A Word for 2021

IMG_0120Years ago author Debbie Macomber wrote a book titled One Perfect Word detailing her experiences of choosing one word to focus on for each New Year—a word that could guide her as she reflected on it. Like so many of us I was weary of making New Year’s Resolutions that felt more like chastisements than goals. After all, how many times can we clean out the garage or lose the same eight pounds? So I decided to give the idea of choosing just one word a chance.

That first year my word hit me like a ton of bricks. I was on a walk in my neighborhood in early January. I must have been watching the sidewalk for icy spots because it wasn’t until the second time I passed by a neighbor’s yard that I noticed a leftover Christmas display spelling out the word JOY in three-foot high red letters! Yes, I had almost missed the joy, but at that moment I knew it would be my word for the year. I would focus on all the joy I found around me.

Another year I chose the word LISTEN, or rather it chose me. It seemed everything I read or experienced was reminding me of the importance of listening—to those I love, to the wisdom around me, to the birds and other sounds of nature, and even to my own heart. Simply to listen.

songbird3You’ll notice I said the word chose me, and that’s truly the only way this exercise works. You can’t force your word choice. In the years a word did not choose me, I didn’t have a word for that year! Simple as that.

I’ve been given a word for 2021 however, and that word is RESTORE. After the year we have all experienced, we need some restoration. Those who’ve been sick want to restore their health. It may take more than a year to restore my optimism about our country, but I can stop watching the news and focus on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…(Phil. 4:8). That should restore my hope.

I surely need to restore my enthusiasm for planning dinners at home by digging out some inspirational cookbooks. I need to replenish my creativity by taking on a new writing project—one that will take me into that writing zone that restores. And I need to restore my passion for ministering to older adults.

Outer Banks SunsetAs I ponder the word restore, a favorite praise song comes to mind. “Restore to Me,” sung by Zach Williams, beautifully brings to life these words from Psalm 51:10-12: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. And so RESTORE becomes more than my word for the year. It becomes my prayer. Open your heart and let a word choose you. Happy New Year.

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  1. JoBeth Wachtman says:

    Thank you Nancy for your thoughtful and encouraging word. I think we all need the RESTORE word for the year. I still have good memories of our bible studies together. I treasure those times and miss them. Love to you for a restoring year ahead. JB

  2. I have great memories, too, JoBeth! I miss seeing you. Thanks for your comment, and happy birthday month!

  3. Charlie Fusco says:

    I LOVE your word for the year. We are working toward that goal in a specific area: restoring those 50 and older to singing and playing instruments in the church, and specifically, forming choirs again! So many churches abandoned choirs and embraced youthful praise bands over the last decade. This left those called to the ministry of music disenfranchised from using their ministry gifts to the glory of God. Hopefully, VOW (Voices of Wisdom ) choirs and ministry to those over 50 will pop-up around the country. You can learn more on Jeff Ferguson’s FB timeline. So Nancy, I too, am embrace “restore” as the word of 2021: RESTORE our country’s Constitutional Republic, the brokenness of those adversely affected by the Covid-19 virus and the restrictions it has placed on everything from free enterprise and freedom of assembly to smiles hidden under masks, to a robust return to our places of worship with a renewal of choirs and music ministries leading us all to sing a new song of Resurrection and Restoration. The best is yet to come!

    • That sounds wonderful, Charlie! A meaningful endeavor for sure. We need to worship God in ALL ways. Especially now. God bless you.

  4. Jimmie Bohannon says:

    Great lesson! Last year my word was ‘blessed’. I am waiting to see what will pick me this year!!

  5. Elizabeth H. Van Liere says:

    I think my word might be Rest. Been struggling to keep writing, but each new thought seems to fall flat each time I scribble it down. Got to thinking about Mary and Martha, how Martha asked Jesus to give Mary a boot in the rear because she was not helping at all. Jesus told Martha, “Mary is doing the best thing. I won’t make her stop.”
    Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, just listening to Him. As Solomon said, “There’s a right time for everything.”

  6. Sue Finger says:

    Thanks, Nancy. When you posted this two or three years ago, the word PATIENCE chose me. I will now await my 2021 word.

  7. Alice Scott-Ferguson says:

    Thank you, Nancy, thoughtful reflection as ever. You might want to know that when I start responding to you on here, I picture myself just up the road at our old Monument abode!!! But I digress: looking for a word this year, it would have to be UNPAUSED! Done with pausing ; besides, it is the title of my new book of poems out in 2021

  8. Peggy Lovelace Ellis says:

    Great as always, Nancy! Charlie Fusco’s comment certainly resonated with me. Our church services are streamed, so I watch on my computer. During the Christmas season, our young (30s) music director, along with guitars, drums, electronic keyboard, praise team of five, and a decorated Christmas tree on the stage, added words to “Joy to the World.” I almost turned off the computer at that point. I did, politely, give my opinion to our young pastor (44), but didn’t receive any encouragement. BTW, an excellent piano and an equally excellent organ grace each end of the stage. So, prayers solving disenfranchisement situations are certainly needed.

  9. Phyllis Murphy says:

    Dearest Nancy: Your thoughts and words are always directed by the Holy Spirit. Your choice of a word is super and I have several words that jump out of my head. Patience. Wait. Smile Acceptance Relax Listen. But I do find Restore and Rest want to join my long list. May I keep all the words as my Word For The Year? Thanks for your wonderful sharing.

  10. Shar Carroll says:

    My word for this year is forgive. Not easy to do but God thought it was a good word for me! Also, if you find an inspirational cookbook please let me know. Cooking has become such a chore!! Thanks for your great advice. Havi;ng a word for the year makes so much more sense than a resolution you never keep. Shar

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