What If Your Word of the Year Isn’t Working?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

Should I Have Chosen This Word?

What if your One Word seems to backfire?

Have you ever felt that your life leaped out of control with your word instead of becoming more peaceful and calming?

After choosing Breath in 2010 as my One Word, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. And died by Valentine’s Day.

Then seven months later in the same year, after several years with Alzheimer’s already, my mother also took her last breath and joined my dad in Heaven.

I wasn’t sure I should have chosen Breath.

Seeing both my parents lose their capacity to breathe in the same year felt like too much.

Featured Post—Word of the Year Dilemma

Maybe that’s why Lauren’s honesty really resonates with me this week as our featured post.

Lauren chose Trust in 2021. While she gleaned much from it and grew in her relationship with God through it, she also wondered if she learned her lessons from it.

But is still wondering about our word maybe the sign of a good one?

Our words are often signposts pointing us to our need for more of God, more of love.

At the end of every year, I make a list of things I learned from my words. From Breath I learned that inhales and exhales work best in balance, and to not take even breathing for granted.

Yet I also learn at the end of each year I have more questions about my word (and maybe about life) than when I began.

Maybe that’s how God is growing us.

The more we know, the more we realize we don’t know. And the more we want to know. About life and beauty and goodness and God.

I don’t regret that I chose Breath in 2010. It left me hungry for more Spirit.

As I wrestle with Release as my word this year, I have a strong hunch I’ll see it differently in December than I see it now in January.

At least that’s what I hope.

Read all of Lauren’s post at her blog, then add your own blog links below.

WORD OF THE YEAR DILEMMA


If you feel like your word may not be prompting change yet, hold on. The year is just beginning. God still has a lot of time left with it. 

I’m starting a #Write28Days series on Tuesday, February 1: Find Your Mantra {28 Daily Mantras}. But I’m realizing I don’t even have a mantra for my word RELEASE. Hmm…if you have any ideas, pass them along! I do have a verse though: “God arms me with strength. His perfect way sets me free.” 2 Samuel 22:33 (GW)

For Lauren’s new 2022 word REST, I’d offer the mantra I’ll share on February 14 (and one of my personal favorites): “You don’t have to finish today.” I find much freedom (and rest) in the reminder I don’t have to get everything done today. It’s okay.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

I’m linking at these blog parties


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1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

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Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Find Your Mantra {28 Daily Mantras} Introduction (Series begins February 1)

Find your mantra, a powerful spiritual truth focused on one small but important truth at a time.

Find Your Mantra - 28 Daily Mantras

When You Need a Mind Shift

I was struggling with my attitude toward my friend. I knew the attitude I wanted to have.

But it was not the attitude I did have.

The clock was ticking. I was about to be thrown into a situation with her that required the better attitude, not the lesser.

I wanted to rise to the occasion.

I talked to God about it. I talked with other friends about it.

And from their guidance I collected a few nuggets of truth mantras to have on hand for praying in the heat of the moment.

  • Sympathize with the hurt
  • Ask more questions
  • Love matters most
  • Make the memories good

Because they were short and few, I could remember and use them. They reminded me to be curious instead of judgmental, to find similarities instead of differences, and to focus on love instead of nitpicking.

They spotlighted who I wanted to be, how I wanted to live my core values.

And they helped me better love my friend in the particular situation we entered.

A Cliché or a Tool?

What is a mantra? There are two basic definitions:

1) a sound or word repeated by someone who is praying or meditating
2) a word or phrase repeated often that expresses someone’s basic beliefs

While the first type of mantra has value (scientists say rhythmic chanting of even an unknown word can enhance mental health), the mantras I’ve chosen are not foreign words to be chanted over and over while meditating (although I’m not knocking that).

In this series, I’ll only focus on the second type: statements repeated frequently to express belief.

We hear short, memorable statements and Bible verses used as mantras all the time:

  • Be the change.
  • Let it go.
  • All things work for good.
  • Be still and know.
  • Live, laugh, love.

Even when they’re true (not all mantras are true, such as, bigger is better), do we use them for good?

How many of these sayings become just another cliché to us instead of a nugget of wisdom from God to guide our day?

One Mantra at a Time

I’ve discovered I can keep active only a few essential mantras at a time. Different seasons require different affirmations of specific truths.

Beginning Tuesday, February 1, 2022, I’ll share 28 of my favorite truth mantras, one each day.

If one of the mantras resonates with where you are right now, keep it around awhile. If not, read it for the day then move on.

These little statements aren’t meant to replace longer passages of truth that we study or memorize in context (my latest favorite chapter to memorize is here…download the free resources.)

But even short mantras are valuable. They are powerful spiritual sayings focusing us on one small but important truth at a time.

And by doing that, they can help us better love God, love others, and love ourselves.

Because sometimes God uses small things to make big change. (That counts as a mantra, too.)


I’ll start February 1 with my all-time most useful mantra, and end on February 28 with my favorite mantra that calms my anxiety.

If you want to see all 28 daily mantras, subscribe to receive the posts as email. (If you’re already a blog subscriber, do nothing.)

Do you have a favorite saying or scripture that you repeat to yourself as a mantra or prayer? Share in the comments.

If you want to participate in the #Write28Days challenge every February, visit Anita here for details.

Find Your Mantra: 28 Daily Mantras

Previous Series:


Share Four Somethings—January 2022

Near the end of each month I share four somethings with others at Heather’s.

Beginning in 2022, Heather has changed the categories to these four delightful ones: something loved, something gleaned, something braved, and something achieved. 

Plus here’s my latest One Second monthly video . . . 

[click here if you can’t see the video]

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Loved

  • GRANDPARENT CAPS 

Before our first grandchild was born, I labored over what our grandparent names would be. I knew we’d be called this the remainder of our lives. We finally settled on Granna and Gramps. We loved when our oldest granddaughter could start calling us by these names. 

Our youngest grandchild can’t yet say anything, but Jenna gave us personalized caps at Christmas with our grandparent names on them. We love them! And especially what they signify.

Being grandparents to our three littles has been one of the greatest joys of our lives. 

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 ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Gleaned 

  • ATLAS OF THE HEART

I waited my turn for this library book shorter than expected. But Brené Brown’s latest book would be well worth any wait.

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In Atlas of the Heart she is mapping out the individual emotions we feel, giving insights on each one.

Here’s an example on the emotion of Resentment. How would you fill in the blank? One of my answers might be “uncaring.”

“We know from research that unwanted identity is the most powerful elicitor of shame. If you want to know what’s likely to trigger shame for you, just fill in this sentence stem: It’s really important for me not to be perceived as ________.”

A few more quotes I’ve already marked:

“Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

“The brokenhearted are the bravest among us—they dared to love.”

“Each person’s grief is as unique as their fingerprint. But what everyone has in common is that no matter how they grieve, they share a need for their grief to be witnessed.”

I expect to find a few new mantras from her book to add to the list I’m collecting. I’m starting a new #Write28Days series on February 1, “Find Your Mantra: 28 Daily Mantras.”

If you’re interested in these short mantra posts via email in February, add your name to my email list here. (If you are already a blog subscriber, do nothing; they’ll come to you automatically.)

Find Your Mantra: 28 Daily Mantras

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Braved

  • BEING QUIET

When something’s wrong in a relationship, I want to talk it out. It’s usually the right thing to do.

Except sometimes you can’t. Or on a rare occasion, you shouldn’t.

And it’s very hard for me to stay quiet when I’d rather have the conversation.

But I’ve been forced to work on it lately. And discovering it takes a lot more courage than I realized.

Not being able to fully explain myself makes me feel vulnerable. I’ve been practicing in small matters by choice (see “Do You Need to Explain Yourself?”), but I’m having to do it in a big matter not by choice. Lord, have mercy.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Achieved

  • SMALL GROUPS FOR OUR ONE WORD COMMUNITY

Last year I took a leap of faith and opened up a One Word community. I didn’t know if anybody would want to join, but thankfully there were lots of amazing people who wanted to stay connected with our words and each other throughout the year. It was a wonderful experience for me.

This year I organized to take it a step deeper by subdividing into smaller groups of 4-5 people each for those who want to get more personal. Again I have no idea if this will work or not.

But already in this first month, I count it a success for me in my small groups (I joined two groups). God has coordinated some amazing connections that go far beyond just just my One Word. 

RELEASE is my word of the year. My daughter Jenna made me this wonderful sign that I have sitting on my piano so I can see it again and again throughout my day to remember to loosen my grip.  

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What’s been a highlight of your January? What are you looking forward to in February? Share your thoughts in the comments.

previous Share Four Somethings


One Word 2022 Linkup + GIVEAWAY – January

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Share Your One Word Update

It’s time to link up your One Word updates!

Add your blog link below and/or leave a comment about your One Word. You’ll automatically be entered to win a personalized tray or sign with YOUR One Word on it!

A winner will be chosen randomly on January 31 from the links and comments. You’ll be notified by email on February 1. Randy Flowers will then create your item and mail it to you. Follow Randy on Instagram @woodshopmade to see more of his amazing work.

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What to Write About?

Here are some questions to ask yourself. Make a blog post from your answers, or anything related to your One Word.

A. WHERE?

Where have you seen your word already this year? Where can you look for it? Where can you place it around you to remind you of it more often?

B. WHAT?

Do you have a tangible reminder of your word? Maybe you could create a collage or draw a photo or create a special graphic. Show us!

C. WHY?

If you haven’t already, write down your thoughts about why you’ve chosen this word. What do you expect it to bring you? What do you hope to learn from it?

Download and fill out this worksheet to further define your One Word goals.

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The linkup will remain open through January 31.

The next linkup will be February 22 (every One Word linkup in 2022 will be on the 22nd).


Leave a comment here about your One Word to be entered in the drawing. 

If you’d like to join our One Word community, add your email address here. You’ll be sent information once a month and an invitation to join our private Facebook group. 

One Word 2022_sign up

Link Up About Your One Word!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Make a Right Turn
—Grace & Truth Linkup

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School or Prison?

“All the children are not well.”

So says one of the children who is now grown.

Michael Phillips is about to share his story with the world on January 25. He’s written it down in his book, Wrong Lanes Have Right Turns: A Pardoned Man’s Escape from the School-to-Prison Pipeline and What We Can Do to Dismantle It.

In the book, Phillips tells about one Sunday morning when a guard pulled him out of his prison cell at age 19. He was taken by van to the judge’s chambers.

The judge looked at him and asked, “Do you want to go to jail, or do you want to go to college?”

Instead of going to prison as a drug dealer after breaking his leg in college and losing his scholarship, Phillips was being given a chance to make a U-turn.

And he took it. He chose college. 

Can We Make a U-Turn?

Now Phillips asks if we can be a society that makes a U-turn, too.

Are we willing to “to turn around toward a neighbor with a different story, toward a colleague with a different opinion, or toward an opponent with a different affiliation and see his humanity, our very lives lie hanging in the balance”?

One way Phillips suggests we do this is to “deal with race, trauma, and memory in education if we are going to uncouple our system from injustice.”

As a Black man, he says his own lived experiences in schooling negatively influenced how he came to see himself. “You cannot call me a threat my entire life and not expect me to become one.”

Phillips also gives us a broader look at some disturbing statistics.

“From 1989 to 2013, we spent six times more on jails than on higher education. The things that are right in front of us are often the hardest to see. On average the total cost per inmate is $33,274, and on average federal, state, and local governments spend $14,840 to educate a child.”

He suggests that when we invest more in criminal justice than we do in education, we might need to look deeper at our values.

It’s not easy to make a change, to make the next right turn. But if it’s true that “structural change cannot take place without individual action,” then we have to ask ourselves—are we willing to change as individuals to make structural change happen?

Michael Phillips made his change. He is now a leader in his community and currently serves as the chief engagement and fulfillment officer for the T.D. Jakes Foundation. He is the chairman of 50CAN and serves as a board member of KuriosEd.

If he can make change, so can we.

Featured Post—Stop the Negative Self-Talk

Michael Phillips had to change his self-talk to make his right turn.

So do we. Debbie helps us with this in our Featured Post this week.

Read all of Debbie’s post here at her blog, then link up your own blog posts below.

HOW TO STOP NEGATIVE SELF-TALK

Do you struggle with negative self-talk, too? How do you combat it? Share your thoughts in the comments.

My thanks to NetGalley + WaterBrook
& Multnomah for the review copy of this book

I’m linking at these blog parties


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1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

blank

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Whoever You Are, Come Visit

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It’s been almost an hour. We are wrapping up the conversation with my uncle in the living room at his house.

It’s been good to visit with him. And he has been glad to see us, especially our sweet little Henry we brought along.

When I was a child, I didn’t see this uncle very often. He and his wife lived several states away. But when they came to my grandmother’s house for Christmas each December, I was always happy.

They were sophisticated and traveled and in my little girl mind, “rich.” They brought the best Christmas gifts with them. They shopped at the nice stores and didn’t mind spending money on the nieces and nephews.

Years later when they retired and moved close to us, we were thrilled to get to really know them. They told interesting stories of their jobs and vacations and places we’d never been. It was delightful having them at our big family meals at regular intervals instead of the yearly visits.

But then my dad died, my uncle’s only brother. And my uncle was sad, as were we all. Then my mother died, and my aunt was sad. She thought of my mother more as a sister she never had than as just a sister-in-law.

We began seeing them less and less as time rolled by.

It’s now time to leave my uncle’s house today. We hug goodbye with him.

Then we turn to hug and say goodbye to the sweet quiet lady sitting very still in her recliner.

She hadn’t participated much in our earlier conversation. When she did talk, she gave generic statements, such as “Isn’t that the truth” or “That’s the way it goes.”

But it doesn’t matter.

She no longer calls us by name. She no longer remembers why we call her Aunt.

And even though we don’t know this newer version of our aunt, we know she’s still a very kind lady. And she is as much loved as always.

She looks up at us now and waves goodbye. She adds, “Come back and visit soon” even though she isn’t sure who we are or where we came from.

We smile and say, “Thank you! We will!”

* * *

My mother died from dementia when she was 71. My aunt was older before she showed signs. My heart has a special place for those who lose their memories. And even though I hope I won’t be one of those (yet I worry I will), I know I’ll still have family who love me, regardless of which “me” I might turn out to be.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Read More:

sharing at these linkups