the changing of the words


2018 was a year I chose to intentionally live moxie.  It took moxie — determination, nerve and a force of character — to hold on to faith while making serious decisions that impacted the course of Stephanie’s life and our family.

It took moxie to weather the inaccurate perceptions of many therapists as Stephanie schemed and manipulated them into believing I was the root of her issues. It took moxie to wait for God to fight for me and allow the Truth to prevail.

It took moxie to keep being the mom I knew all of the kids needed. It took moxie to believe healing was happening in Hannah. It took moxie to treat her as the person we knew she could be, based on who she was becoming, rather than based on her past actions.

It took moxie to trust that Jordan would heal. It took moxie to give him another chance after one more mistake with technology. It took moxie to help him learn to be a man of character, in person and online.

It took moxie to watch Sam enter the pre-teen stages of sorting through whether he believes he measures up to the other guys around him at school. It took moxie to let him fail as he figures out school work and turning in assignments, even if he thinks they are stupid.

It took moxie to endure a referendum that was surrounded by mudslinging aimed at school board members. It took moxie to remain silent. It took moxie to continue to do my best at serving the community.

It took moxie to start a new job. It took moxie to broaden the way I look at things — through a business lens and a leadership lens rather than a teacher and instructional lens.

It took moxie to maintain friendships when I constantly felt like I was falling short and out of energy. It took moxie to send texts, meet for coffee, and write notes to drop in the mail.

It took moxie to keep cooking and walking. It took moxie to not consume excessive amounts sweet tea, gummy bears and crime shows.

It took moxie to keep finding joy in the ordinary events as clouds hung low during much of 2018. And, it will take moxie as I usher a new word into my life.

Welcome whimsy!


I forgot my notebook when we went on vacation in California. We stayed in a hotel the night before our flight and when I realized I’d forgotten my notebook, Andy was on a snack run. I texted him, a little frantic, and asked him to pick up a notebook for me. He called and delivered the bad news: “They don’t have the kind you use. Should I just get a different one?”

I almost told him to forget it, but instead grumbled an affirmative.

It took me a few days to accept a new notebook. I was contemplating checking-out, lecturing myself that the purpose of vacation is to unwind and leave your cares behind. When I finally opened the notebook, the first entry revealed that the best way for me to unwind is to reflect. As I filled lines, my fear unraveled — I craved a whimsical life, but felt like I was a hoax when I shared about the magical, charming and playful parts of life, because so much of my daily living is an intentional force of character (or moxie) to be lighthearted.

Surrounded by palm trees and a flaming fuchsia sunrise, I began to consider that whimsy + my life were not mutually exclusive. Perhaps my life could be described as whimsical without it feeling like a deception. I’ve been letting these thoughts tug since we’ve returned from California.

I’m eager to welcome whimsy into my life as One Little Word No. 14. I first selected a word in 2006 after reading an article in Guideposts by Debbie Macomber. She described the way living a word had impacted her life for more than two and a half decades. My mom gave me the article and encouraged me to select a word before it was the hip thing to do.

I like living words, and I like when other people live words too. Sometimes a word finds me and it’s not really the word I want. That happened last year with moxie and in 2017 with steadfast…in  2013 with shine, 2010 with vitality, 2008 with genuine, and 2006 with my first word, grace. I’m a little giddy that this year’s word found me and brings sweet anticipation.

Won’t you let me know what word found you for 2019? My crew has claimed:

Andy = Better
Hannah = Faith
Jordan = Build
Sam = “I have no idea.”

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  1. I’ve loved catching up with you through your posts Ruth. Whimsy is a wonderful word and one you deserve. I look forward to following your journey in 2019. Happy New Year!

  2. I imagine ‘whimsey’ will be that gift that keeps on giving this year, Ruth. Happy New Year to all!

  3. Perfect word to hold onto and allow into your life! The world might just be a better place if we allowed whimsy to drift in and take hold. As I think about your word and you, I smile.

  4. There is so much to love in this post, and yet I find myself lingering over this line: “My mom gave me the article and encouraged me to select a word before it was the hip thing to do.” I was just having a conversation with Mark about the positive impact of your trailblazing in our lives. Not only were you selecting a word before it was the hip thing to do, but you were also building an online community of educators before it was the hip thing to do. You were encouraging teachers (and others) to write slices of their lives before it was the hip thing to do. In my world, YOU are the one who made these things hip. May whimsy bring to you all the joy you have brought into my world!

    • Your comments are always like a sweet salve after I write about being scraped by the world. Salve is healing and so are your comments. Thank you for reflecting the truth of me back to me. I would miss it, if it weren’t for you.

  5. I was pretty sure when I read that wrapping paper post that whimsey might be claiming you! I’m thrilled that you’re giddy about this year’s word. When I saw that Andy had chosen better, I was almost sure that was going to be my word. But I ended up with try. Somehow I felt I needed a word that challenged me a bit more this year. Loved this past year’s journey with delight. Almost as good as the year I chose savor! Thanks for encouraging me and being a friend who writes!