Just Life

Notes on Hope | Another Word.

I am a big fan of the whole One Little Word idea. Mostly the One Word part of that. the words themselves are anything but Little. I did a lot of work toward the end of 2018 and knew that Hope was going to be my word for 2019. I shared some of that work with y’all on January 1 and felt really good about all of it.

So I was completely taken aback when I went to church on that first Sunday of 2019 and learned that we were going to try something new. something called Star Words. During the service, the pastors passed baskets of stars*, each with a word. We couldn’t see the words, just the shapes, so we couldn’t be choosy – and we had to pick one. I picked this one.


Not Hope. not any of the words I’d even been remotely auditioning. honestly not any of the words I’d ever think to choose. But then I guess that’s whole point of the thing. I didn’t choose it. I even complained a little to my Friday morning group – that if I’d known we were going to get words, I wouldn’t have gone to all the effort to choose one myself (one which I was then and am still completely certain is the right word for 2019).

But I came home that Sunday, pasted the word into my journal – googled “Star Words” – and waited. and pondered. The first glimpse of what this Star Word might mean came just last Tuesday in my morning devotion:

On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul. ~Psalm 138:3

The gist of the devotion is that God answers me … do I answer Him?


Then on Sunday, I saw this on @tyneswedish ‘s Instagram stories

What indeed?

I realized I needed to shift the context of my thinking … maybe my Star Word is more about the Question. and the process of getting to the Answer.

I love that Hope could be any of … or all of … the Question, the process, the Answer. (and that’s maybe the deepest and/or most confusing thing I’ve ever written here!)

I also love that I’ve found a meaningful way to connect these two words!

Have you come across Star Words before?

*as I was typing this post, I realized they were Yellow Stars. Yellow meaning sun and light … and also the stigma attached to Jews in Nazi Germany. I’m passing along the feedback.


  • Bonny

    Hmm … interesting. My knowledge of star words is from when I worked in an elementary school library. That’s what our reading remediation program called their lists of words students should be familiar with on sight and not have to sound out, so we made lots of star word labels (chair, table, book, etc.) and had them on almost everything. I can’t make a connection between this and your star words, but I find the whole idea of choosing a star word completely at random intriguing.

  • Kat

    Very interesting, Mary! This post made me Google bible verses and answer – and I got some really incredible responses! I think answer is such a great word for you!!

  • Juliann

    I love this idea. I am passing it on to our worship elder but maybe I can use it with my staff too. Makes me think of – Zora Neale Hurston — ‘There are years that ask questions and years that answer.’

  • Susan

    We also did this Star Word (staff called them Star Gifts) at our church. I received “sacrifice”. Still working my head around this and what it means.

  • Sarah

    I love how you sat on this for a while and eventually you were able to make a connection. I am a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t know the reason right away — eventually the answer becomes clear.

    FWIW, the stars that Jews were forced to wear in WWII were six-pointed Stars of David, so not the same as the stars you were given.

  • Kym

    Way back when I used to go to church 😉 . . . my church always did Star Words on the first Sunday of the new year. I loved it — and, in fact, I think that’s why I was so excited about One Little Word when I first heard about it. However your word comes to you (whether by personal choice or by choosing one randomly from a basket), there is just so much power in having one. Lovely post, Mary. XO

  • Vera

    Star Words are new to me too. What an interesting idea. I like the randomness of it and think I might even prefer that to “picking” my own one little word. Hmmm….maybe next year I’ll just line up the suggestions (I went to the link) and randomly pick one for mine.

  • Margene

    I’ve never heard of Star words, but I really wasn’t one who ever went to Sunday school (willingly). Your first word, Hope, and your second word, Answer, take me right to the word Faith, my favorite word. The line you wrote about Hope being the question and Answer the process…it really spoke to me. There is so much in the two words for your to work with. Enjoy this process, Mary.