When My Word of the Year Became More Than Just a Word

I love the space between the end of a year and the beginning of the next. It’s like this tiny breath of remembering what was and anticipating what will be. Each year has looked so vastly different, but the common strand connecting them all are the whispers of thankfulness to the Lord during these moments as I look on all the things He’s brought us through.

About this same time last year I had finally come to the word that I would use to help define my 2018. I had prayed over it, processed and felt so much peace as I confidently wrote: tending. It means, “to care for, give ones attention to, nurture.” In the gardening world it looks like someone paying close attention to a space with a vision in mind for it. A gardener who lovingly tends to something, pulls out weeds, prepares the soil with a hoe, rakes, loosens and readys the ground. It’s a hard process, but one that will eventually lead to beautiful growth.

As I chose my 2018 word, I thought, “Yes! I will tend to my relationships. I will care for them, give attention to. I will put the work into my business and tend to my health.” But as I look back now, I realize 2018 was less about what I was going to do this last year and more how Christ was going to work in me.

Near the end of 2018 there was much of me that felt overwhelmingly barren. Like areas of my life had been raked and pulled and uprooted. But the more I thought on these things, the more grateful my heart became because of this friends. Although our year was marked with trials and pain, there were also these intimate moments of God showing up, ready to garden, ready to tend to my heart where weeds needed pulled and soil needed readying. And why did He do that? Because He deeply cares for me! No gardener works out of spite. There is a tender touch and diligent presence. There is a vision for what will be and necessary steps to getting the garden there.

In the garden of my heart He saw self-reliance. And then through my feet giving out, in a very practical way He taught me how to trust in Him and rely on others. He saw the weed of pride. And He brought me low and humbled me. It hurt and left a hole, but the Master Gardener knew what He was doing. He knew that needed tended to leave room for more important things to grow.

We found out I couldn’t get pregnant. There He was again, standing in the garden kneeling to pull up self made plans. The soil on this bare garden felt so dry….and He tended again and watered me with the promises from His word. Jealousy grew for what I didn’t have….babies of my own, healthy feet….that weed grew stealthily through the cracks in the dirt. That nasty weed.

But His eyes didn’t miss them. He showed me their growth and reminded me they needed out of the garden. So He tended those away too.


Done carefully. Lovingly (even when it feels far from it). Those who tend have a vision in mind of what’s to come.

2018 I was tended and tilled. Pulled and plowed and prepared. My heart often felt like a mess and the ground often looked uneven. Bare.

To be honest, I wasn’t ready for what last year would bring. But I know that it wasn’t for nothing. How? Because every gardener (and especially our Master Gardener) works and attends to His garden because of His deep love and great desire to see a land where beautiful, healthy, strong things grow. Bursting forth, flowering, bearing fruit.

So as I looked back as last year I realized (unbeknownst to me) that the word I prayed over would be the one God used to work on my own life. And as I prayed over 2019’s word……..only one stood out.


May the places He’s worked in me not be for nothing. May the places He’s cleared what wasn’t good leave room for what is. May the ground bud and burst with something beautiful. Maybe not all at once. In fact, probably not. Because that’s not what growth is. It’s gradual. A process. A slow act of flowering, unfolding, rising. May this year be marked with a growth that will take my breath away as I stand in awe of the gentle ways He’s used a year of tending to ready for me just for this season…


Photo | The Grays Photos

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