The Grove – One Word Check-In

Back in January, we welcomed OneWord365 founder, Alece Ronzino to the Grove to lead us all in choosing One Word for 2014.  One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.  One word that you can focus on everyday all year long.  The conversation that unfolded was beautiful and raw.  Now that we’re six months into 2014, it’s time to check-in and see how we’re all doing.  We’re thrilled to have Alece back with us at The Grove…


How different would things be if I approached each situation, each person, with bravery?

That’s the question that scratched away at my heart and made me choose brave as my OneWord365. I really wrestled with committing to a word like that, for—well—lots of reasons. At least for me, it’s a big, scary, monstrous word. I have never felt brave. Ever. It’s not a word I would ever use to describe myself. I’ve done brave things at times, sure. I’ve taken some risks. I’ve made some choices others have deemed courageous. But deep down, I would never categorize myself as a brave person.

But I want to.

link window brave-1

I want to be someone who’s life is marked by bravery.

Don’t hear me wrong… I don’t want to be known for living an adventurous life. I’m not trying to be edgy, or reckless, or thrill-seeking. I don’t want to do brave things. I want to be brave. And, I’m discovering, there’s a big difference. It’s more about the posture of my heart than it is about my actions. It’s about changing my internal dialogue—to myself, about myself. It’s a willingness to lean into who I really am… and live it out wholeheartedly.

At the almost-halfway mark, I’m a little surprised by all the ways I’ve seen bravery come to bare in my life so far this year. It’s probably not been in ways that others might expect (or that they’d even call brave), but it’s usually the smallest steps of bravery which are the most difficult.

I’ve opened my heart to possibilities. I’ve let myself enjoy the present without knowing what the future holds. I’ve let my guard down. I’ve let others in. I’ve leaned into friendships. I’ve used my words more. I’ve embraced hard truths. I’ve taken steps towards healthier boundaries. I’ve put myself first in areas I’d always put myself last. I’ve started going to church again. I’ve stuck my neck out work-wise. I’ve resumed regular writing commitments. I’ve made big financial decisions. I’ve intentionally dug into enjoying my now-life. I’ve faced a huge loss and didn’t fall apart like I once thought I would.

I don’t expect to feel like I’ve crossed some huge finish line in December, having arrived-at-last at being brave. But I do sense that I am already becoming brave. And that is what I want to feel every day for the rest of my life. The process of becoming holds more value than the being, and I don’t want to lose the wonder and vulnerability of the journey.

So I take a deep breath, and I close my eyes, and I ask for an extra dose of courage for everyone and everything I will face. And I choose to become braver today than I was yesterday…


How’s your word?  Don’t have one yet?  Now’s a great time to choose a One Word…

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Photo Credit: Khánh Hmoong via Compfight cc



  1. Lori June 12, 2014

    Without knowing about Velvet Ashes or OneWord365, our family chose two words for the year.  (There are eight of us, so two doesn’t seem unreasonable.)  Kindness and Obedience.

    Kindness was really a focus word we chose for our six boys.  I mean, really, how could we continue to put up with fights over one single solitary lego when there are at least five thousand others are scattered in every nook and cranny all over the house at any given moment?  Really? We just wanted less conflict and more peace and brotherly love.  “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another just as God, in Christ Jesus, has also forgiven you.”  Focusing on kindness has helped, some, but we’ve got a ways to go.  Some is better than none.  I’ll gladly take it.

    Kindness.  I want to be kinder, to be known as a kind, thoughtful person who puts the needs of others above my own.  What I haven’t been prepared for this year is receiving the kindness of others.  Kindness toward me and those I love.  When our Stateside housing, which had been reserved for more than two years, fell through just a few months before we were supposed to arrive, we were shocked and stressed and frankly, hurt.  When a church we didn’t know offered their empty parsonage, we were so thankful for their generosity.  They had to do some renovations, too.  Then, they offered their church van for us to use for free.  Wow.  It’s a challenge finding a vehicle large enough for all eight of us.  Then, they said, “We’ll pay your utilities for the summer.”   They told us they had no expectations for us, except that we rest.

    It was more than I could bear.  I cried.  We were blown away by their kindness.  We didn’t deserve it, but it instantly filled us with thankfulness and gratitude.  It was their attitude.  Kindness was not just an action but it flowed out of their hearts.  It was genuine and caring and loving.  Their kindness changed me and was and is like a salve to my weary soul.  God’s kindness and love for us became tangible and visible.  It is genuine and expects nothing in return.  Oh, how I want God to help me be kind like that – without expecting thanks or kindness in return!  Genuine. From my heart.

    Obedience.  Well, that’s a comment for another day.

    1. Amy Young June 13, 2014

      Lori this is RICH! Thanks for nudging me to think about how my word is impacting my interactions with others … how am I on the receiving end of my word? Now I need to ponder on that 🙂

    2. Alece Ronzino June 13, 2014

      Lori! This was beautiful and encouraging and inspiring to read. Rejoicing with you at the kindness of God expressed through the kindness of His people…

      And I love the idea of thinking through what it means to receive my OneWord365 and not just express it… Hmmm….

  2. Amy Young June 13, 2014

    Alece, again, I’m so blessed by your presence here at Velvet Ashes! Thanks for helping us to pause and reflect.  The crux of it all for me was when you said you’ve opened your heart to possibilities. Whatever our word, if we don’t do that …. :). Thanks for sharing your journey this year with brave!!

    1. Alece Ronzino June 14, 2014

      Weeks after I penned these words, I’m challenged yet again to keep my heart open to the possibilities… It is no easy task, this I know… Trusting we both find the strength and reckless faith to be able to do so…



  3. Kim a. June 13, 2014

    Thank you for sharing! I hope you have the new Bethel music album on repeat…especially the song ‘You make me brave!’

    1. Alece Ronzino June 14, 2014

      I have had that song on repeat quite a bit! Speaks right to my very soul…

  4. Jennifer June 13, 2014

    Looking back and reflecting at this half-way point of the journey with our words is a good yet challenging thing to do. It allows us especially to recognize ways in which it may be having influences and impacts which we simply could not see at the time the word first challenged us. My word was Balance. When I first wrote about it all those months ago, among the things which challenged me at the time were: “What really, really matters is God’s perspective – what he thinks, what he wants, what he is calling us to do and to be. If we measure ourselves by the standards of the world and other people then we will be likely to sell ourselves short and fail to achieve God’s very best for us. God’s plan for each of us is unique, is different to that of anybody else. He knows the plans he has for each of us. He knows what He created us for. He knows His very best for us. He knows our full potential in Him. In facing the question of what it means to have balance in your life it is important that God and what He has called you to do and to be is the focus, not what the world or any other person is saying [though it is important to recognize that other people are definitely one way God speaks to us]. Get your relationship right with God. Put Him in the first place He should be in. Put Him first. Listen to Him – to what He is saying to you – to what he is calling you to do and to be – and then just DO IT. It may not be balanced in the eyes of the world or anybody else – but in the end that really does not matter. What really matters is God’s perspective – and what he has called us to do and to be. Everything else will fall into place.” By most measures I have had a challenging year, and indeed still am, in several different areas of my life, and have tried time and time again to find solutions, and failed, and yet in others I have achieved things, learnt things, through opportunities I never thought I would have. I have learnt that my “stress” level in my life, or even just how I feel, is not an indication of how God might choose to use me, how God might choose to challenge me, what God might enable me to do. What I am beginning to learn, slowly and imperfectly, is that what really does matter the most is being prepared to take that first step, even when it does not seem possible, and you simply do not feel like you can do it. You never ever know just what God might do through that simply willingness to allow God to do through you what you know you cannot do yourself. I have often felt overwhelmed by some of the challenges, and at times would have given almost anything for an appropriate person to talk some of it through with, and yet I also think that I am perhaps continuing to learn things which I could not learn any other way and one day the time will come to speak of them.

    1. Alece Ronzino June 14, 2014

      “I have learnt that my “stress” level in my life, or even just how I feel, is not an indication of how God might choose to use me…” Wow… That is so good. And a reminder I need to come back to time and time again…

  5. Danielle Wheeler June 13, 2014

    “The process of becoming holds more value than the being, and I don’t want to lose the wonder and vulnerability of the journey.” This line… so powerful. I so often just want to already BE. But you’re right, the process of becoming, coupled with wonder and vulnerability, is what it’s all about. Thanks so much for sharing, Alece.

    1. Jennifer June 13, 2014

      I do, challenging as I know it is to live it out in the reality of life, agree with you about the significance of the process of becoming, rather than what would be so much “easier” just to be. God clearly is powerful enough that he could simply make us “be” in a moment and yet he often seems to choose the “becoming” process as how he does this.

    2. Alece Ronzino June 14, 2014

      I’m right there with you, Danielle — wanting so badly to just BE. Learning to embrace and lean into the process of becoming is an ongoing challenge. I keep wondering if it’ll ever get easier… But I’m not sure it will. I think, in fact, that might very well be part of the point…


      This trust thing is no joke…

  6. JulieB June 14, 2014

    What a great exercise this has been this week to reflect on that One Word I chose way back at the beginning of 2014. In past years, I have never chosen just one word for the year but usually I picked a verse – one that I felt was something I needed to work on or something I wanted God to work into my life.  So picking just one word was a great challenge for me.  After much thought,  my word for this year is STEADFAST.  Back in January I journaled other words that reminded me of being steadfast: faithful, steady, unswerving, unchanging, firmly loyal, devoted.  I also looked for verses from scripture with the word steadfast. The verse I picked mostly because it contained the word steadfast in it was, 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.”

    As I re-read that verse today, I realized that somehow it never dawned on me that suffering had to precede steadfastness!  Wow- had I known that, I sure would not have picked THAT verse.  And so….it all started at the beginning of January with a fall on the uneven sidewalk and the resulting back issues which now need to be addressed with surgery (on July 1).  I have never been one to consider my trials as “suffering”.  I think I am changing my views on that.  And so, as others have said, in opening our hearts to our word, and receiving my word, I also choose to receive it in the context that in order for me to truly own my word for this year, it includes suffering and pain.  My eyes have been opened!

    I must say though that I am excitedly anticipating the second half of 2014 – looking forward to getting past the suffering part and  to the becoming “strong and firm and steadfast” part in the last part of the verse!!

    1. Alece Ronzino June 14, 2014

      Wow, Julie! What a journey you’ve been on this year… Thinking of you as you prepare for surgery in a few weeks, and looking forward with you to seeing all the ways you discover God showing up “strong and firm and steadfast” in your life…

  7. Amanda June 14, 2014

    I started the year with the word “joy.” I think mainly that word came to mind because by the end of last semester, I was feeling very joy-less, even though all the things I was doing were good things that I would normally enjoy. I admit I haven’t dwelt on the word “joy” as much as I would have liked, but instead the word “sabbath” has gained new meaning in my life. Over the winter holiday, I read a great book on sabbath rest, and committed to changing how I do sabbath, knowing that part of my joylessness the end of last semester came out of the startings of burn-out. I’ve got something going on every day of the week, but I decided that a good chunk of Sunday would not be for work-related “have to” things, but instead things that I enjoy and things that bring life. I haven’t always been successful, but overall I can say that I have a new sense of sabbath rest, and with that, a new sense of joy.

    1. Alece Ronzino June 17, 2014

      I loved hearing your journey of discovering the joy that comes with true sabbath rest…

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