Thanks a million for your patience as I finished this post! You may have seen on Instagram that all my writing energy has recently been going toward a project with LifeWay. But as of two hours ago that is turned in (woohoo!) so here we go…


In retrospect, it seems blatantly obvious.

It was October, the leaves had yet to change their colors, and God made it abundantly clear what word I should choose for 2017.

For many years, I’ve joined the #OneWord365 movement. Instead of making a list of resolutions or writing down specific goals, you choose one word to focus on in the coming year. Sure, resolutions and/or goals may still surface, but they come alongside the word you’ve chosen.

My word for 2016 was temple. This is how it began and this is how it ended.

As always, the word I chose meant what I expected but also greatly surprised me in ways I didn’t see coming. I’ve found that each year I bring my own idea of what the word will look like in my life, but God always does so much more.

On the whole, I haven’t wanted the words I’ve felt led to choose, but I’ve been certain they were meant for me.

As Sarah Bessey has said, “You know you’ve found your word when you kind of wish it was any one but that one. Some part of our spirit recognizes it and while we are drawn to it, we are also fearful of what it may mean in our lives. We know it could change us or the lives we lead.”

Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.

My word for 2017 is planted.

To be honest, I don’t know what it means. In many ways, I wanted to push against that word because it feels risky, like embracing something fleeting or trusting the unknown. It sounds like being grounded and digging deep,  planting roots that may very well be uprooted and turned over. It sounds like darkness and quiet and a commitment to daily hard work.

But there is this quote by Elisabeth Elliot and I cannot quit it.

Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.

Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith. Elisabeth Elliot #freeprintable

{This image is one of the free prints available for download on this page.}

The word planted immediately scared me. To put down roots when I could (because of my job) easily move elsewhere, to make commitments and say hard no’s and create margin was saying yes to the long haul.

From the outside looking in, planted sounds like a commitment to go deeper. And it is. But it’s also a choice to take one last look at my feet on the edge — and then jump. A choice to say yes to where I am right now, right here, and declare it good. A choice to keep my eyes open, but even more to keep my feet firmly planted in the exact place He’s given me for today.

So I signed a contract to stay in Birmingham a little while longer.

I made an incredibly difficult decision regarding a relationship, based on Scripture and wise counsel.

Last week I officially joined my church.

The more I researched different times the word planted is used in Scripture, the more I realized this word came purposely, right on time, for me in 2017.

His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. (Psalm 1:2-3)

His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. (Psalm 1:2-3)

The righteous will flourish like palm trees; they will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the Lord’s Temple, they will flourish in the courtyard of our God. (Psalm 92:12-13)

The righteous will flourish like palm trees; they will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the Lord’s Temple, they will flourish in the courtyard of our God. (Psalm 92:12-13)

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” (Spoken by the Lord, Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Such beautiful truth...

You caught that, right? How Psalm 92 talks about being planted in the Lord’s temple? Yes, hi there, God. I hear You loud and clear.

2016: temple. 2017: planted.

Of course.

While working on a writing project for 2017, I found myself flipping through dozens of posts written in this space during 2016. And you know what I found? He was leading me to planted for a long, long time.

Why I no longer pray for clarity

On life and mountaintops and valleys

Roots before branches

The Spiritual Practice of Asking “Where Are You?”


The Unmaking

I could keep going, continue listing ways He was already giving me the message of this word. A year before receiving it, I even wrote a post titled Planted in Faith.

Because, again, of course.

And so planted is my word. I am equal parts excited and nervous because really, there’s no telling what God is going to do with it. But it’s mine to hold, to learn and grow from, and so here we go.

As has become my habit, I’ve written a letter to myself based on my word for the year. I’ve shared it below and would love to hear in the comments or on social media if you’ve chosen a word for 2017!


May you plant purposely, choosing the hard work of making space and then tending to the work, watering day by day. When you yourself are planted, when you feel buried in the dark, covered and surrounded on every side, may you remember that the night won’t last forever. You must first break to take root, but soon Light will break through. Dig down deep, hold on, and wait patiently.

There is a season for everything. There will be good days and bad, winter and spring. Don’t bury yourself in the bedsheets, go straight to His Word and bury yourself in Truth. Work done in the dark will enable you to bloom when it’s time, so stay close to the Source of Living Water. When the cold turns to heat and you feel yourself wilting, rest in His shade and drink deep. It’s okay to say “no” to more and “yes” to less. It’s alright if you need to take a break and make sure you’ve got your footing. And it’s okay if you slip, because He bends down and His hand is outstretched. Take it; He’ll walk with you every step of the way.

If you find yourself in a drought, go straight to Him. You are yourself a temple of the Holy Spirit, but open the Word and soak it in. All may be quiet, the wind might sway you back and forth and the ground might dry up, but He is unchanging. Fruit will come in season and a harvest is coming, likely after a season of pruning, but the result does not rest on your shoulders. Your job is to stay close to the One who created you, to remain planted on Truth. Remain faithful and He will take care of the fruit.

You have known confusion, you’ve experienced darkness and doubt and depression, and now it is time to sit still, stand strong, and let your roots grow deep. Don’t forget that there is a difference between being buried and being planted. Spring is coming. Light will shine, you will bloom, and still the storms will continue to come. So let your roots wrap around community, around others who are soaking in Truth and don’t dig up what has been planted in faith.

Listen for His voice and be ready to move when told, but until then, linger longer and dig deeper. Plant your feet on His Word, be fully present with His people, and let it be said of you that you could always be found in His Temple.