The Faith-Inspired Books We Loved in 2017, and What We Will Read in 2018

We asked our contributors to tell us their favorite faith-inspired book read in 2017 and what they look forward to reading in 2018, so we could share the book love with you.

We would love to hear your recommendations in the comments!

The Books We Loved

Britney Bradley: The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch

Sarah Clews: Heaven by Randy Alcorn

Sarah Dohman: Uninvited by Lysa TerKerst

Chara Donahue: Dance, Stand, Run by Jess Connolly

Kate Franken: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Holly Hawes: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

What We Plan to Read

Kayla Anderson: Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore

Britney Bradley: Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul Tripp

Sarah Clews: If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey

Sarah Dohman: At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider

Chara Donahue: Fervent by Priscilla Shirer

Karly Grant: Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

Holly Hawes: The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Timothy and Kathy Keller

Jacqi Kambish: Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach

Kimberley Mulder: Imaginative Prayer: A Yearlong Guide for Your Child’s Spiritual Formation by Jared Boyd

Keri Nikkel: Mother and Son, The Respect Effect by Emerson Eggerichs

Rachel Olson: Ministering in Honor-shame Cultures by Jayson Georges

What are you reading in 2018_


Free Printable: Psalm 1:1-3

As we begin this new year we wanted to remind you of the value of wisdom and where it comes from. To do so, Sarah Dohman has created this beautiful printable for you to provide inspiration!


Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his lGrab your free printable of Psalm 1:1-3 here.

Thriving in Grace

I have started to love the concept of thriving in daily life. Maybe because it has become a bit of a buzz word on social media – but I am ok with buzz words sometimes. I think there is value in making the very most of our time, talents, and ability to glorify God in this life we live. I love and I strive for that. However, I think it is all to easy for myself and others to fall into the trap of perfectionism. By perfectionism I mean the thought that I must be thriving or flourishing at ALL times in ALL areas. We all know that is unrealistic. We flourish sometimes and at others we feel weak and unable.

Thrive Britney Bradley (1)In my current stage of life, the things that I want to thrive in are:

  • Making my home run well, while also being a place of rest
  • Savoring every moment of my kid’s childhood years, helping my children thrive
  • Making my body and health function optimally. Being a godly example to my girls in every way possible

All of these things are important for me to carefully mull over and cover in prayer. They’re all necessary components to the life I have been given. Yet the problem comes when I start turning my own wheels and striving to make this happen by my own ability. I can give it such a high place in life that I don’t allow room for God to speak in, or for grace to abound.

I feel the truth in Proverbs 14:1, that “the wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” And I know I am tempted not to thrive but to strive which will only tear down what God has asked me to build.

So as I seek wisdom that will build, I have seen that I need not ask “How can I make myself thrive more?” I need to ask instead, “Lord give me grace for this day, and the ability to know You are near, regardless of what my circumstances bring.”

Britney Bradley ThriveSome days we are sick. Others rain down stressors beyond our control that threaten to consume us. In those times, I’m not worrying about thriving at 100% capacity, but rather leaning into my faith in God. And in the begging Him to be present and to guide is where I truly thrive. Oh, how much joy it brings to me knowing that it is not only my best days that count, but that the nearness of the Faithful One can make any moment holy and good.

britney-squareBritney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 4 little girls, Ruby, Cora, Lily, and Opal, as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.

Leaving Behind Consumerist Thriving

What exactly is a good life? How can I find it? No matter where you come from, this is a question everyone finds themselves trying to answer. It is also the source of the myriad of products, remedies, and regimens that bombard any kind of social media platform. Take this. Eat this  Use this. Try this. IT. CHANGED. MY. LIFE.

I mostly believe you.  Quite a bit of my money has been spent because I completely believe that you must be thriving (because you told me so on Instagram) and this thing really helped.  Don’t we all want  life to be more {Choose one: Organized. Healthy. Youthful. Exuberant. Energetic. Pretty. Fun. Whole. Toxin-Free. Eco-Friendly. Simple. Clean.}? There is nothing wrong with trying new things to help us in life as we seek to use the days God has given us well. Attempts at thriving may be great for a time, but one by one they all will eventually fail. Even good things make a poor god.

thrive Holly HawesThings are a poor substitute for what we are meant for. At the end of your life, your heart will stop beating, no matter how many smoothies you drank. Youthfulness will not last. It isn’t supposed to. And you can be lonely even if you have the “perfect” everything.

In the age of lifestyle bloggers, there is a constant comparison and expectation I often don’t realize I have ingested until I begin to feel the ramifications of the poison.  Envy.  Discontent. Jealousy. Idolatry develops as I expect life to feel better “when” the next big thing is achieved, only to find that my desires are a moving target that cannot be satisfied. How easy it is to let the lives everyone else is living consume my thoughts as they are  thoroughly scrolled, liked, and commented.  All the while, leaving the actual life God has given me on the sidelines.

I know not everyone is held captive by the lives they see others living, but I have found that this is the battlefield of my soul, where God fights for me, and teaches me that he alone can satisfy. Only he offers the abundant, thriving life I am looking for. It just looks different that I thought it woulddifferent than the cultural air I breathe would ascribe to.

holly hawes thriveJesus says that something altogether different makes for a thriving life.

  • He said he came to serve, not to be served, and the greatest in his kingdom would live out this upside down economy of love.
  • His word says not to be surprised that we face trials, for the Lord is near to the brokenhearted.
  • He says we are blessed when we are persecuted, peacemakers, or poor in spirit. The things we try to actively avoid are exactly where we will be most fulfilled in Him.
  • His life was cut short, he was betrayed, he never married or had kids, and yet Jesus is the only one to have lived a perfect life. A life without many of the blessings I feel are “owed” to me.

As I look to the next season of life, I want to wash my cultural lenses through the truth of the gospel, so I may see clearly. No circumstance, product, or relationship can meet the God-given desire for wholeness that only comes from being in relationship with the God who created us with purpose. Nothing less will satisfy, all else eventually falls apart. As you begin to live with Him, with new motivations, and a new upside-down economy, know the kingdom of God will begin to bring the joy you were seeking. When you find the sense of thriving in Him, don’t be surprised if it looks very little like Instagram but is still more beautiful than you can imagine.

holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Thriving in Change and Uncertainty

I’ve been struggling to thrive lately, pulled in every direction by life’s constant changes. I’m thankful and content one minute, then discontent or afraid the next as I remember all the unknowns and ‘what ifs’ of the new year ahead.

Rachel Olson ThriveMeanwhile, I keep thinking of the apostle Paul – a man who’d been through shipwrecks, prison, and all sorts of things, yet learned to be content in every kind of situation. I want to learn the same.

What does it mean to thrive when life is good, but my soul is still restless and discontent – hungering for something more? How do I thrive when life constantly fluctuates from one extreme to the next – full of joy and redemption; loss and grief; deep friendship or loneliness, and daunting unknowns? Circumstances are ever changing. I cannot thrive while I’m focused on my surroundings.

When I start grasping for hope and stability in the world around me, I come up short, floundering through every change and disappointment. But when I take my question back to Scripture, Jesus draws my eyes away from my fears and back to himself.

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

 “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55:1-2)

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Thrive Rachel OlsonOver and over again, I see the same answer: Remember Me. Seek Me first. I am faithful.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Habakkuk describes a day when the fruit trees will not produce, the crops will fail, and the stables will be empty; nothing is left. In an agricultural society, this could mean starvation. Habakkuk’s basic survival is on the line. And yet his trust in the Lord is so deeply rooted that he can rejoice. Just like the apostle Paul, his eyes are firmly fixed on God, above his circumstances. His hope is not in his surroundings, but in the God who shaped the earth and put breath in his lungs.

This begs the question, where is my hope? Can I look beyond today’s uncertainty and rejoice in the God who holds the entire earth together? Whether today brings laughter, tears, or exhaustion, it makes all the difference to stop and remember whose world we’re in. What is it worth to depend on our own strength or the outlook of our circumstances? God is the one who puts breath in our lungs and sustains us moment by moment. He sees us, He cares, and He holds each situation we face.

Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.

God Makes Me Thrive

Author: Karly Grant

January is an interesting time of year. Honestly for me, it is often a difficult time. It is a time when people look back at the past year and forward for what they hope. For those that make resolutions, often it’s a time when they make the same ones as the year before—they didn’t succeed the previous year and know the change is still needed. While some are hopeful for the new start, others like myself can sometimes fall into a pit of feeling like they haven’t accomplished or have failed.

My birthday weaves into the beginning of January as well. For much of my adult life, January has brought heartache as I realize I am yet another year older, still not married, and my dreams of one day having children are looking more and more like fantasy. While I still have moments of sadness over these things, looking back on 2017 and ahead to 2018 provides brighter glimpses of hope this time around.

The reason is simple: God has shown me how He helped me to thrive. I clung closer to Jesus than ever before, and took scary steps of faith to follow where He led me.

thrive Karly GrantGod showed me how thriving very well could have been my word of the year for 2017. I just discovered it a year too late. That’s kind of how I roll. I’ve never been one to jump on the bandwagon of things just because everyone else is doing it. I’m too stubborn. Instead, I jump on later when it’s not longer popular. I know, I’m weird and stubborn, but God loves me and gets me. That’s why he gave me my 2017 word a year later. Maybe, I’ll reverse the trend and just start naming years after I have lived them. #onewordforlastyear

Being fresh out of a relationship as the year began, allowed me to cling to Jesus more. I saw that I didn’t need a relationship to thrive. My dreams of getting married and having a family may have been put on hold, but other dreams that I had forgotten about were about to be resurrected.

I had dreamed of furthering my education in a different part of the country and taking the opportunity to be adventurous. I let the realities of a relationship overshadow those ideas. I would have been tied down to a small region with fewer schooling options. Once the breakup happened, God reminded me what He placed in my heart.  I truly believe I will thrive as I continue to walk through the doors God is opening.

In February of last year, after much prayer, I decided to take another huge step of faith. I gave notice that I would not be returning to my job in the fall as I would be going to school full time. By earthly standards, this may have seemed foolish, but God has provided what I need. While it is stressful and scary at times, I am at peace with where God is leading. I know He is the one who is guiding me to abundant life. I know He goes before me.

Karly Grant ThriveSpring brought some unexpected health challenges. God was with me each step of the way as I dropped out of classes that term and pushed my moving plans. I had to trust that His timing was better than mine. I had to rest and get healthy. Sometimes, with God, resting is thriving, and doing what you have to do puts you right where you need to be.

And now with 2017 in the past and full time school in the future, I trust God to use me as I thrive exactly where He puts me for such a time as this. A time where I am able venture across the country to follow where He leads.  As I look ahead to 2018, I have no idea what is in store. I do know that God will be with me every step of the way, as He continues to help me thrive for His glory.

image1 (1)Readers, What challenge are you allowing God to move you into in 2018?

Karly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm  of adoption. God has laid this heavily on her heart and she is willing to trust Him. This homebody is taking the biggest leap of faith yet this spring and moving 1,700 miles away from the life and people she has known as long as she can remember. She is  both terrified and so stinking excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

What it Means to Thrive

After a year of what has felt like surviving one crisis or complication after another, I’ve found myself asking what it would look like to Thrive in 2018. I have said to myself, “If I can just get past this [insert bad thing here], then I can thrive.”

My favorite definition of thrive is: “to flourish.” I want 2018 to be a year of flourishing. But it can’t be dependent on things going perfectly, or even going very well. Surviving makes me feel like I’m going from one panic attack to the next. A constant waiting for the next stressful event to send me spiraling. I know there has to be more, so I’ve been examining how I can thrive in 2018.

Thriving through Deep Roots

A verse that keeps popping into my head is Psalm 1:2-3

“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither– whatever they do prospers.”

Thrive Sarah ClewsAlthough I read the Bible all the way through many years ago, it’s been a long time. It’s so important to me to be constantly refamiliarizing myself with the life giving words of Scripture, reminding myself again and again of their truth. In our world I find myself constantly confronted with things that don’t align with the Bible, and I want to be steeped in Scripture so I can stand firm. Also, getting away from a survival mentality means reminding myself that God’s promises can be depended on.

“Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.” Hebrews 6:18 (NLT)

Thriving by Letting Go

It’s easy for me to start  thinking I have control over my circumstances. I make an exhaustive plan that honestly doesn’t consider what God might have for me. That type A personality in me hates being flexible and hates surprises…whether it’s an unexpected phone call with bad news, or the check engine light in the car coming on. C.S. Lewis’s words inspire me to embrace it all:

Sarah Clews Thrive“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”

I believe I can thrive if I stop resisting life’s “interruptions” and accept these as part of the life God is giving me. Somehow, the bad news, the car problems, the broken dryer, it’s all part of God’s plan for my life even when it seems pointless.

Proverbs 16:9 says,

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

I attended a celebration of life service recently for a friend, a lovely woman who passed away at the age of 70. As many stories were shared at her service, the overarching theme was one of a life well lived, a woman who thrived. But not because her circumstances were perfect. She actually experienced severe chronic pain for the last 10 years of her life.

She was able to flourish in a way that blessed all those around her by following Jesus, accepting what life had thrown at her, and choosing to see the best parts of life as a love message from Him and a foreshadowing of the joy she now experiences in heaven.

That’s the kind of thriving I’m hoping for in 2018.

sarah-c-squareSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.

Thriving in God’s Assurance

Author: Linda L. Kruschke

My favorite of all the apostles is John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Some people give him a bad rap for calling himself that, saying it’s arrogant. I disagree. I don’t believe this title for himself is any indication he thought he was the only one. Rather, I believe it reveals how certain he was that Jesus loved him and everyone else, including you.

Linda L. Kruschke ThriveMy memoir, My Name Is Beloved, is so titled for the same reason. I don’t believe I’m the only one who is beloved by God. I know that I am not and I want other women like me to know they are beloved, too.

I love John’s Gospel, his three epistles, and Revelation. One of my favorite passages is from 1 John 4:7-21. It’s all about God’s love for all of His children and how we should love each other in the same way. There’s not a hint of arrogance here.

There are a number of things I love about John’s writings:

  1. He reminds his readers that he was an eye witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That means he writes with truth and authority of what he knows to be true.
  2. He clearly sets out the evidence for Jesus’ divinity. Especially in the Gospel, where we see the “I am” statements of Jesus.
  3. He focuses, particularly in the epistles, on the love of God. In fact, he says “God is love” twice in 1 John 4.
  4. He reveals the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. It is by the Spirit that we overcome sin and know we are God’s children.
  5. He provides believers with an assurance of salvation.

Early in the history of the Christian faith, deceivers had come into the church who taught that one had to achieve sinless perfection to be saved. John wrote his first epistle to combat this heresy. The same type of heresy has crept into many legalistic denominations even today. By outwardly following the rules, such people claim to be without sin. But as John writes:

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10 (NIV).

Thrive Linda L. KruschkeJohn here provides assurance that the fact that the believer sometimes sins does not negate their salvation, because Jesus is faithful and forgives our sin. Throughout this epistle, John offers further confidence that those who trust in Jesus can be certain of their salvation even though they are not sinless and perfect.

The word know appears 42 times in this short epistle because John wants to make sure believers know that God loves them and that they can rely on His promise of salvation. In each of the chapters of the epistle, John includes his assurance:

“I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.” 1 John 2:21

“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask,…And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” 1 John 3:21, 24

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:15-16

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:13-14

Not one of us is perfect and completely sinless. If we were, we would not need a savior. But we do need Him, and we thrive best knowing that He is faithful in His promise of salvation for those who believe.

Are you struggling today with worries that you are not good enough, that you’ve sinned too much, or that God will give up on you and you will lose your salvation? Meditate on John’s words, inspired by God, and know that these worries are unfounded. It is the struggle itself that proves you are alive in Christ.

Remember, God is faithful in His promises. He has promised eternal life to all who believe in Jesus and allow His love to live in them. He has not hidden the truth from us, but has made Himself known through His Son and the witness of the apostles so that we can be assured of our place in His Kingdom.

Linda_2017_01.jpgLinda L. Kruschke is the author of My Name Is Beloved, winner of the Unpublished Memoir category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest, as well as self-published author of two poetry books. She is a wife, mother, active member of her church, and former Bible Study Fellowship leader. After struggling through years of major clinical depression and finding God’s healing grace, she is now a fearless follower of Christ, living in the assurance of her salvation and God’s love. She blogs at Another Fearless Year and Broken Believers.   


Author: Kimberley Mulder

Thrive is such an invigorating, exciting word, bursting with promise and exuberance! Within it is abundance, life, fullness, robustness, and joy. We all want to thrive. If it could be bottled and sold it would make billions. The self-help industry has tried, but thriving is not for sale. Thriving is not owned or bought.

Thrive Kimberley MulderThriving is a state of being, a description of living. It is life with Jesus: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Our culture has co-opted the phrase “having it to the full” to mean we must fill every nook and cranny of our lives with activity, experience, and stuff. Instead of it reflecting our being in Jesus it is now a grasping and striving. It was never meant to be something we achieve or accomplish. We can only thrive when we stop straining to do so. In American culture, stopping the strain is frowned upon as a sign of weakness, or, at best, impatiently tolerated. But stop we must to attend to the meal Jesus is offering our spirits.

Our spirits are born hungry, just as our bodies are. Just as the hungry person will eat almost anything to satisfy, we are tempted to put anything into our spirit to sate it.  The babe is given mother’s milk, slowly introduced to new foods and warned sternly away from those things that will injure or kill. Yet our spirits often lack that training, so we fill it with dissatisfying things much like a malnourished child.

A child given highly refined foods and lacking fresh produce is nourished but very poorly. His body is deceived into feeling full while still not getting what it needs. His body adapts the best it can, but he is unhealthy—so it is with our spirit.

A spiritual diet rich in deception will bloat and sicken the soul. Our spirits need to feed on truth, love, joy, peace, and hope. Our spirits need Jesus. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” -John 6:35 “Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the Father.”- Matthew 4:4

Kimberley Mulder ThriveFailure to thrive is a failure to grow. Like doctors and parents everywhere we affix the label “failure to thrive” to problems we cannot figure out the cause. It can strike terror into our hearts.

We may very well be living under that label, unsure of what is causing our “failure to thrive”. Sometimes we don’t even notice it until we stop long enough to take inventory of our feelings,  thoughts, and ways.

So, this January day, when the rivers of holiday busy-ness have run their course, and you find yourself on a lonely sandbar, consider whether you are thriving.

Have you been more irritable of late?

Have you noticed a “deadpan” feeling running through your days?

Take some time to notice and then walk into Jesus’ presence with it. As Lord of all, He knows if it stems from a spirit undernourishment, or a physical depletion, or both. It is okay, nay, necessary, to stop and say: “Lord, I am empty. I don’t even know what I need, but I ask you for it.”

He, the Bread of Life, desires to fill you.

2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Risking It All

Two years ago, the founder of this blog, Chara, challenged a bunch of us gals to think and pray over a word for our year. She read about #oneword365 and wanted to set the tone for an entire year by settling upon just that, one word.

The first year I participated, my word was “Yes.” In uncanny ways, “Yes” popped up in my life persistently. God shaped 2016 for me with that word. When I began to pray over 2017‘s word, I didn’t entirely like the word that I kept visualizing in my head. In fact, I almost avoided selecting a word for the year, purely because the one word that I couldn’t shake from my thoughts was “Risk”. Seriously? What in the world? Sometimes God calls us to BIG things, or changes—that is exactly why the word “Risk” terrified me so.

One Word Hope Sarah DohmanHowever, God surprised me with my 2017’s word “Risk”. I wasn’t asked to move somewhere new, or start a different job. I spent a large portion of the year on the edge of my toes, waiting for something drastic to take place. But God, in His infinitely better ways, used this word risk to teach me about trusting Him and loving His people.

Jennie Allen, in Nothing to Prove, writes about obedient risk. “Obedient risk will simply be us leaning into His abundance, leaning into His love, simply believing that He will work, believing that He could take any situation and any boring day and cause life change to happen in it.” Leaning into His abundance requires trust, just like in Psalm 62:8, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.When I trust God with my life, I can lay it down in submission, knowing that His plans far outweigh my own. Every day is an opportunity to trust Him more and find refuge in Him, and in His refuge, I can and will find rest. Resting in God’s love, knowing He’s working in every intricate detail of my life, facilitating every moment, takes away any hesitation for me to obediently risk.

Sarah Dohman One WordAs I learn to trust in Him more, I am ready and willing to love and serve His people more. Loving others is a risk- there is no guarantee that it will be reciprocated. Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way, shares, “Relationships are the realest reality- and the realest risk … and the worthiest risk. Because in sacrificing ourselves, we are guaranteed to discover the depths of our best and realest selves. Because when you self-sacrifice, you are guaranteed to find your better self.” 2017 taught me that investing my time, my energy, in God’s people, is never a waste. It is divinely appointed. God asks us to risk vulnerability in order to love and serve His people with an open heart.

As 2018 begins, I am anticipating the newness of the year, and my One Word 365, Hope. Friends, what is your one word for 2018?

sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.