One Word Can Change Your Life

In college, I was a Dave Matthews fan; something like 13 shows in 4 years.  As an avid guitar player, witnessing his shows was watching a work of art unfold on stage in perfect harmony.

Last year, I made epic plans to see him again for the first time since 2004.  Dave was coming to Raleigh; the perfect setting for a night away with Liz!

A couple of days before the show, one of the boys came down with the flu.  In a household with small children, when one gets it, they all get it.  Chances are, you’ll get it too; and we did.

Epic fail.

Two weeks later, we had plans to go to dinner for my birthday.  My chance to redeem a night away with Liz.

Same outcome.

We had to cancel when the stomach bug came calling.  It made me want to throw up. (all puns intended)

Honest truth.  I was angry – very angry.

Although I wouldn’t admit it then, my desires – what I wanted – seemed to pervade my thoughts.  When anything stepped in the way, frustration gave way to anger.

My blessings looked a lot like burdens.  With that perspective, I became deserving and bitter.  When I looked in the mirror of my heart, I didn’t like what I saw.  I was ungrateful.

“What happened?!”

About that time, I was so very fortunate to grab coffee with a friend who just happened to be my pastor; Mike Ashcraft

Mike was preparing for his release of “My One Word” and it was naturally part of our conversation.  Having attended Port City Church for 5 years, I was very familiar with the concept, but had never fully embraced the practice.  It sounded like a catchy idea, but really, focusing on one word with ALL that I had to do?

Mike’s encouragement provided incredible insight.

I began to be honest with myself and here’s what I saw…

Using the excuse, “the kids are sick” or its polar opposite “we don’t want to get the kids sick”, our consistency at church had become rather inconsistent.

“I don’t have enough time” became my mantra to extinguish all desires.

Even more, I stopped intentionally reading and listening to positive insight.

I stopped seeking wisdom.

As January dawned, the hope of change filled my heart; not simple behavioral change, I wanted heart-level change.  I saw a deadly cycle of floating aimlessly down the river of life.  A father who worked to provide, tried so hard to do what was right and became angry when things didn’t go the way he wanted them to go.

Guilt started the cycle over.

Rather than another year of failed resolutions, I took Mike’s encouragement to focus them into one word to help me shape the way I viewed everything.

The word GRATEFUL rested in my mind.

Then, with Mike’s approval, I tweaked the rules a little bit, I started playing with the word and misspelled it.  This really helped my word come to life.


~ Pursuing greatness through a lens of gratitude

I started being intentionally thankful for everything, even the common inconveniences of head colds, flu bugs and disrupted plans.

I started reading and listening to things that taught me about gratitude; filling my mind and heart with influences that pushed me towards my word.

Podcasts on gratitude.  Books on perspective.  Conversations about dreaming.

Gratitude began to take root in my heart; it began to grow fruit.

It became active and sparked a pursuit of greatness.

It wasn’t always constant, but I began to recognize the old habits, the old tendencies. My heart, now inclined towards gratitude, began to reject everything else.

This focus allowed me to hear God whispering.

Had I started the year with a list of resolutions that looked like this…

  • Focus on my walk with Christ
  • Be a great husband
  • Become a better father
  • Grow my business
  • Run a half marathon
  • Start a blog
  • Write a book
  • Build a home

…I would likely have failed.

Twelve months later, I recognize:

“Change is possible, focus is required” – Mike Ashcraft

Here I stand, toeing the line with another year, thinking through another word. Hope and excitement fill my heart as I anticipate all that is ahead.

As I am writing, the word TRUST comes to mind…

TRUST may just be the one word that continues the change I want to see in myself.

What about you?

Quick grab a pen, that word that just popped into your head…that may be it.  Or maybe that one…

Let hope take over as you step into 2014.

What one word will change your life?



Don’t forget!  We’re giving away 5 signed copies of “My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word”

  1. Share this post or Mike’s with your connections
  2. Use #MyOneWord or tag @mikeashcraft or @matthamsr so we’ll know
  3. Leave a comment about what word you are considering

We look forward to hearing from you!

, , , , ,

23 Responses to One Word Can Change Your Life

  1. Micah December 12, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Great post! This is exactly where I’m at right now and it seems whatever I read I find myself stumbling across things that speak to this same theme of gratitude. It’s something I’m learning and growing and beginning to really appreciate the power and value of. It’s incredible the way it can change your whole experience of life.

    • Matt Ham December 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

      Hey Micah! Man, I’m so glad – keep digging into gratitude and let me know how it’s going! If you’d like a chance to win the book, share this in your social media circles and let us know you have – 5 signed copies await!

      Have an awesome day!

  2. Pam December 12, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    Love your writing Matt!

    • Matt Ham December 12, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

      Thanks Pam!

  3. Joe Lalonde December 13, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    I’ve been hearing a lot this year about having 1 word. I’m still on the fence about it. But if I had to choose today, I’d say Action.

    • Matt Ham December 13, 2013 at 7:40 am #

      Joe – from the little I know about you, you seem full of action! As well as very intentional. Mike, my pastor and the author of the book, felt God calling him to use this as a tool to focus his actions.

      In a world where it seems like everybody has 7 decisions or 4 points or 5 principles the concept of one single word seems simplistic. Heck, my book has 4 principles itself! However, the word becomes a filter by which we engage our lives and it opens up a world of change and growth. Moreover, you’ll find that you’ll be met with numerous challenges that cause you to toe the line with your word and you’ll have a decision to make. Decisions are what move you in a certain direction.

      Thanks for stopping back by and keep me posted!

      • Joe Lalonde December 14, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

        Thanks for the kind words Matt. It may seem like I’m full of action but sometimes I feel as if I’m stuck in a rut and not taking action on what I know needs to be done. Ya know what I mean?

        • Matt Ham December 14, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

          Absolutely! Its the old mantra action is better than no action but action in a direction opposite your goals is regression – please keep me posted – I had coffee with Mike after the posts this week and he was very encouraged and offered his resources. He’s focusing on a church campaign for My One Word now – may be worth a conversation.

          Regardless Ill mail you a copy of the book.

          It was awesome to have him on the blog and awesome to get feedback from folks like yourself! Thanks so much Joe!

        • Matt Ham December 14, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

          And – I see where you’re going being busy is not the same as being active!! AMEN!!

      • Joe Lalonde December 14, 2013 at 8:06 pm #


        I’ll send Mike a message to see if we can chat. It might be good for me. He sounds like a great guy.

        About busy and action, there’s a great difference between the two. I think I’ve been more busy than action orientated. Maybe I could have said the word would be FOCUS. Get the things done that need to get done.

        • Matt Ham December 14, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

          LOVE it! “Change is possible; focus is required”

  4. sparkvoice December 13, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    I’m thinking one word could be hope or encouragement. To not focus so much on the negative, or what’s beyond our control. Instead focus on what’s in our control, doing our best with what we’ve been given, and see if we can influence others to do good things.

    • Matt Ham December 13, 2013 at 8:29 am #

      David – when you write that, the word STWEARD comes to mind. Thanks so much for sharing – let me know what you pick, if you do! Have a great Friday!


  1. Virgin Births, Darth Vadar and Road Trips: 3 Things I Learned From The Christmas Story That Cemented My One Word for 2014 | Matt Ham - December 14, 2013

    […] I alluded to earlier, the word TRUST is resting in my mind as I move into […]

  2. Top Posts of 2013 | Matt Ham - December 28, 2013

    […]  One Word Can Change Your Life – It was awesome to have Mike Ashcraft guest post on he and Rachel Olsen’s book […]

  3. 5 Steps to a Rich 2014: Shaking the Dust Off Our Feet | Matt Ham - December 31, 2013

    […] You can read in detail about the concept of “My One Word” from earlier this month.  My testimony for 2013 will guide me for life at the power of this practice.  In short, pick one word as a lens […]

  4. My One Word for 2014 : Trust | Matt Ham - January 2, 2014

    […] PS – You can read a guest post by “My One Word” author Mike Ashcraft here and my testimony for my 2013 word, Greatfull, here. […]

  5. I’m Inviting YOU to Make This A Year To Remember | Matt Ham - January 6, 2014

    […] we focus our attention on who we are becoming and use our word as a lens to see that process, amazing things will […]

  6. Making Monday Matter | Matt Ham - January 13, 2014

    […] January, I’ve asked you to share with me the words you are picking this year.  You can see more about how My One Word shaped my life as I began […]

  7. Greatfull: What I Learned by Misspelling | Matt Ham - January 30, 2014

    […] GREATFULL […]

  8. Gratitude is a Matter of the Heart | Matt Ham - February 6, 2014

    […] is where gratitude has to […]

  9. Questions for Daddy: What a Three Year Old Taught Me About God | Matt Ham - February 8, 2014

    […] Thank you for stopping by this Seeking Saturday at I would love to hear what this conversation meant to you and if it helped you in any way. If you would like to see more posts, please enter your email address above and I'll send them to you. If I can help you in any way with any questions you may have, please let me know. Thanks again for stopping by. "May God bless you and keep you and may his face shine upon you." Matt Related Posts: Doubt and Fear / Seeking Saturday – Why Do You Doubt? Parenting / Investing in Your Children Inspiration / Words From Your Father, "Why Not You?" Gratitude / One Word Can Change Your Life […]

  10. Monday Matters: Abundant Courage | Matt Ham - February 10, 2014

    […] I have been contemplating and praying – at times arguing – with the Lord about the one word he seems to be repeatedly giving me for this year. […]