Friday, January 8, 2021

Exploring My Word of the Year


Exploring My Word of the Year

Last week I mentioned that my word for 2021 is rhythm. At the start of a new year with a new word I generally go through the process of researching my word. I love doing research so I really enjoy this part of the journey with my word. This year, however, is not going as planned. My word came to me late so it hasn't had a lot of time to steep within me. My week between the holidays did not have the slow rhythm I had wanted (and needed) due to my mom getting the coronavirus and being hospitalized for six days. Thankfully she is home now and recovering. 

What does my word research look like?
  • It always begins with the basics of looking up the word's definition in a variety of dictionaries. I follow that with finding synonyms.
  • Next I start the process of looking for a Bible verse that will serve as an anchor/guide for the year. It may or may not contain my word.
  • I then begin looking for quotes to use with my word.
  • I also try to find a book or two (or five) that support what motivated me to pick my word. These will serve to help me grow in the direction I want to go for the year.
  • From there the work of defining a vision for the year (the why) and determining intentions for my word (the how) begins.  We will explore these more throughout this month

In the book of Matthew we are told:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

This is my theme passage this year. In Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of the Bible, The Message, he puts Jesus' words in verse 29 like this:

"Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace."

This is what I want to be about this year, learning from Jesus.  Practicing sacred rhythms - the spiritual practices that help us grow in our faith and position us for the Spirit's work of transforming us to become like Jesus. I want to study His life and words and learn His rhythm of life. 

The word rhythm brings so much to mind for me: the natural rhythm of the seasons; the rhythmic flow of waves; the rhythm of the calendar year; the rhythms in nature, such as bird migration; rhythms of rest and work; the rhythms of faith seasons such as Advent, Lent and Easter. There's a lot to explore through the year. What I focus on will get narrowed down in the weeks ahead as I go through the practice of setting intentions for my word for the year ahead.

This word gives me the opportunity to re-read a favorite book, Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton.
"I cannot transform myself...What I can do is create the conditions in which spiritual transformation can take place, by developing and maintaining a rhythm of spiritual practices that keep me open and available to God." ~Ruth Haley Barton


Sacred Rhythms along with some of the art books I want to work through this year.

That's my exploration into my word of the year so far. How do you start the year with your word? What are you exploring?

We're having conversations about our word of the year and other word related practices in my Words Art & Faith Group on Facebook. Join us! 

Next week we'll look at the difference between intentions and goals. I also hope to have another post this week answering some of the journaling questions I have been asked recently.



  1. Mary, Thank you for an inspiring post. I love your key scripture and I am "stealing" it for my grounding scripture to support my WOTY...WALK. I am looking forward to learning from you as we walk through 2021 together. I really appreciate you and your dedication to studying and teaching God's Word and sharing your beautiful and meaningful art with us.
    God's grace and peace to you...

    1. Thanks Pamm! Walk is a great word which should lead you on a wonderful journey this year! So glad to be traveling with you!

  2. Thank you, Mary, for sharing your wonderful process for WOTY. I like the idea of an anchor verse for the year and also defining the why and how of the word. This will certainly help to keep me on point throughout the year. My WOTY is LONGING and I'm re-reading Mike Bickle's book, The Seven Longings of the Human Heart. Like you, I had 3-5 others I will use throughout the year. I appreciate you mentoring me through the years through all your beautiful gifts, dear friend. Blessings on 2021!

    1. Thanks Shawna! Longing will be a great word to journey with this year! :)