Around this time last year I started hearing people pick a “word for the year.” Words like risk, cadence, or peace.

That’s nice. I thought, but felt if I picked one it would just be to jump on a bandwagon and be all cool. Not the right reason for doing it, so I didn’t.

But in late February I shared that I had been asked to write on my hand what God had been whispering. And a word, really a phrase, for that season picked me. Renewed Joy.

This fall I started to hear other whisperings. You are making too many decisions out of fear.

What? Me? At this stage of my life? Isn’t fear a thing of your teens or twenties? Certainly not your forties. But it was true.

What is it that angels say when they show up? Fear not, for I am with you.

Not, don’t be afraid because nothing bad won’t happen. Nor because it will be easy. Nor because you won’t be misunderstood. No, fear not because the great I AM is with you and you won’t be alone in your journey. Courage, dear one, courage. Be courageous because I am with you and fear is not a fruit of my spirit.

As I step into this new year, I wanted an Ebeneezer of sorts, and decided to spell out “courage” with blocks. I don’t envision myself being courageous in the way that courage is needed to climb Mt. Everest, doing grand things; instead, I’m claiming the type of courage that children have, dancing in a leotard that is slightly too small because they have out grown but they don’t care. Courage that is based not on what I have done.

And then a funny thing happened. I rummaged through the blocks and there weren’t enough letters to spell courage. Nice idea, I thought, but not going to work.  How ironic that fear is only four letters and easier to spell than courage. It’s also easier to live.

A day later (I’m not the fastest car on the racetrack), it hit me. I was only missing an ‘a!’ And really, isn’t cour_ge what courage ends up looking like. If we wait until we have all of the letters, so to speak, that isn’t courage, that’s easy.


Courage is when you get moving even when you’re not sure where you’re going. Think Abraham.

Courage is when you listen to wise people when you don’t know what to do. Think Esther and Hegai.

Courage is when you step out of the boat in response to a voice you trust. Think Peter.

Courage is when you pack up everything and start all over. Think Ruth.

Courage is when you hear a story that moves you and realize that story is about when you blew it. Think David.

Courage is when an angel shows up and tells you that something so unexpected is going to happen and others around you simply will not get it. Think Mary. Think Joseph.

Courage is not doing something just for the thrill of it or because you’ve been egged on, instead true courage is in response to the one who says, fear not, for I am with you.

This year I am claiming cour_age. If I were the tattooing type, that would be quite the conversation starter, wouldn’t it?! Instead, I’m more the photo-taking type. And this, this picture, is my picture for the year.

Fear not, for I am with you. Cour_ge. Think Amy.


Any words or phrases whispered to you?  Would twenty of you share? And if you’ve got some way to visualize it, I’d love to see! Please send it to me at messymiddle (at) gmail (dot) com.



Leave A Comment

  1. Connie Gibson January 5, 2013 at 9:37 am - Reply

    I’m thinking courage, I’m thinking Amy… thanks for the message today and for the extra courage God used you to provide for me and my own missing letter recently, T R S T, the missing letter is “U”. YOU Amy, played a big part filling in the missing letter/s of my own word, linking my trust to courage…”from stage 4 advanced cancer to remission”… Thank you for the added courage you gave me, thru the many letters, to trust that God has it all under control. I appreciate your publishing my story! Through that you spoke and allowed others to speak as well. Thank you!! Connie

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      Amy January 5, 2013 at 12:20 pm - Reply

      Oh Connie, I love how we can be “missing letters” to each other. I think it is part of how God knits us together! So glad to be knit with you :)

  2. Mike January 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    It seems like a common theme that’s been popping up not only in my life but also Wendy’s and Weston, our teammate’s life, is: “Live a life not wasted.” How would I picture this? Someday hearing this one sentence – “Well, done, good and faithful servant.”

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      Amy January 5, 2013 at 8:33 pm - Reply


  3. Kristi January 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    I’ve already shared this in a somewhat different form in response to your question, “Where have you found hope this season?” at the end of one of your previous posts.

    During an Advent study with my small group the phrase “in the fullness of time” was whispered to my heart while praying. It spoke to me of waiting, growing, praising, and resting knowing that our Father who sent His Son to be born, die, and rise again will do His marvelous will in my life “in the fullness of time.” Here the emphasis is on the word “time.”

    Lately the word “fullness” has been whispered more loudly than the word “time” and has encouraged me to
    contemplate the word “fullness” in connections with other words like “life.” Jesus came that we might live life to the full – no holding back. We don’t have to give in to fear, doubt, unmet expectations, or failure because all of those things are filled with redemptive purposes for us and for those around us. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. II Cor. 4:7 KJV

    I believe that the words “in the fullness of time” will continue to grow in fullness over the coming year.

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      Amy January 5, 2013 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      “Fullness” — yes, more of that, please!

  4. Hayden Sewall January 5, 2013 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    A friend posted this comment: “To come up with new ideas you need a place to experiment without being judged. To perfect them you need the opposite. To pull both off you need courage.” Or I should say “cour_ge”…thanks Amy!

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      Amy January 6, 2013 at 6:55 am - Reply

      Hayden, I like that! This space, for me, is a bit of that … it’s a risk when I hit publish :).

  5. Mark Allman January 5, 2013 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    Courage seems to be like that in reality… it aint all there until you step out and rely on it. Courage does not take fear away but says I will in spite of fear do this.

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      Amy January 6, 2013 at 6:54 am - Reply

      Amen! It’s not an absence of fear, something I need to remind myself more than I’d care to admit :)

  6. alece January 8, 2013 at 12:07 am - Reply

    i love this, amy. so so good.

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      Amy January 8, 2013 at 5:28 am - Reply

      Coming from you … thanks. just thanks.

  7. […] approach came while reading One Word 2013: Listen by Teri Lynne Underwood at Fresh Perspective and Cour_ge vs. Fear by Amy at The Messy […]

  8. jonah January 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    I was surfing through my facebook friends when I found your blog. I am amazed because God had used it to remind me that my identity does not rely on the things that I would be accomplishing but that simply, I am His child. Your post made a big impact on me, especially at this point in my life. Thank you for taking the time to share about this special wisdom He gave you. You are an absolute encouragement. :)

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      Amy January 14, 2013 at 1:39 pm - Reply

      And this comment … it blesses me back. Thank you

  9. Michelle DeRusha January 16, 2013 at 12:52 am - Reply

    I love this, Amy! And blessings and peace to you, my friend, as you transition into this next phase of your journey (re: your job).

  10. Chunmei Ma January 30, 2013 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Courage is also trust the person who is leading you somewhere you don’t know. I guess I learnt the meaning of “courage” from you on our trip in Cambodia.

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      Amy January 30, 2013 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      Dear Chunmei, you ARE a woman of great courage!!

  11. Jennifer July 21, 2013 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    I read One Word in January and loved it; however, I decided to wait to find my word so I could use the book with my staff and school for the 13-14 school year. I am re-reading it now, but tonight, as I sat in church, I think I may have found my word. I was sitting on the floor listening to the youth talk about camp, thinking about school and my word. It’s been on my mind for months now, and I have been so worried it would not come to me. I’ve read every billboard, bumper sticker, t-shirt, quote: nothing. There, sitting in church, on the floor no less, I looked up (imagine that!) and on the back of the camp t-shirt it said, “Masterpiece.” Wow. What a word. Ephesians 2.10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” As an elementary principal, God created me to mold, shape and support children. He gave me a canvas that is extraordinary and charged me with making sure the paints and brushes are available, everything that a staff, a parent, and a student will need is provided to create success. I’m not the creator by any means, just helper, supporter, provider, mentor, leader that gives way to the MASTERPIECE!
    So, I may have found my word. Thanks for sharing.

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      Amy July 22, 2013 at 2:54 pm - Reply

      Oh Jennifer, what a great word and way you came to it! Thanks for sharing :)

  12. […] year was a year of cour_ge (you can read why the ‘a’ is missing). I quit my job of over 18 years, moved from China back to the U.S.  and have been adjusting to […]

  13. […] readers know my One Word journey has meandered through Renewed Joy (2012), Cour_ge (2013) and Trust (2014). You can read a summary of the journey […]

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