My Word & Shape Flowing out of 2015

Do you have a word or theme that is recurring, it keeps coming up? A word that won’t go away? One that seems highlighted? Sometimes it comes like that, over time…

I’ve noticed that my word/theme of the year often starts as a seed in September rather than January, and then begins to take root in November. Maybe it is because the school year starts in September and I taught school for ten years and had children that started their new school year every fall. Whatever the reason, now that it is the beginning of our calendar year, my word is taking shape, unfolding and exciting. It began to present itself quietly in the context of 2015 while I was doing a word study and Bible journaling in Psalm 25:12. Then it continued to come up from many places, being highlighted as I heard it.

During the walk on the beach, when I saw the deer I talked about in the last post, I asked God about my word for 2016. The thought came, “Notice the ebb and flow of the surf. It changes more dramatically and quickly when the tide is turning and you need to be aware of where and when the surf is coming in.”

That day was beautiful. The sun was emerging after a big storm the night before. There were many people on the beach that day in November (for the Pacific Northwest). When the tide was out, I walked in the shallow surf wearing my rubber boots, enjoying my time alone, praying, taking in the beauty etc. When the tide rushed in, I ran in too so the water wouldn’t come above the top of my boots. People were usually there and we greeted each other as we walked. I sensed God speaking to me through this – inviting me to enjoy the ebb time with Him as part of the flow. When the tide comes in, I am to come in with it, encountering people, engaging with them and be encouraging. My word was confirmed: FLOW.

In 2016 I am to flow with the movement of the Holy Spirit – going deeper with God, and engaging with people, trusting Him for the ebb and flow of life and what this year may bring.

“Plan to be surprised.” My quote of the year from the movie Dan in Real Life.

I ‘m not fond of surprises. I like plans. So learning to “plan to be surprised” will be an interesting process for me. As far as my word for 2015, AIM, I don’t feel quite finished with it. Even the kitchen door I put the yearly theme on was updated and revised at least 3 times last year, the last time only a couple of months ago. In asking God about this, I was reminded about my study and Bible journaling in Psalm 25 where it says, “”Who are those who fear the LORD? He will show them the path they should choose.” “Will show” means to be aimed like an arrow in a bow and like the flow of water. I will once again revise the door, leaving the concentric circles I now see as flowing into and out of the center. The spiral, like flowing wind and circulating water is the shape I will add to the concentric circles of 2015. So now I have a word, an animal, and a shape. Life is good.

In some ways, as in Psalm 25:12, this year means a continuation of the same. In other ways it is different, and I have a year to explore it. With the addition of an animal of the year and the Scripture I am drawn to, intimacy with God will be the key for me to flow with the Holy Spirit in 2016.

In August 2015, I read the Songs of Songs in The Passion Translation. It came alive to me like never before, and I read it through two more times. The book is rich in love and imagery. The deer, gazelle, stag are used often and I highlighted those verses. I looked up the word flow and Song of Songs 4:15 sprang up in the bridegroom’s word to the bride:

“Your life flows into mine,
Pure as a garden spring.
A well of living water
Springs up from within you,
Like a mountain brook
Flowing into my heart.”
– Song of Songs 4:15 TPT

So now I have an animal, a word, a shape, and a book of the Bible for 2016. Life is good.

Do you have a word for 2016? You can leave your word in the comments box if you would like.

Cheers to you and this new year full of hope!

A Description of my Art Process for either Watercolor or Fluid Acrylics:  

1. For the background, I spray on side with water and brushed some paint on the page. I tipped the page a bit so the water and paint would “flow.” Then I close the journal so the watery paint would also print on the other side. Then I let it dry. This step could be done with either watercolors or fluid acrylics. If using fluid acrylics put a coat of either matte medium or acrylic glazing liquid on first and let it dry. For watercolor, paint directly onto the paper.
2. Draw the word flow lightly in pencil and then trace over it with pen.
3. For the flow of waves, I cut from some painted papers I had painted previously in the colors I wanted to use for my word “flow.” The painted papers are tissue and deli paper. The techniques for painting the papers and cutting swirls are taught in my online Art Journaling class: Marbling & More.
4. Cut curvy strips and swirls out of the aqua and purply papers and arrange them on the journal pages
5. Glue the strips on with a glue stick if using watercolors. Glue on with matte medium if using acrylics.
6. Look over my definitions of flow I had got from online dictionaries and choose some definitions and synonyms to write between the painted paper strips, first with pencil, then with pen.
7. Erase pencil lines
8. I used a Royal Soft-Grip round brush to tint with paint around the edges of the strips of paper and the letters of “flow” and along the edges of some of the strips of paper. I used the fluid acrylic Golden Iridescent Bright Gold for the metallic gold when painting with either watercolor or acrylic because I do not have a good gold metallic watercolor paint.
For techniques on fluid acrylic paint application and lettering please check out my Art Journaling workshop page:– The journal I used for this post is Stillman & Birn Zeta Mixed Media 7 x 7″ Sketchbook. The paper is heavyweight and wonderfully smooth for writing on. The colors of fluid acrylics I used are: Phthalo Turquoise,  Dioxazine Purple, and Iridescent Gold Fine Bright. Links are listed below.


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  1. This is all so beautiful and inspiring, Valerie! I so appreciate reading about your process and how God has spoken into you word selection. I believe I may have to be "inspired" by you swirly circles and make a few myself. Looking forward to following your word progress through the year. Blessings to you. 🙂

  2. I was yearning for God this morning and your blog came up in my feed. Your journal filled renewed me with Flow. My life is always busy but the ocean like you explained is so comforting and always going and renewing as it washes up the shore and back to the ocean like the circles. Your metaphors are perfect. Thanks for the positive word for today. Blessings, Kelly

  3. Intimacy is my word for this year. I'm to grow more intimate with God and the Holy Spirit as well as open myself to intimacy with others. I am trying my hand at art Journaling and love your work.

  4. Rhonda, Thank you for sharing your word for this year. It sounds like we may be on a similar journey. Blessings to you as you walk closely with God and in your creative adventure with Him.

  5. Oh Kelly, I'm so glad! Your renewal like the ocean washing up on the shore and back encourages me. Blessings to you this year!

  6. Cathering, thank you for sharing. "Be Thou My Vision" is one of my favorite hymns. What a great word for the year: Vision. May God bless you this year with more of His vision!

  7. I was totally drawn by joy again when you actually revealed your animal and word of this year Valerie. The extra reason this time being a bit of coincidence 🙂 Three years back, I was gifted with a word by God, but not just for the year, but for my lifetime and later .. It was and is saundarya lahari (Lahari means flow 🙂 And last year I happened to encounter with an animal in scriptures (the musk deer). Again it is an animal I need to focus upon for my lifetime. I will mail to you in person more about the animal very soon.
    Can I call it coincidence 🙂 whatever it might be, but your art, perceptions, openness, ability to express vividly and many more..( this time your word connectivity with that of the past year) are always idealistic for me. Thanks for being there and for taking time to share everything.
    Cheers and best wishes

  8. Gowri, That is amazing! God is good speaks to us in so many ways. Blessings to you as you explore Lahari and the meaning of the animal. – Valerie

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