Truth was the permission I needed to make space for deep conversation, especially the uncomfortable and taboo.

When things got tough and I wanted to hold back, I’d find myself saying, “My word for the year is truth” and what I needed to say made its way out of my heart. Every time this happened, the gift of truth broke the conversation open in beautiful and needed ways.   

Truth was the exact word I needed to companion me through the major transitions of 2021

  • a six-week renewal leave which included some travel and a much-needed counseling intensive at Quiet Waters in Colorado
  • saying goodbye to my congregation in Sarasota and hello to my new congregation in New Smyrna Beach, Coronado Community United Methodist Church
  • Ed and I buying a house. We never dreamed we’d have this opportunity before retirement. Plus, we’re finally under the same roof after decades of separation due to work.
  • my mom’s cancer diagnosis and my sister’s incredible caregiving of her. Mom’s doing well.
  • the marriage of our beloved Laura and Kevin
  • the scary and exciting decision to start a publishing business for my writing called Via Lexi. More to come as that unfolds.
  • a new partnership with the good folks at The Pastor’s Workshop as a contributor of prayer, liturgy, and sermon resources
  • the surprising birth of our beloved Lily Joy, our first grandchild, to our beloved Elyse and Sam. She arrived two weeks early and was a girl instead of the boy they thought they saw in the ultrasound. Elyse, Sam, and Lily are living with us, so I get to hold her every day. I’m over the moon.
  • starting 2022 with Covid. I’m quarantining in our travel trailer this week.

That’s a lot.

What’s surprised me most about receiving a word for the year is the way they abide. These wise companions don’t come and go. They move in and 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.

So, who’s moving in this year? Curious.

Curious showed up bags in hand last week as a total shock. I even kept her at the door a while thinking she’d made a wrong turn, but no. Curious is here to stay. She knows I need her to help me with my dualistic thinking and my ugly bent to judging. So welcome sister Curious. I’m ready to receive.

What word is choosing you this year? I’d love to hear your story.  

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.

A Bible Reading Plan Focusing on the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit Coming by He Qi

Holy Spirit Coming by He Qi

Are you wanting a deeper connection with God? Do you long for more of God’s presence and leadership in your life? Seek the Holy Spirit through scripture reading.

Below you’ll find a Bible Reading Plan focusing on the Holy Spirit. It contains 40 readings covering the Old and New Testament. These readings fit nicely in a two-month grouping.

This plan also includes Self-reflection Questions. You can use them after your time of Scripture and Stillness. You could also use them later in the day if you do Scripture and Stillness in the morning.

If you’re using this reading plan in 2020, I suggest starting the week of May 3. By doing this, the Pentecost readings will fall just before the celebration of Pentecost on Sunday, May 31.

I hope the reading plan is helpful for you. I’d love to hear how you’re using it. – Lisa <

PS- If you don’t own a Bible, or need a translation of the Bible which is easy to read, consider using Bible Gateway. This is a free website and app with many excellent translations. (I like NRSV and The Voice) Click Here for a video demonstrating the site.

CLICK HERE for a PDF of the reading plan suitable for printing. 

Use these prompts as you read each Scripture.
ATTENTION: Read or listen to the Scripture. What word, phrase or verse captures your attention? Underline it or copy it onto a piece of paper.

CONNECTION: What connections do you see to other scriptures? To your own experience or current situation? To the character or promises of the Holy Spirit?

ACTION: What is the Holy Spirit inviting you to say or do?

STILLNESS: Spend some time in stillness with the Holy Spirit. I suggest 15-20 minutes. Settle, listen. Allow the Holy Spirit to calm and strengthen you.

WEEK 1

  • 1 Samuel 3
  • 1 Kings 19
  • Isaiah 11
  • Isaiah 42
  • Isaiah 61

WEEK 2

  • Ezekiel 36
  • Ezekiel 37
  • Psalm 139
  • Psalm 46
  • Matthew 12

WEEK 3

  • Luke 1
  • Luke 2
  • Luke 3
  • Luke 4
  • Luke 12

WEEK 4

  • John 3
  • John 14
  • John 16
  • Acts 1
  • Acts 2

WEEK 5

  • Acts 4
  • Acts 5
  • Acts 8
  • Acts 10
  • Acts 11

WEEK 6

  • Acts 13
  • Acts 19
  • Romans 8
  • 1 Corinthians 2
  • 1 Corinthians 6

WEEK 7

  • 1 Corinthians 12
  • 1 Corinthians 14
  • 1 Corinthians 15
  • 2 Corinthians 3
  • Ephesians 4

WEEK 8

  • Galatians 3
  • Galatians 4
  • Galatians 5
  • Galatians 6
  • 1 John 4

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Bible Reading Plan Focusing on the Holy Spirit
© 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work with proper attribution. (by Lisa Degrenia http://www.revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Bible Reading Plan- Psalms by Theme

In these uncertain times, we need the raw honesty and rich promises of the Book of Psalms. The Psalms are timeless, anchoring, and encouraging.

Our reading plan is adapted from a reading plan from Zondervan Publishing. I appreciate how they grouped the Psalms by theme. It will be interesting to approach this book by theme rather than reading it straight through.

CLICK HERE for a PDF of the reading plan suitable for printing. 

Use these prompts as you read each Scripture.
ATTENTION: Read or listen to the scripture. What word, phrase or verse captures your attention? Underline it or copy it onto a piece of paper.

CONNECTION: What connections do you see to other scriptures? To your own experience or current situation? Or, to the character or promises of God?

ACTION: What is God inviting you to trust, say, or do? How will your life be different because of this scripture?

PRAY: Talk to God about what you just experienced or anything else on your heart.

STILLNESS: Spend 5-20 minutes in silence looking to God and listening for God.

PS- If you don’t own a Bible, or need a translation of the Bible which is easy to read, consider using Bible Gateway. This is a free website and app with many excellent translations. (I like NRSV and The Voice) Click Here for a video demonstrating the site.

If you begin this reading plan the week of April 2, reading five days per week, you’ll finish the plan the week of July 5.

Blessing- Psalms 67, 72
Blessing- Psalms 84, 128
Calling to God- Psalms 4, 5
Calling to God- Psalms 22
Confidence- Psalms 27, 36

Confidence- Psalms 71, 125
Deeds of God- Psalms 9, 118
Deeds of God- Psalms 18
Doubt- Psalms 42, 77
Doubt- Psalms 73

Faithfulness of God- Psalms 105
Faithfulness of God- Psalms 119:137–144, 146
Fear- Psalms 37, 49
Fear- Psalms 91
Identity- Psalms 8, 139

Meditation- Psalms 119:9–16, 41–48
Glory of God- Psalms 19
Glory of God- Psalms 24, 29
God is my Helper- Psalms 115
God is my Helper- Psalms 54, 119:169–176

Rejoicing- Psalms 30, 47
Rejoicing- Psalms 97
Righteousness- Psalms 1, 15, 112
Sin & Repentance- Psalms 25, 32
Sin & Repentance- Psalms 38, 51

Power of God- Psalms 68
Power of God- Psalms 93, 135
Praise- Psalms 65
Praise- Psalms 98, 138
Prayer- Psalms 17, 20

Prayer- Psalms 102
Protection- Psalms 59, 62
Protection- Psalms 124
Safety in God- Psalms 11, 16
Safety in God- Psalms 46, 142

Justice of God- Psalms 7
Justice of God- Psalms 26, 82
Mercy- Psalms 13, 28
Mercy- Psalms 86
Music- Psalms 66

Music- Psalms 149, 150
Nature- Psalms 50, 104
Nature- Psalms 147, 148
Peace- Psalms 23
Peace- Psalms 133, 119:161–168

Salvation- Psalms 3, 14, 121
Thanksgiving- Psalms 75, 136
Thanksgiving- Psalms 106
Trust- Psalms 31
Trust- Psalms 40, 56

Victory- Psalms 21, 76, 144
Wisdom- Psalms 90, 111
Wisdom- Psalms 107
Worship- Psalms 33, 34
Worship- Psalms 145

Holy Week: We Need to Linger

holy week primitive cartoon adapted
Before we get to Easter, we need to linger:
in the vulnerability of the basin and the towel
at the remembrance and promise of the table
in the struggle and betrayal of the garden
in the shadows and shouts of injustice
at the bloody brutal beautiful cross
in the silence of linen and spices and death

For without these, the empty tomb is empty

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Poem: We Need to Linger © 2000 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.