one word 2011

i looked for God

I looked for God this year. I found Him in the breathtaking coast of the Pacific Northwest, the smile of my godson, the matchless feeling of being believed in, and the beautiful liturgy of Communion.

I saw Him in friends who journey with me for the long haul, from mourning with me when I mourn all the way to rejoicing with me when I rejoice... and back again.

I found Him in the the tear-stained pillowcase of a broken heart. And in the stomach-hurts-can't-breathe laughter of pure joy.

I saw Him in the glimmers of hope awakened in my heart, the generosity of friends acting as His hands of provision, and the signs of autumn promising me that this season is drawing to a close.

I looked for God this year.

I saw Him in gifts given and taken away... In endings and beginnings, doors closing and opening, friendships starting and ceasing.

I found Him in the life and death of one of His beloved servants.

I saw Him in the small minutia of my every day, discovering again how much He cares about my small things.

I found Him in pain-ridden arms held high, music that steals my breath and draws my heart ever closer to Him, and a candlelit gymnasium cathedral on Christmas Eve.

I saw Him in my own desperate need for grace.

I looked for God this year.

And looking will remain my lifelong journey...

one word 2012

I have had so many incredible conversations about One Word over the past few weeks. I love hearing and reading about people's journeys this past year and how God's used their word to shape their life. A. Ma. Zing.

If you write a year-end post, make sure you come back here to link up. (Which reminds me... I still need to write mine!)

I'm working on a new website for One Word 2012... I'm so sorry I haven't rolled it out yet. I'd hoped to, but... well... technical and schedule difficulties prevailed...

In the meantime, start thinking about your word for next year.

And have an amazing Christmas, my friends.

God is with us!

one word 2011 wrap-up

December is here. (Can you believe it?) And it's got me wondering how your One Word journey has been. I'm still amazed at the 300-people-strong community that rallied around the One Word challenge this year. I hope each of you, in unique and different ways, experienced your word come to life.

We would all benefit from hearing each other's journeys.

So do us all a favor -- yourself included -- and make time this month to write a post about your own personal One Word journey.

The places it took you -- inwardly and outwardly...

How it shaped your year...

How it shaped you...

And where it leaves you as the year comes to an end.

Then come back and link up your Wrap-Up post so we can rally around one another for one last surge of encouragement, inspiration, and challenge as we conclude One Word 2011.

Don't forget that the year isn't over yet. Be intentional everyday about finishing strong.

You've got this.

And you've got an army of One Worders standing with you.

I've got some exciting things in the works for One Word 2012! If you haven't already, start thinking about your word for next year.


Look. Four letters.

One word.

My OneWord.

This whole year I've wanted to remain mindful of my need to look for God in the midst of the grit. Because, at least for me, it takes an intentional choice to seek Him where He seems nowhere to be found.

I've slacked off lately.

And with only 46 days left in the year (?!), I want to end well. Strong. Focused. Determined.

So I am looking.

I choose to seek His face not His hand.

His heart not His gifts.


Above all else.

"Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces." -Psalm 34:5

One Word Mile-Marker: Halfway

It's June. The year is half over. So it's time to check in with everyone for a mid-year One Word 2011 update.

I would love to hear how your word has developed in you over the past six months, how it has impacted you and the ways it's taken on significance in your life...

How has your word taken shape? And how has it shaped you?

Does it mean something different to you now than you thought it would?

How has it steered your decisions, plans, and actions?

How do you remain intentional about it? How can you continue to focus on it during the rest of the year?

This is a mile-marker.

To look back and see how far you've come, but also to help you set your sights forward on the six months that lie ahead of you.

What do you want to do differently with the second half of the year?

It's a way to take your pulse, honestly process how you're really doing, and purposefully step into the rest of the year.

Would you write a blog post about your One Word?

And then come back here and link up so the whole community can read it?

I think it would be incredible if each of us took time to read at least 5 update posts from this link list. We can speak words of life and truth to each other's hearts, and rally around one another in encouragement and support.

You can do this.

We can do this.

Together, let's finish strong.


Write your update blog post, then come back and add the link here. (Use the permalink to the specific post, not just your homepage.)

look up

My One Word this year is look. And I've gotta be honest, I haven't done a very good job of looking lately... I stumbled back upon these amazing words, emailed to me by a friend months ago. It was written in 1865 and still speaks so clearly to my heart in 2011.

: : :

"Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!" -Luke 21:28

In whatever state, in whatever place, into whatever condition we may be brought this year---let us seek grace to follow our Lord's loving advice, and "look up!"


Look up---for this will keep...

the head from swimming,

the heart from sinking,

the knees from trembling,

the feet from slipping, and

the hands from hanging down!


Look up...

for all that you need;

from all that you fear;

through all that would obstruct your way.


Do not look at your sin---it will discourage you!

Do not look at your self---it will distress you!

Do not look at Satan---he will bewilder you!

Do not look to men---they will deceive or disappoint you!

Do not look at your trials---they will deject you!

Look only, look always, look intently---to Jesus!


Run looking, work looking, fight looking, suffer looking, live looking, and die looking---to Jesus, who is at God's right hand in glory.

Oh, look, look, look to Jesus!

[From James Smith's "A New Year's Motto", 1865]

eyes wide open

I'm living life with my eyes wide open this year.

Okay, if I'm being most honest---I'm trying to.


Other times, it just feels too hard. Because I don't like what I see. Because it leaves me with more questions than answers. Because it's blurry and I crave clarity.

But sometimes... I get it right.

I force myself to look closely, and I see unexpected glimpses of His grace.

I see Him in the mail I open, filled with love from miles away. He shows up in hot frothy beverages, snow-capped mountains, a solid night of sleep. I spot Him in the soft, cozy blanket that keeps me company on a sick day. I catch His smile in the faces of my friends and in the music that makes me dance without even thinking about it.

He is here.

I see Him.

And He shows Himself to me so uniquely, so perfectly, so just-for-me, that I know... He sees me.

He sees me.

He. Sees. Me.

That puts a whole new perspective on my looking. It shifts my heart from seeking a God who is far-off to looking for Him in the most personal details of my life. It reminds me that He cares about my small things.

So today... Today I am definitely living with my eyes wide open.

I want to see the One who sees me.


Where have you unexpectedly seen Him lately?

one word: one thing

I've had so many conversations in the past month about our One Words. On Twitter. Via email. In person. One on one. As a group. It's been incredible. Really. Absolutely incredible. I'm amazed that people are even still thinking about it, never mind talking about it. Not in the pat-myself-on-the-back sorta way, because I assure you I am well aware that I have very little to do with it. I'm just astounded at the ways -- big and small -- that God continues to use this in people's lives. Including my own.

I think maybe every 3 months I'll put up one of those linky things again so we can easily read "official" updates from each other. But I really hope you'll blog pretty often about how your word is shaping you.

We all know that "two are better than one" and that there is great power in community. Team up with one other One Worder to journey together this whole year. That will look different for each pair, but you could regularly check in with each other, ask specific questions, pray faithfully for one another, send verses and encouragement, etc. It could be someone you know online or someone in your local area. If you want to find someone to team up with, a good start would be to read through the posts linked up on our community page.

Someone asked me the other day if it was too late to choose a word. Of course not! If you haven't yet, quiet your heart and listen for the word God is whispering to you. If you already have your word, encourage someone to join you. Pick one person you know and specifically invite them to join you in this challenge for the rest of the year.

28 days in, I still find myself actively looking. One specific thing I'm doing is to end each day by thinking through how I saw and experienced God that day. Some nights it's easier to recall than others. As for tonight?

I looked for God today. I saw Him in a friendship that is so beautifully comfortable. There in that exhale for my heart, He was unmistakably present.

What is one specific thing you are doing to stay focused on your word?

when life is hard

Life is hard right now. I let out a "Heh" (with an eye-roll) as I write that, because "right now" has spanned the past two years. No, make that four years. But my immediate right now is still just... really hard.

It's dark. Dry. Barren. Cold. Unrelenting.

I've endured more transition in these few years than I could ever imagine facing in a lifetime. An unfaithful spouse. A divorce (which still isn't final). The forced-closing of the ministry I pioneered. The loss of my home. Moving back to America after 13 years in Africa.

And those are just the big things. Each one brings with it a myriad of "small" losses and griefs and heartaches. Even now, I feel a thousand aches from the thousand small things that happened this week alone.

I've been through the ringer.

The trouble is? There's still no end in sight.

My days remain filled with the details of closing Thrive. Thirteen years, sixty staff members, thousands of supporters, and a ministry that spanned two continents doesn't wrap up easily.

And as each loose end gets tied, I have yet another breakdown. I feel like I should be grateful for the bit of relief and closure that comes with each segment of finality, but instead... they just rip open the raw wound of my broken heart.


I have lost everything.

And in some moments I feel like "everything" includes my head. And my heart.

I've lost me.

And I'm not quite sure how to find me again. I'm not even sure I have enough fight left in me for the search.

So it was with agonizing tears that I committed to look this year. To look for hope. For light. For Him. For me.

To look for life.

It hurts just to open my eyes. The sting of grief and the brace for more disappointment makes me wince. But I told Him I'd look. Though it hurts. Though I may not like what I see. Though I may be scared... I will look.

And He assures me I will find.

I'd settle for feeling found.

holy crap!

I've gotta be honest with you. never expected One Word to explode the way it did!

It has taken me completely by surprise. Overwhelming in the best of ways!

I wasn't trying to start a movement. Or a revolution. Or ... anything really. I don't propose to have "invented" the idea or to be the first person to choose a solitary word to focus their life on.

I was simply sharing my commitment to live the next 365 days through the lens of a single word, just like I did before. And I invited my friends to join me.

To my amazement, the next thing I know... my inbox is being lit up by blog comments and Twitter follows and sign-ups on that linky-thing! CRAZY! Even now, all I can do is shake my head because it's just that wild!

And it kept exploding...

friend coined an "official" Twitter hashtag and created an online Daily Paper to track everyone's blog posts. Another friend bought the domain and made it link to my site. Yet another friend set up a Facebook page for those who don't do the Twitter thing.


And so incredibly humbling.

I don't know why it resonated more strongly and spread more widely this year than last. I honestly don't. But it has. And it's still growing.

And it excites me and scares me all at the same time.

The power to influence one another's lives as we pursue our One Words together is astounding. There is enough momentum to keep everyone focused and moving forward all year long. People are praying for each other, encouraging one another, brainstorming practical ways to live out their words. Iron is sharpening iron, and it is absolutely mind-blowing to watch and be part of. It's exciting! Really, really exciting.

The fear comes in because of all my insecurities. They are many. And they run deep. I also feel totally unprepared for what happened. I don't even know what that means or why that matters, but it kind of freaks me out. I'm scared of failure, rejection, having nothing to offer, being misunderstood... I'm scared. But I'm doing it afraid.

Because I know how significant my One Word was in my life last year. How choosing to risk shaped my life and my heart. And I want to live everyday this year looking. No matter what.

I want us all to live out our words well.

This is so much bigger than me. This is about community. Doing life together. Pushing one another to be more like Christ.

This isn't about hype. Or hoopla. Or numbers. As exciting as all that may be.

This is about real, determined, intentional life-change.

And boy do I need me some of that!

one word 2011 community

I am so grateful I don't have to journey alone. (I know I wouldn't get very far if I did...) Together, we can encourage one another in our One Word commitments. We can push, pull, and drag when necessary to help each other move forward. (In love, of course.)

Life is truly best lived together.

Want to read about others embarking on this One Word journey? Browse through their blogs, and link up your One Word post as well.

one word: look

Look. That's my One Word for this new year.

There is so much I want to see in my life, but I realized that I won't see it until I start looking for it. So this year, I'm committed to live looking.

I'm going to look for God's hand even when I can't feel it. Look for Him in the darkness when I can't see His light. Look for Him in the obscure and simple parts of my day. Of my life.

He is not a God who is far off. He is not distant or uninvolved. He is right here, in the messy fabric of my life, but I miss Him more often than I see Him because I don't bother to look.

He often shows up in ways I don't expect, takes on a form or face I'd never imagine. I can walk right by Him and not even realize it.

I don't want to miss Him anymore.

I want eyes to see Him at work, using my "all things" for my good and His glory. Eyes to discover more of His heart and character displayed in the people around me. Eyes to spot His hand holding mine when I feel nothing but alone.

I want to see Him, even when my eyes are clenched tight---in fear or grief or exhaustion. I want to see Him in my moments, in my darkness, in my brokenness. See Him where I haven't seen Him before.

I want to live my life more aware of His presence... His protection... His provision.

I want to look for God in my pain, actively trusting that He is right here with me in it.

I want to see Him.

But first I have to look for Him.


What about you? What's your One Word for 2011? If you blog about it, link to your One Word post below...

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one word 2011

I've never been a New Year's resolutions girl.One Word 2011 I just can't bring myself to do it. I think I tried once. And a few months later when I couldn't even remember what my resolutions were --- or where my list was --- I felt like a miserable failure.

And I've never resolutioned again.

But last year I decided to choose one word to focus on. My own personal non-resolution resolution.

No list. No specifics. No goals. Just one word.


And I stayed mindful of it all year.

It helped me make decisions. Take steps. Share my heart. It spurred me on. Challenged me. Inspired me. I loved it and I hated it, but I didn't forget it.

It was just one word.

But it made a huge difference in my year. In my life.

Many of you joined me in the one word challenge. All year, I journeyed with you through your blog posts, twitter statuses, and conversations. I watched as you embraced your word. As you allowed it to lead you through your year. As God used it to mold and shape you.

One word.

One simple, powerful word.

It's time to choose a new one for the new year.

I finally settled on mine. It felt like a difficult decision. I had lists of options. All good words. All things I want to be, or live, or do. But ultimately, I needed to choose just one.

And in line with the rest of 2010, I had to risk even in this.

Which, after the year I've had, feels like no small thing.

But I felt like God was drawing me to this word. Like it was less about me choosing it and more about it choosing me.

So I held my breath, shut my welly eyes tight, and committed to it.

Will you consider one-wording it with us this year?

Maybe a solitary word grabs your heart right this moment. Maybe, like me, you need to make a list and then ask Him to guide you from there.

And then let's walk this road together. As a community. As a family.

What do you want to focus on in 2011?

Who do you want to be?

You can do this.

We can do this.


One Word 2011.

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