New Year ~ New Words

This week, I am honored to have as my guest blogger, Paula Bicknell. Paula and I met at the Mount Hermon Conference a few years ago and have been writing buddies ever since. Her thoughts on New Words for the New Year touched me and I want to share them with you. Enjoy!

You can follow Paula at

New Year ~ New Words

by Paula

Paula Picture 4Our walk to the ravine is my favorite thing about ringing in the new year. Down our dirt road, across the horse pasture, through tall grass to our own little canyon. There we pick up our rocks. It started three years ago with me facing melanoma. “Let’s go to the ravine,” Scott said. “Bring some Sharpie markers.” Our whole family went, all our kids gathering rocks to write on, scribbling down the bad stuff we wanted to throw away. We didn’t know what that year would bring, and we were scared. It felt so good to write “cancer” on a rock and throw it away.

Far, far away.

A few days later, a doctor cut the cancer out of my leg and threw it away. The cancer, not my leg. This was such a relief, since Scott told the boys if the doctor had to cut off my leg, we’d get me a wooden leg and I could take it off and beat the boys with it when they were bad. I really didn’t think this was funny, but Scott thought it was funny. He laughs at his own jokes. I spent a few months on the couch after the surgery and now my leg works just fine, except when I wear heels for too long or walk too much.

Paula Picture 5Last year, when we gathered our rocks, Scott said, “Let’s not just write what we what to throw away, let’s write what we want to keep.” So we each picked up two rocks, one to throw away and one to carry home with us. My keeper rock with my word for the year: “WRITE,” graced our fireplace mantle until summer, the day before we left for family camp when John threw a ball across the room and knocked my rock to the floor. It broke in half, destroying “WRITE.” Not a good sign, since I was struggling with my writing at the time.

“Do you want me to stop writing altogether?” I asked God at family camp. I knew He’d made me a farmer, I wasn’t sure about a writer. Writing had always been my thing. I’d tried to make it a God thing, but this wasn’t working. “I give up,” I told God at camp. We were so busy farming now, I couldn’t see how writing fit into my life anymore. It broke my heart to let my dream go, but I was done.

The next morning browsing the camp book store, I picked up Victim of Grace by Robin Jones Gunn. I bought it to take home for my daughter and then consumed the story in one day at camp. Tears flowed and God spoke to me through that book. Paula picture 7“If you want me to write nonfiction like this, please let me see the words on the page without my reading glasses.” After this prayer, I took off my glasses and tried to read Gunn’s book bare-eyed. The words were a blurry mess, but I knew exactly what the page said. How was this possible? I put my reading glasses back on and read the page again. Yep, it said just what I thought it said when I looked at that blurry mess.

The next morning I read a message on my iPhone without my reading glasses. I could see that little text just fine, which shocked me. I got out Gunn’s book, which I’d finished the night before awash in tears, and could read it perfectly without my glasses now.
Paula Picture 3That afternoon, walking a Capitola beach, I found a heart-shaped rock. Write from your heart, God seemed to say when I picked up the rock. That night in my journal I wrote the first words of my story Farming Grace. When we got home from camp, I wrote “WRITE” on my heart-shaped rock and put it on our fireplace mantle in place of my other rock that had represented the fiction I’d always written. And my writing took on new meaning with new passion, and new depth. When I wasn’t selling fruit or picking tomatoes or taking care of the house and the boys, I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.

Paula picture 1Never underestimate the power of words. You may not be putting them on paper, but you’re speaking words over your life. The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” Proverbs 18:21. You may not be writing your story down, but you’re living your story out one word at a time.

For two years in a row, I wrote the word “FEAR” on the rock I threw away. I think I need to find a bigger rock, because fear comes back. It always comes back. This year I was going to write fear again, but after spending some time praying about it, I realized behind my fear was the bigger dog of unbelief.

If I really believed the Bible, the whole truth of the Bible, would fear bark so much in my life?

Using his iPhone, Scott decided to film me throwing my unbelief rock away. I wanted to throw it down the creek, but when I wound up to cast it away, the boys ran right in front of me. My focus went arwy and the rock went flying right at Scott.Paula Picture 6

Paula Picture 2Of course he ducked and we both laughed and the video is funny, but isn’t this just like our sin? It never hurts just us. Those we love are hurt by our sin, too. And sin hurts God.

This year I chose “REJOICE” I love that song line from O Holy NightA thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. I’ve been walking weary for too long now. Maybe it’s raising rowdy little boys. Or living in this rowdy world. Or not nourishing my soul the right way. I’m not sure why I’m weary. And thank the Lord I’m not as weary as I used to be, but I’m still more weary than I want to be. I don’t want to be weary anymore. I want to rejoice.

Why rejoice?

Because we have a Savior, Jesus. He came into the world to save us from our sin.

“I’m the way the truth and the life,” says Jesus. “No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:6. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” John 1:1.

Jesus is the Word. Words matter. What you speak over your life matters. Make 2015 a year of words you can live by.

Paula Picture 8





2 Responses to New Year ~ New Words

  1. Darlene L. Turner January 10, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    Awesome post, Paula! I love this idea of throwing a rock away with one word and keeping one with another. Your story is inspiring! Yes, please keep writing! My word for 2015 is “Surrender.” So many times I try and keep control of all aspects of my life and fall flat on my face. I’m trying to learn to surrender them all to Him (including getting published).

    Thanks again for your encouraging post. God bless.



  1. A Word for 2015 ~ Closer - January 14, 2015

    […] As we’ve entered the New Year, I’ve noticed a lot of buzz on the Internet and in the writing community about having a special word for 2015. A word that summarizes our aspirations and our dreams. A word to help us set goals and focus on achieving them throughout the year. Last week, I shared a post from my friend, Paula Bicknell. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *