I started picking a word of the year back in 2015 unintentionally. At the end of 2014, I was in a dark place, for lack of a better word. God and I were talking through a whole bunch of stuff and it really felt like a light had gone out in my life. I remember driving home from work and thinking “God, I know one day, I’ll come on the other side of this and understand why I’ve been questioning and struggling with all of this, but right now I just don’t.” I was going to church every Sunday, in a weekly Bible study (and 3 of these women have played crucial roles in my life since), and talking openly about things with my parents and then finally my roommates.
As the calendar turned to 2015 I knew I needed to focus on the word TRUTH. That even if I had a lot of questions, I still knew that the Bible was true and what God says is true. Christianity isn’t a feeling for me but a fact, so focusing on TRUTH in 2015 was important for me. I didn’t really mean for it to be an official “word of the year”, but more like a plea and a plan to focus on Scripture for 2015.
In 2016, I wanted to continue building my foundation on Scripture and through the women’s program at Passion City Church, I chose the word ROOTED for 2019. Being ROOTED means digging deep into the dirt (TRUTH) and anchoring down (or hunkering down as we Georgia Bulldogs like to say, haha) for when the storms come. The deeper the roots, the stronger the tree can stand in the storm. I didn’t know at the beginning of 2016 the storm that would come in December.
One cool thing I learned about trees, roots, and forests is that “older” trees wrap their roots around younger trees’ roots and take them down deep in the dirt and to the water source. At the beginning of 2016 I joined the women’s mentoring program “Flourish” at Passion City Church. I had also been serving for about a year at PCC and was excited to continue to wrap my roots around others there and dive deep into a church family.
As the news came that my Momma suffered a heart attack in early December 2016 and then passed away a week later, all the roots around me (not just at Passion, but roots that had been growing my whole life) held me together and took me to The Water Source, Jesus Christ. The thing about a water source is that it does little good if you just get a bit of water and go off only to return when parched. The Friday morning of Momma’s heart attack, I was already working on what would be my word. After everything happened I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go in, but realized that the word I had been considering was actually perfect. I decided that for 2017 I needed to ABIDE by the living water. Abiding means to live and dwell. I wanted to, no I needed to live and dwell in the Word of God and my relationship with Him, because my human world had been shaken to its core. The only thing I could be sure of at that point was that God offers the firmest of all foundations to stand on.
For a few years I had been trying to carve out time in the mornings for my Bible study rather than waiting until falling asleep at night. 2015 and 2016 had laid a bit of groundwork for that, but since 2017 started with me working full-time from home, I knew it was crucial for me to start my day with God.
Throughout 2017 I made the decision to continue to pursue the dream Momma and I had of opening a bridal shop in my hometown; thankfully my Daddy’s on board too! One thing my Momma always said about me was that I stretch and push myself to do things she wouldn’t have thought I’d do. She constantly said I was BRAVE. For example, I’m not really athletic, but I still tried out for cheerleading. I like large groups of people, but went from a high school class of 12 people to a freshmen “class” at UGA of like thousands of people and went to orientation all by myself. Daddy and I began to make plans for the bridal shop to open in 2018 just like Momma and I had planned and dreamed. Big things were going to have to happen in 2017 and 2018 for the shop to open so I thought BRAVE would be the perfect way to push myself outside what was easy and reach for the big dreams. I’ve had a lot of help and support in 2017 & 2018 for Katharine Marie Weddings, so I’ll never say I did it all on my own. On on podcast last year I heard about how we shouldn’t try to be fearless, but courageous; meaning to step into the fear and fight through it. One of my favorite Bible people is Joshua. But as BRAVE as Joshua seems to me, I remember the number of times God had to tell him to “be strong and courageous.” So it’s not about the fear, but our response to it. Fear to me, became like the build up of waiting in line for a rollercoaster, something I used to dread. But the more rollercoasters I rode, the more the dread turned to anticipation and adrenaline that I began to embrace.
2018 continued with step after step into the adrenaline rush. I traveled so much between March 10th and April 14th (NYC>Israel, ATL>Honduras, ATL>NYC) and then fear of being tied to a physical shop creeped in so I booked tickets to St. Louis and Austin for July & November! Admittedly, leaving Atlanta and moving back to Anderson was something I never thought I’d do except to open the Bridal Shop, but when I moved home, we still didn’t have a signed contract on a building and I had 12 wedding dresses heading my way. To say fear creeped in again is the honest truth. Heck, even 8 months later with keys in hand and a contractor hired, I still worry it won’t work out. I also had my own community and life in Atlanta that I built and loved.
What I learned in 2018 is that BRAVE people still have fears and doubts. But they choose to keep going anyway. I can confidently say that with the Lord’s help, I ended 2018 BRAVER than I started and a lot more grateful.
Wow…okay. Now we can finally get to 2019, hahah! My word for 2019 has as much to do with me and how I want to grow as it does with remembering one of my favorite characteristics of God - FAITHFUL. I have been given so much in my life that I didn’t earn or deserve and I want to be a “good and FAITHFUL servant” (Matthew 25:14-30) of it all. From my time, money, friendships, family, businesses, my car, my body; all of it is a gift from God that I want to steward well and use to point back to Him.
In my research of the word FAITHFUL, I was reminded that God doesn’t call us to be something that He isn’t Himself. I cannot be FAITHFUL on my own or without His guidance. Part of my tattoo is 12 dots that represents the 12 Ebenezer stones of remembrance from Joshua 4. These were to be a sign for future generations of the FAITHFULNESS of the Lord and all that He had done in the past. The same God who created Adam and led Abraham into the unknown is the same God who led the Israelites out of bondage and who is with me every single day. The promises He made to those in Scripture are different than the ones He’s made and will make with me, but He won’t change. I love that 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says “He who called you is FAITHFUL and He will do it.” The same God who allows me to wake up every morning is the same God who helps me through the hardest time and brings the greatest blessings into my life. It is He who is FAITHFUL and my hope for 2019 is to become more like Him. Trusting also, that He will remain FAITHFUL as He cannot change, so when those storms come I can stand on His FAITHFULNESS.
Do you have a “word of the year”? I’d love to hear about it and how you chose it! Comment below :-)