Hello 2023

Hello 2023. Moving into MORE!

I had a whole big list of words that kept growing and growing. In the end, my word was not even on the list but instead was tucked in the title of a painting that I’ve kept open on my browser for years now. And that’s how I landed on the word “More.”

This year feels full of potential and all the things I want for the year feel ripe. I want to show up intentionally and be present. I want to move forward with what the Lord has shown us and step out. I want to keep taking next steps. I want more joy, more time with Him, more time reading the Bible, more running, more play, more of all the good things that the Lord gives.

Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold. Yes, more than refined gold. Psalms 119:127

For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Like 12:23

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us]. Romans 8:37

But as for me, I will wait and hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more. Psalms 71:14

My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130:6

Hello 2022. Be Ready!

I started the year off feeling a need to be ready for whatever the Lord had for me in this season. I found a TON of Bible verses to go with my word and kept going back to them. I was ready for a new season and ready to be done with some things. I dove into Mothering Mothers, a counseling group, and lots of intentional time with the Lord right in January. Having ended 2021 in a very hard season meant that I was feeling a bit desperate and yet ready to throw everything and the kitchen sink at getting healthier and finding some freedom.

This year we tackled our house projects with a lot of intentionality. We made a lot of progress in getting our house ready to sell! We still have some left to finish but are hoping to get our house on the market in the spring. I spent many, many hours this summer fixing the landscaping and shoveling rock.

I jumped into a tennis league and had such a fun time picking up my racket again! I trained again for the Leaf Mountain Footrace and had a blast doing all 3 laps. During training, I learned the trails at Carlos State Park and Brophy in new ways. I often went for runs after dinner enjoying all the summer sun. I spent Friday mornings with my sweet mothering mothers girls in the summer and fall. Then in the fall, I opened my house to three other ladies to join me in the mothering mothers group. Being in person is so much better than zoom even though I’m grateful for zoom when people are sick!

We made homemade ice cream and simplified some meal plans so we could tackle other things like the house projects mentioned above. I still helped make a lot of train tracks and I saw a lot of Lego and Duplos creations being made. Melea learned to bike with pedals! I still haven’t transformed into a park mom but we went a few times. I much prefer to go hiking with the kids!

We moved into our new church building in April and celebrated the answer to many, many years of prayer!

A tornado hit our neighborhood in May and we lost some of our big pine trees. We also lost part of our fence. So grateful we were safe though and that we could fix the fence. Ryan’s coworkers helped with the trees! I prayed a lot over our neighborhood and all the destruction.

Arrow and Canon went down the slide in our backyard together which ended in Arrow getting a cast for the rest of the summer. We still made it to meet our friends in the cities thanks to grandparents. We did do our annual strawberry picking with Grandma Nancy and spent the 4th at the Villas celebrating Asher turning 8!

We then met those same friends from June in November for a vision trip to South Africa. Part of being ready meant getting ready and exploring a move! Checking out houses, neighborhoods, schools, and ministry. We flew into Minneapolis with us both feeling confirmation about the move.

We are ending the year with desires to be healthy and skip anymore sickness and prayers for us to now move forward and Lord willing move overseas come August. This year has been full and I am grateful.

“preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2 ESV

“They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,” 1 Timothy 6:18 ESV

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,” Titus 3:1 ESV

“Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.” Psalm 119:173 ESV

“After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem.” Acts 21:15 ESV

“Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” Proverbs 24:27 ESV

“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Matthew 24:44 ESV

“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;” Revelation 19:7 ESV

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21 ESV

Hello 2021. Create

Moving forward into this new year has me excited, relieved, and ready. Last year, I spent a lot of time praying, writing out of options, and debating about my word for the year. This year, I had a moment where I thought about picking a word and quickly had a word settle in my heart. I kept wondering if I “should” do more or needed to pray about it more but kept coming back to feeling peace about this word.

My verse to hang onto is Psalm 51:10 which says, “Create in me a clean/pure heart, O God, And renew a right and steadfast spirit within me.”

I am asking God to come and create this in me while also asking myself to step out to create. I can see this leading in all sorts of ways from creating space to creating recipes or art or vision or habits and so forth. There are so many options and I am letting the Holy Spirit continue to guide me as the year unfolds.

Hello 2020. Grounded

I long to be intentionally grounded on God’s love. To know and experience His love to such a depth that no circumstance, criticism, person not anything else can shake my identity in God. I want to be grounded so that I can love others that much more. I want to be grounded on God’s truth–not shifting opinions. I want to know and memorize God’s Word so that I am grounded on truth, not lies.

Wow, 2020. I had no clue what I was stepping into when I wrote that at the beginning of the year. Little did I know that this year would bring along quarantines, mandates, all sorts of differing opinions, strife, challenges, and yet so much goodness. I had so many chances to practice being grounded (literally and figuratively). I set out the year hoping to travel to Africa, Washington D.C., and even a big camping trip. Instead, borders closed and my Africa trip was cancelled. We did sneak in some camping trips and all sorts of adventures and hikes. I’ve felt distance in some relationships and yet have found myself even closer in others. I continually find myself holding my hands open and saying, “Lord, help me to keep a soft heart, open hands, and eyes on You.” I’m reminded that even when things aren’t to my plans that I can still choose life and goodness. While many have said they’re ready to be done with this year (and I am too in part), I am grateful to have been here for such a time as this. This was the year my sweet baby boy (Arrow Benaiah) joined our family. So, thank you 2020 for the gift of my boy and for the lessons along the way. Onto the next adventure.

Hello 2019. Movement

Before I was even looking for a word for 2019, I was painting with watercolors with my kids and ended up using each of the colors and added a few words to each page. One of them had the word “movement.” I thought for a few weeks that I might choose the word “up” but it didn’t quite fit. So I came back to “movement.” I want to see movement in so many areas. I want to see God move and want to follow where He is moving. I see areas where I’ve been “stuck” and want to see movement. I want to see mountains moved and for God to be glorified. We live and move and have our being in Him. I’m praying this year will be one of movement!

2019, you ended on such a good note with a trip to Phoenix. Our kiddos stayed with grandparents and we got time to chat all the things. We prayed intentionally about areas of movement and sought out wise counsel from others. We set our eyes to the tasks at hand and kept doing our work. Our kids grew and our hearts expanded. There was not always the obvious “movement” but I trust the seeds from this year will continue to show up in years to come.

Hello 2018. Notice

Here’s my theme for the last few years…say, “Eh, I’m done with picking a word.” Then of course one gets stuck with me. About a month or two ago, the word Notice really impressed on me. I love that it’s not a heavy word but that it is an action word. This year I want to set my intention to notice God’s goodness, notice opportunities to celebrate and encourage other people, notice chances to serve, notice little moments, notice my kids, notice joy, notice God, notice His character, and to recognize when God and others are noticing me. To rest knowing that God sees me and loves me. Of course, I want to often act on some of the things after noticing but I feel like I need to first open my eyes to what is around me before being able to take the second step wisely. This is my word because I want to see and hear God daily. I want to say yes to God’s truth, slowing down, adventure, and love. I want fewer distractions, less noise, to get rid of “busyness,” and to fill my life with intentionality, presence, Bible, Prayer, friends, and adventure. I’m ready for a new year and a fresh slate. Here goes!

–Oh, 2018! You are over and we are moving onward. You started off with the exciting news we were pregnant! We spent many days prepping for our Africa trip and then thoroughly enjoyed bringing a team for two weeks. We rode elephants, hung out with the staff, went on Safari, and helped run a conference. The hardest part was leaving. Though, Asher and Melea were so ready to see us! We filled our summer with lots of weeding and we built a playground for Asher’s birthday! Canon Clay surprised us and came two weeks early. We snuck in a quick trip to Stillwater before he came and even hiked Fairy Falls where we did a bit of precarious climbing. I saw God show up as we got our tickets to Africa, as He brought people to come with us to Africa, through the level 2 ultrasound with Canon, and through it all we hold onto the truth that God is good no matter what. I may not have always noticed all that God was doing but I pray as I look back in the years to come that I will continue to see His hand on our lives.

Hello 2017. Purpose. 

Once again…I didn’t think I necessarily wanted to do a word but then the word found me and so here it is. I wanted to go back to my celebrate year but I’m hopeful for all that God will do this year. I keep saying I want some vision and I feel like focusing on “purpose” will bring some clarity in those areas. So here we go. 

Here I am at the end of 2017 and realizing this year was nothing of what I had hoped for when I started. This was a really tough year. I started off dealing with my dad in the hospital and dealing with cancer. Thankfully, my dad got the all clear and is doing well now. We found out we had to leave our apartment by May 1st. This resulted in living with Grandma and Grandpa for 6 weeks before closing on a red house! We were so thankful for a place to go! I love the simplicity of our house and we hope to update and be able to sell it down the road. I still dream of living in the mountains or in Africa 😉 We also spent tons of hours putting up a fence so next summer I am envisioning a hammock, a garden, and space for the kids and pup to run. We got to go another vacation with dear friends to see Mount Rushmore and Rocky Mountain National Park. We braved camping with two kids! We also hit up the beach in Pensacola for my brother’s wedding. I love travel and adventure. I have made some adjustments to work scheduling and am still adjusting! Melea kept us up and finally after her first birthday gave us some better sleep. I’m hopeful she will sleep through the night in 2018! Missing sleep is tough. Asher started preschool at a super fun nature preschool and he loves it. Such a social kid (when he wants to be!). Being mommy is such a privilege and I’m so thankful for the chance. I didn’t uncover many of my questions around work and life like I’d hope (still missing my 5 year plan!) but I am confident God is still faithful.

Hello 2016. Stand. 

I wasn’t going to choose a word for this year but then I heard a song and decided to accept “Stand” as my word. I needed a reminder to keep standing firm. To be resolute and unmovable. I wanted to keep going back to what God has said–not just what I want Him to do. The year started out on a bit of a tough note with getting over jet lag and with being back from Africa. Plus, being stuck inside for winter is usually a bit rough. I started the year off by speaking at Spa Night and stepped out of my comfort zone. Spring brought a trip to Milwaukee with my family and another trip to Portland to celebrate Ryan’s birthday. We also were thrilled to find out we were pregnant with our third little baby. We got to see our little one right away at 6 weeks!  This also turned into lots of blood draws and checking. Lots of prayer and hope. We headed to Glacier and Banff in June with friends. This was a blast!  Asher competed in his first Harvest Duathlon and was pretty cute!  We started going to Story time at the library more consistently and we even did a music class. Oh and we have been trying MOPS out too. We ended the year off with a bang by welcoming our daughter. She came on December 1st and I was so happy that we get to share a birthday month. We jumped into the newborn stage and goodness this mom gig is pretty amazing and hard and all sorts of adjectives. I am so thankful for all three of my babies. We ended the year standing on prayer for some family stuff and I am so glad that I have His word to stand on no matter the season. 

Hello 2015. Walk. image12015. What a year. We celebrated Asher’s first birthday!  We went on lots of walks. We kept being faithful at work and church. We found out we were pregnant with our second baby!  And we were really sad to say goodbye to him (Enoch) too. God was gracious and kind as we grieved and waited.  We went to Africa and I got to show my boys all the fun things. I love Africa and definitely still dream of moving there someday if God would have us go there. For now, seems like we are sticking put and being faithful to where He last called us.

Let’s walk it out, baby.  This year isn’t about going fast or glorifying being busy.  Let’s walk into His presence and hang out.  Let’s walk slow and talk slower.  Let’s open our ears to listen well and listen often.  Let’s find, keep, invite, seek, and walk with others.  You need people.  Walk with them well.  Walk confidently and boldly.  You get to be you.  Don’t let fear or anxiety take that away.  Sometimes you might need to walk a different path and that is okay.  Sometimes you need to walk away or walk toward a situation you don’t want.  You’ll get there.  Thankfully, God walks before, beside, and behind you.  He’s got you covered.  There’s a lot to come this year.  So walk it out.

Hello 2014. Open. 

8f6a218af17a2f44e233ab1571ca96d22014. Yikes. You’re a year to go down in the books! I feel like each year just keeps getting better.  I started this year knowing there was just so much that I didn’t know was coming or how things would go.  We didn’t move. We didn’t change jobs.  We just plain stayed put.  And had a baby. 🙂 On his due date to boot.  I sure did not think he would come on July 4th, but it was just right.  From labor to delivery to learning to be “the mommy,” I held my hands wide open and my heart even wider.  We leaned into this crazy new normal and still haven’t come out of the fog.  There’s so much love packed into a 20 inch little boy who grew like crazy.  I missed having a marathon to run this year, but I did love getting out with the BOB stroller with my little man.  We jumped into all sorts of healing and intentional-ness.  All this goodness both before and after the little guy came.  We invested in it even when it wasn’t convenient.  I had to open my fists and let go of some goals to make way for some of what was needed.  There’s a sweetness that I’m missing as I walk into this next year.  There was such an innocence of not knowing what having a baby was like and now we are into something new.  There’s much that I didn’t dive into this year and thankfully there’s more time.  More time for vulnerability, community building, learning, space, detachment, and all of those other good things that I’m still stepping my toe into just barely.  So, farewell, 2014.  You’ll forever be the year that gave us our first baby and made me the mommy.

Hello 2013. Be Free: Spread Your Wings and Fly.  

IMG_50162013. You have been one of my favorites.  Being married is amazing, messy, hard, wonderful, and just plain fun.  I sure did not know how hard this little word (free) would be until I jumped right into this year.  I’ve been challenged to speak my opinion and to share my feelings without shame.  All the while learning how to hear from others with grace.  Being free often means making a lot of choices that just are not fun.  Choosing to go when you want to be selfish.  Choosing to forgive when you’ve been wronged.  Choosing to love when you would rather leave.  Not to mention letting others process at their own speed.  Not jumping in to solve or fix.  This has been a good year.  Full of adventure.  We set off on a crazy Michigan adventure to see Africa friends.  We road tripped to D.C. and Virginia for one of my last classes.  I finished my Master’s degree!  We made some scary, but exciting decisions that changed everything.  I wrestled with God and deepened my trust.  We trained for the marathon that wasn’t.  Hello a blizzard in South Dakota.  But let’s be honest.  Some of our favorite conversations were on runs turned walks.  So the Lord knew just what we needed.  We loved well and often.  We stumbled our way through our first year of marriage with a whole lot of grace.  Not to mention quite a few apologies.  The Lord is good and He knew I needed to learn a bit about being free in Him.


Ah! What a year! I had NO idea what I was getting into when I picked my one word for the year.  I was hopeful in a very tentative way.  I remember wanting to kick up my heels and learn to enjoy life in whatever season I found myself.  I wanted to learn to celebrate God and celebrate where God had me as well as who God made me.  Plus, I wanted to learn to celebrate with others.  I didn’t want to be bitter or angry when God seemed to shower others with blessing instead of me….I wanted instead to learn to celebrate with them no matter what and to learn to see all that I could celebrate in my own life even when it didn’t seem like there was much to celebrate.  Now, I certainly didn’t always do this well and I haven’t always been the best at being content or happy regardless of the circumstances.  But all at once, God certainly gave me a TON to celebrate this year.

Bonus things to celebrate: dating, getting engaged, getting MARRIED, a new job as a counselor, starbucks coming to town, tons of fun moments with church kiddos, vbs, kids camp, new babies, pregnant friends, iMessage, packages, visiting friends, making awesome greece friends, loving big, sledding and snow angels, making sweet wedding things, delicious wedding cake, mountains, oceans, zip lining, rappelling, snorkeling in a cave, exploring, a big wedding shower, being celebrated by others, and celebrating with others. Just a few….there are SO many more that fill up the year.  I am ever so thankful to God and am expectant for what this next year will hold!

Hello 2011. Trust.

2011. I feel like I’m still catching my breath from you and yet you’re on the way out.  You’ve taught me how to wrestle and how to even begin having “get real with God” conversations.  Who knew so many feelings lay dormant under the surface? I waded through the past ever so tentatively and cautiously to catch a new perspective.  I saw the areas where I trusted too much and areas where I trusted too little.  The dance of trust clumsily moved with the music as I asked God to teach me how to be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove.  My feet hit the dirt roads in a lesson of seasons and the up’s and down’s of life all the way through 26.2 miles.  Keep moving forward.  You’ll get there.  God will draw you toward your destiny and He knows just how to slam doors and plop things in your lap.  Be honored that He’s trusting you with living out this story and He knows you’re going to make it through singing His praises.  Wilderness, deserts, the back side of the mountain…they’re all part of the Job, Joseph, David, Ruth, John, Jesus type stories.You’re in good company.  Trust Him.

Hello 2010. Welcome to a Journey with Joy.

2010. You were nothing I expected. I fell in love with my church from the moment I stepped into the doors the very first Sunday.  They’ve weathered the storms of life with me and let the light shine through the rain.  VBS made me smile with brick making. Kids Camp taught me how beautiful bed time can be. Sundays filled with hugs.  Subbing and working at the schools stretched my planning type personality.  I learned to be so flexible, adapt to the constant changes, and the importance of remembering a name.  My heart beat is for those little moments of noticing.  A triathlon taught me I’m stronger than I know.  Sprinting through the Bible in 90 days gave me more questions than I would have ever guessed. I lived in the questions even when I didn’t want to live them.  I stood up for myself and I fell forward.  I felt the shock waves of slamming doors and a big not yet to Africa.  Mixed with all the tears, joy seems an ill-fitting word for this year, but oh I see it hiding out throughout everything.  I see now that joy can be weaved right into the very fabric of my tear-stained heart if I let the word rest on God alone.

Hello 2009. Let’s go on an adventure.

go on an adventure2009. Adventure you were!  In so many ways I would not have expected.  You were filled with Africa. You changed me so much. God changed my heart this year. Moving me out of my comfort zone. I rappelled 8 stories, became a vegetarian, moved to South Africa, got baptized, climbed mountains, ran into snakes, found out I was in a hole, and loved deeply.  Your sunsets, sunrises, stars, zebra, mountains, and mostly the people caught my heart. I learned so much.  I learned to fall in love with God even more, to fall forward, to teach, to LOVE kiddos more than I ever thought possible, to leave my heart, and to see God in new ways.  I discovered new passions for SA, kids, and for empowering for change!  I made memories I carry in my heart.  My world got turned upside down, but I still said a BIG yes to God.

Hello, 2008. Let’s be friends.

Snowy Road2008. You were quite a year!  A year full of steps.  Stepping out into a full-time new job, learning to cook and bake so many new things, taking a ceramics class, going to concerts, enrolling in a quarter of seminary, state parks, and making my own way instead of following others.  Watching my church go from community groups to Sunday services while being able to be on the core team was a beautiful thing.  Remembering that I was going to be okay and that everything would be okay.  I journeyed through letting go, grieving, wanting more, and chasing after God.  My heart opened to a different plan.  I took steps to change things and said a BIG yes to God even though it meant leaving all that I knew to head to Africa.  An Africa that I hadn’t fallen in love with yet.

13 thoughts on “Hello 2023

  1. Pingback: Eric

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  7. if you do come to south africa again, let me know… it would be great to meet you, someone who has a passion for my home and a heart submerged in Jesus.

  8. Pingback: One Word 2012 « b'ahava

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