What’s Your Excuse?

Last year many of us “picked a word for the year” (and if you’re not sure about what I’m talking about, you can check out our discussion from last December). It’s one of our most commented on posts and fun to scroll through the comments.

You might be thinking, I do not have one more thing to add to my to-do list right now and these gimmicky things are so not ME. Fair enough.

How about freeing yourself from “to-do” and turning towards who you want “to-be?” And though it may not be your thing, this is why I think you should prayerfully consider choosing a word for the year.

Three years ago I heard about choosing a word and it seemed all the “cool kids” (aka “cool bloggers”) were doing it.

So I didn’t pick a word. Fast forward two months and I was asked what I was hearing from God. In that moment I faced a choice and knew I had to chose whether to put on a mask or not. With trepidation I took the mask off and God chose a phrase for the year: Renewed Joy.

Renewed Joy was the deepest longing of my soul as I had been drifting from myself. Deeper than resolutions or goals, it anchored me and gave me hope.

As the seasons changed and autumn came, I started to hear other whisperings. You are making too many decisions out of fear.

What? Me? At this stage of my life? Isn’t fear a thing of your teens or twenties? Certainly not your forties. But it was true.

What is it angels say when they show up? Fear not, for I am with you.

Not, don’t be afraid because nothing bad won’t happen. Nor don’t be afraid because it will be easy. Nor because you won’t be misunderstood. No, fear not because the great I AM is with you and you won’t be alone in your journey. Courage, dear one, courage. Be courageous because I am with you and fear is not a fruit of my spirit.

I wanted an Ebeneezer of sorts and decided to spell out “courage” with blocks. I rummaged through my nieces’ toy blocks but there weren’t enough letters to spell courage. Nice idea, I thought, but not going to work.  How ironic that fear is only four letters and easier to spell than courage. It’s also easier to live.

A day later (I’m not the fastest car on the racetrack), it hit me. I was only missing an ‘a!’ And really, isn’t cour_ge what courage ends up looking like. If we wait until we have all of the letters, so to speak, that isn’t courage, that’s easy.


And so cour_ge became the word for 2013, the year I publicly announced my resignation from a job in China. A job I’d had for 18 years and loved but knew it was time to leave. Cour_ge for transitioning countries without a job. Cour_ge to recreate a life. Cour_ge to walk away from myself to, paradoxically, return to me.

As Renewed Joy had anchored me for a season, so did cour_age. I wish I could say my experience with Oneword has been all roses and kittens and by choosing a word you’ll have the most Ah-May-Zing experience.

The fall of 2013 a new word started to pop up around the edges of my soul.

There are times when God gives us freedom to make choices. And there are times when He stalks us like a lion at a watering hole coming upon a tasty gazelle.

If I had my druthers, as it came to picking a word to pray and live out in 2014 I would have liked something along the lines of







Don’t they sound fun? And active and like they are going somewhere? Words an interesting person would live out, don’t cha think?

But not one of them would require much of a stretch for me because it’s what I already do; it’s who I already am. So is it any surprise I’m drawn to them? No.

Instead, over and over I heard … Trust.

Well, of course I want to trust. But I also want to “trust + adventure” or “trust + organize.” I’m not so keen on “trust, just trust.”

During the fall of 2013 as I wrote to people who financially support me, I had the sensation of doing the largest trust fall of my life. And I hate that sensation.

But as I sit here at the end of 2014 I can’t believe how painfully and beautifully perfect the word trust turned out to be. The job I thought I’d get, I didn’t. The parent I thought I’d have for many more years to come, I don’t. And as we rounded the corner, racing towards 2015 I thought I’d learned what I needed to learn from trust, I hadn’t. A deep personal layer was revealed a few weeks ago. Maybe the whole point for the word.

So I’ll say it again. Do it. Pick a word for the year. For ideas and words to pray over, check out this list.

This fall, God whispered again and my soul exhaled. Practice Celebration.

I look forward to sharing the journey with you. I look forward The Grove when you share your word!

What’s held you back from picking a word? What excuses whisper the most strongly to you? 


  1. Katherine December 30, 2014

    I have never been one to choose a word.  I have always thought it was cool when someone else did – especially when they were able to see the fruits of the word God has given them – but I never tried it for myself.  This year I have been giving it some thought and the the phrase that keeps running through my mind is “Feed the hungry” – physical hunger, emotional hunger, etc.   I am looking forward to what God has in store for me as I seek to “Feed the Hungry” in 2015!

  2. Brittany December 31, 2014

    I struggle so much with choosing a word, I never settle on anything.  So I’m committing to pray about what God wants for me this year.  I feel like I’m behind, but I’m hopeful that He will show me something!

    1. Laura December 31, 2014

      I’m right there with you, Brittany. 🙂

    2. Amy Young December 31, 2014

      Brittany and Laura and anyone else … You are not behind! You are not. You are right where you need to be and God will meet you :). It will look different for each of us. God knows I am not a last minute so he lets me know way in advance (usually) and there’s no discussion, I just know. But that’s only one of gabillion ways he speaks with us. You’re not behind! (that’s what the accuser wants you to think, not what the lover of your soul says!)

      1. Brittany December 31, 2014

        Thanks, Amy!

  3. Brittany December 31, 2014

    Oh, and I tried clicking the link to get to the words and ideas to pray over, and it’s not working for me. 🙁

    1. Amy Young December 31, 2014

      Brittany try oneword365.com and near the bottom on the left is the list. I’ll get the link fixed as soon as i can get to something larger than this little hand held devise :). Thanks for letting me know!

    2. Amy Young December 31, 2014

      Hehehe … when you link it #oneword365.com instead of oneword365.com we all know now what happens :). Got it fixed!

      1. Brittany December 31, 2014

        Haha, thanks!

  4. Laura December 31, 2014

    Amy, thanks for the challenge to choose a word. I haven’t chosen one yet, but I’m praying about one that is floating around in my mind.

    1. Amy Young December 31, 2014

      Laura, if it’s floating … you might have one :)!

  5. Cecily Willard December 31, 2014

    I have a word for 2015, but now I want to say how God really worked in me in 2014!  I had chosen the word “truth” for 2014 but, honestly, I didn’t really make it conscious focus.  But I just went back and read what I wrote here on VA, and this was one thing I said: “I am challenged to hold the truth that I read in the Bible above all else, which means that I will put my faith in this truth, which will give the Lord opportunity to manifest His power in my life.”

    Wow!  What I see is how the Lord HAS been working truth into my life.  I am walking by faith SO much more now, a year later.  I see the Word of God living and active in my life as never before.  So, even though I wasn’t making TRUTH a conscious meditation all year, the Lord has been doing a great work in my heart and building me up in faith!  Thank you, Lord!

    1. Amy Young December 31, 2014

      Cecily! This is in part why I have come to love this exercise of choosing a word and then at the end of the year looking back … I know for myself it’s so easy to keep looking forward, forward, forward and I forget to turn and look back and see the ways God has been at work. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Carmen Pauls Orthner December 31, 2014

    Hi. I am new here, although I have been receiving Velvet Ashes’ e-mails for the last few months. We have been “in the process” of relocating to southern Africa since October 2012 (and “heading into” full-time m work since 2008!), and are praying earnestly that 2015 will be THE YEAR that we finally get on that plane for the first time. I have been choosing a word for the last several years, inspired by a scrapbooking blogger named Ali Edwards who calls it “One Little Word”. In 2013, I thought my word was “explore” but gradually realized it was “home”. For 2014, I chose “appreciate”, and it has been a powerful choice for me. In 2015, my driving principle will be “connect”, and I am getting a headstart by joining this community. 🙂 I am looking forward to being more involved this coming year. 🙂

  7. Beth December 31, 2014

    This past year i have been practicing for preparation with out knowing that would be my word for the past year. Now that the ball is rolling in that direction and we are working on the sending part the preparation I was reading the blog today. Went to the link and have been pondering  the new word. I am working on a devotional for our short term team in January  and came across  the word love. In particular Matthew 22:37-40. Loving God with the my whole heart…the word love in general. So my word to take for 2015 is love. Love on so many levels. Healing love. I am excited to see where this leads.  In a team building exercise  for our group in October  we had to build something out of marshmallows. ..we cane up with the word love….yeah…it feels right.

  8. Monica January 7, 2015

    Amy, I sooooo appreciated how you said THIS:
    How about freeing yourself from “to-do” and turning towards who you want “to-be?”
    This has been such a year of self-discovery for me, and a good friend of mine recently asked me, “Monica, what kind of person do you want ‘to be’?”  She said she knew well enough that I am too much of a doer, and that I needed to focus on more of who I want to be, and less about what I want to do (or FEEL like I have to do).  Thanks for this reminder, and getting me thinking about my ‘one word’. 

  9. Invest and Delight | REL2 in China January 2, 2016

    […] year ago, encouraged by Velvet Ashes, I picked a word for 2015.  I honestly wasn’t completely sold on picking one word, so I didn’t […]

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