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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: January 18, 2014.

One Word for One Year

Can one word redefine the way you live your life? For the last couple of Januaries, instead of choosing a list of New Year’s goals and resolutions to be accomplished, I have chosen a single word to live into. To contemplate, immerse, soak, percolate and grow into it.

Goals are good. They define what I do. But a word? This word would define who I am becoming.


The first year I chose the word “FORGIVENESS”

One morning on my knees as I was praying through the Lord’s Prayer I heard myself say, “Holy Father, for this one day, I give you permission to forgive me only as much as I am willing to forgive all others.” Yikes! What had I done? I hadn’t intended to pray that specific prayer but I realized that every time I came to that phrase, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others,” that is exactly what I was saying. The severity of my prayer caused me to be extra sensitive to all the grievances and resentments I harbored. How easily they would bubble to the surface of my mind as real or imagined offense.

And so I began my journey into forgiveness. I read every scripture that mentioned forgiveness and it was very clear. No forgiveness on my part means …. Well, you know. (Matt 6:15). Scary stuff.

I concentrated on the word “forgiveness.” Every day I asked God to envelope me in forgiveness like a garment that I could wear to ward off the “schemes of the enemy.” I wanted to amass this large bundle of forgiveness and have it at the ready to dispense as needed. What I discovered was that as I wore forgiveness I was less likely to even find offense in the everyday mistakes, blunders and stupidities that are common to us all.

Previously, when my feelings were hurt or someone had let me down, I would have a period of anger, pain, sadness and, on occasion, thoughts of retaliation. Then I would get over myself and ask God to give me a dollop of forgiveness to offer the offender. Whether or not this involved a verbal tendering of forgiveness it still took some time. There was always a lag during which my spiritual life would dim while I nursed the injustice of it all.

But wearing forgiveness deflected offense. One morning I even asked God to create a situation of wrongdoing toward me in order to give me an opportunity to practice my new found skill.

I believe that those of us who are afraid of being hurt actually harden our hearts so that, when the wrongdoing we expect comes, we will be prepared. But the hard shell of our heart is also laced with Velcro – catching every affront that passes by. What a burden. In actuality when we soften our hearts by coating them in God’s gift of forgiveness, we create a Teflon shell that deflects all wrongs into the capable and just hands of God.

This forgiveness doesn’t cause weakness … It builds strength.


The second year I chose the word “GRATEFUL”

The positive experience with forgiveness led me seamlessly into the year of “Gratitude.” I was greatly encouraged by Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts which opened up a broader perspective of what “eucharisteo,” to give thanks, could mean. C. S. Lewis has said that “Gratitude is the pathway to joy.” What I know is that we can’t make ourselves be joyful … but we can make ourselves be grateful. And so I did.

I bought an inexpensive spiral notebook at the drug store and put it on my night stand. Every night when I go to bed, before my time of reading, I pick up my Gratitude Journal and ponder the day past. At the top of the page I enter the date and then write, “Thank you Father for …” Or, “I am grateful for ….” I number the lines down 1,2,3,4, 5. I sit quietly until I recall five things great or small for which I was grateful that day. The hummingbird at the feeder this morning. The smell of fresh baked bread as I passed the bakery. Hot water on demand. A phone call from an old friend. A healing conversation. A tiny flower growing up through a crack in the asphalt.

I consider every day to be a scavenger hunt of God’s blessings and surprises. Keeping a gratitude journal makes the search intentional. Expect God’s blessings to be there. Notice them. Remember them. Record them. The more you see the more you will find.

Not only did I express my gratitude to God that year but I committed myself to show my gratitude to others. I bought some quality note cards. Weekly I wrote a personal thank you note to someone. Routine thanks you’s for Christmas and birthdays did not count.

These weekly thank you’s went to my dry cleaners for taking such good care of our clothes over the years. To my family physician for his attention to our health. To anyone who had made a personal referral to my therapy or life coaching practice. To Mel Harold Electrician who fixed our electric box at no charge on 8.4.11, and George Chapman, Plumber, for a free telephone consult on 8.14.11. I would take cookies to the young men at Big O Tires who had fixed leaky tires for me on occasion. By December 31st personal notes.

It is easy to wander through life one day after another. Make it intentional. Notice. Respond in gratitude to God and to the others He has put in your path.


The third year I chose the word “SAVOR”

I have a tendency to do things quickly. I hurry through my tasks. I talk fast. I eat fast. This was the year I wanted to slow down. Slow waaay down. Could I do it? I challenged myself to see.

Early in that year I was standing at the kitchen counter of a friend. She handed me a cup of coffee as she asked me a question. “Wait,” I said before I answered. “I want to savor this first sip.” Later I did the same with the coffee cake. Instead of just picking up a piece and mindlessly eating while I talked, I made the effort to stop myself, slow down, pay attention, and …. savor.

I savored as I tipped my face to the morning sun. I savored as I listened to my daughter tell me about her day. I savored that moment in the evening when I crept into fresh crisp bed sheets. I savored my quiet time with God in my office as I prayed over each client I would see that day.

As I intentionally looked for things to savor, and expanded my vocabulary to include relish, enjoy, delight in, take pleasure, appreciate, value.

I even gave myself permission to savor, take delight in, and appreciate …. me. If God said I was fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139,14), who am I to do less than value His creation.


The next year I chose the word “PAUSE”

I wrapped up 2012 with a tea party at my home and we talked about choosing a word for the year and then shared what we sensed God was calling us to live into. Maureen chose “breathe.” Gloria said “sparkle.” Sherry decided on “cherish,” and Karen “delight.”

I struggled. I tried to manufacture a word that would be both noble and godly. Nothing seemed to come. And yet …. There was this one word floating in my head that I kept trying to dodge. And then I said it out loud. “Pause”. Pause? What kind of a word was that? Pause what? Pause when?

I breathed slowly (Maureen’s word) and pondered. And then it came to me. I was… “pausing.” I had slowed down in 2012 to savor, but while I was savoring I wasn’t really pausing. Pausing meant to create a gap, take a break, suspend something, to stop.

I began to hear myself say, “Carolyn, you don’t have to say something just because you think it.” “Let it go.” I would reach for something to eat and then pause and pull my hand away. In the pause I realized that I wasn’t really hungry. My mouth was just bored and wanted something to do. I paused before purchasing something to think about the expenditure. I paused before saying that critical thing. God was in the pause, and I changed my comment or dropped the subject completely.

In spring of that year my husband required open heart surgery to replace an aortic valve. The Big Pause was upon me! Everything seemed to shut down. His recuperation required me to put my regular life on hold. My nursing skills, which heretofore were limited to putting a band aid on a booboo, were stretched to the limit. I was inadequate, and I was
scared. My husband’s life seemed to depend on me in those early days home. This was no booboo.

Pause became my lifeline. I would close myself in the bathroom and struggle to breathe. As I slowed my fear down I would breathe into God and cry a weak, “Help!” And in the pause, He was there.

Gradually my husband healed. As he grew stronger, I felt safer. We had made it through this crisis. One pause at a time.

During the long lead up to the surgery with the multiple doctor appointments and tests, and then the grueling recuperation months I had downsized my therapy practice. I had graduated many clients and put a “pause” on taking any new ones. Now I desired to go back to work and discovered my practice diminished. What to do?

And in that professional pause my heart and mind took a forward turn. I had spent 23 years as a therapist working with problems from the past. Now I desired a new direction for myself and my practice. I trained and was certified as a Christian life/career coach. If the pivotal word in therapy is “Why,” then the pivotal word in coaching is “Why not?”

I desire to live in a world where women are encouraged to reinvent themselves as their family and work needs change, as their marriages move into different stages, and as God calls forth new talents. I want to be a part of helping women do just that. I want to encourage them to pause and take note of what and where God is leading.

You’ve launched your children. Perhaps it is time to launch yourself. I had thought my word for 2013 “pause” was my pause for myself. Looking back it seems it was God’s way of pushing the pause button on my life and sending me a new direction.


And for 2014 the word is…

So here we are edging into another new year. And what will be my word? I’ve spent some time in silence waiting. I’ve cleared my present slate of forgiveness issues. I’ve kept up to date with my list of gratitudes. I’ve savored and I’ve paused. And in my prayerful silence a word has come. “GIDDY UP”

WHAT? Are you kidding? I’m not a horsey girl. Horses make me itch and sneeze and they are big. And dangerous.

Now, granted, you can choose a word to live into and try it on for size. Sort of like the communal dressing rooms at some stores. “Hey, this doesn’t fit me but it might look great on you. Want to try it?” It helps to chat it out with an insightful friend. Which is what I did.

After puzzling and laughing about my “Giddy up,” my sweet friend Shelly gave me some Godly insight about what that word might possibly mean in the long term. I will hold her image in my mind as I, the city girl, ride forth into the year 2014.

Come “GIDDY UP” with me!

I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

~Philippians 3:13-14




Carolyn Dunn coaches busy women who are time starved, disorganized and distracted balance a productive work life with a peaceful and nurturing home life. Instead of struggling with overwhelm, procrastination and time management issues they can learn to say “goodbye” to chaos, and “hello” to sanity. Carolyn has a strong Christian background and a Fuller Seminary Masters degree in theological studies as well as marriage and family ministries. She is actively involved in planning large conferences as well as small retreats, and has been the speaker at many seminars and workshops.

To learn more about the author please visit Carolyn Dunn Coaching








Featured Photo Courtesy of Victoria Hagan Interiors New York, NY

2 Responses

  1. Worship – Debbie Williamson

    […] dull, don’t you think?  Someone I know had “sparkle” for her word last year.  My mom received, “giddy up” for 2014.  Those are fun words, full of life and smiles.  I mean, don’t you just giggle a bit when […]


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