a word

A while back, I felt like the Lord laid a specific word on my heart… intentional.

in·ten·tion·al [in-ten-shuh-nl]
1. done with intention or on purpose; intended.

I haven’t responded as I’d hoped or even as I’d expected I would. As in, I fail all. the. time. at being intentional. But the impact of my meager efforts and willingness to become more aware of God’s prompting was significant. I have been so crazy blessed by the way my relationship with the Lord has grown this year. God showed up in all my humble efforts and loved on me, encouraged me and revealed Himself in ways I’ve never experienced. And with each and every glimpse I get of Him, His goodness and His God-ness, the more I fall in love with Him.

And that’s what it’s all about, my friends.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” — Matthew 27:37

Recently, I’ve been feeling drawn to a new word. Authentic.

au·then·tic [aw-then-tik]
1. not false or copied; genuine; real.

And my hope is to pursue authenticity in how I perceive myself, in how I relate to God and how I relate to others.

Which includes y’all.


I feel like God is leading me to share more openly on this blog about my own journey with the Lord. So, consider yourself warned.

God has already been shining a light in areas of my heart that have long been dark. And honestly, dangerous. Places I don’t even want to go, much less allow in the Holy One. But He is not only willing, He is able. And only He reveals our failures, sin and disobedience in a way that not only brings humility and grief, but also leads to hope and joy. He indeed loves His children with an unfailing, undeserved and unconditional love.

I hope there are others out there pursuing things of God in this new year. Most of all, I hope lots of y’all are pursing God – or rather allowing Him to pursue you. I read this quote from C.S. Lewis, just a few days before Christmas, and was moved to tears. Such a weight on my heart. And it was the weight of just an infinitesimal fraction of the price Jesus paid to rescue us.

Rescue me. And rescue you.

In the Christian story God descends to reascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him… one may think of a diver, first reducing himself to nakedness, then glancing in mid-air, then gone with a splash, vanished, rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the death-like region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, back to colour and light, his lungs almost bursting, till suddenly he breaks surface again, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing that he went down to recover. He and it are both coloured now that they have come up into the light: down below, where it lay colourless in the dark, he lost his colour too.

Miracles by C.S. Lewis

If you have felt like He is pressing on your heart to follow Him more closely, and are in need of some encouragement in your pursuit of a relationship with Him in this new year, please let me know. I’d love to find a few women to support – and find support in return – as we seek all that God has for us in 2013. Just leave a comment or email me (in the right sidebar) and we can prayerfully take it from there.

Happy 2013, y’all. May we seek to find all He has for us in this New Year.



  1. Stefanie – YES. He has put me in a position where my only options are to follow more closely or walk away… which I’m certainly not doing. My heart is with you, and I’d love to encourage each other.

    I am planning on blogging about my word tomorrow. It’s surprising to me, but it keeps coming up… it and its opposite. And it’s forcing me to grasp the idea that the God of all space and time and things and thoughts is the one guiding my steps.

  2. such a great post, stefanie! i was just sharing with a best buddy this morning about some deep darkness that God is revealing in me and how, though i would love instant transformation, it is in the process of sanctification that we cling to and cry out to Him. and those are the moments in which we come to know, love and treasure Him more. and i was just thinking of women who do not have someone with whom they can openly share their struggles without fear of judgment. so i am open to sharing and listening…not to focus on or glorify the struggles and sin…but to encourage and point each other to Christ, our only Hope.

  3. I would love to join you in the quest for intentionality and authenticity. I want to dig deeper. I want to know God more. Please email me.

  4. I know I need Him but it seems I try to handle things in my own strength. I’d love some accountability in the season we are in with having one of our precious daughters being diagnosed with a terminal syndrome. He is my Rock and fortress and I want to cling to His promises. I’d love to be a part of a group of ladies who desire to edify and encourage each other.

  5. Amen! i want to know Him better…and love Him more!

  6. Such a great post. I’m going to be focusing on a word this year as well.

  7. Love this quote. I so know that Cav was God’s plan but I also feel my greatest failure as a mom AND more importantly following Him is dealing with the day to day of this child especially. Interestingly the word that I feel like He is leading me to for the next year is calm – when I looked it up I found this
    Psalm 107:30
    They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.

    We followed His plan to 3 more children in one year – now I believe 2013 is learning to grow Him in our family. I so seek those around me and online for daily inspiration.

  8. YES for me, as well. Our Father is walking me through a new season right now, with much more newness to come in the next months. I so need my heart to be totally His and to follow Him with abandon. “Intentional” is a word He has long spoken to me.

  9. Stephanie, I can’t seem to find you email address on the sidebar……….I am probably blind. I would prefer emailing you privately rather than commenting on your blog.


  10. I am with you. My word for 2013 is MORE. So many times people say no to things because it’s too hard, or too stressful. This year I am going to be a yes person, not in my own strength, but in Christ. I can do more and more because I am not going to rely on my own sinful flesh. Lord knows my flaws and weakness, but I will not be counting on my flaws and weaknesses, I’ll be standing on His strength alone. Lord let it be so!

  11. Oh, sister friend, YES, I’m there! I’m starting the year by reading through the Bible again in 90 days. But my quest with God this year is to find my confidence in Him and Him alone, not to be offended by the words, actions, and attitudes of others, (including close family members who don’t ‘get it’.) I desire to praise Him, no matter what. We are already in a position to complete dependence upon Him, and He is so faithful! I want my life to reflect His joy, not the burdens of this world.

  12. Matilda Joyce says:

    Yes, yes! I treasure the times I lean on him and then I think I can do it all myself again and… well, I’m sure everyone has their own version of this story!

  13. A couple months ago I woke up in the night with words burning in my mind. I felt absolutely compelled to get up and write them down. I never write down things that come to me in the night because I always think I can remember them (and of course I can’t LOL), but this time I did because it was so powerful. The words were RADICAL SIMPLICITY. I am still turning toward Christ to discover what this means for my life–what God wants me to do with this message. I feel an overwhelming desire to simplify, clean out (physically and spiritually), and keep my eyes on Christ with HIM as the center of my life (not simply fitting in as I deem my availability). I look forward to seeing what God has planned for you on this topic. Best, Ann

  14. Stephanie, I have been feeling that God is calling me to so much more with him. A much closer, deeper relationship with him and sharing more with others about what an amazing God he is! I would love to be a part of receiving encouragement and encouraging others!

  15. The word He has been laying on my heart is Discipline. I have not been disciplined at all. I also am learning that I have been rebellious in ways that I didn’t recognize before. Starting Saturday, Jan 5, I am going on the Daniel Fast. I am also giving up facebook starting tomorrow and … being diligent with our finances. I have been reading through the Bible starting through Genesis and am also going to spend a significant amount of time in James. I am seeking the Lord like I never have before. I am going to come back here, to the comments, on Saturday, with a journal and pen and make note of everyone’s responses so I may join you all in prayer.

  16. Stefanie,

    I love how you are so obedient and so open to really hearing the Lord. It inspires others. God has been whispering the word TRUST to me and I am really doing it. I have a long way to go but I have been trusting more than I ever have before. Thank you for always sharing. I learn from you!!!

    Happy New Year!


  17. My relationship with God has been very stop, go, stop. I turned away from the very strict religion I grew up in and have struggled to figure out what my beliefs for a long time. I’d would enjoy connecting with someone with a strong faith to help me start, and continue, this journey.

  18. Hi, I’m an atheist but I really love your blog. Beautiful photography, and I love the way you love your children. I have one little girl and I’ve been inspired by your lovely pictures to take more photos of her, it’s a wonderful thing for her to look back on when she’s older.

    Glad you’re doing what makes you happy and hey – it’s your blog, you can write what you want in it, no warning required :)

  19. I would love to be a part of this journey with you and other women. I have tried to be more intentional in my walk with the Lord, with my husband and kids, and with my actions this year. I love the idea of being authentic with myself, wth God, and with all around me. This is not something I am good at. I tend to keep everything in and not let others see the real me. However I want to live more outward. I want to grow closer to God. I would love to go along on this wonderful ride with you with God leading me and be strengthened by him to go and do whatever it is he is calling me to right now. Your blog has been such an inspiration to me so many times. I too am an adoptive mother of two from China. They have there needs and it has gotten and continues to be tough at times, but totally worth it. It is nice to read about the struggles you talk about and know that others face the same issues. Thank you so much. I look forward to this journey with all of you to a more meaningful relationship with God, my family, and in life.

  20. Thank you for this post. This last week God has been telling me to anticipate all of the amazing things 2013 will bring. I want to go deeper in Him. We feel He has some big changes for our family and are seeking Him for guidance. I’d love to be part of a group, too!

  21. I found your blog this summer. I stopped by a few times, but then did not make it back due to being busy with my family. Anyway! The Lord must have wanted me to come back specifically today! All I can say is WOW! You spoke my heart today!

    Over the past year God has moved me immensely, to the point of me doing things I swore I would never do. God told me to stand up and lead devotionals that I wrote for the ladies of our church this summer. SCARY for a lady who promised myself after public speaking class in college that I would NEVER use any speech skills I learned! :) God has continued to call after me and what amazing joy and unspeakable beauty He has brought into my life because I have answered.

    I know that we lack connection in the blog world… but if you are looking for support in your desire to go deeper with God, that is also my passion and my heart is for other women to seek Him with everything that is within them. I would love to be a part of that sort of group.

  22. Stef,
    LOVE how you here HIM!!!! I have so much to learn and focus on this year.. I need to get my house in order starting with daily time with the Lord again.. Life go to noisy in 2012!!! Thank you for this encouragement. I look forward to seeing where God takes you this year, and what He encourages you to share!

    You area a blessings!!!!


    • I’m working on the daily time this year too Diana! I bought myself a brand new devotional and one for the hubby too! Haha! Life gets busy, but its time to recommit that time to thinking and praying on God’s plan. :)

  23. Ya know, there was a time in my teens when I was super committed to God, but as I grew up and went through my normal phase of questioning everything I had a hard time believing everything I was taught in church and even things written within the Bible. It’s only been over the last few years that I’ve truly been trying to find my “grown up” relationship with God after a decade of living morally, but leaving him out.

    My biggest goal for 2013 is to seek out his voice for my life. Moving into this adoption, I can’t help but seek his will and his voice in a way that I haven’t in years! I’ve got my devotional ready to go and a brand new Bible to start highlighting! (My old one had too many teenage years highlights! haha) I’d love to be a part of such a great group of ladies seeking God. :)

    Sounds like we might need a blog that we can all post on to discuss topics and encourage each other? What do you think Stefanie? I’m just learning the blog world, but I’d be happy to set one up for all of us to use.

    Looking forward to 2013 and what it has in store for all of us! Thanks for the great post and idea AS ALWAYS!!

    :) Fannie

  24. oh yeah, I am in. I need discipline in my life. As a single woman with no kids it’s easy to do what i want to do when I want to do it, clearly this is not working. I’d love to be part of this journey.

  25. “Believe” was my word for 2012. I learned that there is a difference between believing IN God -and- believing Him. We either believe God or we don’t and that plays out in our every day, every moment. I wonder what God’s word over my family will be this year. I’d love to partner with you and encourage you. You’ve encouraged me more than you will ever know. Because of how you’ve honored God with your story – we found our daughter. God bless you as you seek to know him more.

  26. YES YES YES!!!! Oh Stefanie, the Lord has definitely been calling me to know Him and love Him better and to trust in Him completely!!! God bless you my dear friend! You bless so many!

  27. Yes, yes, yes and YES! Please I would love to join you for support and encouragement, to give or share.

  28. I know you said a few women……and there are already a BUNCH of us that want “IN” this group. I would love to be included if there is room. I NEED the encouragement, and acountability. There is plenty of dark ugly that has come to light in the last year. I used to think I was a pretty nice person……now I’m seeing the sinful person I am, and how LOST and in need of my savior I am. Oh most people think I’m that “nice” person…..but I know the ugly feelings I have inside so often. We adopted a deaf daughter……..and I’m finding out just how hard “deaf” is. I’m sure God knows exactly how I feel. How many times have I covered my ears…closed my eyes…..and in a sense said…..”I’m not listening……I caaaaan’t Heaaaar you……la la la la la la……NOT interested” Oh how frustrating it is!!! I’m sure he’s wanted to wring my neck so many times! So YES please let me be encouraged and built up! Bless you,

  29. I would LOVE to join if there’s room!

  30. I sent an email on NYE, but it was returned to me for some reason. I used the link on your sidebar. Anyway, I would love to join in! I feel God calling me toward something, but. . . I have no idea what. For years (like 8), I knew that He was calling us to adopt. Now that we have, I’m not sure what is next. I thought that it would be to adopt again, but it doesn’t seem like that is the case. At least not right now. So I feel like I’m just floating along not really sure what I’m supposed to be doing. Besides working, raising 4 kids, and being a wife. :) Intentional is a word that I have applied for quite some time in my life as a teacher, but seems to get lost in the busyness of home life. Thanks so much for the offer. I’m looking forward to it!
    Mary Beth

  31. Stefanie, I love how you honor God, how you learn to listen to Him. You are so discipline.

    I would love to be included to learn and love our Lord. I want to spend my free time when I’m not working my 2 jobs to study The Word and not waste those precious times playing online games!!! I need discipline, be encouraged. God Bless you, Stefanie! :)

  32. I really want to focus on knowing Him better and loving Him better this year. I’d love to be included. Thank you!

  33. I would love to be a part of this journey. I have been feeling called to something for a long time, but stuck. I feel quite stuck. I would love to be a part of a community that prays and supports one another. If there is any room left, I would love to be a part of it!

  34. Yes, I would be interested in joining you. I also am feeling a need to focus on the basics and get back to God as my very first priority. My word to focus on this year needs to be JOY!

  35. I love your word :) mine is ‘seize’. And I would love to join you as we seek to go deeper with Him!

    xo ellie

  36. Please count me in. Sounds like an answer to prayer for me.

  37. I would love to join you on your journey to go deeper with God. We adopted a daughter from Wuhan in 2012 as well! We know God is not done with adding to our family through adoption and if I learned nothing else from our adoption journey to our daughter this year it’s that His timing is perfect and we can only know Him by drawing closer to Him. I think your post here is an answer to prayer.


  38. Christine says:

    I have been following your blog for about 2 years.. It has been such a positive influence in our initial decision on committing to adoption and during our journey to our beautiful daughter, home with us since April. I would love to be part of your community of ladies on the journey..

  39. I am pursuing things of God this year, and the word that keeps on being whispered in my ear is “trust”. Funny how our own stuff continues to come up the more we pursue. I have read your blog for a while and have picked up a few books on your recommendation (Blackaby & Beth Moore). It looks like you have lots of takers of your offer to find other women to walk with, but I hope that in your journey to support and be supported, you continue to use your blog as a public way to reach others whom you have no idea you influence.

  40. I’d love to hear more about what you’re thinking as you’re seeking to pursue God more deeply and be authentic with others. My husband and I started our adoption journey this past year (hoping to travel next month), and one thing it’s done for both of us is put pressure on us to seek more depth in our relationships with Him. Superficiality just doesn’t cut it. We’re working through what that means, but we both want to seek to grow and know more of Him.

  41. I’m much later than anyone else commenting…probably because there are so many things that need to change in my life, but here goes… I need my time with Him to even begin to scratch the surface of who He ‘s called me to be. IMMEASURABLY MORE than I can do in my strength… so where do I sign! Count me in to be held accountable and to stay on track with my sweet Father who shows me so much grace and mercy.. its just unbelievable He
    loves me this way.

  42. Oh Stefanie…..
    I would love to be a part of this!
    I NEED to be more intentional with my time for Him!

    So excited.

    This is a great way to begin the year!

    Love and (((hugs)))!

  43. Need this.. I’m in… xo

  44. Sometimes,living in New England, I feel isolated in my faith like my church is an island in a sea of secular humanism. It’s good to read blogs like yours and know there are many, many Christians out there. Thank you for your encouragement, because I’m dealing with the same issues, wanting to be closer to God yet still rebelling, and being afraid to be transparent and open about my faith even though I want to – I pray this year to have the courage to tell my nonbelieving friends about Christ and the hope I have in him.

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