word of the year

Have you accomplished the goals you set for this year?

July 1st will start the second-half of 2018. The halfway mark of anything is always a good time to check-in. I've made you a worksheet that will help you do just that.

How did I come up with my 2018 goals?

I used Jennie Allen's Dream Guide to set 9 goals for 2018. In January, I evaluated my spiritual growth, relationships including marriage, kids, and friendships, health, personal growth, dreams, and work life. I also did a quick read through my to-do lists from 2017 to see what I had done the year before to see what I wanted to repeat or not repeat in 2018.

Six months into 2018, I know there are goals I've met, goals I've partially met, goals I'm working on actively, and goals I've forgotten about.

I need a reminder and a fresh dose of inspiration to finish the second-half of 2018 well. I need to be intentional about going after those goals and dreams that will change what my life looks like.

It is important to be intentional about our goals. Well thought out and accomplished goals can be the building blocks to an accomplished dream.

What makes the difference between wishing and realizing our wishes? Lots of things, and it may take months or years for a wish to come true, but it’s far more likely to happen when you care so much about a wish that you’ll do all you can to make it happen.
— Mister Rogers

How am I doing?

If you are wondering, I've completed 3 of my 9 goals. There's another goal that is almost accomplished. Two other goals are partially completed. And three goals have been completely ignored. I felt it was important to ask myself some tough questions about these goals that have been ignored. It was also important to take a thermometer on my wishes and dreams and then make sure my goals refected the direction I want to be headed. Lastly, prayer should be a big part of this process. 

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
— Philippians 4:6-7 The Message

How are you doing?

How are you doing on your 2018 goals? Download the Mid-Year Check-In Worksheet and see where you are at and get some inspiration to finish well.

book cover paper tigers.jpg

Does the idea of goals make you anxious?

Are you dealing with people pleasing or not sure what God wants from you? My book Paper Tigers might be the message you need right now.

Word of the Year 2018

The last few weeks I was asking myself the question, What’s the opposite of fear?

God answers a question in funny ways sometimes. It wasn’t the answer I expected, but it was the answer that was right in front of my face.

I had tried to answer the question on my own, going down a rabbit hole of online thesaurus entries. I had gone to Google instead of God.

Google makes me feel like I’m somewhat solving my problems, because isn’t research the first step to a solution? When I need an answer, I sometimes go to God, but I almost always go to Google. My safety net when I’m stressed is Googling, planning, and worrying. Google always has an answer, even when that answer is buried in a message board, contained in a comment made by someone who most likely has no idea what they are talking about.
— Amena Brown, How to Fix a Broken Record

The reason I wanted to know the opposite of fear was because I thought it would make an excellent word of the year for 2018. (Yes, I still haven’t settled on a word yet, and it is almost March. Better late than never.)

Last night, attending my IF:Local, God gave me the answer so clearly that I felt almost silly that I hadn’t found it. I also felt so loved and seen. God hears our unspoken questions.

When God’s Word hits you smack in the face, sometimes it doesn’t hurt as much as it feels like an overpowering hug from a toddler without knowledge of his own strength.

At the beginning of the year, I was trying to figure out what word I should use for my word of the year. I couldn’t tell you. I could tell you what I didn’t want for 2018. I didn’t want more fear-driven good behavior, fear-driven people pleasing, or pride-driven good works. I have been working on letting go of those things so hard that I wrote a book about it

I knew I didn’t want fear driving my year in any way. Thus my search for the opposite of fear.

The key verse for 2018’s IF:Gathering was 2 Timothy 1:7, and it says this, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.

God just flat out told me the opposite of fear in that one Bible verse, and I laughed in delight and wonder.

Here’s the hilarious thing. I’ve been podcasting about the opposite of fear this last month, and I didn’t even recognize what I was doing.

In my Quiet series for the DevoPod, I dedicated part of the study to breaking out of quiet through serving in God’s dynamite power.

God’s power is absolutely the opposite of fear. God’s power is full of love and it comes more easily if we are connected to our source of self-control or a sound mind, His Word.

It is so clear what my word for 2018 is because I’ve already been thinking about it, writing about it, and trying to live wrapped up in it. It is dynamite.

Eat your heart out J. J.!


I shared this on Day 11 of the Quiet series on the DevoPod.  The Greek dunamis loosely refers to “strength, power, or ability.” It is the root word of our English words dynamite, dynamo and dynamic.

We can take comfort that we can serve in God’s dynamic, dynamite strength.

If you are one of those people who know a lot about God’s Word or maybe have the Logos app, you might say that the word Paul used for power in this verse is actually translated from the Greek word dunameos, meaning miraculous power, might strength from the root dunamai. I would say, why are you being a party pooper? And it is a verb related to the cognate-noun dynamis. And please be nice to me because I’m not a Bible scholar, and I’m being upfront with that. I’m just a girl studying God’s Word, like we all are empowered to do.

If you are one of those people who know a lot about science, you might say that dynamite wasn’t invented in the first century when Paul wrote this letter to Timothy. I would also say, why are you being a party pooper? I am not one of those people who know a lot about science, but I can Google it and see that Alfred Nobel invented it in 1867. He named it from this greek word dunamis calling it Nobels Extradynamit, and “J.J.” Jimmy Walker didn’t make it fun to say until 1974 so what of it?

So that’s my word for 2018: Dynamite

It’s already been an amazing year! Check out our adoption update!

What about you?  Have you chosen your word for 2018? Do you have dreams and struggles coming up this year and need some focus? It's not too late to do this fun, focusing exercise. Sign up to receive my Word of the Year Worsheet by email if you need a little help finding your word.

This song is so stinkin' good! So many of our fears are silly in the light of eternity. It's such a good reminder to love, love, love.

Word tbd

The last few years I've participated in the practice of picking a word of the year.

This year I'm stuck in the process, and it just isn't happening.

Maybe it is because I feel like I completely failed at 2017's word. I failed so badly that by summer I couldn't even tell you what my word was because I couldn't remember. Not even knowing what the word was, I knew for sure that I hadn't lived into it. How could I have? My life was a mess.

Some healing happened in the fall, but healing doesn't mean fixed. The last few days of 2017 I may have physically been going through the motions, but emotionally I was flat on my face.

I looked this morning to see what my 2017 word was because I still couldn't remember. It was confidence.

When I think of living in confidence, I picture those cute little toys I loved as a kid, Weebles. Remember "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down?" Weebles had these rounded bottoms that were weighted in the way that they bounced back up.

That was not my experience in 2017. I weebled, I woobled, I fell down. I didn't live in confidence in anything.

I failed at ministry, parenting, trust in God, family relationships, goals. We had a failed adoption referral in February, and we started over with a new referral in April.

I was so grateful to start a new year. 2018 is here, and it has got to be better! After recovering from strep, I began all the new year goal-building exercises. I reviewed my 2017 planner, made lists of what worked and what didn't, downloaded Jennie Allen's Dream Guide, and started my word of the year worksheet.

I've filled out half of my word of the year worksheet, and I'm stuck. I'm reluctant. I failed so badly at remaining confident in God and myself in 2017. Was I just bad at knowing my situation or self at the beginning of last year or was I just bad a knowing the future?

2018's word is still to be determined.


I don't know what God has for me in 2018, and I'm going to need more time getting quiet.

What I do know is that I ended 2017 on my face, and when I look at Scripture, being on your face wasn't a bad place to be. It usually meant something good was happening. It usually is done when a person is in the presence of God (Genesis, 17:3, Numbers 20:6, Ezekial 1:28, Luke 5:12, Revelations 7:11) or expressing worship (1 Kings 18:39, 1 Chronicles 29:20, Matthew 2:11, Matthew 17:6).

It also could mean something bad had happened. Face down is an expression of fear or mourning (Isaiah 15:3, Joshua 7:6).

I am in mourning of the losses and changes our life is going through. I am in fear of the changes that are inevitable in 2018. I feel very unsure of what 2018 holds.

I've repented of the times I lost confidence in the love, sovereignty, and goodness of God in the past year. I'm forgiven. I'm loved. 

Right now I'm staying on my face for a little while longer. I'll let you know when that changes.

I'm on my face in mourning. Mourning doesn't make people comfortable, but it is a necessary part of healing.

I'm on my face in worship.

I'm on my face listening and asking for healing.

While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’ And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one, but ‘go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.’ But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
— Luke 5:12-16 ESV

Want to pick a word for 2018? Subscribe to my email newsletter, and I will email you the worksheet.

Word of the Year: Confidence

This week I posted that I was having trouble deciding on a word for 2017.  I made a cute, helpful worksheet for you and I to use in deciding on our word.  (Just subscribe, and I'll email it to you.)

Well, my worksheet worked.  I picked a word using my worksheet this morning, and I'm thrilled.

My word is confidence.

It's beautiful because it has two meanings that fit perfectly with the two big themes I see emerging for my life this year.  Let me explain.

First is this definition:

Confidence (n) 1. belief that one can rely on someone (GOD); firm trust

There are so many things that God is doing that I have no control over.  

We are in the process of raising $27,000 to proceed with an adoption of a little boy who is 8,000 miles away, who we've never met.  We have so little control over whether or not this adoption happens, but we are putting every bit of energy we can spare into making it happen.  We have 1/3 of the money we need so far, and we are filling out more paperwork and grants.  We are planning fundraisers and doing everything we can to adopt our little "A."  It is ultimately up to God.  He is going to have to provide financially, emotionally, and spiritually for this adoption to happen.  At any moment, the Ethiopian government or the regional government where he is from or the United States government could stop this adoption for whatever reason.  At any moment, our health or financial situation could change and put a halt to this adoption.  At any moment, a number of things that I can't even think of could stop this adoption.  I am going to have to trust and trust hard on the God who called us to adoption years ago.  We have been faithful to His call, and He is always faithful, more faithful than I could even imagine.  I will need to have confidence in Him or I might lose all my marbles this year.

I have other things in my life that are going to require trusting the Lord.  I've got a daughter graduating high school and going off to college this year.  No big deal.  I'm not freaking out about it at all.  Yeah right!

The second definition of confidence is this.

Confidence (n) 2. Feeling of self-assurance from one’s appreciation of one’s abilities or qualities.

There are a couple things I wrote down for things that make me come alive.  I wrote teaching about Jesus and writing.  These are things that God has gifted me to do, and if I don't have confidence in my ability to do them (because of His strength), then I won't be able to try all the things that I want to try this year.

I had a dream the other night that I was getting up to teach a room full of women.  I was so terrified and so moved to be authentic in my talk that I cried all my make up off, frantically searched for my Bible, and then got up to teach.  It was the most frightening and exhilarating dreams I've had in years.  When I finally began my talk, it all came together.  I could have woke up from that dream, got up to a podium, and gave that speech.  I know exactly what I would say because God has been building this message in my heart for years.

This dream may never come true, but I'm going to keep on writing and teaching just like it is going to happen tomorrow.

What about you?  Have you chosen your word for 2017?  Do you have dreams and struggles coming up this year and need some focus?  Comment below!  Sign up to receive my worksheet by email if you need a little help finding your word.

Some verses about confidence.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
— Philipians 1:6 ESV
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
— 1 John 5:14 ESV
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
— Hebrews 4:16 ESV
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
— Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

A song for you today.

What's Your Word of the Year?

Last year was the first time I participated in the Word of the Year.  I found my word reading a book about Alexander Hamilton, and I knew it was something I needed in my life.

I love the idea of picking a word for the year.  It helps you focus your goals and actions all year long.

This year I am having trouble deciding on a word, so I created this nifty 2-page worksheet to help you and me decide on a word for 2017.

All you need to do is subscribe to my blog, and you can download the worksheet that will take you through 6 steps to finding your word.

If you've already got a word for 2017 or if my worksheet helps you discover one, let us know by commenting below.  We can cheer each other on as we find our focus for 2017.

I'm going to post my word on Thursday, and next week, I'll be sharing some things I learned because of my 2016 word.

Once you've found your word, there are so many ways to display your word to keep it on your mind.  

Fun word display ideas:

  • A Giving Key - Custom words are free right now (regularly $5.)  They give meaningful employment to homeless individuals in California.

  • Get yourself some marquee letters & spell out your word in your home or office.

  • Check Amazon for your word.  They may have vinyl wall stickers or metal wall hangings with your word that would look just right in your home.

Join the fun.  Find your word.  Go ahead and enter your email to subscribe to my blog, and I'll send you the Word of the Year Worksheet right into your inbox.

Word for 2016

I've never done this before, but why not.  It's fun, and I've enjoyed seeing all my friends post their words for the year on their Instagrams & Facebook posts.  Here's mine:


This past month I've been obsessing about Alexander Hamilton.  I've been listening to the Hamilton Broadway Musical non-stop, and I've been reading Hamilton's biography by Ron Chernow.

I admire Hamilton spunk, his tenacity.  A few of the songs in the musical say "Why do write like you're running out of time?"  Reading his biography, it is true.  He produced volumes of writing at a fiendish pace.  I'm envious of this quality about him, but I'm more envious of a quality that is diametrically opposite of my character.  Hamilton had a quarrelsome and combative slant.  I'm quiet, sometimes to my detriment.  I want to be bolder.  What is the word for the quality I wish I had.  Look at the first word when Hamilton's wife Eliza describes him.

Ardent - 


  1. enthusiastic or passionate.

    "an ardent baseball fan"

    synonyms: passionate, fervent, zealous, fervid, wholehearted, vehement, intense,fierce, fiery; 


So that's my word for this year.  I see this applying to two areas in my life this year.

1.  Ardent Christ follower

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
— Romans 12:11 ESV

2.  Ardent Bridge Builder

     ~ardently advocating racial unity

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
— Ephesians 2:14-22 ESV

I am inspired by Hamilton's advocacy as an abolitionist.  I am inspired by the work of Latasha Morrison.

The church is suffering because of lack of racial unity.  My city is suffering because of lack of racial unity.  I want to ardently build a community of people in Amarillo, Texas that have the goal to see healthy dialogue around the topic of race.  This is important work.  There is no better time than now, and I'm not throwing away my shot.

As we gather in Amarillo for IF:Amarillo in February, we will be kicking off monthly Be the Bridge meetings.  I will be helping lead these meetings using a Christian study that Latasha Morrision wrote.

That's my word.



I also blogged on our adoption journey blog today. I might have mentioned Hamilton on that blog too. Help! I Have a problem! Here's the link:

Join me in my crazy obsession with Hamilton.  Listen to the first song, and you'll be hooked.  Just a warning, there are quite a few songs that are explicit.  You might want to listen without kiddos in the room.