“This little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine…let it shine…let it shine.” You may remember this little song from Sunday School when you were a kid…and now, thanks to me, it’s going to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. 😂 You’re welcome! I’ll tell you why I’m singing that in a minute….
Every year, God gives me a “Word” for our family to focus on for the year. With a simple word or short phrase to concentrate on, we have been able to stick with it through the entire year, unlike many of the “New Year’s Resolutions” we’ve made. Oops! I know you know what I’m talking about! 🤦🏼♀️ We’re almost halfway into February. How are your resolutions going?
Some years, God has given me the word(s) several weeks before the New Year begins. Some years, it becomes obvious only a few days before the New Year begins, but I’ve always had it by New Year’s Eve which is when I usually reveal it to my family. Each year, the word He has given me for our family has been exactly what we needed, and each one has seemed to build upon the previous one. It’s become an exciting thing to find out what our word is going to be.
Some words, like last year’s “Connect”, really challenged the introverts in our household and allowed us to make the most awesome friends and meaningful “connections”.
In 2020, “Be Intentional” became very clear in about March as we had to navigate living in an RV and traveling (or not) in the middle of a pandemic among many, many other things.
In 2019, it was time to “Be Bold”. This was a big one for me as I led a group through the entire Bible in a year for the first time. I also kicked up my blogging that year and shared more of our “story”.
In 2018, our phrase was “Be Still”. There were many ways that we were supposed to be still that year (mentally, spiritually, and even physically). Being still and hanging back in Texas for longer than I wanted to, meant that we ended up being home when my Grandpa and then my Grandmother each went to meet Jesus. I wrote a blog about that sweet experience here. I could go on and on. My point is, having a word to focus on has helped direct our path over the recent years. It has kept us focused on what God wanted and needed us to do, and where He needed us to be.
How do I know what our word is each year? I usually begin to pray about our “word” at the beginning of December when we begin the season of Advent. The word that we are supposed to focus on then appears over and over and over throughout the month of December to the point where it is so obvious by the time we get to the new year. It is fascinating how this works!
What’s in a word? I think we could all agree that words have incredible power. Words can be used for good or bad. Words can be used to express ourselves. Words can be used to explain or to teach. Words can be harmful and destructive. Words can be uplifting and encouraging. Words can be used for praise and prayer. Words can also be used to discourage and tear down. With our words, we have the ability to either edify or destroy one another. Most of us have been on the other end of harsh words at some point in our lives. Most of us have also said words that were difficult to take back. There is a reason that the Bible talks over and over about taming our tongue. Relationships that are damaged by the misuse of words are extremely hard to rebuild. Words are important, and when chosen and used wisely, they can be life-giving and life-changing.
All of that said, I believe having a positive and practical Word for the Year is hugely important to direct our steps and set the tone for our family. Our family’s word for 2022 is “Light”, as in “Be a Light”. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” There are many ways that our family is attempting to live out this word this year and plans are in the works for more. When we bought this house in Bellevue, IA one of the first things that caught our attention as we walked up the front path is the lamp post in front of the house. The lantern in it was originally gas, and no longer works. We plan to change that. One of the first things Paul did, when we got here, was to dig a trench from the post to the house to install an electric lamp to replace the gas lamp. Then…. snow fell. So, when the snow thaws and it’s practical to get back to that project, we will be replacing the light out front because “that’s what we’re supposed to do”. I’ll update when it’s all fixed up!
There is a risk in putting our “word” out there. People might hold us to it! Ha! But, my prayer is that my family will always be a light to those around them. Since the kids were tiny, I always told them when they left our home to “be sure to shine the light of Jesus” wherever they go, whether that was church, school, a sleepover with friends, camps, or wherever. So, we will continue to do what we do, and shine our lights wherever we go. If you are local and have been into Bender’s when Emily is working, you’ve probably gotten shined on. ☀️ If you’ve ever had a conversation with Tyler, you’ve probably felt the light he oozes. ☀️ If you have ever served with our family or alongside us, I hope you have felt the warmth and light that we desire to shine for Jesus through our service to Him. ☀️
Oh yeah…and if you ever drive past our house…especially in the evening, it will be the one with the lights on. 💡 That is intentional. There is a lot of love and light in this house. Stop by sometime and say hello. 😊
Has your family ever chosen a Word for the Year? I would like to encourage you to try it. I know it’s February already, but it’s truly not too late. Is there a word that keeps coming to mind? Maybe even as you have read my words, a word has popped in your head. Is there a phrase that you keep seeing on Pinterest that catches your eye? Roll with it! Share it with your spouse and kids and make an effort to live it out this year. I promise that it will be worth it! So, go on! Tell me. What word will you focus on this year? Can’t think of one? Jump on the “light” bandwagon. You can’t go wrong with that! I’m not sure the world can have too much light! 😀
“This little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”