Word of the Year — 2022 Nourish

For many years, I have chosen a word to be a reminder or a recurring theme for the coming year. A word that I would keep at the front of my thoughts and make part of my mission. In recent years, I prefer verbs as action statements that inspire and prompt me in some way. In past years, I set this word of the year by New Year’s Day. However, this year it just didn’t happen.

The year was difficult for us, as it was for so many others. As we entered 2022, we had a family member that was very old and in the last days of his well-lived life. We also had another family member in the throes of chemotherapy and cancer treatments. Simply put, I wasn’t ready to spend much time in reflection looking back to see how my watchword had shaped the year. So, here it is already April 1, and I think it is time to share my word of the year. So far, it has been a very fitting inspiration for me. More about that in a bit. First, though, a look back at 2021. It was the second year of a full-fledged pandemic that took away so much of everything we held dear. Families weren’t able to be together, older people were unable to see loved ones, travel plans were sabotaged, and this was the year that some people that I knew lost loved ones to the dreaded, insidious virus. Everyone knew someone who died due to Covid. Everyone, in one way or another, felt it and grew very weary. Our lives were held captive to masks and hand sanitizer, wondering if a touch or hug was okay or if we should step back one step farther. Children learned to respond to half faces with only eyes to read and no mouth, with no way to gauge a satisfied smile or unhappy tightening of the corner of a mouth. Many of us wondered what long-term social impact the social mores of pandemic protocol would have on people. Though that is yet to be determined, it is clear that virtually no one came out of this year unscathed.

There were good things as well that defined our 2021. One of the most life-changing ones was selling our event venue and deciding to enjoy a simpler life again. We found renewal in finding a smaller home in a subdivision again. Though we will still be able to renew our hearts at the ranch when we like, it will be in a much needed, scaled-down version.

My word for the 2021 year renew held more meaning and life course for me than I ever could have imagined. From simply using it to refresh my thought process in a world of having absolutely nothing normal to a desperate, cell revitalizing prayer for my loved one diagnosed with cancer, I prayed my word “Renew, Lord! Please renew!” “Renew” was a spiritual journey and a mission to help others refresh their souls in the long, lonely days of 2021. Renewal was the glorious result of a sweet answer to a long-awaited prayer to simplify our lives. And ultimately, renew was the watchword, as our loved one entered his Heavenly Home, fully restored, fully made a new creation on January 14. Renew was the word for the beginning and the end, bookends to a year we readily said goodbye to. As I write this, we are without masks, without fear, without the confines of pandemic protocol, and we believe with much optimism that we are nearing the end of this strange and most difficult time.

The most amazing thing about picking a word for the year has been the way it really does define that year. Without knowing what the year holds, but with a little prayer and forethought, I settle on a word and more years than not, I find how appropriate and fitting it is. As in previous years, the watchword also became the lifeline to depth-of-soul satisfaction and inner peace. I am thankful that we were able to renew our hearts, and refresh our souls throughout this past year and to experience true renewal in so many beautiful ways.

For 2022, the word is nurture. This year I added a byline “help good grow.” There are so many ways I plan to consciously make this my theme. I hope to nurture relationships that need my touch, to nurture my own soul with Bible reading and care, to nurture habits for good health, and to nurture and encourage my family, especially my grandchildren with stories and love and every blessing I can offer. May I pour out myself and fill others, nurturing their souls. I have lived long enough to know that we are blessed to be blessings to others, or as a friend used to put it: when your life gets an upgrade, you better be sure that someone else’s does also! I look forward to seeing all the ways that God shows up this year, and in particular how He nurtures in and through me, as I offer up myself in service to Him. Here’s to a year filled with nurturing hope and faith and many others along the way.

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Word of the Year 2020

I have selected a word for the year for the past ten plus years. That word would be my watchword to employ, to offer others, to fill my own heart, often to grow me in an area of need. Last year, in particular, the word that labeled the year was particularly meaningful and fitting. I chose the word “embrace” and I cannot tell you yet how many areas that it has affected my life as it became the theme for my 2019 days.

For some days, the word embrace was an encouragement to tackle a situation or reality. For others, it was a loving reminder to embrace a “porcupine” person.  I would still think to myself it sure is hard to hug a porcupine but would know that that particular porcupine needed a hug more than my judgment. Other days, embrace became the theme as I tackled my rough edges of hypersensitivity and anxiety. Embracing the reality that something in me had to change, not others if I wanted a different story. Embrace helped me love through the challenges of having elderly parents come to live with us for the better part of the year. Embrace offered my own spirit a loving hug when things seemed so overwhelming I wanted to run away. Embrace allowed me to hold a precious new grandson, Grey Michael Barnes born in September. Indeed, the theme embrace lent God’s gracious and merciful perspective to each day of this 2019 year that we fondly closed the book on this past week.

Now for the coming year, I am looking forward to living life under a new banner. I hope to continue in the lessons learned from the previous year, but it is time to grow again. How that theme plays out is yet to be seen, but the word I offer to grow in His likeness this 2020 year is serve. I believe my heart was focused inward much of the last two years, and I want to be more about others, taking new opportunities where they present themselves, as they always do in a busy life that bumps into people. Wherever I am, I hope not to be too busy to stop and lend a hand where needed, or offer a listening ear, a compassionate hug. I offer myself to be Christ’s hands and feet where I can in His service. Now, my prayer is for a willing heart to see others’ needs and for Him to equip me to serve. I ask that God grant us all a broader vision of Who He is that we may know Him as He is fully, now dimly but one day face to glorious Face. Amen.