One Word. Choose It Wisely.

Laura Zielke

I cannot believe it’s already November and Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season in about two weeks! What?! Where did the year go? And what will next year bring? 

Over the past few years, I’ve traded in my old, rusty New Year’s Eve tradition for something modern and efficient. And I can testify that the results of this new habit have been pretty darn fabulous!

I’m talking about choosing a one-word theme for the year versus creating a list of New Year’s Resolutions which may or may not be achieved. 

Back towards the end of 2013, I first learned about the “one word” challenge on the radio and thought I’d give it a try. I’ll be honest: I don’t actually remember what my first “one word” was. I think I gave the process about as much thought as my resolutions were getting around that time in my life. I certainly didn’t embrace the process!

2014 was probably the hardest year of my life ever. I felt lost. Alone. Sad. Confused. Overwhelmed. Depressed. Worn-out. As the end of 2014 approached, my favorite radio morning show hosts were once again discussing the “one word challenge.” This time, I paid closer attention. 

The concept was birthed out of a desire to address failed New Year’s resolutions. According to Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen, co-authors of My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word, our resolutions tend to fail because they focus on characteristics we want to change versus who we want to become. The list can become overwhelming and yield little results. 

The My One Word challenge is simple: lose the long the list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you in the year ahead. This process forces clarity and results in focus. (website)

I decided that for 2015, I would take the one word challenge and write it down this time. So, my word for 2015 was “CLARITY.” I felt like I had been living in a fog, so clarity seemed like the perfect word for me at the time.

Phew! I had no idea at the beginning of the year just how much clarity I would receive regarding my life, my priorities, and my passions. I was tested beyond anything I could imagine, and my vision became very clear. 

For 2016, I chose “DISCERNMENT” (while secretly holding onto “clarity” from the year before). Over the course of 2016, I needed discernment regarding all kinds of choices and commitments for both me and my family. 

By end of 2016, I was already praying about what my word for 2017 would be. I eventually landed on “COURAGE.” If you’ve followed me for any time, it’s possible you knew that, because I wrote about it on my Facebook page and created a cover image to explain it.

Here’s what I wrote on December 29, 2016 when I posted the above photo on my Facebook page: 

So, my #oneword for 2017 is COURAGE. I chose this photo, because it was during one of the most courageous moments I’ve had in my life: Putting on chains by myself in the middle of a freak snowstorm on the first day of my drive home from California to North Carolina.

(I was the only driver–my son is too young to drive, but not too young to take pictures of mom with the chains!) I first had to purchase the chains…in case we needed them, and then when we did, install them.

I got the process started, but then God provided three French men and one French woman to help get them on correctly. I still had to take them off by myself in five inches of slush. But I did it.

And if I can do this, and then continue driving for HOURS and DAYS… I can do whatever comes my way in 2017. (Phil. 4:13) What’s your ONE WORD for 2017?

Back then, I honestly had no idea what lay on the horizon for 2017—which has been one of the most fulfilling, busy, exciting years of my life! Here are just a few things I got to do this year: 

  1. WRITE one devotional every month to be featured on
  2. ESTABLISH to pray about the 2016 election and for the leaders of this country every day at Noon.
  3. babymPinch-hit BABYSIT for 2 months for dear friends who are foster parents. The little baby who stole all our hearts had been in the hospital for one month due to apparent abuse. He had multiple surgeries, required a feeding tube (which he still has), and a neckbrace which he wore for six months. 
  4. Help LAUNCH two books, one online Bible study, and one movie:
  5. Accept the COMMUNITY MANAGER position with the Nonprofit Leadership Lab
  6. ATTEND a Pre-Grand Opening of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

I also turned 50 this year. I cannot even believe that. Where has the time gone? I don’t feel that old, and yet, my knees don’t lie: I’m 50. 

the deckFor my 50th birthday, my hubby, son, and I rented our first Airbnb in Plymouth, MA. I sat on a deck overlooking a lake and enjoyed a week’s vacation with my family. On the way there, we saw the Statue of Liberty and a 9/11 Memorial in New Jersey. We used our cottage in Plymouth as a hub and enjoyed touring the Northeast. We ate Maine Lobster in Maine on my actual birthday; visited the oldest Marine Society in the world and touched an artifact from 1752; toured the U.S.S. Constitution; and We toured many historical sites and enjoyed a few too many Dunkin’ Donuts. 

I’ve already begun praying about my word for 2018. I think it will be “STRETCH,” but I’m letting it marinate for a while before I fully commit. 

I definitely prefer having one word for the year versus a list of resolutions which may or may not be kept! 

You can learn more about the One Word Challenge at

Why stay the same?! Please join me in this transofrmational process and choose one word for 2018. Share your one word in the comments below! 

“Can I Just Hide in Bed…” by Bolton

Book Review: Can I Just Hide in Bed 'til Jesus Comes Back?

When I first spotted this book cover, I knew it was a “must read” for me. First of all, with everything going on in the world right now, I could identify with the desire to hide from it all “’til Jesus comes back.” And let’s just keep this real: I love my bed. I love sleeping in my bed. I love my pillow. I love my comforter. I love my blackout curtains. I love laying in bed, listening to the nature sounds app on my phone, and falling asleep. Kinda makes me sleepy just thinking about it. ? Where was I?

book coverCan I Just Hide in Bed ’til Jesus Comes Back?: Facing Life with Courage, Not Comforters by Martha Bolton and Christin Ditchfield (published by Focus on the Family) was written to encourage exhausted women to face the day(s) ahead head-on “with joy and hope (and, of course, a few bonbons).” Sadly, the bonbons were not included. But I digress. 

Bolton and Ditchfield are incredible communicators. Bolton has written “more than eighty-eight books of inspiration and humor” (not to mention writing comedy for Bob Hope and Chonda Pierce), and Ditchfield has authored “seventy books” herself (not to mention being an internationally syndicated radio host). In other words, together, these two women have influenced the world with their wit, humor, and writing 158+ books!!! I admit, that reviewing a book penned by such prolific authors is a bit daunting. I kinda don’t even want to bother. Obviously, people adore their work—who am I to opine?

Can I Just Hide in Bed ’til Jesus Comes Back?

Therefore, rather than my typical review, I’m simply going to explain how Can I Just Hide is organized and what you can expect to find when you crack the cover. The book is divided into four sections: 

  • Facing Your Feelings When You’d Rather Hide
  • Facing People When You’d Rather Run
  • Facing Loss When It’s Not on the Agenda
  • Facing Life —And Getting Yours Back!

Within each section, the authors share at least ten short stories—some silly, some serious—from their own lives. Mentor-worthy wisdom is skillfully woven throughout its forty-three chapters including lessons learned, encouragement to persevere, pointers towards spiritual growth, and way too many references to staying in bed, getting out of bed, and pajamas. Who needs those?! Just checking to see if you’re awake. ?

Easy Read ~ Independent Chapters

Unlike other books I’ve read, this is one book I could put down, pick up later, and put down again.

The feature I enjoyed most in Can I Just Hide is each story’s independence from all the others—each one stands on its own. The chapters do not need to be read in order, so if you’re struggling with a recent, unexpected loss, you can skip to the “Facing Loss” section, read those chapters, and they will make perfect sense. If you’re dealing with difficult people, flip through the “Facing People When You’d Rather Run” section and read what seems immediately applicable. 

Favorite Quotes

Here are a few of my favorite wisdom nuggets from Can I Just Hide:

In our weaknesses, God’s power and strength are revealed. Through the cracks in our broken, messed-up lives, His light shines brightly. We don’t need to be perfect or pious or put together. We don’t need to match up to what others think we should be. What we need to do is allow God to heal us, restore us, and grow us in His grace. We need to be wiling and available to let Him do His work in us and through us—even in our brokenness.” (p. 77)

He created you with a clear plan in mind. No matter what has happened in you life, His plan hasn’t changed. Your life is meant to go on until you’ve seen all you are meant to see, gone everywhere you are meant to go, and accomplished everything you were born to do…No obstacle that someone tries to throw in your path can truly block what God has intended for you.” (p. 91)

Be who you were meant to be, and do what you were meant to do. Don’t worry about what the gossips think. After all, they are not living your life. You are.” (p. 112)

Don’t think you know better than God! That difficult person may be in your life for a reason. You may be in his or her life for a reason. Never pay back evil with more evil. That’s an addition problem that always multiplies your troubles.” (p. 122)

If you’re smart, you never stop learning. You can learn from those with more experience than you have, as well as those with less. you can always learn. (One thing we’ve learned is to count all of our life experiences as “material”—we’ll use most of it in a book somewhere!)” (p. 190)

Metaphorical Overkill

The only issue I have with this book is the constant referral to the book title. It’s not like they literally referenced it, but over and over and over and over they make comments like “You just have to be willing to push back the covers and get out of bed” and “Staying in bed just saves time on the return trips, right?” and “When you stay in bed, you…” (as if the readers are literally and forever staying in bed). I found this to be extremely off-putting. It was funny at first, but to be reading “Why not just stay in bed in my pajamas and get really comfortable?” on page 126 is a bit ridiculous. Unless this book was written for bed-ridden women, the constant references to the bed were overkill. 

Can I Just Hide in Bed ’til Jesus Comes Back?: Facing Life with Courage, Not Comforters will be enjoyed by women of all ages who periodically feel overwhelmed by life, liberty, and the pursuit of bonbons. Click here to order.  ?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

“Me in Three Words” Challenge

Me in Three Words Challenge

Yesterday, I was listening to a webinar where the host challenged us to e-mail five of our friends with this request: “Describe me in three words.” The original purpose of this exercise was to help listeners narrow down the focus of a book or blog or talk in order to write in our own voice—not someone else’s. Since completing the challenge, though, I have realized this is an amazing method anyone can use to monitor where they are on the path to becoming the person they’ve always wanted to be. 

*** If you take the challenge, let me know by commenting below. ***

The result of this exercise is to learn how others see you and experience you. Don’t be shocked if you’re surprised with some of the responses. The fact is, we are often “stuck in the past” with distorted images of ourselves which no longer match our current life situation. Over time, with great effort, we change. We grow. We mature. We develop. We blossom.

Oftentimes, “new” friends see character traits in us that we can’t fathom in ourselves. They see us for who we are, not who we used to be. This can be a refreshing shift in perspective, or possibly a snap back to reality for those of us who think we are doing better than we actually are. Reality checks, though sometimes painful, are super-necessary in life—especially for the person who wishes to become the best, most authentic version of himself or herself.

“Describe Me in Three Words”

Do you recognize yourself in their words, or are they sharing something with you that you thought you’d lost years ago? Do they see the real you? Are you ready to embrace that person? Or possibly do you need to change the reflection? You’ll never know unless you ask. 

All I did was ask, and I kept it very simple. Here’s the email I sent:

Dear ____________,

I was listening to a webinar yesterday, and I was challenged to write to five friends with this request: “Describe me in three words.”

Will you do that for me? Pretty please?

Thank you,

I encourage you to give it a shot. First start with five of your more recent friends (people who have known you less than five years). After that, if you’re feeling brave, move to long-term friends (people who have known you at least 5 years). And if you’re still feeling brave, email your family (but only if your relationships with them are healthy—no need to reinforce negativity or dysfunction). If you think someone is going to be insulting or sarcastic, don’t bother adding them to your email list for this experiment.

Three Words Can Change Your Perspective!

Taking this challenge was scary, but I’m glad I did it. My friends’ responses showed me that I’m on the right track for becoming the woman I’ve always wanted to be…and that’s a good thing, considering I’ll be 50 next year!!! Finally, I’m getting there. I haven’t arrived, for sure; however, I’m on the right track, and on some level, that is comforting. 

Identify your themes. Look through the list of words you’ve received and group similar words/concepts together. For example: If one friend uses the word “compassion” and another friend uses the word “compassionate,” then you would group those together. Another example: If one friend says “contemplative” and another friend says “deep thinker,” group those together. Once you have the words grouped by theme, take a good look and see which themes occurred most often.

My top three themes were: 

Compassionate ~ Studious ~ Deep Thinker

The “compassionate” description surprised me more than “studious” and “deep thinker”—although I never knew my friends thought of me as “deep.” I have to testify that if I have any compassion in me, it is from the Lord. And I would also like to mention that “compassion” was not on my husband’s list of three words for me!
*cough* *man flu is real* *cough*

I hope you take this challenge and start with your newest friends! Then work backwards if you feel like it. The goal is to start off the year with a more objective, realistic view of who you are rooted in truth.

*** If you take the challenge, let me know by commenting below. ***

You’ll find the results are definitely insight-full.