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A Word

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the first summer that I spent up in Redwood City at Peninsula Covenant Church as a Summer Ministry Project Staff Member. It was a life-changing summer, one that eventually led to me moving to the area, finding my "second family" among the young adults that did life together there, and lived missionally in service to the community where I worked. That summer, one of the first activities that we participated in was spending time praying and asking God for ONE WORD for the summer. I remember praying and sensing the word "joy-full" as my word that summer.



You see, I have always been known for my laugh. Throughout my childhood, a smile was always pretty easy to come by for me and my laugh held a boisterous ring to it. Entering into high school, it may have been true that I interrupted a few classes as they could hear my laughter in their classrooms all the way from where I was eating my lunch. In college, my laughter could be heard from one side of the campus to another. And even here at CORM, Richard and I kept campus entertained with our echoing laughter as we got to know each other over our daily evening conversations outside of my apartment when we were "dating".


My laugh also covered up for some of my pain. I mean, if I was laughing and getting others laughing, it made it a little bit harder to have conversations that dug in deep. When I was beginning to walk in spiritual freedom, I recognized that even though I often was the first one to laugh in a given situation, that didn't mean that each circumstance was coming from the most honest of places. So, when I chose the word "joy-full", I chose it with purpose and distinction, trusting that God was going to do a deep work in me to root out the places of deeper sadness and dark corners of self-hatred and bring me into a place of healing where I could experience joy, and joy to the fullest. Not just smiles or laughter, but deep down, soul-satisfied, joy in Jesus.



The tradition of seeking out a word for each season of my life continued from that summer on. Over the years, I have faced seasons of "surrender", "humility" and "truth". I have seen how "unveiled" led to a season of vulnerability and healing. I saw how "beloved" broke through some of my hiccups and helped me embrace the love of our Good God. I have witnessed years where my word for the year, the word that God had placed on my heart, brought breakthrough in so many ways.


I've kept record of my words that God has given me in the past few years, and looking back...wow, I see how God has moved and shaped my experience during that year.



In 2017, God opened the door for two little ones, Edwin and Malvin, who had grown up at CORM, to come and live with me in my home as my foster children. That year, the word God gave me was PRESENCE. And wow, did I learn about presence that year! I had to learn to put aside my wants, needs, time, and space, so that I could bring presence to the lives of these young boys who became my sons. We played games together, watched movies together, spent time reading books, creating a bit of order in their little lives and filling out my life with new experiences and reasons to lean and learn from the Father. It wasn't easy and that season of surrender was probably one of the hardest seasons of my life. I felt out of my depth and questioned every decision that I made. That season came with a lot of tears and what pulled me through was leaning into the presence of the Holy Spirit meeting me in my wonderings and in my feelings of being ill-equipped. Presence--that word anchored me to truth and pulled me through those first moments as a mama that felt hard and reminded me to celebrate the little moments of progress along the way.



In 2018, my word was GRACE and man, did I learn about grace. That year, God brought Richard into my life. The funny thing about the dating process for me was that while it was sweet and rich and I experienced new emotions that I had never experienced before, it was also extremely hard for me. I spent time in counseling, working through some of the challenges I was having in learning how to accept love, and learning how to walk in grace in this season that felt so wholly new and beautiful. That year felt like I was constantly learning about the gift of grace--grace freely given from a God who loves us so powerfully--and grace that He gives us to walk into relationships that love us unconditionally as well. Richard's love so fully exemplified the love of Jesus to me--loving me in all my stuff and all my insecurities and fears and still, God teaches me grace through Richard's love as he is still choosing me now.


In 2019, my word was DISCOVER. I learned so much that year. I discovered more of myself, learned about what it took to be in a day-in-day-out relationship with my husband. That year, I got pregnant and my pregnancy with Ava was not easy--I was sick every single day of my pregnancy until the day that I gave birth. I discovered what I was capable of that year--though it was hard, I found out that I was stronger than I ever thought. I discovered that God had given me a family to call my own, the deepest desires of my heart. There were nights when I was uncomfortable with pregnancy and the power was out during the hottest season of the year. My husband would stay awake, fanning me to help me to sleep at night, praying over me when tears overwhelmed me. I discovered God's faithfulness that year.




And 2020 & 2021, my words were EXPECTANT and BRAVE. Both words powerful for the season of baby-life that I entered. Ava was born just weeks before COVID shut down the world, so that word "expectant" helped me to refocus my mind, not on what was hard in my new transition of motherhood, but where God was growing me.










And little Jace brought me into a season of bravery, pushing through a tough delivery and facing a family of 6 in our small little house. It immediately felt like our stuff, especially our laundry, had multiplied by 10 with the coming of just one little person. The week after Jace arrived, we recieved news that Richard had finally recieved his visa and we could begin the process of planning a trip to the States, the first furlough I had had since 2017! We had to make brave steps, leaving a part of our family back in Ghana for a few months and working on fundraising for us to return back to them in Ghana.




And this year, my word has been HOPE. And it has been a word that has challenged me when I have felt overwhelmed, lost in fear of the future, questioning and wondering. It was been the word that has reminded me of truth when I am up long nights with my little man, Jace, or when I'm being challenged by my teenagers (when did these boys become teenagers?). Hope that God is in the little moments. Hope that He is my strength when I feel weak and tired. Hope that He is holding my unknowns in the palm of His hand. Hope.


Perhaps you, too, need a word to cling to in the midst of your season, your month, or your year. Spend time praying. Spend more time listening. And search the Scriptures. God's heart is FOR US and He will speak. I'm praying that for each of us, our words will bring a reminder of truth when we get a little misdirected, that it will help us to press in, to lean close, when we feel a little far away. I'm praying that for each of us, our word will bring us to a new and deeper place with the Father and with those who we do life with each day.


What is your word?

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About Me

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I am Autumn Acheampong, a missionary in Ghana, West Africa. Here, I share pieces of my story and journey regarding the various seasons of "in-between" that I have experienced as a woman in ministry, a teacher and educator, a musician and creative, an abolitionist and passionate follower of Jesus, a mom and wife, and share conversations with others on journeys through their own in-between seasons as well.  So glad you are here!

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