Monday, January 6, 2014


No, my word is not "TA DA."

But, I'm not going to reveal it right up front.


Gonna make you "wait for it…wait for it…"

Because first of all, I have to tell you how much it surprised me.

Some background…

When I started blogging in 2010, I approached the end of the year with great anticipation.  I couldn't wait to write about Christmas.

But then, as the new year approached, I noticed bloggers talking about their *word* for the coming new year.  Wordsmith that I am – (recovering English major) – I wanted to join in on this tradition.

But…I did not want to hand-pick my word.

I wanted God to do it.

And He did.

Therefore, the word for 2011 was DETERMINED.  It was a year when many things happened, just like every year really.  But as the year came to a close, I saw how God had helped me become more determined in my faith.

Determined to hold on to Him no matter what.

In 2012, He gave me the word OVERCOME.  And, yes, it was a word that was a truthful theme for the year.  "The Hub" and I moved from the home and city that I had lived in for almost 29 years.  And yes, indeed, there were many things to overcome.  Physical challenges (moving is NOT pretty after 29 years of pack-ratting fun)and emotional challenges.

God helped me overcome many obstacles as I re-adjusted myself to a new place and life in the mountains.

So, 2013 arrived, and God spoke the word DIRECTION.  I liked this word, my favorite so far.  Good, I thought to myself, this year God is going to give me a clear direction as to what He wants me to do.  Where He wants me to go.  How I can do His work in a way that is satisfying to me. (Arrogant? Self-serving?  Maybe, but truthful…)

However, a few weeks ago, when I was reflecting on the past year, I wasn't sure how God had given me direction this year.  There was no huge revealing, no fantastic new avenue of ministry – if I was honest about it, I still felt stuck in the same place as I had been at the beginning of the year.

Until God had to tell me how I was wrong.

Indeed, the direction He had given me was, "Follow Me closer."

And as this past year comes to an end, I can see in my backward glance how I have learned to follow Him closer.  I can see how He has revealed to me that one of His directives for me up on the mountaintop is to learn how to rest in His near presence.

So, you see, I have come to realize that the word God gives me becomes a sort of *theme* for the year.  It's one of the reasons that I don't want to pick it.  I don't want to pre-dictate, if you will, what happens in my faith walk.

God knows it already, so it's good to get the word from Him!

However, this is precisely why I am struggling with this coming year's word – (the big reveal…)


I don't get it.  It doesn't fit somehow.  Oddly enough, I am not terribly joyful to receive it.

Let me explain.

First of all, I looked up SHARON in Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary.  It reads:

S haron
H as to
A bsolutely
R ant
O n and on
N eedlessly

Yup.  I am not a *joyful* person by nature.

I tend to be negative (which I euphemistically like to call "realistic").  I tend to ponder the in's and out's of life like a rat in a maze searching for my way, but mostly banging my head on the dead-ends.  I have a propensity to complain.  And, being a Nervous Nellie, I am never quite calm or settled or content.

Certainly not JOY-full.

NO ONE would say that about me.  (Ask my family, they'll tell you the truth!)

So, I'm kinda rebelling against my new word.

For you see, the *WORD* for the year always turns out to be both a command and a promise.  I see how that has played out in the past three years.

And JOY, as a command – ouch.

Really tough for me.  That verse – "Rejoice in the Lord…I say again rejoice" – well, I always hear that verse in a forcefully disciplinary tone.

It sounds more like this to my ears:  "Sharon, rejoice (insert stern voice here: "Stop moping around and paste on a happy face right this minute")I say again, rejoice (OR ELSE)."

And as a promise?

Having trouble with that, too.  All I see are the problems surrounding me. Especially the continued deterioration of my parents, and especially the slippery slope of dementia that my father is sliding down…rapidly.

I see decisions ahead in this coming month about the next step of care. I see more times with him when he's angry and confrontational.  I see pain, and hurt, and disappointment in my future.  I do not see joy.

And, if I'm being completely honest, I'm not liking this word because I don't want to give up my *right* to complain.  I actually like being negative sometimes – (I will easily give up the nervous, though).  When I'm not feeling joyful, I don't WANT to feel joyful. 

I want to pout or whine or throw that big old Pity Party that I love attending.

Being joyful sounds challenging to me, daunting in its expectations.

It sounds like a jacket that is too tight for me to wear.

Oh, how I would have loved hearing a different word like HOPE or PEACE or even, TRUST.  

But, God was quite clear in His message.  

JOY for 2014.

As I pondered this word – (truthfully, just trying to wrap my head and heart around it) – I remembered an old Sunday School song.   As I recall it, the chorus went something like this:

"Jesus and Others and You – what a wonderful way to spell JOY."

Yeah, so I'm thinking about that definition this way:

Jesus – OK, sure, I love you, Lord.  So this part is good.

Others – That means giving of myself to others.  And that says *parents* to me.  I'm tired.  I don't want to serve them anymore.  Fifth Commandment work is very, very hard right now.

You – I don't mind being last.  I'm just glad to make the list.

But as I thought about it more, I heard His still, small voice.  And He told me that while that old song had been accurate in its theology, He had a different meaning for me.

This is how He means it…

J esus,
O nly
Y ou

I sighed in the deepest part of my soul when He said this.  I actually felt joy at this definition.  Somehow it released me to feel all the negative stuff that I know will come this year – for all I have to do is turn to Him, lean on Him, focus on Him ONLY Himand somehow HE will fill me with JOY.  (HIS joy, not something I have to drum up inside of myself, by myself...)

For the last couple of years, the Lord has been asking me a question, over and over and over.

"Sharon, is it really just Me?"

And I can see that in this coming year, I am going to get the chance to answer.

"Jesus, only You."  

So, Lord, I will accept Your word for me in 2014.  But I am having some trouble understanding all the ramifications.  (Yes, I see the irony.  A person who has trouble with the concept of JOY – then being given that word for the coming year – and then struggling to be happy about accepting it!)  

At this moment in January, I am contemplating this monumental word.

Truthfully?  I am skeptical.  I am doubting the Lord's ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of making my spirit celebrate life in a way that doesn't come easy for me.

I tell Him that, just one more time.

"Lord, I'm not seeing how You're going to achieve this.

How are You going to re-shape a Negative, Nervous Nellie into a joyful person?"

And He answers:

"Just watch Me!"

How the Lord is going to make this happen is far beyond me.  

And that, probably, is the whole point.

I love you, Jesus, with all my heart. 

"Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for JOY.  For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow." (James 1:2-3, NLT)

"Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of JOY." (Psalm 126:5, NIV)

"May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." (Romans 15:13, ESV)

"'I have told you this so that my JOY may be in you and that your JOY may be complete.'" (John 15:11, NIV)

"'Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your JOY away from you.'" 
(John 16:22, NASB)

What's your *word* for 2014?  And how are you reacting to it?

Linked today with:

Jen at UNITE
Darlene at TITUS 2SDAY

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"


  1. Sharon...I love this. That is what I am striving for matter what the circumstances are that surround me. I already know there will be rough times in the upcoming year...I have never had a year without them...why should 2014 be any different? Its called life. I too, choose to be joyful...doesn't mean we have to smile all of the time or that there won't be tears...probably plenty of them right? Joy doesn't mean that we are always happy and content. We are responsible for our own joy and it is no one else's job. Thank you for this reminder, sweet Sharon and I pray that 2014 is brimming with joy for you!

  2. As I was reading your post, I was hearing a "drum roll" in my head as I anticipated the big reveal! Joy - a great word! I bet you'll be surprised at how God shows you joy over this new year. It's not always easy, but when we look to God we have so much to be joyful for!! My word, as you may already know, is "courage". And, ironically, that is a bit scary for me! However, I'm trusting God for this journey, knowing it's going to be a great one!

    Blessings, Joan

  3. Hi Sharon, Really enjoyed reading this, related to much of it, look forward to your future posts. I don't normally do this, but I did this year on Facebook and my word was Endurance- hmm- but in Romans 5, we are told that endurance produces Hope and that Hope will not disappoint us, so it is to that I am clinging.

  4. Love your honesty, Sharon :)
    Yay! You got my word from last year!
    I remember thinking last year while in the midst of such anxiety and depression, that there was little to be joyful first.
    I too wondered if I was to plant a fake smile on my face in order to 'suit up' for the new theme of my year...It turned out, that I found a genuine smile appearing on my face quite a lot! I also learned that the origin of that joy was the presence of God...In His presence is fullness of joy!...Thus, your conversation with the Lord makes perfect sense...The joy you receive is not necessarily for anyone else but just for the two of you...Jesus and you!
    I wonder now if He wasn't asking for you to give Him joy in return?
    ~Blessings and love~ & ((hugs)) too!
    Carried in His GRACE (my word)~ Lisa

  5. Joy and Jesus Only YOU is a wonderful word. I rather liked Ta Da also :-)
    Thanks for sharing with us here at :"Tell Me a Story"

  6. Oh what an adventure you are on, Sharon! Can't wait to hear about it!

  7. Sharon,
    Love your definition of "Jesus Only You" for Joy...and the word for the year often contains a promise...finally agreed to the one that it seems God picked out bc when I prayed, the word kept coming I need to write it out...Thanks for honestly sharing your heart...blessings :)

  8. Your honesty helps search out my own relationship with God and I learn from that...thank you. J.O.Y. "O" for others...might be the old song and I 'm glad God gave you another meaning. But consider too that the others, like me, are praying for you, as you pray for us. Coincidentally, I have this taped to my computer..."You can either worry or worship....Joy!"

  9. At times I wonder about you - if you know yourself - you are one of the most joyful people I know - I think it fits perfectly.

    1. Amen to this. I agree. And she is a joy to others, too.

  10. Look forward to see how the joy unfolds throughout your year Sharon.

  11. Such JOY Sharon!!!

    TA --- To be Able to find our joy or peace or hope or courage or trust or whatever our new One Word holds

    DA --- as in "duh" why didn't I think of that? --- means that God will lead us closer to Him and the change He wants in us through our Word from Him ... so the "duh" of the why and how and all that this entails we open ourselves up to where He will lead us

    ... and you already have the KEY ... "Jesus Only You" no matter what --- oh yeah, "I've got that Joy, joy, joy,joy down in my heart ... down in my heart ... down in my heart" ...and now it's time to let it out and bring it forward and lean on it when we just don't have it in us, cuz it's not about us, but all about Him, and Him in us ... as it is/or will be with my word, too! And as I look forward to how God brings forth JOY in you, I'm excited to see that happen with mine too! But whoa, Nervous Nellie ... I agree with a previous comment, you are clearly more joyful than you thinkest ... and hardly as negative and a rant as your acrostic or beautiful honesty reveals, you are too hard on yourself (like I am)
    our worst critiques ... yet God dares you to let out that JOY and hold on to His Joy as your strength in all you may face or encounter in 2014, and all His WORD and the beautiful scriptures you have listed and continue to encounter will become real and keep you anchored in Him as I will in my one word ...that we may abound and rejoice in Our Lord.

    Here's to 2014 and all the JOY before you,
    love and h.u.g.

  12. Sharon, thank you for being so honest here. It gives me hope that God can achieve in me what He intends to even though I question if He really can do it. After all, I am pretty stubborn and have my own issues with getting stuck in the mire of negativity.
    Love this whole post but especially the Lord's definition of JOY--Jesus, Only You. He does bring us to that point. It's a point we sometimes dread thinking what we have to give up is so much better. But through last year, I have found that having only Jesus brings real hope and peace--and now you will see JOY. You'll have to wait for my word. Have to develop the post.
    Love you my friend,

  13. I love your acrostic for JOY. I've always told my children that if Jesus is their focus everything else will fall into place. When He is our direction, we are on the right path.

    My word is Celebrate - that goes together really well with JOY.

    First time reader looking forward to visiting often. Blessings!

  14. Joy!! I love this one. I never saw it coming, either. That's not to say that I don't think of you as wanting joy or deserving joy or being A JOY (because believe it or not, you are to me.) It's just that your words are usually so multi-syllabic, Joy just seems so EASY. (Yes, I know that after reading your post, it's obviously not easy from your perspective on the mountain.) Still, I can't help but feel that God just wants you to rest this year and feel His joy.

    That's what I want for you, too.
    Can I change my word and copycat yours? I think it would be easier for me to have joy than to be balanced.

    I guess it's too late.
    (And I went back and added a Ta Da on mine, but I PROMISE I hadn't come here yet.)

  15. Great word and I understand where you are coming from. I would struggle with "Joy" also. I am not a happy camper these days and haven't been for a few years now. I believe the reason God gave me my word "Heart" is because I seldom follow where my heart wants me to go. I stay stuck and this is a huge challenge for me this year. Following my heart would take me to places I haven't been before.

  16. Sharon,

    I can't wait to see how Joy full you will be at the closure of 2014. Funny for a moment there I thought you were going to use the acronym Jesus Others and You instead but see there you completely got me!

    Praying for you in 2014 that this will be an incredible year of growing closer to Jesus and that in the process He will show you many incredible things!

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  17. What a great word... JOY! It's already there, in you, and He ministers His joy through your words every week. It's going to be amazing to watch that word become real in a new way to you during the coming year!! If you need joy, and Debbie needs balance... I need to pay close attention to both of you!! :)

    JOY it is Sharon! Can't wait to hear more...

  18. I love that we share the same word. And I simply loved the Jesus Only You through the word JOY. I need to remember that. It's filling me with joy just looking at those three words. I love three words too!!! I may need to borrow from you. :)
    I appreciated what you wrote and for TWW I will actually be talking about how I feel choosing the word Joy is One Big Risk (note the three words!). I look forward to taking this journey together. If you did not notice, I have a page on my blog that is devoted to my word:
    Much love to you, Sharon.

  19. I love Jesus Only You. I think JOY is a wonderful word given to you, Sharon! I do believe it will be interesting to come to the end of 2014 and look back and see how God displayed JOY in your life over it. And to think God already knows the answer to it and will continue to reveal it throughout this coming year! (so sorry about your parents' failing health, it is so hard to deal with it, having seen the struggles hubby/brother went through with their parents. I continue to pray for you/famliy)


  20. As I was reading your post I couldn't help but think about so many challenges you faced in 2013. I don't think you could have gotten a better word from the Lord. What a promotion! I think you are going to live on a higher ground spiritually and bask in the joy of the matter what. It is going to be a good year. For me, it is "rest," not striving!

  21. What a great post! I will admit, I clicked on it because the words "Ta-Da" grabbed my attention. Our youngest granddaughter just learned to say those words this week :) I love the transparency with which you shared your new word for the year with us all. At the end of this year, may you look back & reflect & see the growth that you have made. And may those around you say, "That Sharon, she is full of the joy of the Lord!". I visited this morning from Unite. Oh, and my one word for the year is "Faith", "And without faith it is impossible to please God." (Heb. 11:6).

  22. Wow - KaZOW! Great word, Sharon! You might have noticed that it is my sign-off word - and I've been using it for years. Joy. It came as a command to me, too - some time back - when I was struggling with feeling that my negative slants on things were keeping me mired in fear, doubt, and worry. To be honest - I'm still there - constantly wiping my boots. But when David commanded his own soul to "BLESS THE LORD" even when he didn't feel like it - well - that is ever on my mind. So - ten years ago - recovering from the betrayal of divorce and wondering where I was to be going now - I took God's "Words" to me at that time - taking "devotion" for "debate" and moving forward with "joy". Haven't actually arrived - so don't panic if you aren't on that mountaintop in a trice. It's a lifestyle of rudder adjustment. And - it sorta just works. I don't bounce off walls - but I'm quiet and contemplative and take great joy in knowing my Lord in that place. So, yes - you're right on - Jesus Only You. Then - spill it out over all the muck and mire and wash it off your clothes and boots. Ever forward. Every day. My "word" recap this weekend - stay tuned.

  23. Love the word JOY, Sharon! A wonderful word for everyone to embrace. Jesus certainly did. I am optimistic by nature and I think you might be much more than you realize. After all, you bring joy to your friends and readers here!

  24. The stories of lives that love HIm and demonstrate His enduring love for us are the best of all. Thanks so much for sharing... now, I need to get on my knees and ask HIm for my word for 2024.... this comes at a very good time for me!

  25. Hi! I saw your comment on Simply Beth's blog and came over because we share the same word for 2014. Some years I haven't even done a word -- but this year this word leapt off the page for a word to be prayed for me. And I am thinking of it as my word for the year. I love the verse that you posted that she who sows in tears will reap with songs of joy! I love that! Another joy verse for my collection.

  26. Hi Sharon, you always pull me in with your writing. Lol! Firstly, JOY is my word too this year, secondly, there is an acrostic dictionary????? I love acrostics. I'm going to go find out what it says about my name! Thirdly, I love the acrostic you have come up with for your word! I'm going to see if I can come up with a great one too. God bless my friend as you walk in joy this year.

  27. I just wonder if the words we most dislike at the beginning become our most favorite, treasured words by the end? Here's hoping!

  28. Oh Sharon, I just love to read your words. I love your word. My first three years of doing a One Word, the words came quickly. I knew what God wanted me to focus on. This year I really struggled. Then I realized I hadn't prayed about it. Hence my word...PRAY for 2014. :)

    Thank you for linking up with Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday! God bless!

  29. God rarely gives me a "year" word. He draws me around, day by day, and drops month words in me, usually indicating that's when I'm going to hit the road. Right now, I keep hearing "May".... but don't know where, when, or how. Trusting Him is all I can do, ever and ever. Nice way to share with people, though, Sharon. Good thinking on your part.

  30. I think Joy is a lovely choice. It's so upbeat. :) But I know that also means it can be very difficult because life's circumstances aren't always upbeat themselves. I pray it will go well with you. My word is "compassion" and I am reacting to it with mixed feelings. I fear it will be painful, but without a heart that can feel pain, I'd be left without a heart that can feel joy either.

  31. Love this post...enlighting and convicting.....You really have the gift of holding someone's attention with your writing.....I too am always surprised with my word but every year when I look back over the time, it always have been the perfect word. I too want God to give me my word and this year He just dropped right down into my mind while I was knitting..Isn't he a great and faithful God?

  32. Sharon, I should probably not tell you that "joy" was my word for 2012. I actually had a theme: "Ain't nobody gonna steal my joy."

    And then I went on to have the toughest year of my life.

    He definitely led me back to that Scripture in James that says, "Count it all joy when you face various trials...' :)

  33. For a moment there I thought we were going to have the same Word. I feel my word for the year is Follow, as in "stop running ahead of Me, or off on tangents." Thanks for the post!

  34. My word is "kept" as you already know. An obedience and a promise. And it's already felt uncomfortable for me this year; still and yet, I know it's a fit between God and me. May the Father "keep" you in his joy as you live and move and have your being in him. Praying for his guidance to be yours as you make/live these hard decisions.

  35. Sharon, I love what you have shared here, so much of it resonated with me. I too am negative at heart, rant and complain regularly and find the verses about joy in the Bible often grate with me, make me feel uncomfortable. Yet, I just wanted to encourage you a little as you embark on this coming year with joy as your word at the heart of it. You see I think you exude joy, as I read your blog regularly I can see the joy you have in the Lord. Sure you are experiencing pain at the sad deterioration of your parents and the difficult burden you carry as you care for them. But I can see your heart filled with Jesus shining through it all. Even the rants :-)
    Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

  36. This brought me joy! Thank you. Can't wait to hear what The Lord does. And I just think you're great!!!

  37. I can't think of a more perfect word! Looking forward to watching it unfold this year.

  38. I love this post and relate to it in more ways than I care to admit! I don't have a word yet for this year, although I did a few years ago and it helps to have it in the back of your mind in all that you do. I will have to pray about "my word"! Visiting from Spiritual Sundays!


"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

(NOTE: Anonymous comments will be removed. Thank you for understanding.)