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“The sweet Name of Jesus produces in us holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, begets good works, and nourishes pure affection. All spiritual food leaves the soul dry, if it contain not that penetrating oil, the Name Jesus.” St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

Instead of making resolutions I’m likely to forget, I choose a word for the year that best describes how I want to live out the next 52 weeks. Doing this has changed my life. This past year, though, I couldn’t remember my word when my daughter asked about it. She looked up my blog post from last January and reminded me about “intentional.” 

Here are my words so far. I did better with the rest of my list than in 2019.  

2019 Intentional 
2018 Simplicity
2017 Self-care
2016 Love 
2015 Revise, Momentum
2014 Content
2013 Ponder
2012 Incremental

I began 2020 overwhelmed with all the words I’d come up with as a result of all the things I wanted to change, fix, and complete. 

A favorite phrase, quiet acceptance, always lands in the running for word of the year. It’s never been chosen because, even though I’m an introvert, being quiet is hard for me and acceptance is even harder. I’m sure there’s one more thing I can say or do or figure out about whatever needs changing or fixing.  

Boundaries rose to the top of the list when I began reading one of several books written on the topic by authors Henry Cloud and John Townsend. 

The list also included “faith,” “letting go,” and the possibility of revisiting two words from the past, “intentional” (since I didn’t live that way in 2019) and “incremental” because I did live by it and the year was my most productive so far. I accomplished one thing daily in 2012 that I wouldn’t have tackled otherwise. 

Every phrase or word that came to mind had urgency about it, but none seemed significant enough to devote 365 days to it. In the meantime, two things happened, one humorous and one holy. 

The humorous story …

While baking Christmas cookies with two of my grandchildren, a loud noise scared all of us when the mixer slammed down unexpectedly. My grandson Wyatt said, “Hair mercy.” 

His mom asked where he’d heard the saying, but he shrugged off her question like he shouldn’t tell. 

My passing thought: The adult saying “Lord, have mercy” should be careful about loosely using God’s name, particularly in front of impressionable children.

My next thought: At least Wyatt’s version didn’t include “Lord.”

On the way home the next afternoon from picking up Wyatt from school, I heard myself say, “Lord, have mercy! That car needs to slow down.”

I looked in the rearview mirror to see him looking back at me. 

“Wyatt, am I the one you heard say, “Lord, hair mercy?”

He grinned and tentatively nodded his head. 

It seemed a lighthearted lesson about God’s kindness. I’m still saying “Lord, hair mercy,” only now it’s intentional, which means I’m finally using 2019’s word. I’m talking more to Jesus – asking Him to cover my family and me with His love, grace, and, yes, mercy. 

The Holy story … 

My husband and I drove 20 hours to Tulsa, Oklahoma to spend the holidays with our grandson and newborn granddaughter. On Christmas evening, we kissed them goodbye, cried a little, and headed home. 

Since I’m a night owl, I volunteered for the middle-of-the-night shift. Traveling in light traffic made it easy to pay attention to sights along the way. 

The first cross, lit up with white lights like a Christmas decoration, hung in the sky so far above the trees I couldn’t figure out how it got there.  

The next crosses, a group of three like you’d see at Easter, stood large on I-40 in front of a church so small they overshadowed it.

I wondered if I’d see one more cross since three times of anything catches my attention. If so, it’d be a sign, even if I wondered A sign for what?

A few hours down the road, still on the same highway, I’d forgotten all about looking for more. That was, until I stared up a cross so tall it looked like it reached heaven.  It was metal, as big around as a lighthouse, and taller than a water tower … or maybe I was delirious by then. All that mattered was I had my third sighting of a cross – my sign. It made a sacred impression especially in the vast darkness on a silent Christmas night. I felt like I was driving on a holy stretch of road. 

By the time I settled down after our travels, unpacked suitcases, and packed away Christmas, my word (name) for the year became clear. To get through and do and finish well all that I’m looking forward to in 2020, Jesus is what I need. 

I’m so excited to hear your words too and the stories behind them. I hope you’ll share here or on my Facebook page in case anyone needs to borrow a word. Lord, hair mercy on us all! 

In This Together, 

I have something for you!


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