How my Word for 2020 Shaped New Words for 2021

How my Word for 2020 Shaped New Words for 2021

I honestly couldn’t remember my “word for 2020.” I don’t always have a “word” but through the years, friends and writers have given the challenge to embrace a word to walk through the new year …a simple inspiration for a vision forward.

It was interesting (and quite telling, I might add) to go back and see what had resonated and emerged as “my word.”

Could it be that every moment has a story to tell? …signs and wonders all around?

Can a simple act of being alert reveal the miracles we’ve been praying for might be right before our eyes? One word has the potential to deeply impact our lives…

And may our one word for the New Year keep us alert to hear God’s voice a little better each day.

from That “One Word” for the New Year Thing in 2020

Did I say that? Signs and wonders all around? Miracles we’ve been praying for right before our eyes?

Three months into 2020 we went into quarantine from the worst pandemic of our lifetime lurking with looming fear in every town and country. “Miracles we’ve been praying for right before our eyes?”

Racial unrest erupted as pages from history came to life and told a story that was still in desperate need of a better ending.

Political … I can’t even bring myself to come up with a word to describe it but I’m sure you can finish that sentence with your own emotional description. “Signs…” Wonders…?”

It seems safe to say that every moment truly did have a story to tell but now we’re all trying to untangle the nerves that stress, anxiety and frustration have knotted throughout our bodies.

Alert. Yes, the word was good.

Staying alert became a daily discipline that –pardon the pun –took an “act of congress”  to focus each day on the good that was happening in the middle of such chaos.

As I look back, I see the hand of God in so many ways as He broke down barriers and took us out of our normal comforts and security to find hope in Him alone and a way forward that would only work with our eyes fixed and focused on Jesus — the Author and Perfecter of our faith

And life experiences always have a way of shaping our thoughts for the future.  What did we learn from 2020?  How will we carry what really matters into 2021 —“stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us” and “run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us.”  

The weight is heavy from 2020 and the stress and  anxiety surely have entangled my thoughts.  And maybe that’s what prompted these new words for 2021.  One word didn’t seem sufficient.  This year would need 3 to get me through.


Honestly, this was hard to speak out initially.  Several friends and I are reading through the book, The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, which has challenged me to see myself (and you too!) as an artist …creating, writing, embracing beauty and letting it manifest in daily life in some tangible  way. 

To say I could “create” sounded like I was somehow taking on a word that was only meant for God — THE Creator.  I guess some tight thinking from periods of my background had left me still twitching just a bit.  Maybe it felt sacrilegious or something but I found myself having to talk it all out to feel the freedom of our Creator God who gives us the ability to create from the amazing resources He’s provided. 


I’m a little embarrassed to tell you why this is such a strong word for me this year but the truth is, I often experience fear and dread when a doctor’s appointment is coming up.  All the “what ifs” and such can paralyze me if I let my mind obsess over them (which I’m incredibly good at doing, unfortunately).

That’s when the Spirit gave me the word, LIVE.  Think on that word instead of the disease, cancer, lab results, etc.   I told God I wanted to do my best to LIVE each day  to the fullest for Him.  Simply live. 


In the months and months spent in quarantine, I realized how very much we need encouragement …inspiration …hope to carry on.  Our lives depended on some good news and a good word to keep us going.   When isolation, depression, anxiety and bad news abounded – a word fitly spoken was a life-saving raft on the stormy waves that threatened to overwhelm us.  

More than ever before, I’m passionate about inspiring others …to share encouragement for life-giving moments.  My heart’s desire is to show others the way to the Father through the gifts He’s given me. 

Three words. Create.  Live.  Inspire in 2021. 

How about you?  Has 2020 left you with a new perspective?  Did a new word surface for you in 2021 to carry you through?  Did anything trouble you or inspire and encourage you that has reshaped your thinking as your move forward?

I’ll close with words for the year that my dear friend, Anne, shared with me.  May God’s love fill you and reshape your soul with His peace.



Joy Waters Martin

My kids tease me sometimes that my definition of a situation going well is often described as, "It was 'life-giving' " -- meaning, it may have had some conflicts or uneasy moments or stress but all in all , something about it breathed life into the situation and the people involved...something of the heart was moved in a good direction. I'm all about LIFE ... life with my husband, life with 4 adult children, their spouses and 8 grandchildren (to date, that is :), life in our home and life in a wild adventure we tend to label "ministry". In reality , all of these categories mesh together to make up the "organic me". Relational , redeeming and restoring are some of my favorite words and they give life to my soul as I walk it all out with Jesus Christ, the Giver of all life. Profile Photo by: Melody Martin

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Lisa

    Thank you for always speaking directly from the heart to mine. I love your words and am excited to see God direct and inspire you with them. I chose the word, “intentional” and hope that remembering that word will keep me focused, prepared and alert to where God is leading me. I love your heart and your writing.


    1. Joy Waters Martin

      I love walking with you in this season, Lisa. God has more in store for us. I watch with anticipation to see His glory unfold. Love you friend. Thanks for being there for me.

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