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When the year is different than you thought it would be.



I'm a writer, author, and online educator who loves helping others build intentional lives through the power of habit and meaningful routines.







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I know this season will go by fast.

Before long, the chaos of the New Year will approach us. We’ll download new apps. We’ll buy kale. We’ll set some crazy resolutions that some of us will keep and others of us will forget by February. I wanted to take a moment to share my little tradition with you in case you’re looking to enter into 2023 with a little less striving.

At the start of every new year, I pick a word.

Instead of setting a million resolutions, I take the time to hunker down, sit in silence, and listen for God.

Each year is different. Sometimes, I know the word for the year before December even hits. Sometimes, I’m surprised by where my fingers flip in the Bible and the words I uncover. Sometimes God makes it LOUD and CLEAR through other people that THIS. IS. THE. WORD.

A few years ago, I had a bit of a different experience. I don’t know if God gave me the word for that year or if I chose it myself because it’s something I wanted.

The word was “prepared.”

I liked this word as my 2021 word straight from the start. It felt sturdy. Honestly, it felt easy. There wasn’t some big or extreme mission behind it. It didn’t hold weight like the word “surrender” or “rebuild” or “transform.” It was simply “prepared,” and I wanted that “prepared” feeling for all areas of my life: work, home, travel, etc.

In my mind, preparing meant having things done long before they needed to be. Being prepared looked like buying Christmas gifts in July. Being prepared meant packing earlier than the night before a trip. Ready, to me, was meal prepping and organized schedules and blog posts written months in advance. These were my parameters and my expectations when it came to the word “prepared.”

If I’ve learned anything about God over the last few years, he will use what you give him to show you something different than what you expected.

As I said earlier, I don’t think God beamed down the word “prepared” as his top pick for 2021, but I believe he worked with us. He could easily have considered, “Prepared… hm… interesting word choice. I can work with that. It might not be the “prepared” you wanted to prepare for, but I’ll be with you every step.”

I talked with a friend over video chat at the end of that year, laughing with her about my lack of preparedness over the last 12 months.

“My word for the year is “prepared,” and I’ve never felt more unprepared,” I told her honestly.

“Maybe it’s still your word, but maybe God wants you prepared differently than what you thought.”

It had never occurred to me. Prepared, in my mind, lent itself to one definition: order and efficiency and the elimination of chaos.

But look at the Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions:

a: to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity

b: to get ready

c: make (someone) ready or able to do or deal with something.

d: subjected to a unique process or treatment


We can get carried away with making plans that serve and fit our needs, but God will still be God regardless. He will still show up. He will still make his purposes come to pass. He will still find ways to work with you even if you’re stubborn or want things to work out a certain way.

And I need to write this for someone who needs to read it today:

God has good for you.

His plans are not malicious, and they’re not hurtful. His plans are not made from a place of wrath or anger. He does not look at you and see shame, condemnation, or someone who will never add up. His plans may hurt sometimes, but the scripture tells us that our God is close to the brokenhearted.

He has plans to prosper you but never harm you.

He has plans to give you hope and a future.

God is for you. Absolutely. 100%. And his crucial motivation is abounding, overflowing love. He loves you beyond what you could ever imagine, and his plans for you come from that place.

I had a plan for that year, and God had another plan. His was better. Not easier. Not more fun. Not less agonizing. But still, regardless, better. I can confidently say that I walked out of 2021 prepared in ways I never imagined I would.

I would have picked fewer hurdles, but God saw those hurdles and knew the preparation from them. God does not plot our pain, but he allows things to happen so that we will be transformed through them.

I am stronger than ever.

I am more ready than ever.

I dealt with some challenging hurdles in Novi’s health that year, and they turned me into a different person– a person with more compassion, more grace, more deep-rooted joy, and more focused on what matters.

By my definition, I wasn’t more prepared than the year before.

By God’s definition, I was more prepared than ever before.

I am writing this message to you because, before long, we’ll get swept into the chaos of becoming someone new at the strike of midnight on January 1, 2024. Change is incredible, and it’s inspiring, but don’t forget to invite God into it. He wants to be a part of it. And he might want to change you in ways you can’t see right now. Trust God to be God.

You can make plans, but remember that he will set your steps in motion.

The places you went and things you encountered in 2023 might not have been ideal, but I bet you grew. I bet your skin became thicker. I bet you tapped into things within you that you didn’t even know existed.

Things may not look how you thought they’d look, and yes, you can mourn that. But remember to look twice. There may be something you didn’t yet have eyes to see until now.

Remember to look twice. Invite God in. His plans are good.

There’s more coming up ahead, just around the bend.


  1. Tammie McIntire says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Hannah. I love that your word was prepared, and it turned into something you didn’t expect. My word for this year is Grace. I am super type A and I want to be more considerate of others, so last week when my bestfriend was over she spilled red wine all over. I didn’t freak out or make a big deal, I just called for some <a href="">carpet cleaning in Somers, NY</a> and I was like yes, this is what Grace is. Well 17 days into the year, I think I need to also give myself some grace and not hold myself to such a rigid life. Thank you for sharing.

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


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