My Word of the Year 2013.

Every year for the last few years, I have joined thousands of others and chosen a word to live by for the new year.  Sometimes it’s something that I have to ponder and pray about for awhile, but sometimes it just comes to me instantly, and that is how it came this year.  The Word of the Year is one that represents how I want to live this year… what I want my focus to be.  Usually it’s a verb.  This year my word is

The last couple of years God has really impressed on my heart my need to be less self-centered and more other-centered, but it’s really hard for me.  I think I talk a good game, but deep down inside I stubbornly and desperately try to retain my “rights” to myself.  To the world this is all well and good, and to the world this is something that must be done and is encouraged.  As a Christian however, I must die to self each and every day, because He must be first.  In order to live out the calling and purposes that He has for me, and for my family for that matter, there can be no part of my selfish ambition standing in the way.  Oh, but that is HARD!  I am finding though, that as I surrender my self to Him, His desires become my desires, which is exactly how he intends for it to be.  Let me give you an example of this.

In August my oldest child becomes a middle schooler.  Here in middle Tennessee middle school is 5th-8th grade.  I’m not really cool with that.  My husband and I also are not very enthused about the options that we have with our public school system.  We really love the elementary school that the kids are in, and the middle school is a good one, but public schools in TN are not great and Abby is an extremely bright girl.  We also worry about the social issues that come with middle school as well as having a desire to have more control over what our daughter is being taught.  Also, to tell you the truth, we are sick and tired of the public school system dictating every single minute of our family’s schedule: when we wake up, what the kids wear, what we do after school, what time we eat dinner, how much time we can spend having quality time as a family in the evenings, what time the kids go to bed, when we can take family vacations, even what the kids can bring to school for lunch!… I mean, enough is enough!

I have several friends who homeschool and I have always admired them, but never had an inkling of a desire to homeschool my children.  I have been looking forward to having all of my kids in school and having my days back.  Me time!  Yay!  What sane mother is not excited for that?  I’ve wished that I wanted to homeschool, but decided that it was not for me.  It’s funny how feelings can change.

One night my husband and I were praying about how we could best serve our children.  We love them so much.  They are our lives.  We believe that God has entrusted them to us. and that we have a responsibility to Him to rear them the best that we can.  As we ended the prayer we both seemed to know right then and there that the way that we could best serve our daughter right now is to homeschool her, and once we spoke those words there was no turning back.  WOW!  At that moment I saw just how selfish I had been.  The only reason that I had for not doing this was a selfish one.  It wasn’t that I didn’t think I could do it.  I was scared.  Particularly I was scared about giving up my precious “Me” time.  But if the last 9 years have taught me anything, it is how quickly children grow.  Each year seems to race by more quickly than the last, and I saw myself in 9 years, at Abby’s graduation, wishing that I had done more to pour into her life and regretting not having spent more time with her.  I don’t want that to happen.  I want my kids to flourish.  I want them to be their best and I want to give them everything that they need to reach their goals, whatever they might be.  Abby wants to be an author and by golly, if I have anything to do with it, as long as she wants to be an author I’ll help her get there.  So starting in the fall we will embark on our homeschool journey.  For now, the boys will stay in the schools that we love while Abby and I adventure together through a classical homeschool curriculum.  And you know what?  I am totally excited about it!   


Serve my God.  Serve my children.  Serve my husband.  Serve my family and friends.  Serve the least of these.  This year I want to have a heart that is focused less on myself and more on others.

Do you have a Word of the Year?  Leave a comment and tell us what it is!



  1. Jenny, I’m so excited for you. I home school my oldest three kids. It’s tough at times, but really well worth it. There are times where I say, “this is the last semester I’m doing this!”, but then things seem to fall into place and we really enjoy it. Overall my family has grown so much through it and the kids have shown so much goodness since we have homeschooled. We use a state program that I love, and they go to that for extra-curricular classes. Anyways, enough of my blabbing. E-mail me if you have any questions!

  2. Lisa says:

    My word of the year is Wellness. I thought Fitness, but Wellness can encompass so much more. Fitness, nutrition, emotional, mental, spiritual, relationships. I am seeking an over all balance in Wellness. Serve is fantastic! I found choosing this year very hard…even still, I find myself second guessing my word choice.

  3. Oh I love that! This is my first year picking a word – and this year is Balance! I blogged about it here >>>! Good luck on your homeschool journey. I’m sure it is exciting and nerve-racking at the same time! Can’t wait to see your updates… xo, Kimberly

  4. LOVE this, Jenny! You are listening and you will/Abby will bear much fruit!

    I just discussed this the other day – I have been SOOOOOO much more relaxed during Christmas break.

    Perhaps one day…

    My word this year is “Compassionvate”. I made it up – it’s a cross between compassion and cultivate. :)

    Proud of you, friend. Much love – miss you!

    • Ha! I love that you made up a new word, Natalie! It’s a great one! I’m proud of you too… why can’t our homes be closer together, huh? Miss you too. XO

  5. Erin says:

    This was lovely to read- I’m excited for you and your daughter… You are giving her an amazing gift! Gosh… I think my word this year should be SLEEP! But…. Since that’s not always possible with 3 little ones, I’d like to at least be PRESENT in every moment, even if I’m dog tired, thinking about what I ‘should’ be doing, or folding a mountain of laundry…. Nothing really is more important than the relationships I’m creating, right? I look forward to a lot of family fun in 2013 and a good bit of sewing :). Happy new year!

    • I’m excited for you, Erin, that’s a great word! This busy world makes it more and more difficult to stay present it seems. I hope your family time (and sewing time) refreshes and renews you this year!

  6. Melissa says:

    I feel the same way about our daughter starting school in the fall. I love where we live…but not the school options and I’m not thrilled with getting her a variance to another school and then traveling time in the mornings. I have been going back and forth with homeschooling and having some freedom with her and putting her in school. I just remember feeling like I was always in school as a kid. I dont want my kids to wake up each morning dreading their day.

    What did your daughter say about homeschooling? I am excited for you on your new journey;)

    • Oh, Melissa, my daughter is so excited! She loves school, but she has wanted to homeschool for awhile now. I wasn’t ready. She’d start next week. :) I would encourage you to research homeschooling and really consider the pros and cons as they relate to your family. It’s such a big decision, isn’t it? Thanks so much for your comment!

  7. Joy says:

    Wow, I’ve never heard of having a word for a year! What a great idea! I will be thinking and praying about it.

    As for your feelings regarding homeschooling… I know what you mean. I homeschool my three daughters (and I have a son now that I plan to homeschool someday), but we didn’t always. Two years ago we were homeschooling, then last year we didn’t. But we’ve prayed and really do feel it is *best* for them — for many reasons, not the least of which is that we’re a military family that moves frequently and I want a certain level of consistency in their schooling. It is definitely tough, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar, but I was just thinking this morning about how wonderful it is. Go for it!! :-)

  8. wow Jenny! That’s a big decision! Congratulations on the decision! I’m sure you’ll make a great homeschooler and that Abby will love the quality time she gets to spend with you.

    My word for this year seems to be ROOTS – to be more settled, happy where we are right now. Happy New Year to you all! Sophie x

  9. Hope says:

    I’ve had years where I knew my word right away — this was not one of them. I feel like CLEAR — is where I was lead.
    1 Peter 4: 7-8 | … So keep a CLEAR mind. Control yourselves. Then you can pray.

    I blogged about it — briefly.

    I’m excited to hear about your journey next year. Early middle school can be tough for an artsy, smart, reserved child — we’re finishing up the 3rd year of public middle school (gifted classes) with Bynum. It’s been an interesting journey — one laced with much prayer.

  10. Stef Layton says:

    turning cartwheels for you & your (homeschool) family !!

    my word is – quiet

    • Thanks, Stef! I’m pretty pumped, especially as we’re beginning to decide on curriculum for her. :)
      Quiet… ahhhhh. That sounds nice.

  11. Lauren Hitch says:

    How exciting, Jenny!

  12. Oh Jenny, this is perfect. I’m so happy for you and your family on this new adventure! I really think you and Abby will both benefit so much from homeschooling. And I really love the perspective you put on it – serve. Serving our families and our kids is not always our first instinct, but when we put aside our selfish nature [ouch!] and see what the Lord desires for our family, He moves in BIG ways. I never planned on homeschooling either, but I felt such a distinct and clear call from the Lord, and I’m so thankful now that I didn’t ignore it. Much love to you, my friend!! xoxo

    • Thank you for your kind and encouraging words, Jess! I’m expecting Him to move! Friends like you are inspiring to me and I’m glad to have you blazing the trail ahead of me. :) I can’t wait to hear more about your journey!

  13. I wanted to say that we had similar experiences when our kids reached middle school and chose to bring them home. We used an online charter school for the materials and support but I wanted to encourage you because we believe it was the best decision we made regarding their schooling. One graduates this year and one next year…since they entered high school they have gone back to public schooling and will finish at a private school. (my hubby is military and we have truly done. it. all) Praying for you to have the most blessed and successful time together!

    My one word is believe

    • Thanks so much for your encouraging words and prayers, Tammy! I just get more and more excited about it. Where is your family serving right now?

  14. Laura says:
  15. kellie says:

    Yay for the homeschooling part! Love your word. Serving is so hard. Especially family. I don’t understand sometimes why it’s so much easier to serve friends or even strangers than it is to serve my own family. Maybe I’m alone in that. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because pretty much my life is serving them. That’s my job and it gets tedious instead of staying joyful. Does that make sense? Not saying it’s right, just how it feels sometimes. (ok, a lot of times) I’d love to have joy injected back into my serving. My word for the past few years has been the same. Intentional. As in be intentional. But this year it’s ‘Finish’. As in finish what you start. I’ve been realizing that I have lots of great intentions and they start well, but I don’t finish or see them through. I buy the card and don’t send it. I buy the material and don’t make the skirt. Etc. So I’m going to work on finishing. Following through. And now that I’ve written a book in your comment section, I’m going to say bye. ;)

  16. Dorothy Manchester says:

    I am so happy for you. I feel God has answered your prayer and you and your daughter will be so much closer. While in school my daughter was a straight A student. While in high school students that care about learning don’t fit in. The stress level at her school was high. There was fighting with skin heads against hispanics. We are white. One day she was nearly hit with a taser gun. And also a boy that she knew murdered, stabbed and tried to burn the body. Another time they had SWAT posted at every door for safety. How can a student learn under those conditions? We live in Tucson, AZ. She had taken advanced classes ans took enough credits to graduate one year early with a four year scholarship to The University of Arizona. Instead, she made a poor choice and moved to Oregon to live with my sister instead. There was nothing I could do because she was 18. She had been a diabetic since the age of three. When she moved away she did not take care of her health. She came back home two years later but it was to late. The damage was done and I cared for her for a year before she went to be with God. She died at the young age of 22 on January 4th, 2002. There is an emty plece in my heart where she once was. Anyway, my point is that you are NOT giving up your time. You are GAINING time with your daughter. Cherish every minute that you spend with you children.

    Thanks for listening,
    Dorothy Manchester

    • Dorothy, thank you for sharing your story. I can’t imagine the worry you must have felt knowing that your daughter was in that type of situation when she went to school. And then to lose her at such a young age… I am so sorry for your loss. Your words means very much to me and I appreciate the time you took to encourage me. God bless you, Dorothy!

Speak Your Mind