Two years ago I found out about a different way to do New Year’s resolutions from a young adult author I like – Heather Demetrios. I never really liked the idea of New Year’s resolutions before as no one seemed to keep them. The kinds of resolutions people make (usually to lose weight or get healthy) all seem generic and not very specific or goal-oriented, which is probably why no one seems to keep them. But then I heard about picking One Word for the New Year.
This word should be something to guide you throughout the year, and you can create a kind of inspiration board about the word. These are my words for the last two years.
For 2015 I picked the word Change. I had a lot of changes happen in my life that year—graduating college, moving out from home, getting baptized, and getting married—and I wanted to make sure I was ready for all of those changes. I picked Grow in 2016 because my life had just undergone a ton of changes and I wanted to make sure I grew in all of my identities—as a writer, as a wife, and as a Christian.
For your inspiration board, you can pick quotes, images, Bible verses, and song lyrics that inspire you. I use a 12in by 12in piece of scrap paper and then decorate it with my images, quotes, and stickers. And then I put it right next to my mirror so I see it each and every day. I think this is the most important part—look at it each day. At least read one quote or verse off of it every morning so you are ready for the day.
Picking one word instead of making traditional resolutions helps me stay focused on the one goal I want to achieve for the year. And 2017 is going to be Joy. I’ve undergone a lot in the last couple years, and I want to make sure I make time to be joyful. I want to continue to grow in all of my roles, but be joyful in doing so. I want to find joy even when times are hard. And I want God to be at the center of my life and my joy. This is my word inspiration board for this year. I encourage you to make one for yourself.
At my church, we are doing a series on the book of Acts that my pastor has entitled “World Changers.” Every week we look at a story in Acts of the Apostles and discuss how those people were changing the world after the death and resurrection of Jesus with the founding of the Christian church. And every week my pastor poses the question “Whose world will you change?”
I immediately knew my answer to this question: those who read my writing. I was pretty good in all subjects in school, but the one thing that always just spoke to me was writing. And now I know why—that God has called me to do this, that this is what I’m meant to do in this world.
As I’ve said here I had a really hard time figuring out how to write after I became a Christian two years ago. I then had a new understanding of how God wanted to use me through my writing, but I didn’t know what to say. I knew I didn’t want to write Christian fiction. Though these books are great, I personally didn’t want to be limited to that small shelf in the bookstore that no one reads unless they’re already a Christian. I figured out that I needed to write more mainstream fiction that could be the little nudge people need to turn towards God.
The result of this realization was my upcoming book Somewhere Only We Know. This book is about abuse and violence against women, a subject which I became passionate about in college. Unfortunately a lot of the stories I heard about victims of violence ended with them losing faith after seeing so much bad in the world. What I tried to show in my book is that God can provide the healing that you’re looking for when you’ve lost all other hope.
I tried to not be preachy about this in my book, as no one likes to read stories like that. But God does have a presence in my story. And that’s because he asked me to tell this story for him. All I want to do with my writing is inspire people with the hope they’ve been looking for. I want to be a world changer.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate turning in my manuscript to my publisher than by reading the Selection series by Kiera Cass. These books have changed me in so many ways.
First of all, they’re just really great books. They’re about America Singer, who was born low into the caste system of Illéa, the country that was created after the United States ended. But all of that changes when she is whisked away to participate in the Selection, a competition to win the prince’s hand in marriage. These books are romantic and suspenseful. Plus the series is an amazing dystopian story, which is my favorite genre. I can’t recommend these books enough.
Secondly, something that I’ve always noticed in my life is how I coincidentally read books just when I need to read them. Whether I was assigned them in class or picked them up on my own, they just always seem to line up with what I need to hear just then. And when The One came out, the final book in the original trilogy, these books changed my life in a very important way. For reasons that are too long and complicated to explain and that only my husband and I understand, these books kept us together when we were dating and were a huge push towards me becoming a Christian.
Lastly, it was so perfect that the final book, The Crown, came out just as I was finishing up my novel to send in because I don’t think that I would have even written it without Kiera Cass. Ever since becoming a Christian, and especially since graduating from college, I’d struggled to write. I didn’t know how to be both—a Christian and a writer—so I asked Cass when I got the chance to meet her because she does both wonderfully. She told me to stay true to myself and my faith and only write what I feel comfortable with.
So I prayed a lot, asking God what I should write, and then my novel, Somewhere Only We Know, just poured out from my fingers. I wrote it in three months, and had a publishing contract halfway through.
I can’t wait to share Somewhere Only We Know with the world, and I’ll always be grateful to Cass that she pushed me in the right direction. Time to go read The Crown!