Joy in 2015—And a Giveaway!

by Ashley Anthony

*Ashley has offered to give one of our readers a special, customized painting to go along with today’s post! See below for giveaway details.

Joy in 2015

Can you believe 2014 is almost over? Each year seems to slip by faster than the one before. A few years ago, our family began the tradition of choosing a word instead of resolutions to help us better focus on our year ahead. Resolutions would quickly be broken and likely not remembered by spring. A word seemed like a simple solution to fix that.

One word would help to shape our prayers and hopes for the new year. 

2009 was crazy busy, so in 2010 we chose the word, “SIMPLIFY.” By January 3, we had made one 911 call, ridden in two ambulances, and met our insurance deductible for the year! God immediately tested our resolve with “simplify.” We’ve also chosen the word, “LOVE,”—to love others more, each other more, and God more. Another word, “GROW,” focused our attention on growing spiritually and deepening our relationships with Christ. And then there was “DELIGHT,”—to delight ourselves in the Lord in all things. I truly did see those words as defining words for each year. 2014 has been a much different story though.

In October of 2013 my mother-in-law, “Gran” as my kids call her, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a very aggressive cancer. The cancer was too close to vital organs and blood vessels, leaving treatment necessary to hopefully shrink the tumor before surgery was optional. Our family was obviously paralyzed by this news. By the end of 2013, after enduring more than 2 months of pancreatic chemotherapy, Gran received the good news that the cancer shrunk such that surgery was possible. While everything seemed dark at that time, the Lord rested the word “joy” on my heart for 2014. The specific verse He gave me was Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

I wanted to keep a record of the joy in 2014, which I did through journaling and using the hashtag, #joyin2014, on social media. Joy may seem like the wrong word considering what Gran was facing. Weren’t words such as, “heartbreak,” “sadness,” “grief,” “despair,” or “hopelessness” more appropriate? No, those words were not and are never appropriate for anyone who trusts in the Lord, and my precious Father in Heaven made it abundantly clear that joy was exactly His word for our family in 2014.

In early January of this year, Gran went in for surgery, but was given the bad news minutes into the multi-hour operation that the cancer had spread to her liver (stage 4), and that surgery was no longer an option. Looking back, time almost seemed frozen, but my joy journal showed great encouragement, hope, promise and faith. “Thank you Lord for giggles today, they give me joy.” “Thank you for family movie night.” “Thank you for friends who say they pray and really pray!” The Lord knew I needed to find joy daily in the simple things all around me, and I did!

In March, my mom’s cancer (breast cancer that first surfaced in 2005) had spread to her liver and bones after being pretty well contained. What? What word did you give me, Lord? JOY? How do we handle this? How do I find JOY in this mess? Both moms. But the Lord never fails, and His love is good. He’s always right on time. My joy could only be found in Him and how He would carry us through. My joy journal praises the Lord for time with my parents and fun times with my kids during those next few days.

Missional Motherhood

This year has been filled with a lot of pain, (I also lost two precious grandparents) and I’ve probably cried more than in all the others years combined. However, I cannot think of a better word for 2014 than “JOY.” Jesus has given us complete joy through every moment of every sad day. He has strengthened our faith in Him and deepened our prayer life. We don’t just speak words. We pray in faith that God hears our prayers and will answer them.

As this year comes to a close, there are so many things for which we are praising God and finding JOY in:

  • My mother-in-law’s last two quarterly scans showed NO cancer in her pancreas or liver, and she is feeling better than she has in years—JOY!
  • My mom’s pain from earlier in the year has subsided. After being told that her legs were so fragile they could shatter at any moment and that rods were needed, her legs are strong and she is feeling well—JOY!
  • The Lord continues to put people in our lives to encourage and love us—JOY!
  • We have friends and family who love Jesus and pray for us—JOY!
  • We have been given several opportunities to share what God has done this year—JOY!
  • We have been able to share the gospel and see people receive it with GREAT JOY this year—JOY!
  • We have three healthy kids we love to pieces—JOY!
  • The Lord has graciously given us the opportunity to teach a young couples class within our local church—JOY!

I’m so thankful that the Lord put the word “joy” on my heart! It brings me to tears to think about how good God is and how much He loves us and provides for us even when we have absolutely no clue what is ahead.

This is something I wrote on January 2nd, 2014 on my personal blog:

“I pray all of our days in 2014 be filled with JOY.  I know we will have trials, bad days, sad days, frustrating days…but I only want GOD to get the glory of our days. When our focus is on the negative and the ugly, Satan wins. But we can easily defeat him with our JOY that we find ONLY in JESUS!”

I have no idea what 2015 will hold for you, but my prayer is that it is a joyous one. I pray that no matter what happens, you can point every moment to Jesus and the good He is orchestrating in your life. I encourage your family to choose a word to characterize 2015. We never know how God can use the simplest things to teach us great things and draw us closer to HIM! Happy New Year! (Almost!) And please check out the giveaway details below!

Ashley Anthony

Giveaway Details:

Ashley has graciously offered one of you a special painting, custom designed to represent the “word of the year” of your choosing. See the picture above to get an idea of Ashley’s work! (And, if you want to see more of Ashley’s art, visit her site here.) Here is how to enter:

  • Share this post.
  • Subscribe to Missional Motherhood via e-mail on the top right of this page.
  • Comment below this post “Shared and Subscribed” and why you want to win Ashley’s painting. Feel free to include your choice of a special word to characterize 2015 for your family!

Giveaway Winner: Kelly Clough! 

Thank you to all who participated!


  1. Michelle Ragan says:

    Shared and subscribed
    We sold our home of almost 12 years, now living in our “transition” house and will start building our new house in March. Feeling a bit out of sorts but persevering to get through 2015!

  2. Andrea Stringer says:

    Thank you for this post. What a good idea to use a word for the new year instead of resolutions. I think this is a way to definitely stay more focused. I’ll have to talk with my husband about this, but I’m thinking “faith” or “trust” as a word for our family in 2015. My husband pastors a small congregation in our town, and we want to move forward making some changes in certain areas that are going to require trust in the Lord to help us through these changes. It’s so good to have spiritual guidance through blogs such as these to encourage me and others to press on in the Lord. God bless. (The painting is beautiful.)

  3. Mary Hudson says:

    Shared and already subscribed.

    Thank you Ashley for such a wonderful idea of using a word instead of resolutions. The word for 2015 for me and my family is Trust. We will find ways everyday to trust in the Lord no matter what our circumstances look like on the surface. He knows what is best and His timing is always perfect. May God Bless.

  4. Heather says:

    Thank you for that post! Delight is my word, when I had my 4 babies all under 4 it was tiresome of course and sweet times but I prayed daily God let me delight in my job of lovingly caring for them and I truly did. I delighted in every diaper change, every booboo and loved my job. People always asked how do you do it and stay calm and patient but it was bc I asked God to let me delight in the little things of the day and I did.

  5. Lauren Johnson says:

    Liked and shared! I’d love it bc it’s a beautiful painting and we like to decorate our home with the things of the Lord!

  6. Kristi Hall says:

    My word is “abide”….God has been teaching me a lot
    through John 15:7. What a treasure to have this on
    a piece of art from Ashley! Love her heart!

  7. Kacie Wilbur says:

    Shared and subscribe! Choosing “grateful”… Not near enough do I realize how much God has blessed me with. Focusing on being grateful for little and big things this new year!

  8. Melissa Mathis says:

    shared and subscribed

    Ever since you started your hashtag “joyin2014”, I have loved it! So I’ve been thinking and praying about what word I wanted to use in 2015 for our family. Gratitude will be our word. As my boys are in they’re teenage years, it seems we tend to take a lot for granted. I want to teach them to always be grateful…no matter what. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  9. Christinann says:

    shared and subscribed. I would love to display this art in my home as a reminder of God’s faithfulness. I think our word would be trust.

  10. Jenny Thomas says:

    Shared and subscribed. Would love to win this! My word would be Joy for this coming year… It’s so easy to lose joy in trials and getting caught up in life. What a wonderful reminder to see the painting and be reminded that we have Pure joy in Christ alone!!

  11. Kristen Henderson says:

    shared and subscribed!
    Present is my word! I spend so much time on focusing on what needs to be done or where I have to go next I am not present for the here and now! I want to soak up and savor my girls, my family and what God has in store for me in that moment!

  12. Stacey Berretta says:

    Shared and subscribed. Our word will be “intentional” – in so many areas. I think her artwork depicts “joy”.

  13. Nannette Baker says:

    ‘Glory’ is my word. All glory to God because even though I’ve been suffering with an incurable illness since 2010, God gets all the glory! I give Him all my being & praise. I am not home yet- Heaven is my home!!

    Shared & subscribed- God bless

  14. Angie Childers says:

    Enjoyed this post. Shared and subscribed. We are choosing joy right now in our family despite circumstances beyond our control. We are enjoying seeing God working on our lives through this.

  15. Sarah Berryhill says:

    Shared and subscribed.

    This was a long, often lonely, year with lots of weary days due to our current life season of seminary, work, strenuous schedules, little children, sleepless nights and on and on. At times you feel like the season will never end, and it’s easy to forget the promises of the Lord. But right now, the phrase from Scripture, “abide in Me,” is playing over and over. On the lonely days, “abide in Me.” When the school assignments are piled up, “abide in me.” When money is tight, “abide in me.” What a sweet reminder it would be to have a painting with our word for next year: ABIDE.

  16. Laura Simons says:

    Shared and Subscribed! “LAST”

    Thanks for sharing, Ashley! I’ve seen your #JOY2014 posts on FB and have been encouraged all year. MY word of the year is “NO”. My goal is to help my kids (and myself) learn to be content in all circumstances. I find myself giving in too often and I hope to be more disciplined in 2015. Our family word is “LAST”. This has many connotations that will be used this year, but our main goal as a family is to put others first, ourselves last. We had a great time deciding on this at dinner tonight and practicing how to have good attitudes when we hear “NO” and thinking of great ways to put others first, ourselves last. All about training!

  17. Erin A says:

    Shared and subscribed! This totally hit home for me due to the fact that my mother has been doing chemo treatments for a year and a half. She has her ups and downs but finds time for the JOY in her life. Thank you for sharing yours joys! We have many to look forward to this year and many that we don’t even know are coming.

  18. Kelly says:

    Shared and subscribed. This was just what I needed today, as it marks the 1st anniversary of my father’s death due to brain cancer.

    • missionalmotherhood says:

      Kelly, you are the winner of Ashley’s painting! Please look for an e-mail from us! And, I am so sorry about your father. Praying for you and your family now. Blessings in 2015.

  19. Stephanie Redmond says:

    Shared and subscribed

    Our family was talking about writing down goals for 2015 at dinner tonight. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with making goals – I don’t want to fail. I love the idea of a word that encompasses the year ahead to guide attitudes and actions! With God’s help, I can’t fail with a word (and The Word!) “Delight” is the word that will focus all that a do in 2015.
    Thanks, Ashley, for your encouragement!

  20. Elizabeth Holloway says:

    Shared and subscribed

    Our word for 2015 will be peace. Things are so hectic and I really need to find the peace in the midst of it.

  21. Carrie-Ann says:

    Shared and subscribed.

    Our family word for 2014 was “Driven.”
    We must all be self-disciplined and driven daily.

    Thanks for sharing. Your painting is beautiful!!!

  22. Megan Herndon says:

    Shared and Subscribed! My word for this upcoming year is joy as well. I just got married one month ago and I’m praying that this next year is filled with an immense amount of joy! What a wonderful blessing that would be 🙂

  23. Caroline says:

    The piece is beautiful! I am a mother who had gotten very ill with a mystery illness. I am doing better now with treatment; however, the issues are not completely diagnosed, and we have had a very hard and anxious time with all of the uncertainties and decisions. We have two beautiful girls and praying for the right direction. Our words for 2015 are BELIEVE and HOPE.

    Shared and subscribed

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