A Simply Beautiful Word

by Pam Farrel in Leading Hearts Magazine


In my book, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success in Keeping It All Together, I share about my “Word of the Year” process that I have been doing since I was a college student.

Every year — yes, 40 years of selecting a “Word of the Year” to focus my walk with God. And it is not just one word; it is the myriad of things God has laid upon my heart to weave the word through my life so its impact can be maximized throughout the year.

It is not just one word; it is the myriad of things God has laid upon my heart to weave the word through my life so its impact can be maximized throughout the year.

Selecting a “Word of Intent” in January, then practicing it each day, has helped me: Reach goals; Press on during tough times; Enrich relationships; Clarify my calling; Improve the inner me and Shrink the outer me!

I speak, teach, coach and mentor women on gaining a Simply Beautiful Life using tools like the “Your Best Year Ever!” worksheet (available in a Women’s Version and a Couple’s Version).

This is a worksheet I first created for me as a poster that would be a reminder of key elements of my “Word of the Year” process: My Word of the Year: Narrow it down by asking, “Who do I want to become?” or “What do I want/need more of?”

Verse of the Year: Select a Scripture that captures your word in a way that resonates with your soul.

Motto of the Year:

Create or grab a phrase that motivates you (something you would put on a coffee mug, T-shirt, or bumper sticker). Song of the Year: Find a song with your word in the title or better yet, over and over in the lyrics! Now I create a playlist of several songs that worship God with my selected “Word of the Year” that I play on my morning prayer walk

Fragrance or Essential Oil of the Year:

There are so many scents that can connect to your word. Having a scent you can smell all day reminds you of the path you have chosen to walk with God. I wear perfume, lotion or essential oil.

Clarifying Question of the Year.

This is the most vital part of the “Word of the Year” process because you will ask yourself this question over and over each day all year to stay focused and obedient to the plan God is laying out for you.Let me give you a few recent examples:BeYOUtiful: I wanted my life to reflect the beauty I saw in nature as our Creator intended.

Symbol/Art of the Year:

I made a mixed-media painting, bought a workout tee, mug, plaque for my window, makeup bag, journal, a necklace and bracelet — all with BeYOUtiful on them.

Clarifying question:

Will this choice make me, my life, my home and my relationships more beautiful?


I wanted to trust God more, expand my borders, live braver and bolder. I thought this meant God would send us on more overseas ministry mission trips or assign some grand new book to us to write that might cause a movement or revival — nope.

That was the year God called us to downsize and sell (or rather give away to people in ministry) almost all our possessions, sell our home (and office and ministry building on our property) and move on to a 42-foot BOAT! We needed to move to care for Bill’s now 90-year-old parents.

My motto was “The Adventure Awaits,” and I bought all things sailboat as a symbol of keeping that spirit of adventure on the dull and depressing days of sorting, packing, selling and moving. My clarifying question became, “Will this help me hold on to my adventurous spirit?”


I always begin praying about my “Word of the Year” Thanksgiving Day. I like to allow God to speak His plan to me in the reverence of the Christmas season. I never press myself to have a word by Jan. 1; sometimes it is early in January that God lays out His word for me.

One year, I had started the year making wise health choices, but I began to cheat, (Thin Mints® have the word THIN in them, right?) I also began to be lackadaisical and was “too busy” to track my food and calories, wear a pedometer (before the days of Fitbit), and too busy to walk my 10,000 steps a day or exercise much.

In late November, I was speaking up in altitude and I had an “episode.” My heart began to race then beat out of rhythm. I got dizzy, had a splitting headache and was out of breath. The wheels were coming off my lazy bus!

Early that next January, I attended the Wellness Week that I always attend through First Place 4 Health. There they do encouragement, equipping and inspiration for a healthier happier life; they also run bloodwork. The nurse called me in a panic. “Did you know you are diabetic?”

“I was aware I have been borderline.”

“You are well past any border. You need to get to a Doctor ASAP!”Well, I was out in the back pastures of the lovely cattle land of Texas, so I decided to phone a new doctor. He was a ministry friend, but I had not yet gone to him for medical treatment because my insurance didn’t cover him. But I thought, “If I am dead, I can’t spend that money — so I am investing in my wellness!”I first phoned my husband and asked him to pray.

Then because it was too late to call, I prayed, God speak to me Your encouragement — even as I sleep.

At 5 a.m. my cell went off with a text message devotional that read:

Get up! God has set His alarm clock, and it is time to overcome every weight, every infirmity, every sickness, every bondage that has tried to strangle the physical, emotional and spiritual life out of you. It doesn’t matter how long you have been bound, stop hitting the snooze button and GET UP!—Ron Parsley, World Harvest

So, guess what I did. I GOT UP!

I called my husband and said, “I am choosing STRONG for my “Word of the Year”. And the verse is Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do” (NET).

With powerful results like this, I am looking forward to my year of CHARA — that’s Greek for JOY.

Bill said, “Let’s team up and both have STRONG for our ‘Word of the Year’!”Then I called my new doctor. He told me to only eat lean meat, lots of green veggies and very little fruit and no grains until I could get into his office 4 weeks later due to my speaking schedule.

I was given a “Stay Strong” tee by my First Place 4 Health friends. I added “Stronger” by Mandisa to my playlist and Vitalize essential oil to my defuser. Our clarifying question was

“Will this make me, my marriage, my family, my ministry and my life STRONGER?

At the end of that year I had lost 50 pounds (which I have kept off) and all my health numbers returned to healthy!

Last year I co-authored Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience. I learned chara, or joy, is in the New Testament more than 100 times; one of the meanings or definitions of “joy” is my motto for 2020: Calm Delight.

The reason I love that meaning is it is also a great clarifying question for me to use on those very stressful days of deadlines, caregiving elderly parents, and travel hassles. All I have to ask myself to regain my joy is: What will bring calm to me? What will calm the situation? What will bring delight to me? What would be a delightful distraction? How can I delight myself in the Lord right now?

I am looking forward to seeing how God fulfills his promise. My verse of the year:

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. —John 15:11

It’s going to be a joy jubilee in 2020!

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