Star Words to Guide Us….

Our family’s star words on the refrigerator – Jeff’s is missing (his is resilience!) 🙂

Did any of you choose a “word” for the year? Before January embraces February, I wanted to do a short reflection on this. In our faith congregation, we celebrate “Star Gift Sunday” on Epiphany. We have hundreds of words printed out on pretty cards, and each person receives one (the kids pass them out).

It is “random,” but I believe the Spirit is, of course, at work in bringing the word – and the ensuing learning/growth! – each of us needs. Like the guiding star followed by the magi, we each are gifted with a guiding word to hone and direct us in the upcoming year. A word through which we can experience God and the world with fresh intention.

To be honest, some of my words in years past have kind of ticked me off. The Epiphany after my second child was born, I got the word “caring” and I wanted to hand it right back. At the time, I felt like all I did was try and take care of people with their needs (read: I really needed a break). But in that year, I broke two bones and had some other life circumstances that required a lot of caring from others! I experienced the caring of loving people around me and with it, unexpected dimensions of my star word.

And then there was last year, when my word was tolerance. Delving more into the various meanings of the word really challenged me. One vein of understanding was the ability to endure and thrive in unfavorable conditions. Another was the willingness to hold opinions or beliefs of others with which I didn’t agree. Both of these definitions found deep resonance in my life last year.

And now this year, the word I received was hospitality. I’m eager to see what God will reveal to and within me about this word. And I want to know – what does hospitality look like to you?

I’d also love to know if you’ve chosen a word for 2020 (love the ring of that!!) and why. We have such power when approaching our lives with intention and focus, and a “simple” word can help us do that.

Here’s to growth and new insight in the months to come, and gratitude for all the ways God will be at work – stretching, shaping, comforting, and holding us.


  1. Arianne,

    Our church did that the last two years. But I had already chosen my word for the year as hospitality. The words we randomly picked were humor and purity, which I kind of chuckled over since John is about as pure as you can get and I’m always making funnies or being crazy funny, so I thought we had to switch words….

    Enjoy your weekly emails. The kiddos are growing up so fast.

    Take care and God bless.

    Marge Ralph

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Marge! I laughed, too, in hearing about your and John’s assigned words. So special that you and I both have ‘hospitality’ as our word! Much love to you both.

  2. The first word that came to me was “endure” but that’s not the one I want. Instead, my word will be “enable.” I need to find ways to enable myself, those I love, and perhaps even those I encounter, to live with confidence, joy, and trust.

    1. Oh Nancy, I love this. And alongside all the beautiful enabling you do, I see you empowering and equipping those around you! You are a blessing to countless many.

  3. I am delighted to be introduced to you and your work through a recent Presbyterian Outlook book review. It led me to your webpage and this lovely post. I am intrigued by the Spirit-filled “guiding-words” practice in your community. It is particularly meaningful to me that the word is given, not self-selected. So many words occupy my head and heart that the gift of just one to illumine, guide, and nourish the year ahead would be gratefully received. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Ellen! I can relate! So many words one could choose! You sound thoughtful and intentional, and I’m sure you would grow with any word your beautiful heart chooses. 🙂

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