a word for the new year

As I sat reflecting on the past year and thinking about the one to come, I attempted to create a list of resolutions. I tried to envision what the year would hold and set goals accordingly. To dream, think big, come up with a plan with strategic steps to get where I want.

But the truth is: a} I’m terrible at goal setting and b} 2012 was so beyond what I could have imagined, there’s nothing in me that wants to limit 2013 to my nearsighted vision.

So instead, I quietly prayed for a word to represent a direction for me in the new year. Honestly, I didn’t expect an answer. But nearly instantly, the word embrace came to mind. I thought about it for a bit. Talked to Ryan. Prayed a little more. And, yes, I now have a word.


To embrace means to clasp or hold close with the arms, usually as an expression of affection, as in a hug. It can also mean to include as part of something broader. But my favorite definition {and the one I’ll be working on this year} is to take up willingly or eagerly.

Here’s something about me: I love change when I initiate it; I hate it when I don’t. Rearranging the furniture is no big deal as long as I get to decide where everything goes. Present a new opportunity or idea that causes an old system to change and I’ll undoubtedly receive it with skepticism. I’ll resist at first, then gradually warm up to the idea and probably grow to love it, but it takes me time to get there {and a little bit of kicking and screaming – only a very grown-up version called silence}.

I don’t want to be like that.

There’s an element of control that rules my life and what it really says is that I don’t trust.

To embrace is the absolute opposite of the resistance I so often meet both new opportunities and trivial annoyances with. It means accepting willingly, even eagerly. It means trusting that even though it is new or different or maybe even slightly inconvenient or disrupts our daily schedule or brings change, it can still be good.  It may even be great.  But more importantly, if it causes my heart to become more grateful and trusting, it is what’s best.

I don’t know what this year will be like. I certainly have high hopes and a few things on the calendar. But what I want more than anything is to trust that whatever comes our way, we will embrace it. Not because it is perfect or just what I always wanted, but because it is what the Lord has for us. Sometimes those things are obviously good {like a magazine photo shoot – for real!!} and sometimes more ordinary {like a houseful of neighbor kids with their shoes strewn throughout the house}. No matter if it’s amazing or difficult, life-changing or easily overlooked, it’s all for His glory.

I choose to embrace it.

Cheers to 2013.

28 Responses to a word for the new year

  1. Nicole January 5, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    Thank you! And Happy New Year! I just LOVE reading your blog entries. Thank you for your light and sound words. I’m so happy to have come across your blog after doing a google search for how to make paper flowers and there you were :-) never actually made the flowers but I continue to visit your blog quite often. Its the perfect fix for uplifting my spirits. THANK YOU!

  2. Melissa January 3, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    Thank you for this post!! I agree with choosing one word for the year. In 2011 it was Forgive, 2012 – Legacy, 2013 – Self Discipline. Your sentence: “There’s an element of control that rules my life and what it really says is that I don’t trust” was a major AHA moment for me. I am the same way about wanting to control a lot of aspects of my life. I have been working on letting go more and I realized when reading your post yesterday that the reason I have been able to let go is that I trust the individuals involved. So thank you for sharing and I wish you a wonderful New Year! :)

  3. jennifer January 3, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    Emily, I was wondering if you are going to do a folow up piece on the four gifts you were trying on your children. I found that interesting and would love to hear how it worked out. I enjoy reading your perspectives on life.

    • emily January 3, 2013 at 9:34 am #

      I was thinking I would. Maybe not until next christmas time because I’m a bit christmas-ed out, but we’ll see if it comes up sooner :)

  4. Tabitha January 3, 2013 at 7:31 am #

    Love this post! I agree, I’m am the same way when it comes to change. I guess I never thought of it that way, but it’s exactly how I feel. If I initiate the change I’m great, but not if it’s unexpected change. I love your word! Here’s to the New Year being filled with embracing everything God has for you!

  5. Kristin January 2, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    As someone who also struggles with and resists change regularly, and, in a stroke of irony, helps other cope with change in the corporate world, I have one small suggested addition for you.
    Embrace the fact that change is HARD and a normal reaction for almost everyone — really embrace and forgive your initial reaction. Then, take a deep breath, and embrace the rest. :)
    Love the blog! This a great resolution and I may just have to adapt it for my own 2013 goals!
    All the best to you in 2013

  6. Angela January 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    I have just had the craziest year of my life with promise of more changes on the horizon. I find that I am having to pray for more grace, patience and endurance. I needed this. Thank you.

  7. Kathryn January 2, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    Embrace is my word, too! We moved 18 months ago and I was “open” last year . This year I need to embrace our location and situation. It isn’t worse or better really – but it is still a very good life with my loving husband. I am blessed and will embrace the opportunities it brings.

  8. Heidi January 2, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today! Would you be willing to make a printable of this image? Would love to have it in my office as a daily reminder…

  9. Tonia January 2, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Happy New Year! I LOVE your choice of words. I chose S~H~I~N~E this year because I want to shine with God’s love in everything I do and say.


    Thanks for being such a wonderful inspiration. I look so forward to your posts every day. God definitely uses you to lift others up and what a true blessing that is.

    ~ Tonia

  10. Haydee @ {how sweet life is} January 2, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    Thank you for sharing this inspiration with us. I, too, have chosen to embrace every moment in my life these days, and just live in the moment so that I can cherish what I have today, and not dwell on the past or worry about the future.

    I felt the same sentiment this year, with my resolutions approach. I don’t want to let life pass me by and not enjoy it. I only have three simple resolutions this year, which are more a way of thinking than to-do items.

    Wishing you a happy new year filled of sweet moments that inspire and fill you with love. Thanks for your blog that is chock-full of so many good things!




  11. jenn January 1, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    i LOVE this word.
    and this post , i really feel, was sent to me for a reason. I really need to focus so much on this, this year. Embracing changes in particular.
    so, from me- thank-you for inspiring me with every single one of posts, especially this one.

  12. Tracey January 1, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    Oh my goodness, you just described me. I only like change if I initiate it, moving furniture is only fun if I decide where it’s going.

    I don’t want to be so controlling. It’s silly that I even try when I KNOW that I am not in control. The more I learn to give up trying to control things and yield to the Lord the easier it gets.

  13. Tamra Krohn January 1, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    Your words ring so true. Thank you for sharing.

    I pray you feel God’s embrace as you embrace 2013.


  14. Katie B January 1, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    Love your honesty and beauty. Hopefully it is ok, but my word of the year was inspired by your word for your daughter. I def linked back to you but I wanted you to know. at any rate..here is my post.


    Keep up your beautiful and inspiring work, emily!

  15. Laurie January 1, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    As the years pass, I am learning to enjoy each day for what it brings me, the moments of time that are standouts from the simple and ordinary. I recenly created a new blog to encourage me to do this, and your word “embrace” fits into this vision perfectly. May 2013 be a year we all embrace what He gives us!

  16. Nicki January 1, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    Happy New Year Emily! I love your word for 2013. My word is Stretching. I think 2013 will definitely be full of stretching myself out of my comfort zone!

  17. tricia January 1, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    My word for this year is “best”. I just want to be the best version of me as a wife, mom, painter, friend….My word last year was “balance”. Took me a while to master, but I did it ; o ) Happy new Year to you and your family!

  18. Angela January 1, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    What a great word of the year! For the past 7 years I’ve chosen a different word and it has become one of my most favorite things to do each December.

    My word this year is ABIDE…here’s my blog post where I wrote about it. Happy New Year!


  19. Tammy January 1, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Well said, thank you. Great word for the new year! Are you familiar with the One Word websites, myoneword.org and oneword365.com? Both are all about choosing a word for the year.
    Blessings in 2013!

  20. pixie January 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    I picked upgrade. 2012 was a rough year for me and finished on a low bit with health issues and too much stress and work, lol. I’m going to upgrade things, my health by eating better, whole foods and such…by exercising more…upgrade my home. I bought last year and it still feels like a rental because I’ve not put effort into it. I’m going to upgrade my thinking (or try to) and be more positive. Upgrade my actions to be a better person, pray more, give thanks more. It’s a long laundry list but I think if I just keep thinking “upgrade” I can do it.

    Good luck with embrace.

  21. Lynne January 1, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    It’s word perfect! My choice as well. On a whim… I took it French to EMBRASSER.
    (To hug, to kiss, to take on, to embark on.) That’s my kind of year!
    Happy New Year to you and all of your sweet loves!

  22. Annie January 1, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    Thank you Emily. This is a perfect word for this new year. I choose to embrace it all too! I pray that you and your family enjoy the Lord, all He is, and all the goodness He has waiting for you to embrace!

  23. Kim @ Vintage Pretties January 1, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    How true that change from outside of us is so much harder than the change we initiate! I will keep your goal in mind as I face a year full of change and try to trust in it!

    Happy New Year to you!

  24. Kelly - Talk of the House January 1, 2013 at 6:07 am #

    Emily, I LOVE your word! And your reaction to change is exactly how mine is, so reading your explanation here was perfect. Embracing change is HARD, and yes it does ultimately have to do with trust. I pray that 2013 will be full of blessings that you embrace whole heartedly! A photoshoot!! How fun and well deserved, girl.
    Happiest of new years to you and your family.

  25. Stephanie January 1, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    What a beautiful sentiment to start the new year with, thanks for sharing. Interestingly, ’embrace’ was the theme for the Sydney fireworks this year. Best wishes for a wonderful 2013!

Leave a Reply