God of Eternal Promises

God of Eternal Promises

It’s winter in the northern hemisphere. January has turned to February, February will soon be March, and we’ll start looking for the first signs of springs. Daffodil greens … buds on the trees … the return of birds that migrated south. We’ll start looking, but the temperatures where I live will still be mockingly low. It’s cold. It’ll be cold for a while yet. Every day I’ll hope it’s a little warmer, and every day when it’s not, I’ll think, Will spring ever come?

I know it will. But when winter refuses to loosen its grip, it’s easy to forget. It doesn’t feel like spring is on its way.

This weekend, we’ll celebrate my son’s fifteenth birthday, so of course my thoughts drift back in time, to when I was, to put it biblically, “large with child.” I remember sitting at my mom’s birthday party, what turned out to be three days before Rowyn came, but still three weeks from his due date, and thinking, I am so uncomfortable. I need this kid to come soon. That pregnancy hadn’t been fun–I’d been sick the whole time, I hurt from my insides to my skin, and while the thought of actually giving birth again gave me a rather hilarious moment of panic, I also felt that impatience that pregnant women are rather famous for feeling. Is this ever going to be over? I want my baby NOW! We know that days in the womb equal health for the baby (most of the time), but even so. We’re impatient. We want to move from potential to actual. We want fulfillment.

We know they’ll come. The child in our womb will not stay in our womb. But it doesn’t always feel that way.

God, when He created the universe, created it with motion. We mark that motion and call it time. He made us that way, as creatures who live in time and rely on time. He gave us minds capable of dividing that time into smaller and smaller portions, down to nanoseconds … and into larger and larger portions, counting millennia and epochs. We can count it. But we can’t escape it. We are children of time.

And we’re impatient. We look at the march of seconds and hours and days and weeks and months, and always, we yearn for that next fulfillment.

We wait for things–and we don’t always wait well.

We wait for the next season. The next break. The next vacation. We wait for that promised child, the promised job, the promised raise. We wait for the healing we need, the new treatment, the answer.

We wait. And we resent the now that isn’t the then, when we have the thing we need or want. We stretch always forward, thinking the future a bright and sparkling thing, and we look back, remembering the past as something better than where we are. How long, Lord, we pray along with the psalmist. How long must we wait for You?

But we don’t serve a God who is slave to the motion of time He created, as we are. We serve a God who exists outside it, who looks on all of creation through all of time with omniscient eyes. He sees the then. He sees the now. He sees the was and the will be. He shapes time in His hands, sets us exactly where we need to be within it.

And He makes us promises.

I remember the days when my kids were toddlers. The span of their lives was so short–every day felt BIG to them. Every promise seemed to take forever to happen. “Is it time yet?” and “Are we there yet?” and “Mama, now?” were familiar phrases.

I remember a few snippets of those days from my own life. Do you? I remember being maybe four or five and visiting my grandparents. My parents were telling a story–I don’t remember about what–and they said it had happened a week ago. “It did not!” I remember yelling. “It was months ago!” It wasn’t. It’s just that it seemed so long ago to me, and I would have sworn–did, as a matter of fact–that it had been far longer than a few days.

How often is time, is fulfillment, is the promise skewed by our perception?

As I read through the Bible in a year last year, I marveled time and again at how this plays out in Scripture. God made a promise to Abraham. He promised him, first, a son. It took decades for this promise to be fulfilled. Decades! How many of us would be that patient? If a child is the deepest desire of our hearts and God had promised us one, would we just wait on Him to fulfill the promise? Or do we think, Maybe He meant I’d be a parent through some other means? like Abraham did.

God made promises to David, to the prophets, to Israel as a nation. He promised them a Savior, He promised that they would be the means by which the whole world was blessed, He promised them they would be His people and He would be their God. He made a covenant with them–far stronger than just a promise, than just words–and that covenant came with expectations. Things they needed to do–things He would do.

But it took time. Decades. Centuries. Millennia.

Is it any wonder, then, that Israel got impatient? That they forgot? That they slipped away? To their eyes, God was taking too long. He’d forgotten them. It didn’t feel like the promise was ever going to come.

Looking back from the 21st century, we know that it did. That He kept His word, gave His Word, and fulfilled His covenant. We know that in another blink of His eternal eye–whether that’s a day or another million years–He’ll fulfill the final promise of a Second Coming, of a New Heaven, a New Jerusalem. We know that eternity will overtake us and time will pass away.

But it doesn’t feel that way, as we’re struggling and striving against our own sins, our own limitations, our own weaknesses. Does it?

It’s never easy to wait. Not for the things we most need, we most yearn for. It’s never easy to be stuck in time and yet serve a God who is outside it. And yet … and yet there’s comfort there, too, really.

We can rest assured that what we mess up in the moment, He will redeem in the ever-after. When we can’t see the next step on the path, He’s looking on from above the maze, already knowing how it will turn out. When we think we can’t make it one more day, He already knows their full number and stretched them out just so for us.

We can know that those pieces we least understand will ultimately be for His glory; and that His glory means our good.

We don’t serve a God of the get-rich-quick, the instant-results, or the satisfaction-guaranteed. But we serve a God of eternal promises. A God of covenants. A God of His Word.

It isn’t easy. Neither is waiting for spring, or the arrival of that precious newborn, or the cure. But we wait, because that’s how He made us–creatures bound by time. We wait, and we learn, in the waiting, something more about Him. We learn what eternal means. And we learn, a little more, how awesome is our God.

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He Called Me by Name

He Called Me by Name

God knows us. He calls us by name.

We know this. We can point to Scriptures that say it, we can recite it to each other. For that matter, I even sign each copy of The Nature of a Lady with “He knows your name.” I’ve printed it on tote bags. I’ve put it in a pretty font and positioned it within a lovely floral frame.

It’s true.

But that doesn’t mean we remember it. That we embrace it. That we live it.

We know that not only does God the Father know us and call us by name–our true names, the ones that reveal our true selves even more than whatever name our parents gave us could possibly do–but Jesus died for each one of us. We know that He loved each one of us enough to suffer on that cross. We know that He laid down His life for us. For you. For me.

We know it. But that doesn’t we remember it. That we embrace it. That we live it.

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I attended a daily mass on Wednesday night, like we always do. We listened to the beautiful Scriptures. We heard a beautiful homily on the importance and sanctity of life. And then we went up for communion. Father John was there that night, an older gent with white hair and a face that testifies to many years of smiles, of care. He’s relatively new to our parish, just joining the team of three in October. He’s still learning everyone’s names, but he knows ours because of some classes we’re taking–and he gets excited when he sees someone whose name he knows. His eyes light up, and he shakes our hands with a bright smile, saying, “Roseanna, right? And David!”

He’s been making a point of learning all the names he can. I can imagine him repeating them to himself, trying to pair names and faces of any of the 2,000+ families of parishioners in our area that he sees regularly. It’s a job! But the importance of it is clear. And became even clearer that quiet Wednesday night during the Christmas season.

Because that quiet Wednesday night during the Christmas season, when he was talking to us about the children murdered for Christ in Bethlehem upon Herod’s decree, when he was musing about the value of each and every life, what each individual can bring to his family, community, and world, when he reminded us all to mourn the tragedy of each young life ended not only then but today through abortion or neglect–that quiet Wednesday night, Father John held out the communion bread, looked me in the eye.

And he said, “Roseanna. The body of Christ.”

Roseanna. The Body of Christ. Broken for you.

Tears stung my eyes as I accepted that humble little wafer, said, “Amen!” and put it on my tongue. Because even though I’d known this truth for decades, it was the first time in my memory that anyone had said my name while giving me the body of Christ. And it made something quiver within me.

He calls us by name. He sacrificed His body, that same body we take in communion, that same body He invites us into as the Church, for us. For ME. As He was hanging on that cross, Jesus looked out over the centuries, into the eyes of each one of us, and says, “Beloved, this is for you.”

“Roseanna, I’m doing this for you.”

“Karen, I’m doing this for you.”

“Jennifer, I’m doing this for you.”

“Stephanie, Lynn, Elizabeth, Mary, Naomi, Karlene, Kimberly, Danielle, Kerry, Hannah, Pam, Shaleen, Arwen, Barbara, Jessica, Sandy, Rebecca, Caroline, Latisha, Melanie, Bethany, Candice, Cindy, Tina, Terri, Justine, Julie, Alyssa, Rachel, Halee, Bonnie, Nicole, Laura, Margaret, Betty, Deanna, Emily…I’m doing this for YOU.”

It’s a truth we know. But have we heard those syllables echo in our hearts? Down to our souls?

Do we live like it? Do we let it change us, not just once but every single day? Do we strive, in every hour, to become more and more like our Savior?

That quiet Wednesday evening during the Christmas season, Father John made it crystal clear that each life, each person, each name, each one of us is so beloved by our Father and His Son that He would make the ultimate sacrifice for us…and he also reminded me that we are called to be a sacrifice too. A living sacrifice, as Paul calls us–living, but willing to follow Him wherever He leads us.

Today, I pray that you savor that sweet truth on your tongue and in your heart. And I pray, too, that you accept His invitation to share that sweet truth with others.

Because He knows their name too. And He loves them. He loves them so much, that He stretched out His arms on that cross, looked across the centuries, and straight into their eyes too. He calls them by name. And He died for them.  Just like He did for you.

Whose Sins You Forgive

Whose Sins You Forgive


We know it’s important. We KNOW that. It’s a key line in the Lord’s Prayer–forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. It’s not only something we’re commanded to do, we confess in that prayer that we will only expect forgiveness in the measure in which we’re willing to give it.

We hear that Jesus gave the power to forgive sins to His disciples after His resurrection, along with the Holy Spirit. John 20:22-24 (ESV) says:

22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

But have we ever really pondered what that means? If you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.

I mean, whoa. Wait a minute. Is Jesus really saying here that we can choose NOT to forgive, and He won’t either? That God won’t? That someone’s sins can be held against him eternally because WE refuse to forgive?

I’m sure this is something theologians debate–and I’ll leave them to it. Whether He was speaking there to all believers or just His disciples, who became the Fathers of the Church, its first bishops, and so had authority that the common lay person did not. But even so…even so. Let’s consider.

And let’s consider with one particular example.

During the Twelve Days of Christmas, the Church celebrates the life and death of its first martyr, Stephen. We get his story in Acts, and I imagine it’s one we all know–he’s being questioned by the Jewish leaders and gives a stirring confession of Jesus as the Christ, he looks up and sees a vision of Heaven with Jesus sitting at the right hand of God…and that so infuriates everyone that they stone him to death then and there…and a certain man called Saul watched over the cloaks of those doing the stoning.

But there’s another portion of that story too. Stephen does exactly what Christ did in His final moments, exactly what Christ instructed us all to do: he forgave.

He forgave the people who were murdering him. He forgave the people who hated him. He forgave…Saul.

Saul, who of course we know went on to become Paul, the most prolific apostle, without whose writings the New Testament would be pretty short. Paul, who went on to bring the Good News of salvation through Jesus to the Gentiles. Paul, who was arguably one of the most influential Christians of all time.

So…what if Stephen hadn’t forgiven in those final moments? What if he–an ordained deacon in that earliest Church, appointed to service by the Apostles themselves–had instead “withheld forgiveness.” Or as other translations render it, what if he had “retained the sins” of his persecutors? If he had, therefore, withheld eternal forgiveness from Paul?

Would God still have called him…or would He have chosen someone else instead? What would the Church, the very Bible have looked like if Saul had never been blinded on the road to Damascus and converted to Christianity? I believe that the work would have gotten done, yes, through another person. God still would have given the spiritual instruction to His followers…but the words would be different. Biblical writers are God-breathed, but the character of the human author is still seen in them. They put their own touches, their own personalities into them. We even see Paul speaking in some of his letters from his own wisdom, not as a heavenly mouthpiece, per se, which he readily admits. So those instructions certainly would have been different.

The entire course of human history, of Church history, could have been changed if one man–Stephen–hadn’t forgiven.

Who are WE refusing to forgive? What bitterness are we clinging to? What grudges do we refuse to let go of? What people are we therefore hindering from some eternally significant task? Ouch, right? We know how clinging to unforgiveness hurts us…but have we ever considered that our unforgiveness could hurt everyone? That it could have an impact so far-reaching? Have we considered that, because God graciously invited us into His work, gave us authority through the Holy Spirit, our decisions can hold real authority over the spiritual well being of others?

Again, I’m no theologian. I’m not stating definitively that God wouldn’t have called Saul if Stephen hadn’t uttered those words. But I am saying that asking the question should make startlingly clear what Jesus tells us very plainly: forgiveness is inexorably linked to eternity. Forgiveness determines forgiveness. Forgiveness unites us with God. Forgiveness is powerful, for our own souls and for others.

So let’s take Jesus’s words in John 20 at face value: if we don’t forgive someone, they will be condemned for their sins. God will not forgive them.

Is our argument with them worth their soul? Are we willing to answer for that judgment?

Love is hard. Forgiveness is hard. But part of being called to the communion of saints, part of being a true part of the Church, means putting off our sinful natures with all their bitterness and embracing the heart of Christ–the heart that forgave even up until the last minute. An example we see His first martyr following in his last moment.

Don’t wait for your last moment, friend. Embrace forgiveness. Embrace it because it will help you heal; embrace it because it could lead them to salvation; embrace it because  we can’t know what sinners God will use to build a key part of His kingdom…but it could be them.

Embrace it because Christ did.

A Year of Patrons and Peers!

A Year of Patrons and Peers!

A year ago, I made an announcement here on my blog in a post called “Introducing Patrons & Peers.” I was launching a direct-support, Patreon-style membership group here on my website.

In that initial post, I explained the concept–you could join at two main levels, choosing your support amount within them. Each came with a minimum buy-in but was open from there. You could support me monthly, quarterly, or annually. All members receive a tote bag, digital access to a members-only page on my site with special opportunities to provide feedback or see things from my writer life that others can’t, a coupon to my shop, and access to our private email group and Marco Polo video chat group.

In that post, too, I shared my true hope and heart: that this group would become a community not just about ME and my work, but about ALL OF US, where we could each share our joys, our fears, our accomplishments, our failures, our hopes, and our needs. I wanted and prayed that this group would be what the Church is supposed to be–a place of unity and edification.

It’s now been a year since the group got off the ground with its first members–hilariously, two different young women named Hannah. 😉 I know I talked a bit a few months ago about how the community aspect of P&P had blessed me in amazing ways, but in light of our 1-year anniversary, I wanted to give a special shout-out to this amazing group of amazing, ordinary women who have become a part of my daily life and true friends.

We’re now 30 strong. Nearly all of the members are active either in the email group, in the Marco Polo app, or both. Their support has, from a purely financial standpoint, given me the freedom to say “yes” to some new writing projects. They’ve given me feedback on story ideas, made suggestions for my next biblical fiction with Guideposts, prayed me through exhaustion and cheered me on to deadline after deadline. Those who join at the Peer level get the first signed copies of my books as they release, and the Patron level gets any digital versions that I have the right to share, as happened with Shadowed Loyalty. We have special P&P tea parties for each release–the busiest Zoom parties I’ve ever hosted! We even had a retreat in October, in Georgia, where five of us (a few others had to cancel last minute due to sickness) got together for some creative pursuits, good food, and fun conversation each evening. It was such a great time that they made me promise it would become an annual event.

But it’s so much more than that. This group has become family. One of our members, Caroline, put it nicely a few weeks ago when she said, “You know, I think this group is so amazing because we’re just doing life together. We share the everyday things, you know?” I do. This is exactly why we’ve become such good friends so quickly–because we share the minutia, we share each prayer need and joy, we reminisce together, we read together, we show each other our pets and homes and land and families. We see each other’s children, hear them calling in the background of the video chat app. We talk about frustrations wtih work, concerns for our spouses, exchange funny bad date stories. We pray each other through sickness and share the thoughts we’ve had in our devotional readings that day or week. We share our vulnerabilities and are, in response, strengthened by each other.

We are the Church, living out its mandate to love each other and edify each other. And what I love so, so much, is that the other ladies have said over and again that their experience is just like mine–that they think about each other constantly throughout the day, praying for the needs and wondering about outcomes. That they linger over the insights others have shared and come to new discoveries in their own faith because of it. That they know that this group will be there, will support them, will love them through each trial. We can disagree on things, and that’s fine. Earnest conversation is fun and uplifting. We can cry with each other. We can laugh with each other. We send each other care packages and Christmas cards and hop on to the email or MP app in odd moments when we can’t sleep or are so excited about something or are in desperate need of prayer.

It was only a few weeks after one of the earlier members, Pam, joined that she put words to what we’d all been thinking but hadn’t yet said, “There’s something really special about this group.” She’s right. There is.

I’m still in awe of what my humble idea for Patrons & Peers has become…and I’m humbled each and every time they say, “Roseanna, thank you so much for starting this group!” They call it my obedience to God. They say that He knew they needed this, and that because I listened, we now have this group of friends and family that has so quickly become so important. It felt like a pretty big risk to me at the time. What if no one joined? What if no one found any value in it? What if it just sounded like money-grubbing? Why would anyone want to do this? But I did take the risk, and…wow. God did know. He knew that we all longed for this kind of community, and He gave us all the bravery and boldness to accept it when it was offered. He helped us all to open our hearts in vulnerability to each other.

And now not a day goes by that my family doesn’t hear me saying, “Lynn said… Pam told us this story… Candice shared… Caroline makes… Deanna’s mother-in-law… Betty’s husband… Danielle’s latest book…” and so on. We’ve learned from each other. We’ve helped each other. We’ve earned mentions in each others’ Christmas letters. 😉 Our members have been meeting up when travel takes them near each other. We share recipes and book recommendations and send each other cards and gifts. It’s just…amazing. It’s community. It’s family.

As always, the invitation to join the group remains open to whoever else feels the stirring of the Lord to accept that invitation. You can find the page with full explanation of “official benefits” here. You can read my initial post about it here. You can read my musings on the wonder of our community here. And of course, you can see what a few of the members have to say. Because they are what truly make this group worth joining.

I signed up for the group thinking it would be a way to get more inside information from one of my favorite authors as well as a way to get new books. It has been utterly fascinating, from a nonwriter perspective, to learn all the steps in the process from bringing the idea of a story into a book that I hold in hands. However, even more fascinating, has been the development of relationships with ladies all over the country through means of video messages via Marco Polo, emails, or zoom get togethers. My Roseanna Girls, as I’ve come to think of these ladies, have become a part of my daily life as we share accomplishments and set backs, goals, dreams and routine aspects of our varied daily lives. They have become my prayer partners, my creative inspirations, my source of book recommendations and (although I’ve never met them in person) some of my dearest friends.

from North Carolina

I don’t have time to follow up on everything that gets said, so I think I’m pretty inactive in the group, but I have loved seeing how people ask for prayer and we can all come together. It’s way more personal and cozy than a Facebook group, and that’s the best.

I also LOVE getting to interact with an author that I love and seeing some of the behind the scenes action. ; )


from Kentucky

P&P has ended up being so much more than I ever expected! I’ve got new friends (who love books) all over the country, and the prayer support is amazing. The Zooms are so special. And then there’s getting to read Roseanna’s new books and discuss them together! When I first signed up, I wondered if I’d keep going or just join for a year. Now I can’t imagine not renewing and keeping up with these dear sisters in Jesus!

from Northern California

I first joined Patrons & Peers because Roseanna is one of my favorite authors and I wanted to support her. Plus the opportunity to interact with other readers sounded great. It’s turned out to be thousands of times better than I ever anticipated. This group of women have become dear friends. I look forward to hearing what’s going on in everyone’s lives—from the little things to the big things. Is it a small group? A book club? A Bible study? Yes and all the above. I’ve felt supported and challenged and loved by these women all year long. Joining was one of the best investments I’ve made and I’m excited for sharing the days ahead with my fellow Patrons and Peers.

from Wisconsin

This group has been so encouraging to me as a beautiful form of church! Whether sharing triumphs, sorrows, or troubles, the ladies in this group are so faithful to pray, uplift, sympathize, or rejoice. There is an openness in this community that is just lovely. We may not all agree in all areas of life, but we can express our opinions and hear and learn from others without fear of harsh criticism. And how fun it has been to connect with friends all across the States!

from Michigan

While the insights on Roseanna’s latest work in progresses is why I joined her Patron and Peers group, it’s not the reason why I continue to stay. Each week I have the joy of hearing the highs, the lows, and the mostly ordinary part of other ladies’ lives. We encourage, pray, and rejoice for one another. Without trying to be cliché–but it’s true–there aren’t enough words to describe the beauty of this community that God has joined together through Roseanna’s yes to a dream of hers.

The icing on the cake for this group was attending a creative retreat, where yes I did get my meet my favorite author, but also got to bond and form deeper connections to people I’ve been talking to on Marco Polo most of the year.


from Texas

Through Patrons and Peers I have come to know a wonderful group of women who share similar interests and concerns. Brought together originally by a love of reading, we share a love of the Lord and a wish to grow in our personal introspection and concern for others. It has meant so much to me to be able to share a concern and have others respond immediately. I have been very blessed by this group.

from Virginia

Of the plethora of ways that P&P has blessed me, my favorite is the encouragement I have received in such a personal way from all of the lovely Roseanna Girls. The way this group builds each other up is a gift from the Lord. I also love the new connections I have all over the U.S. and the sweet friendships we have built even from afar. Thank you!!!
Hanna F.

from Southern California

2022 Word of the Year Reflection – Devotion

2022 Word of the Year Reflection – Devotion

As December, and hence 2022, draw to a close, it’s that time when I pause to reflect upon the twelve months that have just passed, especially in light of my Word of the Year. In January of 2022, I chose the word “Devotion” to guide me into the year to come.

As I debated what word to choose and why, “Devotion” came to mind because it would help me focus on what I truly wanted to be devoted to…and then actually spend my time on those important things, rather than pushing them to the margins in the face of the daily grind.

My “devoted to” list included:

  • God
  • My family
  • My call to write
  • Learning

But all too often, those things weren’t what was getting my time. Instead, most of my hours and days and weeks were spent doing the things that may have been good but weren’t my passion, weren’t my top-of-the-list. I wanted to refocus for 2022, free up some time for those Most Important Things, and truly devote myself to my faith and family and calling.

With that in mind, the big thing I did was take control of my design calendar and say “one cover design a week.” My “rule” before had been 2, but it frequently turned into 4 or 5, plus typesetting jobs, plus WhiteFire work, plus… everything. It was too much, and I was not only left without solid writing time, I was also left pushing things like my morning prayer and Scripture reading into five minutes. Not good! Hence that one-a-week cover design rule that I instituted. The result is that I’m already scheduling designs five months in advance, so I’ve had to encourage my clients to think ahead. And there have been times when I’ve gotten behind thanks to a writing deadline, so a few extra pile up. But in general, that “rule” has helped me SO much! I’m glad I instituted it and intend to carry it forward and be even more strict about it in 2023. (My November and December somehow ended up with an average of 4 projects a week again, because I just didn’t have the gumption to tell people no, LOL.)

One way I gave myself the space to do this was to start my direct-support group, Patrons & Peers. This is a Patreon-style group, but run directly through my website here. My supporters can choose their subscription level, and in exchange for that support, they receive perks and–far more important!–are invited into the P&P community. When I started the group, I had this dream that it wouldn’t just be about supporting me, but about supporting each other. That it would be faith-filled believers acting like the Church should, loving and encouraging each other. AND IT IS. I am still so floored by this, and deserve none of the credit. It’s the ladies themselves who have made this possible by being open and loving and filled with the Spirit of God. This group has not only blessed me financially throughout the year, enabling me to whittle down that design calendar, they’ve blessed me emotionally, spiritually, and mentally as well. I love reading the group emails and listening to/watching the Marco Polo videos. We’ve become friends. Sisters. A true community. We sign off with “love you guys!” and pray for each other daily. These ladies have helped me pursue my true devotion and have inspired me daily to walk worthy of the call of Christ. Thank you, “Roseanna Girls!”

In 2022 I also decided to do a Bible in a Year program, to force myself out of that 5-minutes-of-reading slump I’d been in. I chose to do the ESV Catholic Version and have really enjoyed reading all the Deuterocanonical texts as well as the familiar Scriptures in a new-to-me translation!

My husband and I have also been doing the Liturgy of the Hours together in the morning, listening to the Invitatory and Morning Prayer together in the Divine Office app on my phone. I love that these songs and recitations have grounded my heart in the Psalms–as I go throughout the day, I often find myself singing, “Come now, let us bow down to worship, bending the knee to the Lord our Maker! For He is our God, and we are His people, the flock He shepherds. Come, let us sing joyful songs to the Lord!” I’ve memorized several Psalms this way through the year without even meaning to! I try to listen to the Office of Reading too, when I can, which in addition to prayer and psalms and Scripture also has a short excerpt from a historical sermon. I love getting little bites of the Church Fathers this way!

Now…writing. This is “me.” This is what I do. I wanted to free up more time for it, and boy, have I done that! While I’m still not writing every day or anything, I have successfully completed 4 full-length manuscripts this year, plus edits and rewrites, and am about halfway done a 5th. I’ll have 4-5 due next year as well, so I’m so happy to have established a rhythm and routine that allows for more writing time. I still am scheduling most of it in big blocks (and don’t always remember to mark that week off on my design calendar, hence those occasional back-ups), but that’s what’s working for me in this season, so I’ll just run with it. =)

And now, study. I wanted to give the proper attention to both research for my novels and my own spiritual formation, and while I still have room for improvement here, I feel like I’ve made real strides! I did a lot of research for both Yesterday’s Tides and my new Imposters series for Bethany House, and I read a truly amazing book on Mary Magdalene in preparation for writing At His Feet for the Extraordinary Women of the Bible series for Guideposts. My husband and I have also both read several books together that we then discuss as we take walks, and that’s been a real joy too! And in the autumn, one of my P&P ladies, Laura Heagy, started sharing some Spiritual Formation exercises with us each month, which have also helped me focus time and some reading on this important goal.

Was 2022 a perfect year? Of course not. I had plenty of moments of frustration, of overwhelm, of exhaustion. There were days when the words wouldn’t come or when the headaches were too bad, and I got seriously derailed for a week or two by learning that I have a benign tumor on the pituitary gland in my brain. But for all that, as I look back on where I was a year ago and where I wanted to be this year, I know that I have, in fact, chased after that devotion with my whole heart. I had moments of failure, of course, but I picked myself back up and started again. Redevoted myself. Focused again on God and what He’s given me, what He’s placed in my charge, what He’s called me to.

And I already know how I’ll continue that work in 2023–my Word of the Year came to my mind and heart very quickly, as soon as I started thinking about it, and I’m looking forward to telling you more about how, in 2023, I intend to Linger with God, with His word, with His people, and with those things and people who make me who I want to be. Come back on January 1 to read my Word of the Year post!

How to Choose an Intentional Word of the Year

How to Choose an Intentional Word of the Year

For well over a decade, I’ve been doing the “word of the year” thing. In 2021, my word was “Intentional,” and a funny thing happened…I was getting a lot of hits on that post. But not (sadly) because people were so interested in my word. No…people were interested in CHOOSING an intentional word for the year.

For good reason! Choosing an intentional word of the year is not only fun but inspiring and aspirational. So as this old year winds down and a new one is on the horizon, I decided it may be helpful to write a bit about the practice, not just about my word in particular.

What Is an Intentional Word of the Year?

Some people make New Years Resolutions, and that’s great. I’ve done those many years, because there’s something about writing out my goals and decisions that makes me want to stick to them more than a vague “Maybe I’ll…” mental goal. But resolutions aren’t for everyone, and they’re not for every year. Still, as the calendar turns over, many of us want to recognize that this new year is something NEW. We want to set down in writing something to guide us through the twelve months to come. So if we’re not doing resolutions…what do we do?

An alternative- to New Years Resolutions is a Word of the Year. It can also just be an addition to New Years Resolutions, if you want both a set of goals and something to govern them.

In general, an intentional Word of the Year is when you choose a word that is meant to be your inspiration, aspiration, hope, goal, or motivation that will underscore EVERYTHING for you in the year to come. Maybe it’s meant to remind you of your faith or God’s promises. Maybe it’s meant to help you focus. Maybe it’s meant to reassure you throughout the year or inspire you to something greater.

Whatever your particular need or purpose, choosing a Word can help you make decisions, keep your eyes on the proverbial prize, and motivate you to keep going through challenging times.

How to Choose an Intentional Word of the Year?

But once you’ve decided to choose a word of the year, that leaves an important question: HOW?

When I first started out, I had in my head that this word had to be something from God, not something from my own mind. I would start praying about it a week or more in advance, and wait for a word to just hit me.

Sometimes it did—in a song, in my Bible reading, in my prayer, in my daily conversations.

But sometimes…it didn’t. God being silent? My heart not listening? I have no idea. But I did notice that the years I had a Word to guide me were years when I made better choices, when I clung more tightly to His promises, when I kept my focus more on His Kingdom and less on my own little (ahem) empire.

I wanted to have a word. I wanted to have a word every year. And finally I realized that I didn’t have to wait for one to “come to me.”

I could choose a word.

Okay, so I didn’t realize this from my own brilliance, actually. My best friend/critique partner, Stephanie Morrill always chooses a word deliberately. I eventually decided she had the right idea, and instead of waiting for a bolt from the blue, I started being deliberate about my choice.

There are, of course, still many options for how to pick.

Make a List

The first and most obvious way is to simply start making a list. Focus on where you feel you need to work or focus in the year to come, and then jot down different words that fall into that space. For instance, the year I chose “intentional” for my word, I’d started with a list of things I knew needed my attention like: rest, organization, time management, focus on prayer, time with my family.

Once I had a list of things that I wanted to pay attention to, I looked for the through-line and words that could capture that. “Intentional” was a fairly obvious choice for me that time. It was the one word that would govern all those things—I had to be intentional about everything from taking enough breaks to making smart use of my space.

Chances are good that your list from year to year will have a lot of the same themes, but hopefully you’ll be ever growing, so some items will fall off and new ones will come. You’ll also be exiting and entering new seasons of life, and as you do, you’ll find that your list needs to reflect that. Maybe you’ll be balancing a new baby or kids going to school or kids leaving the house; maybe it’ll be sorting through belongings before a big downsize or choosing a new career or finally working on that dream project you’ve been thinking about for years.

Whatever season you’re in, embrace that and make your list—and hence your word choice—reflect it.

Do an Internet Search

Still coming up blank or don’t feel like making a list? You’re in luck! Plenty of people have already done it for you, and you can always do an internet search for lists of good “word of the year” choices and pick one that resonates.

You can search for “word of the year generator” yourself and see if you find a site that aligns with your goals and worldview. Here are a few that turned up in my search.

Jen Fulwiler’s Word of the Year Generator

Mama Smiles Joyful Parenting Word of the Year Generator

Inspire Kinney Chaos Word of the Year Generator

Christian Planner’s Word Generator

Dayspring Word of the Year Quiz

Pray and Listen

If you’re a person of faith, you certainly can use the method I used for years, which was to pray for inspiration for a word and then seek it through that prayer, Scripture reading, church attendance, etc.

As different words resonate with you, write them down and sit with them for a while to see if they really capture something you need to focus on in the year to come. Sometimes a word will hit you so strongly that you just KNOW, and other times you may not be certain at first, so it becomes a matter of which ones sticks with you for a few days.

Once I’ve selected a Word…Then What?

So you’ve figured out which word you want to choose for the year to come. Great! But…now what do you do with it?

I’m a writer, so my first instinct is always WRITE IT DOWN. My bias aside, I think it’s a good instinct. Writing it down—whether on a sticky note, in a notebook, on an index card, in a word processing doc, or in a social media or blog post, will help cement it in your mind and heart and also give you a place to go back to on that day nine months from now when you can’t even remember why you went into the kitchen, much less what word you chose last December or January.

So write it down somewhere and put it in a place where you can’t lose it—if you chose a physical place to write it, tape it somewhere. If digital, bookmark it or put a digital pin in it.

If you’re artsy, considering making a pretty image with the word, which you can display. Or see if you can find a fun notebook or journal with the word on the front, to inspire you throughout the year. If you enjoy journaling or other writing, write a paragraph or a page or a post about why the word resonated and how you hope it will guide you in the year to come.

The idea here is to keep the word present. You want to contemplate this word frequently throughout the year, so either put it somewhere that you’ll see it regularly or consider setting yourself reminders to revisit that will pop up on your calendar. If you’ve written about it, schedule a few times throughout the year to reread what you’ve written—at the end or beginning of a quarter or season is a great time.

Some Intentional Word of the Year Suggestions

Don’t feel like visiting a generator or quiz tool and just want to browse a list? That can be a great way to see quickly what resonates with you or doesn’t! Here’s a list of some suggestions for your intentional Word of the Year:













Some of My Word of the Year Choices

If you’re looking for some context of how and why people choose the words they do and perhaps how they play out through the year, you’re welcome to browse my previous years’ choices, and then the end-of-year reflections upon them.

2022 Word of the Year: Devotion
Reflection of 2022 Word of the Year: Devotion

2021 Word of the Year: Intentional
Reflection on 2021 Word of the Year: Intentional

2019 Word of the Year: Promise
Reflection on 2019 Word of the Year: Promise

2017 Word of the Year: Overcome

2016 Word of the Year: Mine