How A Simple Word Changes Lives

One Little Word

In the spring, my sister asked me to stay with my parents while my Dad recovered from a mini-stroke. When I got there, my parents were really struggling. My mother had Parkinson’s’ and my Dad was her caretaker, and he was wrestling with his own health issues.

Our family realized that it wasn’t possible for our parents to live on their own anymore.  I stayed for several weeks while we made arrangements for them to be near more family members. I needed grace when working with my parents and my siblings, who all wanted what was best for our parents, but we didn’t all agree on what that was. I needed grace for myself and my own family. Our lives were turned upside down in an instant. I really needed the comfort that thinking about and asking for grace brought me.

By the end of 2014, I felt that I had been flattened by a steam roller. It was in that mood that I was listening to different versions of the hymn, “Amazing Grace”, and my daughter shared a version by The Piano Guys on YouTube. Theirs was a mix of Amazing Grace and Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song”, and just like that, I found my word for 2015.  It was the word “fight” as in “I still have a lot of fight left in me”.

Both of my parents passed away in 2015, my Dad in January, and my mother in July. I needed every ounce of courage and strength I could muster to be OK that year, and it didn’t end after the funerals. In a large family of nine kids, there are a lot of decisions that must be made collectively after the death of your parents. It was challenging, to say the least.  Remembering that I still had a lot of fight left in me kept me going – literally and figuratively.  

I have discovered after years of choosing a word each year, that somehow the word I choose ends up being the perfect word to face the challenges of that year. 

I would love for you to join me for a FREE “One Little Word” workshop/webinar I am presenting this Friday.  I will get into more details about how one word can make a BIG difference. You will find that the process of choosing a word brings clarity to knowing what you want – that can last the entire year. 

In this webinar I will share some ways that I have found to choose your word, remember your word, and how to use prayer and meditation to let your word change you for the better, and finally, how to apply your word to real life events.

If you would like some help finding your own word for 2022, please join me on Friday, December 31st at 10:00 AM PST

Learn how to find your word, the types of words that work best, and how something as simple as a word can make a BIG difference in your life.  

Sing Me UP!

Feel free to invite a friend to join in the fun.

One Little Word Changing Christmas For Me


At the beginning of 2021, I chose “wholehearted” as my word for the year. I didn’t really even know what being wholehearted meant…   However, after I looked up the synonyms and antonyms, I knew exactly what halfhearted meant and I knew that being wholehearted was the opposite.


I learned that being whole-hearted includes being softer-hearted, open-hearted and tender-hearted. These are feelings that I’ve spent 2021 trying to develop. I’ve been practicing knowing how to allow myself to show and share the feelings that I usually keep bottled inside of me.


Last Wednesday, my husband and I went to Utah for a big family get-together that my sister hosted. When I heard my brother was coming from California and my sister was coming from Idaho, I wanted to be there too. We got together on Friday night, brothers and sisters, spouses, and lots and lots of nieces and nephews.


Using my word of the year as a guide, I really thought about how I wanted to show up around my family. I imagined how I would feel, what smiling and talking and listening to everyone would feel like. I really wanted to be myself, but a tiny bit better, and softer hearted. I wanted to let the people I love know how much they mean to me. 


It was a great weekend and I left Utah with a peaceful, contented feeling, knowing that I was the best me I could be.  I did it with words, notes, and hugs.  I am truly becoming a whole-hearted woman, and it feels really good.


This week, my daughter’s family is coming for Christmas. This week I am looking forward to using my word again as a guide to being the best mother, mother-in-law and grandmother I can be, in a genuine Jennifer sort of way. I am looking forward to loving my favorite people without exhausting myself and being anxious about every word I say.  Without pressuring myself in a “what more can I do” way.  My word is teaching me how to do all of these things in ways that bring me and others true joy.


I would love for you to experience the joy I have from focusing on just one word each year. 
I am giving a FREE “One Little Word” webinar right after Christmas.

In just one hour, you can learn how to take one little word and improve your life in 2022.  I will share some ways that I have found to choose your word, remember your word, and how to use prayer and meditation to let your word change you for the better, and finally, how to apply what you learn to real life.

My Christmas Gift To You

Please join me on December 31st at 10:00 AM PST

Learn how to find your Word, the types of Words that work best, and how something as

simple as a Word can make a BIG difference in your life.

Sing Me UP!

Are We Having FUN Yet?

Are we having fun yet?

Every year since 2006 I’ve chosen a “word” for the year. Instead of choosing goals, I choose a word and then I let the whole year be shaped by the experiences that I have with the word. 

Usually my word just “finds” me or something will happen and a word will seem to appear over and over, and I sort of just know that this is the word for the next year. I found my word of the year yesterday and I wanted to share how it happened.

I noticed the word “fun” a few weeks ago and let it roll around in my brain. It popped up over and over, mostly because I wasn’t having fun. Sometimes I try on the word for a few days before I choose it and that’s what I did this year. I practiced trying it on.

We invited my daughter and grandson to dinner on Friday night. I wanted to make it special for my grandson, so he chose some Christmas music and he and I put some decorations on the tree. We had a nice dinner and enjoyed candlelight and relaxing.  It was fun.

The elementary school near our house was also having a Winterfest that evening and I asked Oliver (grandson) if he would like to go. I showed him the Facebook pictures of what would be happening, and he thought it looked like fun – I did too.  It was dark when it was time to walk up to the school, and a little cold. My husband and daughter weren’t getting ready to go outside fast enough, I don’t think they really wanted to go.  They were taking a long time to get ready, and so finally I said – pretty loudly,
“Get your coats and hats, we’re going up to the school and WE’RE ALL GOING TO HAVE FUN!!

Well, it turned out, we didn’t have much fun…  It was cold, windy, rainy and noisy. There were a lot of people and long lines for everything. I sent everyone out to find fun while I waited in line for mini doughnuts that Oliver thought would taste good. They couldn’t find anything fun so they all came back to stand in line with me. It took about 25 minutes waiting in line to get the doughnuts, and by the time we did get them, everyone was too cold and wet to enjoy them.

When we finally got back to our warm, cozy home, I had to ask myself if in my desire to find fun, I had managed to spoil the evening. That’s when I knew that I had found my word. My first “fun” lessons included – if you have to insist that everyone have fun with you, it might be a warning that you are heading down the “anti-fun” path, and the most fun thing you can do sometimes is to stay where it’s warm and cozy, and not go searching for something better.

Do you ever spoil your fun by looking too hard for it?

First Sunday of Advent

First Advent

Last week was the first Sunday of Advent
Our family loves to have candles at Christmastime. I invited my husband, daughter and grandson to celebrate the advent with me, lighting candles and having a short devotional.  They were happy to participate. 

“Which one of us is going to break it to her?”
After lighting the candle, I read the devotional and asked them the question – how did what we just read help you to understand Christ’s mission? My daughter and husband looked at each other and then at me. They both have a great sense of humor and my daughter said to her Dad, “Which one of us is going to break it to her?” “Mom, none of us believe any of that”.

“Oh, yes, right of course.” We all laughed with each other, and my husband asked me the question and I answered it.

This is what it looks like in our mixed faith family at Christmas time.

My daughter and husband weren’t offended that I had asked them a question about their faith. My grandson got to light and blow out the candles, and I didn’t take it personally that they only want to participate in pieces of the Christmas celebration.

We all enjoyed our time together and felt peace together as we enjoyed the parts of a Christmas tradition that means different things to different family members.

It Can Be Hard To Let Go Of Family Traditions
It hasn’t always been like this. When members of my family stepped away from the church, I didn’t want to let go of years and years of family tradition. I thought there was a “right way” to celebrate the birth of Christ and I didn’t want to give up Christmas Eve nativities, finding ways to serve each other and others, reading scripture together and attending church Christmas functions together.  I thought that they “owed” it to me to stick with our family traditions.

Each Of Us Has Our Own Journey
Letting each other follow their own journey and celebrate privately or as a family is a concept that we had to work on together. It hasn’t been an easy transition, but differentiation is important for all of us to learn. Sometimes Mothers (or fathers) think that our identity is wrapped up in our children’s stories. We feel that if they reject our values that they are rejecting us.

I thought that members of my family weren’t doing their lives the right way and I felt compelled to help them understand that my way was the right way. It didn’t go very well. People really hate having other people tell them how they ‘should’ be living their lives. I didn’t much like everyone avoiding me because I was preaching at them either.

Developing New Christmas Practices
When we started just letting everyone take care of what they needed from our family celebration, our Christmas’ became better for everyone, especially me. I stopped taking on the role of Christmas magician and stopped being responsible for everyone else’s Christmas and started making sure that I had the spiritual parts of Christmas that I wanted to enjoy, either by myself or with others who wanted to be a part of what I was doing. There were lots of false starts and do overs and sometimes there still are, that’s where we have found that having a sense of humor helps us be together for holidays that we don’t all celebrate the same way. 

Over the next few weeks, I am going to share other ways I learned to integrate all the different beliefs of different members of my family.  It came down to love – and that’s what the season is all about, isn’t it?