Word of the Year 2015 and Good News Jar

For the past two years, I’ve picked a “word of the year” instead of making New Year’s resolutions. Last year, I picked the word trust, as in I was going to trust in God’s plan. Since my plans never seem to work out like I think they should, I figure I might as well give it up and just, in the famous words of Elsa, “let it go.” Amazingly, at the time I decided on that word, I hadn’t even seen Frozen yet.

So what word should I pick for 2015? The word trust worked out pretty well for 2014. I trusted in God’s plan and look what happened:

  • I got my first book contract.
  • I was picked to go on a pilgrimage to Italy for the Canonization Mass for John Paul II and John XXIII in April
  • I went back to Rome in July to “speak, pray, and cook” like an Italian.
  • I started my preparation to become a Dame of the Order of Malta.

2015 is shaping up to be no less of a roller coaster ride. Of course, I’ve learned that these plans might not go as I expect, but things God might have in store for me this year include the following:

  • my first speaking gig as an author (I’ll be speaking to the young adult crowd at St. Emily in Mt. Prospect on Wednesday, January 21, from 7-9 p.m. about finding your God-given creativity. If you live near Chicago and are in your 20s or 30s, come on out!)
  • a trip to Guatemala for spring break (Shall I blog about it? I’m thinking of calling it the Gotta Guatemala Tour.)
  • the release of my debut novel Angelhood on April 30 (stay tuned for details about launch parties!)
  • perhaps a return trip to Italy in the summer to study more Italian???
  • the start of my doctoral program in September??? (still waiting to be officially accepted into the program)
  • my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary in October
  • being invested as a Dame in the Order of Malta by Cardinal Dolan in New York in November

So . . . yeah . . . lots of potential for this year. What kind of word would help me survive all this? I’ve considered words like “Charge!” as well as cheating by using full phrases like “Full speed ahead” and “Bring it on!” I was almost convinced my word of the year was going to be “roll.” As in, whatever happens, I’m just going to “roll” with it.

But just now, at the last minute, I’ve decided to change my mind. The year of the word for 2015 for me will be grace. In my book Angelhood, there’s a lot of talk about grace. It’s something my main character is sorely missing in the beginning, and yet something she’ll need if she’s going to grow the wings she needs to get into heaven. Grace is something my spiritual director keeps bringing up, too. For example, when faced with a tough situation, she encourages me to think about how I can “stand in grace” in that moment. I’ll admit I’ve struggled with this a lot. To begin with, despite using the word grace repeatedly in my book, I still feel like I don’t totally have a handle on what the word means, so I’ve turned to my trusty friend Merriam-Webster to see what he was to say about the word.

According to him, grace is . . .

  • a way of moving that is smooth and attractive and that is not stiff or awkward
  • a controlled, polite, and pleasant way of behaving
  • unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
  • a virtue coming from God

And all of those kind of sum up how I hope to get through all the ups and downs I’m sure 2015 will bring. May I speak in a way that is smooth, attractive, and not stiff or awkward! May I be polite and pleasant to all I meet! And may God grant me His divine assistance through it all!

Now in addition to picking a word of the year, there’s one other thing I’ve done for the last two years, and that’s keep a Good News Jar.

Good News Jar A Good News Jar is simply an empty jar in which you keep slips of paper on which you write down all the good news you get, so that at the end of the year, you can open the jar and remember all the wonderful things that happened in the previous year.

Good News about book

You would think an entry like this would earn an exclamation point or a smiley face. I think I was still in shock by the news to add anything other than the basic fact I’d been offered a book contract!

As with the first year, I started off really strong with 16 entries in January, but then added only 10 more over the course of the rest of the year. Hmm. Still it was fun to look back over the slips of paper and recall some of the crazy things from the beginning of last year, like when I got a flat-tire during the polar vortex and was just grateful that I hadn’t been far from home when it happened!

So I’ll try again this year, and we’ll see how many pieces of good news I can accumulate in 2015! And hopefully, I’ll accept all this good news with grace.

Interested in learning about other “Words of the Year” authors and bloggers have picked? Check out the Spin Cycle by clicking on the link below.


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9 Responses to Word of the Year 2015 and Good News Jar

  1. I like the idea of a good news jar. I might steal that idea from you as well. And your choice of word is great. It’s simple yet says so much.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story on trusting God. Such a great affirmation that when we trust Him we are in good hands. Looks like you have a wonderful year in store.

  3. janicead says:

    Best wishes for a heady 2015.

  4. Ginny Marie says:

    Um, of course you should blog about your trip to Guatemala! I loved your blogging from Rome!

    Every year, I think I say I’m going to start a good news jar because it’s just such a good idea, and I still haven’t done it. Maybe this year I will?

  5. vandylj says:

    I really like the idea of the good news jar. It might be a fun thing to implement in my family–with two boys, remembering the good times would be a very good thing!

  6. I love the word grace! We all need to give it and get it more often, I think! I heard a great talk on grace at a retreat last year. I wrote down a great quote: Grace has a short shelf-life. We have to return to the source for a new supply each day!

  7. You NEED to blog about Guatamala. How else will I get to visit it without leaving Crazyville?

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