Quiet Courage {The Grove: One Word}

We’re thrilled to have One Word 365’s founder, Alece Ronzino, back at The Grove with us.  Last year she shared a bit about her story and lead us in picking words for the year. Today she’s going to share more of her story and lead us in sharing our own one word for 2015.  


The word brave naturally conjures up certain images in my mind. I envision Mel Gibson roaring “Freedom!” in Braveheart. I picture Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. I see Jim Elliot and Mother Teresa… our armed forces… persecuted Believers… single parents…

I imagine my Grandma on the long sea voyage to America a lifetime ago, in pursuit of a better future against all odds. Images of heroic feats, courageous adventures, and Mount Everest conquerors flurry through my head.

What doesn’t come to mind, is me. Even at the end of a year in which I intentionally chose to be brave.

Clearly I’m still working on recalibrating my own definition and understanding of bravery. It’s a process — and probably a lifelong one.

As I look back on the past twelve months of my life, I don’t see any grand achievements or monumental victories or dauntless acts. But I do see quiet courage and lionhearted grit in a myriad of small things.

I made big financial decisions, Forrest Gumped my way through building myself a new website, swung for the fences with work projects, put my introverted self out there, chose to do things just for me sometimes.

I leaned into healthy friendships and away from unhealthy ones; I set better boundaries for myself; I put myself first in areas I’d normally put myself last. I let others in.

I opened my heart to possibilities, let my guard down, and allowed myself to enjoy the present without knowing what the future holds. {Translation: I started dating. (!!!) That’s a whole other blog post. That will never be written.} 

I used my words more: I wrote a blog post about depression and suicide, even though I was terrified. I raised my voice for what matters to me, despite my fear of making waves. I stayed in the ring of the controversial and uncomfortable when I wanted to run and hide.

I lost someone dear to me — again — and I’m somehow still standing.

I returned to church. {Enough said.} 


All of it. Bravery.

So I’m more than okay with the fact that my brave journey didn’t lead me up Mt. Kilimanjaro, or into the Peace Corps, or through any fearless acts of heroism. I’ll stick with my quiet courage and lionhearted grit, and remind myself that the process of becoming brave trumps the finish line of being brave.

As we step into this new year together, what word do you want to focus on?
Who do you want to be or how do you want to live in 2015?
Choose your word, share in the comments, and join the community at 

Photo Source : Unsplash


  1. Colleen Mitchell January 1, 2015

    Alece–Can I just tell you that for me you were a stand out voice this year and I think “brave” encapsulates it perfectly? Your deep vulnerability and the brave bearings of your wounds drew me deeper into pursuing real, authentic intimacy this year, into revealing myself in truer ways, into finding my own voice. Thank you for the work you do with OneWord365. But thank you more for the work you do for yourself that blesses me in deep and real ways.

    1. Alece Ronzino January 3, 2015

      I can’t even tell you how much your words encouraged my heart. Thank you, Colleen.

  2. Colleen Mitchell January 1, 2015

    Alece–Can I just tell you that for me you were a stand out voice this year for me and I think “brave” encapsulates it perfectly? Your deep vulnerability and the brave bearings of your wounds drew me deeper into pursuing real, authentic intimacy this year, into revealing myself in truer ways, into finding my own voice. Thank you for the work you do with OneWord365. But thank you more for the work you do for yourself that blesses me in deep and real ways.

  3. Beth Everett January 1, 2015

    Being in community helps me to be brave! So here goes … for the first time I am starting a blog and for the first time I am choosing a OneWord … both rather intimidating in and of themselves! I’ve linked my first blog above and my word for 2015 is JOY.

    1. Carolyn January 2, 2015

      I love your word!  I pray your blogging adventure is filled with Joy!  🙂

    2. Alece Ronzino January 3, 2015

      “Being in community helps me to be brave!” Absolutely! Same for me, Beth… Love that you are embarking on two big, brave adventures!

      I hope JOY chases you down this year!

    1. Alece Ronzino January 3, 2015

      What’s the significance of that beautiful word for you this year?

      1. Colleen Mitchell January 3, 2015

        Alece–Thanks for asking. Of course, I can’t be totally sure. But God pressed it on my heart as a follow-up to last year’s word, which was KNOWN. In being known more deeply, I realized one of my greatest fears is that I am too heavy–physically, spiritually, emotionally–for others, but even more deeply, I fear I am too heavy for God to carry me. This year, I think he is inviting me to a spacious faith where I believe I am light enough for Him to carry me. I am calling it spiritual skydiving. This is the post where I described it: http://www.blessedarethefeet.com/lets-go-skydiving/

  4. Keri January 1, 2015

    Resilience. I realized as I pondered this yesterday, no matter what word I choose, I need Him to help me.  My default is to pull myself up by my bootstraps, dig in, and power through. If I do this I leave the creator out and I am overwhelmed and exhausted. To him be the glory.

    1. Alece Ronzino January 3, 2015

      How cute are you!?

      And so much YES to your comment. I so easily hop right onto the treadmill of striving, even when I know it doesn’t get me anywhere but exhausted!

  5. Anisha January 1, 2015

    Alece, this is my first year to pick a word and I’m excited for it. Thanks so much for sharing your story and how the ‘brave’ wove it’s way into your year.

    1. Alece Ronzino January 3, 2015

      Thank you, Anisha! And I’m so glad you’re joining us on the One Word 365 journey this year!

  6. Carolyn January 2, 2015

    I am coming over here to the Grove tentatively because I haven’t shown up here in a while – not sure why, just got busy and overwhelmed with being online I think… But I’ve loved my One Word for 2014, “listen”, and I’m wanting to connect here with the Velvet Ashes One Word community and add my voice… my word for 2015 which I feel God pressing on my heart is “rest.”  Danielle, I resonated with your post on “embrace”ing not being good enough, and this year I feel God calling me to pull back and just rest in Him in so many areas where I’ve been striving for so long.  I think this will include a 6-month blog break, among other things, but I want to invest in the Velvet Ashes community as I can… thank you for faithfully showing up and giving here!  I read and follow and feel loved and connected.  Blessings on all of your 2015’s – may you know the peace of Christ!

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 2, 2015

      Hi Carolyn, no need to feel tentative, at all!  We’re here whenever you are able to join us, no guilt included. 🙂  Such a good word you’ve chosen.  I truly understand the need to pull back, and it’s definitely a need to listen to. Praying rest and renewal for your soul in 2015. P.S. I think you’ll really resonate with our spring series coming up.

      1. Carolyn January 5, 2015

        Thank you so much for your welcome and encouragement, Danielle!  I needed that.  🙂  I tend to be all or nothing, so when I really want to be part of something and then find myself unable to participate like I wanted for one reason or another, my perfectionism kicks in.  I am so enjoying reading along with Velvet Ashes from the sidelines, and I’m looking forward to new freedom this year to just rest and receive!

        1. Monica January 7, 2015

          Hi Carolyn, your post really resonates with me.  I am currently in the middle of a sabbatical (that I really didn’t want to take at the beginning), and I have had to pull away from so many things that I’ve attached myself to over the years.  I’ve had to let consulting, emails, projects, our ‘home’ in Asia, just go… for this season in our lives, and all of the sudden I feel new life springing up in me.  I love being involved… but have enjoyed being ‘sidelined’ this year.   Velvet Ashes has really ministered to me during this ‘break’.  As my hockey-playing husband says, ‘you gotta sit behind the boards and take breaks if you want to have energy and be effective in the game.’  Cheering you on as you rest and receive.

    2. Alece Ronzino January 3, 2015

      Such beauty and hope and promise in your words here, Carolyn. REST does not come easily, and I love that you are intentionally leaning into it this year. I know God is going to meet you there.

      1. Carolyn January 5, 2015

        Thank you, Alece.  That is just what I am hoping!

  7. Grace L January 2, 2015

    My One Word for 2015 is “Now”. I believe that God wants me to dwell on this word in two very different ways. The first is to be more in the “now”, the present, in whatever situation I am in – to stop and listen, to pause and look, to be grateful for whatever situation God has me in for the moment. I am so much more aware of the seasons of our lives and I want to really enjoy whatever season I am. I got this word a few days before the New Year and started to practice it. My mind is so often in the future as I plan and prepare for what is coming. In 2015 we will be doing some extensive traveling away from our home here in China and it will take a lot of planning and thinking about the days to come. But I hope to keep pulling back to the present and dwelling in the presence of my Lord.

    But the other way I see the word “now” being a reminder is quite different. I am a bit of a perfectionist which often results in being a procrastinator. Living in the same home for 8 years has resulted in a lot of things being accumulated and I am recognizing what a packrat I have been. I am overwhelmed by the stuff that weighs me down, as well as the many things undone. I hope I can just tackle things “now” and be freed up a lot.

    I am looking forward to how my One Word will play itself out this year. I hope to be more present to God and to all those around me. Thank you Velvet Ashes family for being there for me and for all of us.

    1. Alece Ronzino January 3, 2015

      I love all the different layers of NOW for you, Grace. There is freedom in this journey you’re on, I just know it!

      1. Grace L January 4, 2015

        Thank you, Alece, for that encouragement!

  8. Elizabeth January 3, 2015

    Last fall, when i was running a little (or a lot) breathless, i thought to myself, can i just choose a new word now??? That new word would have been Peace. And as we approached January, i thought to myself, well, i have recaptured that peace through some rearrangement of my schedule, so can i still use that word? I kept wondering, and no other new words came to me.

    Then in church last Sunday as i was praying about this, God sort of hit me with this realization that i may have more internal peace, but there are still broken parts in my life. There are relationships that aren’t exactly fractured, but simply strained. The relationships that work “ok” but aren’t easy or joyful. The people i can behave “correctly” around but my attitude is not so holy! So i realized, yes, this is my word for the year, but already, even before January 1, i was sensing a change in the direction of the word. Now i think God doesn’t just want me to rest in Him (which He does!), but He also wants me to let Him work in the broken places of my life this year, the strained and stressed relationships. That He doesn’t just want me to behave well outwardly, but wants to change my heart inwardly.

    This is not a particularly welcome change to my warm and fuzzy retreat-like word. I sort of groaned under this shift. I don’t want to work on that. I just want to avoid uneasy relationships. This is going to get uncomfortable — nay, painful. Yet i know God has brought me to this place, a place where my relationship with Him is more regular and thriving, so that He can do a much harder work in me. To work Peace into the places i rarely let Him in.

    1. Alece Ronzino January 3, 2015

      I love love love this, Elizabeth!

      Years ago I got the Hebrew word “shalom” tattooed on my wrist because of the depth and richness of its true meaning. We’ve always translated it as “peace”, which it does indeed mean, but it’s so much more than that. The direct translation of “shalom” is “nothing missing, nothing broken” — the wholeness and completeness God has for us. When I learned that, it radically changed my understanding of peace, and revolutionized all the passages that use that word throughout Scripture. To pursue peace is to pursue wholeness in Christ…

      1. Elizabeth January 3, 2015

        Thank you for sharing that! It adds so much more depth to my word.

  9. Cecily Willard January 3, 2015

    My word for 2015 is love, the 1st John 4 kind of love.  If God is love, then He won’t ever stop loving me simply because He can’t.  Love is who and what He is, it is His nature.  So it is high time that I allow His love to transform me into His loving nature.

    How can I love everyone, especially those that are hard to love?  The first hurdle to overcome is my own selfishness.  For isn’t that the reason I don’t love those who are hard to love?  (Because I don’t want to be inconvenienced?  Because it might cost me something for which there will be no immediate return?  Because it will hurt?  Because I don’t want to?)  All of those reasons show that the focus of my love is not on the other person but on me.  And that isn’t the God kind of love.  And maybe, just maybe, if I am willing to love all who come to me, maybe there will be an end to the loneliness that is gnawing a rather large hole in my life.

    Oh, Father, teach me to love like you love, which means that I must consider the needs of others (Philippians 2) while entrusting my own needs to you.  I admit that I am very selfish and incredibly lonely, and surely there is a connection between the two.  Father, forgive me for my wrongness and please make me like you.  Help me to take on the same attitude as Jesus did.  For surely if I cannot love those I can see, I cannot really love you.  That is a hard pill to swallow, and one with which I don’t want to poison my life.

    Let me love this year, Lord, in the same death-defying way that you love me.

    1. Alece Ronzino January 3, 2015

      So much challenge and “uncomfortability” in your word, Cecily! Wow… Gonna be a powerful and life-changing journey for sure…

  10. Kristi January 3, 2015

    My word for last year was stop.  This came to me in late November.
    Are you
    The road to Mt. Zion
    The journey to the King
    The road HOME
    Is more than a
    It is a story to be
    Live your life
    Look down at the flowers along the path
          the wisps of white
               dancing across the blue
                    above your head
    Listen to the birds singing songs of praise
          in the golden green
               canopy of the forest
                    reaching for Heaven
    Feel the handshakes, hugs, and kisses
          of fellow sojourners
               bringing the reassurance
                    of companionship and love
    Smell the meals shared with family
          a child’s hair after a bath
               roses in the morning air
                    bringing joyous memories
    Taste the salty sea air and the
          smokey evening campfire
               lemonade with a friend
                    on a hot summer’s day
    Don’t reject the difficult or painful
    Sights of hands waving good-bye
          homes fading from view
               tree branches bereft of leaves
                    and tears in a friend’s eyes
    Sounds of fierce rain beating against your windows
          sobs that come
               from the depths of your own heart
                    the cry of those in need
    Feelings of deep loss and longing
          of fear and pain and death
               receive cold and hunger
                    welcome the lessons they bring
    Smells of decay; signs that this life will end
          hospital antiseptic and
               flowers on graves
                    draw us Home
    Taste the bitterness of betrayal
          the sour fruit of your own sin
               the foul flavor of hope deferred
                    luring you towards a true Hope
    Leave nothing unsensed
    Do not
    The road to Mt. Zion
    The journey to the King
    The road HOME
    Is so much
    M O R E

    This one was from December.

    Stop looking far and wide
          for what is already yours
               Stop drinking in lies
          that only leave you more thirsty
    Stop climbing mountains
          with the hopes of earning acceptance
               Stop hiding in dark corners
          and in fear denying your gifts
    Stop doubting the words of love
          spoken to you by friends
               Stop rationalizing away
          genuine emotions of love and sorrow
    Stop trying to be what you think
          others want you to be
               Stop memorializing failure
          and minimizing triumphs
    Stop and look at My face smiling with delight
          Stop and listen to My song about you
               Stop and taste the feast of My GOODNESS
                    Stop and feel the warmth of My love
                        Stop and smell the incense My of peace

    It seemed like a strange word to be given, but stopping has been good.  I’m sure of this year’s word yet.

    1. Grace L January 4, 2015

      Oh, Kristi, your poem from November describes just what I think God is saying to me with my One Word for 2015: “Now”. Your sharing really illuminates for me what it means to be in the “Now”. I love it. I want to copy this poem into a Word doc to save on my computer so I can refer back to it during the year. Thank you so much for sharing!

      1. T January 6, 2015

        Yes, this November one is the most pertinent poem I’ve ever read.  wow.  thanks for putting it out here!!!!!!

    2. Danielle Wheeler January 4, 2015

      Kristi, these are both amazing!  The November one may be my most favorite of yours ever.  So moving…

    3. Alece Ronzino January 4, 2015

      Kristi, these are AMAZING. So moving… and so resonating with my own heart. Thank you for sharing them here!

      1. Kristi January 6, 2015

        To all who have commented on my poem.  I am so glad that something that the Father has spoken to me can touch other hearts as well.

    4. Monica January 7, 2015

      Kristi, this had me in tears.  So beautiful, and so what my heart has been experiencing these last few months.  The Lord gave our family a Sabbatical this year, and I’ve ‘stopped’ for literally the first time in my life.  Thank you thank you, for ministering to me in this moment!  May I have your permission to copy this and share it with my sisters (who also work overseas)?


      1. Kristi January 7, 2015

        I’m so glad it met you where you are.  Feel free to share. 🙂

  11. laura r January 3, 2015

    My word for 2014 was HESED… I found myself clinging to his lovingkindness, his mercy daily at times and then, like others have mentioned it slipped from memory.  All that to say, looking back I see how his HESED was a cord weaving our year full of surprises together and carrying us through things we never thought possible- both the valleys and the mountaintop views.

    For 2015 my word will be GROUNDED.  To practice being grounded physically, walking a bit each day as spiritual practice; emotionally, to give myself the space and time to reflect, hold and process emotions; spiritually, to continue to learn and grow but to focus on letting my roots sink down deep.

    This word is also going to surprise me… I know this because I know that life holds many surprises (sometimes I love that, sometimes I hate that) but I also know that this year holds a new baby entering our lives and a potential house move… two things that will cause life to feel pretty ungrounded at times.

    Here’s to the journey of 2015!   So grateful to have this space as we journey together.

    1. Alece Ronzino January 4, 2015

      Ohhhhh how I love your words — last year and this year’s. Hearing you unpack “grounded” for this new journey was really inspiring…

  12. JulieB January 4, 2015

    My word for 2014 was STEADFAST.  In January I picked out the verse I Peter 5:10-11 – “And the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ – after you have suffered a little while will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.  To Him be the power forever and ever.”

    On January 10th I had a terrible fall on an uneven sidewalk- as I was standing up with the help of two strangers I was very thankful that it appeared that I had not broken any bones.  Over the following 3 months it became apparent that I had more injuries than originally thought.  A trip back to the States for a second opinion, a couple of epidural injections for the back pain and finally the decision to return to the States in June for a spinal fusion.

    Following that surgery, it became apparent that I had also damaged my knee replacement which took the brunt of the fall.  So then…..another surgery in October to redo the knee replacement.  Our 8 week stay in America turned into 6 months!  Really?

    Then…some issues came up with my husband (a possible rare debilitating nerve disease was the proposed diagnosis) and the question as to whether we would be able to live back in East Asia.  What a year it has been.  Little did I realize as I Peter says, steadfastness involves some suffering!   All of that to say…..God has taught me much…..not only have I learned about becoming steadfast but also about His steadfast love towards me.

    As a follow up to last years word….I did have to cheat a little this year and picked 2 words because I think that they go together……Trust and Hope.  My verse for this year is…Romans 15:13 ” May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you TRUST in Him so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

    This week we visited a specialist and my husband does not have the proposed diagnosis at this time.  I have been cleared and am ready for the next adventure God has for us. We are headed “home” to East Asia at the end of January!  He has been faithful as I have learned to be steadfast through so many circumstances…..now  this year I will continue to trust and put my hope in Him.  (Trusting/Hoping we are done with some of the suffering though, for now! haha!)

    1. Alece Ronzino January 4, 2015

      What a year you guys have had! Julie! Wow… I’m so sorry to hear about everything you’ve walked through… Goodness gracious. Thankful to hear you are heading home to Asia in just a few short weeks!

      I always love how God ends up working our word in our lives in multi-faceted ways. “Not only have I learned about becoming steadfast but also about His steadfast love towards me.” YES! So good…

  13. Monica January 7, 2015

    Praying about my word for 2015- I have a few ‘standouts’, hard to pick one!

    1. Alece Ronzino January 7, 2015

      No need to rush it, Monica… Something will rise to the surface all on its own.

  14. Laura H January 8, 2015

    I’ve never done One Word before, but when I read about it, I thought it would be fun to give it a try. Last year, I felt like I kept praying for God to teach me balance. Balance between work and rest. Balance between teaching and grading papers. Balance between people and things. I don’t believe I’ve mastered it yet, but God did teach me a lot. 
    Over the last week I’ve been thinking and praying about this word a lot. I’ve had a dozen different ideas. What does God want me to focus on now? I was tempted to just keep balance from last year. After all, I didn’t know about this then, so I never officially chose a word. And I certainly haven’t mastered it. 
    However, after listing out several possibilities I feel like God is asking me to live a BOLD life this year. So my word is bold. Bold in my faith. Bold in my relationships. Bold in my prayers. Bold in every aspect of life. I enjoy being behind the scenes, shying away from conflict (whether good or bad), letting someone else make the decision. I can use the excuse of being an introvert as a reason to step back and not embrace something. (But I live in rural Africa. The only foreigner for miles, so how I think I could ever hide behind the scenes is beyond me.) This year I think God is asking me to step out in faith, to be courageous, to trust more. All of those I believe are ways in which I need to become bold for Christ. So here is to a year of being BOLD for my God. The writer of Hebrews sums it up well in chapter 4 verse 13, “Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”

    1. Alece Ronzino January 12, 2015

      Laura!!! What an amazingly brave word for this year! Here is to your year of boldness!!!

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