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Eight Things to do with your Word of the Year

Got your Word of the Year for 2021?

Good! Now what? <—– That was my thought many years ago. I’d pick a word to be part of the Cool Group, LOL, and found it fell by the wayside without some TLC from me.

My intention for my Word of the Year is to bring about transformation in my life. That’s why I choose a character trait that needs to be developed in me (see yesterday’s blog; some have been joy, courage, contentment etc.). I want to be better by the end of the year, not experiencing the same struggles.

It’s not magic, this word thing. We can’t choose SUCCESS or INSPIRATION and expect all that will magically fall from the sky. A word cannot change our circumstances; it’s not a manipulation of our life or of God’s hand.

It’s an intentional focus. That means we do some work.

I’m sure others have different ideas, but here’s what I do. Perhaps it will help you.

1. I get a blank journal.

2. I look up the definition of my word and write out the various uses and examples. I also look up the derivation of the word (its original source, such as from Latin or Greek) and write that out.

3. Using a concordance and online searches, I look for Bible verses that have my word and write them out in my journal. I prefer using a concordance, because I can notice the progression from the Old Testament through the New Testament as to how the word was used. Then I read through them and use a colored pen/pencil to underline the the words that are the essence of the verse. With my word HOPE this year here are some of my underlined words: “hope continually,” “put our hope,” “hope will not be cut off,” “plans to give you hope,” “hope does not disappoint us.” I see these as promises for my year of change.

4. Then I look for hymns that focus on the word. Last year I wrote out “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less.” When 2020 became an international mess, I could remember that “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.” That refrain kept me positive.

5. I also look for quotes that have my word. Christopher Reeve said, “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” I love that #lookingupperspective.

6. Another great source for inspiration is poetry. One poem I wrote from Shel Silverstein has this line: “Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” I love Emily Dickinson’s work and wrote out a couple of her poems: “Hope is the thing with feathers” and “I dwell in Possibility.”

7. As I read through the Bible each year, I pay special notice to my word as it’s being used. I’ll underline those verses and creatively script them out with an illustration. (I read all the way through the Bible each year, underlining, using creative journaling, and annotating for my grandchildren. I’ve done this for five full years now, with each Bible going to the next kiddo down the line.) Doing this reminds me of my word throughout the year. You could add these to your journal too.

8. You could create art from your word. A friend beautifully scripted out my 2021 word: GRIT–here it is to the right. I have Scrabble words that I sit out on a wooden Scrabble stand in my office. Sometimes I’ll buy a vintage-look wooden sign with the word. If you’re artsy, you could create something to frame.

There are other sources for inspiration: movies, modern music, books on the topic. I guess I could have watched “Hope Floats” with Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr. again! Maybe I’ll do something like that this year for my 2021 word, GRIT. Haha! It might be mandatory to watch John Wayne’s True Grit on New Year’s Day. That could get hubby involved.

Doing this can take a couple hours, but I’ve found it’s a great way to start the New Year. I feel centered, prepared, ready for what will come and focused on allowing God to change ME. My circumstances might not change–in fact, they could worsen. But my mind, heart, and soul will be in a #lookingupposture.

A former English teacher, Janet McHenry is pretty crazy about words. In fact she loves it when her pastor says, “In the Greek . . .” and always writes that down in her notes. As a speaker and author of 24 books, she works with words a lot. Some of them have landed into books, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. She would love to connect with you:

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