7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Word of the Year

7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Word of the Year

I love new beginnings. They motivate me to start new habits and learn new things. That’s why at the beginning of a new year I pick a word to guide the next twelve months. One word to inspire the next 52 weeks. One word to direct the next 365 days.

I used to make a long list of resolutions on New Year’s Eve. Lose 10 pounds. Exercise 5 times a week. Organize all closets. But most of the time, the resolutions I made on January 1 were all but forgotten by January 31.

Choosing one word has been more successful. Instead of ten or twenty resolutions to remember, it’s only one word. Plus I find it helpful to have a single focus for the year. There are dozens of things I want to accomplish, hundreds of things I want to learn, a myriad of ways I hope to grow in my Christian faith, but I find I can’t do it all at the same time. Choosing one word gives me one area to focus on during the year. By the end of those twelve months, I hope that one thing will seep into my soul and that God will work that characteristic into my heart.

However, sometimes my word of the year has met the same fate as my old resolutions–forgotten. I have picked a word in January and promptly forgotten it by February.

To prevent that from happening again in 2017, I decided to do things differently. I chose the word abide, but besides simply choosing that word, I purposely set out to know what abide meant. I meditated on the word and asked God to teach me and change me. I searched through Scripture and delved into Greek and English meanings.

7 Ways to Make the Most of Yourof the YearPIN

If you would like to get more out of your one word this year, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Make your word visible. I made a mini-poster of the word abide using a photo I found online. I used the photo-editing site Canva to add the word to the photo. I then printed the mini-poster and hung it near my computer where I would see it often. Here is my mini-poster.Copy of abide
  2. Find Scriptures. I did a word search on Bible Gateway (an incredibly helpful online Bible) and found Scriptures that contained the word abide. I picked one verse as a “theme verse” for the year: I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
  3. Memorize verses with your chosen word. I also decided to memorize a few verses with the word or concept of abide. Regularly reviewing these verses imprinted them on my soul. Meditating on them opened up my heart to listen to what the Holy Spirit had to teach me about abiding. Even if you don’t like memorizing, you can obtain the same effect by posting verses with your one word on your bathroom mirror or your refrigerator. Every time you see the Scriptures, read them and remember.
  4. Discover the meaning of your word. To really understand the word abide, I looked up the meaning of the word on Dictionary.com. I also got more insights into the word by looking up the Greek word translated as abide in the New Testament on the site Blue Letter Bible. You can find out what I learned about abide here and here.
  5. Read books on the topic of your one word. During my year of abide, I read the classic Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray and A Sudden Glory by Sharon Jaynes which talks about living in Christ. These books gave me deeper insights into abiding in Christ.

To receive two more ways to get more out of your one word this year, simply enter your email in the form below and hit “subscribe.” You will not only gain access to those two more suggestions but a helpful ten-page workbook that outlines all seven methods. It gives you space to study your word and room to record your insights. Plus, by signing up, you will receive more ideas to get the most of your one word throughout the year.

Next step: Start with this prayer: Lord Jesus, work in my heart. Open my mind to what You want to work in my soul this year. Help me to choose a word that will guide me on the path You want me to walk. Teach me and transform me in the coming months. In Your name I pray, Amen.

Get the Most Out of Your One Word

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3 Ways Abiding in Christ Can Change Your Life: Connecting

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Every year I choose one word to focus on. One word to guide the next twelve months.

At the beginning of 2017, I chose “abide.” I hoped that studying and meditating on that word would help me understand it better. I kept asking, “What does that word mean, exactly?” “How do I abide?” “How does abiding help my relationship with Jesus?” “How can it affect my daily life?”

Although I am still learning, still growing, I am going to share what I have learned so far. I am going to tell three ways abiding in Christ changed my life. This post will concentrate on connecting.

When I began the study of abiding, one of the things I did was to memorize verses with the word “abide.” The first verse I memorized was John 15:5:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

As I meditated on this verse, I realized that I often focus on bearing fruit–working for God’s kingdom, making a difference in the world. But if I’m trying hard to produce fruit on my own, it won’t work. Jesus tells me, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” I’m trying to squeeze out some awesome grapes (aka “amazing accomplishments”), but I end up exhausted and frustrated.

3 WaysAbiding in ChristCan Change Your Life
Then I recognized the fact that bearing fruit is not really my job. My role is to simply abide in Christ. And if I abide, fruit comes naturally.

Think about it. What if the branch said to the vine, “I’m working really hard right now to produce some fantastic grapes. All I need to do is read some more books on horticulture and get up before the sun and work till dark. It will be exhausting, but worth it. Vine, I don’t really need you, I just need to put in a little more effort.”

But the vine says, “It’s useless to try to produce fruit without Me. If you are not connected to me, you will not receive the water and nutrients that are necessary for growth and fruit. All you really need to do is stay connected to me. I will give you everything you need to produce amazing fruit if you just abide in me.”

So what does it mean to abide in Christ? We will explore that a little deeper in the upcoming posts, but to put it simply–to abide in Christ is to connect to Jesus. To keep my eyes on Him, trust Him for everything, and to rely on Him instead of my own abilities. It is to obey God’s commands because they are the instruction book for a fruitful and meaningful life. It is to sink my roots deep into His unconditional love and trust that what the Father wills is best.

This focus on abiding changed my life because it changed my attention from:

“How can I produce more?” or “How can I accomplish more?”


“How can I connect to Jesus today?” and “How can I draw on His strength right now?

I shift my focus from what I can produce to what Jesus can accomplish. I turn my attention from doing to resting in His love.

So if you are exhausted by trying to squeeze out fruit–produce something impressive, accomplish something big–remember that’s not your job. Your role is to abide in the vine–Jesus–and then the fruit will come naturally.

Next step: Ask God to show you if you have been focusing more on producing or more on abiding. Write a prayer asking Him to help you learn to abide.


Distracted No More

Welcome to the season of distraction! Hectic schedules may make you feel overwhelmed. Pulled in too many directions. Unfocused.

I have something that may help. Recently, I was a guest on Marnie’s Friends–a podcast that consistently gives inspiration to Christian women. I shared some of my methods for staying focused. In this episode of the podcast, you’ll discover:

  • The most important step to living with focus
  • The secret of finding true priorities
  • How to align your to-do list with true priorities
  • 3 strategies to know your why
  • Why it’s important to kill multi-tasking3 simple but important routines that will improve your focus
  • The importance of periodically unplugging
  • How focus and Sabbath connect
  • 5 ways to craft your own personal spiritual retreat

Just click on the image below to access the audio recording.

If you like what you hear, remember that you can also find out more about living a focused life with my eCourse–Distracted: 12 Faith-Focus Habits for a Frenzied World. I shared 4 of the Faith-Focus habits in the podcast, but there are 8 more in the eCourse! Click the image below for more info.

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Next step: Write down three current activities that are making you feel overwhelmed or distracted. Is there something you can do to change that? Abandon the activity? Change the time? Enlist some help?

Distracted No More

4 Ways to Have a More Productive (and Meaningful!) 2017

4 Ways to Have a More Productive2017

At the end of each year, I often make New Year’s resolutions.  As I put up a new calendar on my fridge I make lists of goals and plans. (I love lists!)

But most of the time what happens is that I make a beautiful plan for the new year–and then promptly forget about it.

So this year I am trying something different. To help me actually accomplish my goals (and have a meaningful life–not just a productive one) I’m making these 4 things my 2017 priorities.

A Daily Routine

I learned about daily routines from Crystal Paine. A routine is simply a set of things that you do in the same order every day. Choosing to do what is important or useful and then developing the habit of doing those things every day helps me actually do what I intend. I already had a morning routine that consisted of exercise, breakfast, getting dressed, and a quiet time with God. But Crystal suggests also using afternoon and evening routines.  So now I have developed a routine for the end of my workday. When I am ready to quit for the day, I:

  • save the day’s work
  • do a final check of email
  • check my calendar for upcoming commitments
  • neaten my desk
  • shut down my computer
  • say a prayer of thanks for work accomplished

My evening routine is:

  • clean kitchen counters after dinner
  • have time for reading
  • lay out clothes for next day
  • practice examen before I go to sleep

These simple routines help me end my day peacefully and start the day with a clean slate.

Weekly Review Time

The idea of a weekly review came from leadership expert Michael Hyatt. A weekly review is a specific time slot in your schedule set aside for evaluating the past week and setting up the next. During this time you will review:

  • your goals
  • the calendar for the next week
  • your to-do lists (What did you accomplish? What do you plan to do next week?)

I love the concept of a weekly review. For two years I have tried (unsuccessfully) to incorporate them into my schedule. But this year I am making this a priority because I think it will help me stay focused on my goals. It will help me concentrate on what is important and not just what is urgent.

Monthly Personal Retreat

The daily routines and weekly reviews help me be productive and goal-oriented. But checking things off on a to-do list doesn’t guarantee a meaningful life. Planning and goal-setting don’t get me anywhere but lost and frustrated if I’m not following God’s plan for my life.

I am convinced that I need extended quiet time to connect with God to hear His voice and seek His will for my life. So I try to take one day (or one morning) out of each month for a personal spiritual retreat. But again, I have not been consistent in this practice. So I am determined to make 2017 the year I make time to get away each month to read my Bible, journal my concerns and questions, and wait for God’s answers. You can read more about a personal retreat here. You can also get my Soul Spa Kit with 59 ideas for a personal retreat by entering your name and email address in the upper right-hand corner of this blog.

Live Like I’m Loved

My type-A personality loves goals and plans. but lately, God has been teaching me that these can get in the way of my relationship with Him. I tend to base my self-worth in my accomplishments. When I check off everything on my to-do list, I feel good about myself. When I don’t, I feel like a failure.

But God is teaching me that my self-worth is not based in how many goals I can accomplish. My value comes from being a daughter of the Most High King. I’m finding that a meaningful life does not come from to-do lists, daily routines, weekly reviews, and monthly retreats–but from abiding in Christ’s love.

Jesus said,

As the Father loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. John 15:9

Living in Jesus’ love is the best way to have a productive and meaningful 2017.

Next step: Start by posting John 15:9 somewhere you will see it every day to remind yourself to live loved. Then consider if a daily routine, weekly review, or monthly retreat might be useful for you.

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When You’re Floored By Bad News



Christmas is a joyous season, but for some it doesn’t feel that way.

I understand. Some of the most painful events in my life happened in the month of December. The two miscarriages I experienced both happened in that month. My father died on December 7 in 2001. It was Christmas Day when we found out that my husband’s father had passed away.

Sometimes the happiness of the season only amplifies your pain.

Maybe this year you didn’t have a lot of good news. In fact, you had more than your fair share of bad news. Perhaps your job disappeared in the sinking economy. Or your doctor gave a diagnosis without much hope. Or you lost a loved one. You are waiting and hoping for some good news.

I bet the shepherds near Bethlehem on that Christmas night felt much the same way. The whole nation of Israel had been groaning under Roman rule. They were tired of seeing foreign soldiers in the streets. They were tired of obeying a ruler who lived far away. Life seemed like a long string of bad news.

So when the angel announced that he had good news for them, he immediately had the shepherds’ attention:

Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)

The shepherds didn’t waste any time in going to see what all the good news was about. They raced to Bethlehem to see the baby and immediately told others the good news (Luke 2:17). They praised God for all they had seen and heard (Luke 2:20).

As I think about the shepherd’s response I am humbled. 

You see, the good news they received did not immediately change their financial situation. Sharing the good news probably gave them their 15 minutes of fame, but it didn’t get them wealth or power.

Still, they realized that this was the best good news and so they told others and praised God.

I, on the other hand, may not always be exuberant about the good news of the Savior. I’m tempted to continue to focus on the bad news: the doctor’s diagnosis or the generally lousy state of the economy. I forget that the good news of Jesus overcomes any of the rotten news of this world. Yes, things might not improve right away, but God promises a happy ending in heaven for those who trust in the Babe of Bethlehem.

So this Christmas I’m praying that I will be more like the shepherds–rejoicing in the best news ever!

The good news of Jesus overcomes any of the lousy news of this world. Click To Tweet

Jesus Christ is born! We are rescued from sin and death! In Christ we have life and peace! We are welcomed into God’s family. 

Next step: Write a prayer thanking God for the best news ever. And if this year is one of those years with more bad news than good, I would be honored to pray for you. Send me an email or share your prayer requests in the comments below.

THE shepherds

How a NOT-To-Do List Can Help You Succeed


Today I’m posting over at my friend Melanie’s site. Read this preview and click to read the rest!

Last year started out with grim news.

My husband was diagnosed with lymphoma.

It was a shock for this guy who never takes a sick day. He never had any symptoms. He didn’t feel ill.

not-to-do-listSoon all of our to-do lists were relegated to the garbage can. Instead of our usual work and social activities, our schedules were crammed with doctor visits, tests, and treatments. Our over-packed lives had to make room for more important things. I personally needed to weed out the frivolous to find time for what was necessary—being available for my husband….

Read more…


Make 2016 the Year You Ditch Distraction!

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2015 was NOT the best year of my life. 

When I rewind 365 days, I see the day my husband heard that the lump on his neck might be lymphoma. I can remember the day he received the conclusive diagnosis. I recall the time spent in doctors’ offices and chemo treatment centers.

It was a hard year.

But God was faithful even in the pain and worry. He was true to His promise:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

God did bring good even out of that year of worry for my husband. 

He taught me how to let go of the trivial and focus on what is truly important.

Make 2016The YearYou DitchIn the years before, I had tried to live with focus, but was failing miserably. I guess it took a life-crisis to make me pay attention to what God was trying to teach me. During 2015 I asked God to show me how to ditch the distractions of this life and focus on what was essential.

Throughout the year I discovered a few habits that helped me maintain that focus. I learned how to focus on God, how to defeat distractions of technology, and how to find rest in the midst of the chaos.

Thankfully my husband is now doing well. The chemotherapy worked and he is in remission. But I still use the important lessons I learned during that hard year. One of the habits I still use helps me to prioritize my day. I find that if I can do that, I am less likely to follow all the rabbit trails of the trivial and to let God guide me to what is truly important.

I would like to share this important Faith-Focus Habit with you, so I wrote a FREE lesson that describes the habit and how to use it in your life. You don’t have experience your own life-crisis to learn it. You can start 2016 living a more focused life.

To get this free lesson, simply click here!

May I pray for you?

Dear Father,

May 2016 be the year we truly learn to set our eyes upon You. Teach us to ignore the trivial. Give us Your perspective so that we see the unseen and eternal and turn away from what is seen and fleeting. Bless the women who read this with a reminder of Your ever-present love and grace.

In Jesus’ name. Amen. 



The One Thing Keeping You From The Life You Want

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Once upon a time a rich young ruler comes to Jesus. This man had everything: money, power, youth. Maybe he was even not-too-bad looking.

But even though it seemed like he had everything anyone could want–he knew he was missing something.

He came to Jesus with a burning question

“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17)

This young man knew that the things he had wouldn’t last forever. He needed eternal life.

Jesus gave the searching man a rather standard answer: Follow the commandments. Don’t murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Honor your father and mother.

The young man thought: Good. I’ve got this. He told Jesus, “I’ve done all those things since I was a boy.”

But Jesus knew there was one thing that was holding the man back from the life he really wanted. There was one thing that was distracting him from his real life. So Jesus looked at the young man and said:

“You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

The rich young ruler went away despondent. Because this was the one thing he could not do.

one thing2I totally get that young man. Not that I’m rich. Or powerful. Even youth has pretty much passed me by. But there have often been things in my life that have distracted me from my real life–the amazing, beautiful life that Jesus wants me to have. Sometimes Jesus has asked me to surrender things I held tightly–in order to wholeheartedly follow Him.

And often I have been exactly like that man that met Jesus. I have said no. I’ve hung onto whatever I thought it was I couldn’t live without. Music career. Pursuit of dream house. Wanting family close.

But when I’ve hung onto those dreams, those desires–I discovered that didn’t actually make me happier. They only pulled me away from Christ. I couldn’t follow Jesus closely because I was dragging around the weight of my own will, my own expectations.

Usually I come to my senses and realize that a life of following Jesus is better than any other path. I eventually release that one thing that is holding me back from the life I really want–the life God has planned for me.

What are holding onto? If Jesus spoke to you and said, “You lack one thing. Go and surrender _________” What would that one thing be?

If Jesus spoke to you and said, 'You lack one thing. Go and surrender __________' What would that one thing be? Click To Tweet

It’s always difficult to surrender things we hold dear. But there is one phrase in Mark’s account of the rich young ruler that makes it a bit easier.

Mark wrote “Jesus, looking at him, loved him” (Mark 10:21).

When I struggle to surrender whatever God is asking me to let go, I remember Jesus’ love. I picture Him–looking at me with eyes of love–holding out His hands to take whatever burdens He has asked me to relinquish.

Jesus doesn’t ask me to release my desires or my possessions because He wants to make me miserable. He asks me to release them because, in His love, He knows the one thing that is keeping me from the life I really want.

Next step: If Jesus spoke to you and said, “You lack one thing. Go and surrender _________” What would that one thing be? Spend a few minutes basking in Jesus’ love for you. Then write a prayer surrendering that one thing–the one thing that is keeping you from the life you really want.

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If you would like to learn more about avoiding distractions and living a focused life, check out a FREE lesson that shares the one habit that changed my life more than any other. 

This five-page lesson will help you:

  • Discover the one Faith-Focus Habit that can immediately make a difference in your daily peace and clarity.


  • Take the first step toward living out God’s plan for your life and ignoring all the trivial paths that side-track you from your true purpose.

Click on the button below to get this FREE lesson:

download your free lesson!






12 Faith-Focus Habits for a Frenzied World

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In this modern world, it’s easy to live distracted. In fact, it’s difficult not to be sidetracked by the myriad of things clamoring for our attention. We feel pressured to have more, do more, and be more. And yet with all this doing and having, we still feel unfulfilled. In the quest to have it all, we wonder if we have missed something important. We sense that we have been spending too much time and effort on the trivial and not enough on what really matters.

I struggled with distraction for years. Then a life crisis hit–my husband was diagnosed with lymphoma. During this difficult season God taught me some important lessons. Through a series of small changes I learned to live a less frenzied life and a more focused life.

You don’t have to wait for an emergency to learn how to defeat distraction. My Distracted eCourse teaches 12 Faith-Focus Habits I learned during our crisis.  In this course you will learn both the spiritual habits and practical tactics I used for finding focus. You don’t have to continue living a side-tracked life.

distracted 10Distracted will teach you how to:

  • find focus by connecting to God
  • truly pay attention to what is essential
  • prioritize your day
  • find focus in your work
  • make important choices
  • defeat the distractions of technology
  • find rest in our hectic world

Note: this is NOT a course on how to get more organized. It is more like a course to help you finally do what God is calling you to do rather than what the world is screaming you should do. It’s developing habits that help you hear God’s voice and direction. Habits that help you eliminate the trivial and concentrate on the important.

When you sign up for this course you will receive a series of email lessons in your inbox. First an introductory message will arrive. Then once a week for the next 12 weeks you will receive a message about finding focus. The message will contain a short lesson and an assignment. Each lesson will take about 15-30 minutes. The rest of the week you will put the new habit into practice.

Sign up now and you will also receive a bonus lesson that will help you continue to ditch distraction even after the course is finished.

Click here for more information and to buy the course.

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And if you would like to sample this course, check out the FREE lesson that shares the one habit that changed my life more than any other. 

This five-page lesson will help you:

  • Discover the one Faith-Focus Habit that can immediately make a difference in your daily peace and clarity.


  • Take the first step toward living out God’s plan for your life and ignoring all the trivial paths that side-track you from your true purpose.

Click on the button below to get this FREE lesson:

download your free lesson!

When Your Goals Become A Distraction


You’ve probably heard the quote,

If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.

I’m a big believer in goals. In targeting a few life objectives. In formulating plans.

Because, without aiming at a target, it’s easy to wander through life drifting through the gift of time God has given without making a difference in the world.

distractedbygoalsBut lately I’ve seen that my goals may also hold me back.

Not because they are too big.

Because they are too small.

A list of my goals for the next few weeks might look something like this:

  • Clean and organize bedroom closet
  • Write two new blog posts
  • Organize digital photos
  • Finish new book proposal

Some of those are huge goals. Anyone who knows my clothes-buying habit knows my closet is overflowing. The book proposal is an exciting new venture that might lead to something big. Organizing our photos is an enormous job because my husband takes thousands of digital photos.

But even so, my plans are puny compared to God’s plans for me. One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 3:20:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.

God’s plans are much grander than any I could come up with myself. My goals often have to do with the stuff of this world: possessions, work, success. But God’s vision for my life is all about my character, my soul, my eternal worth.

It’s a little like I’m walking with Jesus on life’s path. He’s pointing out all the beautiful mountains and waterfalls and rainbows. But I’m too busy looking down on the ground looking for pebbles.

I’m distracted from the beauty that is my life by being too preoccupied with tiny ambitions.

Life with Jesus means trusting His plan for me. It means holding His hand and letting Him guide. Click To Tweet

Life with Jesus means trusting His plan for me. It means holding His hand and letting Him guide. It means appreciating the beauty He has already placed in my life.

Sometimes it also means letting go of my own goals so that I can follow God’s.

If I aim at nothing (but my own goals), I may hit it every time (but miss God's big plan). Click To Tweet

If I aim at nothing (but my own goals), I may hit it every time (but miss God’s big plan).


Next step: Write down three goals you have for your life. Spend five minutes praying, asking God to show you if these goals are the goal He has for your life. Ask Him to show you His goals for your life. 


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If you would like to learn more about avoiding distractions and living a focused life, check out a FREE lesson that shares the one habit that changed my life more than any other. 

This five-page lesson will help you:

  • Discover the one Faith-Focus Habit that can immediately make a difference in your daily peace and clarity.


  • Take the first step toward living out God’s plan for your life and ignoring all the trivial paths that side-track you from your true purpose.

Click on the button below to get this FREE lesson:

download your free lesson!