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I hope you’ve had the blessing of spending the holidays and the New Year surrounded by friends and family; in the space where life begins and love never ever ends.

You might have read about my belief in the power of one tiny little word* and the practice of inviting it into your life over the span of a year. Just one word. As I type about it now it sounds like a slothy way to spend a year.

I honored my first word in 2010 and I still have a sweet spot for that year (breathe). The truth is, these are the only resolutions I have ever kept. Here is the line-up: breathe, capture, create, shine, intention and in 2015, joy was my guiding light.

I don’t know how a simple word can manifest its way into one’s life; but I wholeheartedly believe in the power of this practice.

Did you select one little word* for 2016 and invite it along for this trip around the sun?

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I wrote about joy last January and it is funny to return to where my heart was 367 days ago. I defined mantras to propel my 2015 word.

Find Joy in the Ordinary

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Unleash Joy

Choose Joy

Create Joy

Jump for Joy

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I worked hard on the joy jump.

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But the real gifts weren’t as a result of the mantra list. Joy unveiled itself in ordinary moments and soulful encounters with people. I never imagined I would meet new people named Joy in 2015! Last February, while freezing on a cold Manhattan street I struck up a random conversation with someone from New Jersey. We were shivering and patiently awaiting Kelly & Michael to let us into their studio. About 15 minutes into our conversation, she gave me 4 hand warmers. In that moment I finally asked her name to properly thank her. Joy! And, don’t get me started on Joy, the dental assistant who cured my fear of the dentist in 2015. Of course all the impactful people in my life this year weren’t literally named Joy, but they were definitely joy conduits offering priceless gifts of kindness, wisdom and new perspectives.

Several theme songs emerged during the year. Garden, by NEEDTOBREATHE, offers the best lyrics for introducing the second interesting outcome on the joy journey of 2015.

Let the songs I sing
Bring joy to you
Let the words I say profess my love
Let the notes I choose
Be your favorite tune
Father, let my heart be after you.

Stone’s Under Rushing Waters, lyrics by Bo Rinehart and Bear Rinehart

I finally started to intentionally dive into His Word and the lessons on joy are profound. Particularly in sustaining joy in the midst of fear, disappointment, trauma, worry and the natural ebb and flow of everyday life. I struggled to carry “joy” alongside enormous worry as friends suffered unbelievable health challenges this year. Exploring this topic (joy) inside the Bible was powerful.

It seems sometimes joy is perceived as being trite. And that the more miserable we are, the more profound (or artistic) we must be. I am learning that for those who put their trust in God, they are filled with joy. Even in the eye of the storm.

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” – John 15:11

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.” – Psalm 27:5-7 (NIV)

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The first step in this transfer project was printing my message using the mirror or reverse setting on my inkjet printer. Once printed, I flipped the image and attached it to a clean piece of old wood. I added a light application of water over each letter using a small paint brush. The trick is you don’t want to make your paper very wet or the ink will just spread or the paper will disintegrate. A thin layer of water enables the ink to release from the paper. The goal is to transfer or burnish the ink to the wood. I had to fill in a few letters that didn’t transfer well with very diluted paint.

A Bella Grace Giveaway!

Please share your 2016 word in the comments.

Or, if not a word, your favorite resolution or your dreams for 2016. Or your theme song! Comment away please because for the first time… I am hosting a giveaway!

Everyone who comments will be entered to win a Bella Grace magazine! I am giving away two copies of the winter issue (two winners)! Humbly honored to be featured on page 42! Bella Grace overflows with joy and I believe it is the most creative magazine available today. I promise you will want to step inside its pages and stay awhile.

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Without further ado…my 2016 word!

G R A T I T U D E

*I discovered the one little word project via Ali Edward’s blog.