• Dana L. Butler

Sharing my one word for 2016 (and a quick update on our family’s special needs journey)

Hey, my dear friends.

Wow. It’s hard to know where to start when it’s been nearly two months since I’ve written here.

We had a sweet Christmas Eve morning — just Stan, me, Isaac, and our Maia-bean. We opened presents as a family, hung out in our pj’s, ate a leisurely breakfast together. The evening found me leading worship for our church’s Christmas Eve service, which was both wonderful and quite an adventure for me — my guitar skillz are WAY rusty these days, y’all. Yikes.

We spent Christmas day and night with our extended fam here in Colorado. Think amazing French toast breakfast, fun present-opening session, a new Keurig for Stan and me (courtesy of Stan’s sister and her hubby, and which I madly adore), and lots of excitement for the kiddos.

In the meantime, my dearly beloved husband has become somewhat obsessed with memes. Sharing them, creating them, all of it. And I can’t seem to avoid being the subject of them. A classic example for you:



Things have been a bit roller-coaster-ish with our sweet boy. Two steps forward, one step back, it seems. We’ve transferred Isaac’s care to a different clinic, and the difference is night-and-day. His therapist and psychiatrist are both absolutely Heaven-sent. They truly hear me, validate my concerns, ask phenomenal questions, and interact with Isaac with such wisdom and sensitivity. What an amazing gift from Jesus.

I am able to participate in therapy with Isaac, and while it’s still play therapy, it is so much more intentional and focused, and I find myself taking away great insights and strategies to implement with him at home.

Though we still have our ultra-difficult moments, life in the Butler abode seems to be on an overall trend of upward movement. More and more frequently, Isaac and Maia are playing peacefully together (Isaac’s sensory issues combined with Maia’s strong will have made their relationship quite difficult at times). They’re more often enjoying one another, sharing, drawing, dancing, making each other laugh. Stan and I sat in the living room last night and had an actual conversation while watching them play together. What what?! ::blissful sigh::

We have a long way to go with our boy, but I’m hopeful. Jesus is leading us, and He is trustworthy.


As we’ve entered 2016, I’ve found myself praying and pondering the idea of choosing a #oneword365 for this year.

I’ve thought back over my previous words:

2013 – Presence; 2014 – Freedom; 2015 – Unfold

And I’ve pondered the fact that these concepts always take more than one year to be fully birthed inside me. In fact, I’m not sure we ever actually arrive.

Presence (wholehearted attentiveness) to Jesus and to those He puts before me still takes daily focus and intentionality. Freedom (from the fear of man, in particular) is most certainly a journey that won’t be complete till the other side of eternity. Unfolding — letting people see who I really am, what’s really in my heart — it’s still terrifying at times. Again, something that will forever require focus and intentionality.

And yet, as I’ve let these Holy-Spirit-highlighted words mark my previous 3 years, the ways He’s used them as tools for His work inside me have never failed to amaze me. These words rarely take shape for me in the ways I’ve foreseen — which is a little bit scary, and a big bit awe-inspiring to me.

God’s faithfulness to speak and unveil and continually form Himself on my insides in unexpected ways — it undoes me. He is so profoundly, perfectly trustworthy.

As I’ve sat before Jesus and asked what’s on His heart for me this year, one word has repeatedly stuck out to me. And while I have a few ideas of ways to apply it, I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit will continue to unveil layer after layer of meaning in the months to come.

What I feel is on His heart for me this year is a deeper settledness, a hush in my soul. A new attentiveness to His whispers.

It’s a sense of moving in quiet, confident, steady companionship with Him. Lockstep.

It’s noticing and validating my emotions, impulses, and desires in any given circumstance — and then, instead of acting on said emotions, intentionally stopping a minute or a day or a week to listen for His heartbeat before determining my course of action. (In the context of parenting. Interacting with loved ones. Leading worship. Mentoring people. Time management. Responding to situations involving conflict or misunderstanding.)

It’s frequently slowing down to reflect, to learn from failures, to cultivate an awareness of His nearness and quiet leadership in my day-to-day, moment-by-moment, gut-wrenching, challenging, beautiful, fulfilling life.

It’s finding room in my schedule to sit and make art — to write words, to write songs, to take pictures, to cultivate and expand my creativity.

It’s making space for intentional, obedient self-care. For rest — both for my heart and my body — as an act of worship and trust.

It’s carving out time to silently gaze on Him and be changed.

And most likely, it’s a hundred or so other things that Jesus will reveal as I make my way through 2016.

My word for this year is pause.


A reminder to stop and acknowledge Him in still more of my ways, so He can direct my paths (Prov. 3:5-6).

It’s one of those areas I’ll be growing in till the day I die. But I’m praying and trusting that this year will be one in which I learn and grow and abide and pause with Him… to a degree that I never have before.


Have you chosen a word to mark your 2016? If so, I’d love to hear. If you haven’t, it’s most definitely not too late.

Peace to y’all, my friends. Thanks for reading my heart today… for your support and prayers, your love, and your companionship here. Happy New Year.

Know someone who'd appreciate this?

© 2020 by Dana Butler. Proudly created with Wix.com.