The Top 10 of 2018 from April Yamasaki

At this time last year, I knew that my one word for 2018 would be a phrase prompted by this wonderful painting by Linda Klippenstein: Walking Strong in the Spirit.

Walking Strong in the Spirit painting

Walking Strong in the Spirit has been a great focal point for me in the past year:

  • as I’ve continued to write and celebrated the release of Four Gifts this fall,
  • as I’ve walked through saying goodbye to my church of 25+ years and wondering what else God might have in store for me,
  • as I’ve imagined myself into this painting many times, walking to pick up the mail, shopping for groceries, and carrying on through all of the ordinary joys and sorrows of everyday life.

As my one word/phrase for the year, Walking Strong in the Spirit has reminded me that it’s in the strength of God’s Spirit that “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28)–even when I feel anything but strong, even when my heart is heavy and the days are hard. At those times, I find myself turning to prayer–driven to prayer really, while at the very same time feeling that prayer seems impossible.

I suspect I’m not alone in this. My e-book on How to Pray When Prayer Seems Impossible has been downloaded hundreds of times (and if you don’t have one yet, you can still sign up for it here), and for 2018, my top five articles are all part of my how to pray series.

Here are my top 10 posts for this year:

#10 A Poem for Holy Week

A few thoughts on “Good Friday” by Christina Rossetti, which is a devotional, reflective poem. Don’t miss this if you’re feeling worn out by compassion fatigue or already planning ahead for Lent.

#9 The Proverbs 31 Woman Re-visited

The unnamed woman of Proverbs 31 is rightly praised for her many accomplishments, but the chapter is also limited by its literary structure and patriarchal world view. Read this post on what’s left out, and what we still need to reclaim.

#8 – Love Each Other Deeply

One of two guest posts in my top 10 this year, a litany for Mother’s Day by Leonard Klassen, co-lead pastor of King Road Mennonite Brethren Church. Published on my website with permission, and thank you, Leonard, for your willingness to share.

#7 – You Reassure Me, Rescue Me Always

Ever since a friend shared his paraphrase of Psalm 23 using the letter L, I’ve been creating and collecting other versions using different letters of the alphabet. This post presents 9 different versions out of the 26 letters of the alphabet, and we’re now up to 13 with I Can Be Brave for You are Behind Me, Before Me, Beside Me.

#6 – When My Heart is Heavy and the Days are Hard

An earlier article with the first seven paraphrases of Psalm 23 using the letters C, D, G, H, L, P, and S.

#5 – How to Pray for Families Living with Mental Illness

A guest post by Catherine Downing, whose son was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 22 years old. Published on my website with permission, and thank you, Catherine, for sharing so transparently and helpfully for families living with mental illness and for those who care for them.

#4 – How to Pray for Your Enemies Even When You Don’t Want To

Do we lament and pray for vengeance as we see in the Psalms? Do we pray for God to forgive our enemies as Jesus did on the cross? Whether your “enemy” is a so-called friend who talks behind your back, a difficult boss, or someone or something even more serious, read this post to explore some ways of praying.

#3 – How to Pray for a Loved One Who is Dying

In my mother’s final days, I sat at her bedside and read through the Psalms of Ascent. This post shares from Scripture and other prayers that I’ve found helpful.

#2 – How to Pray about Mental Illness When You Can’t Find the Words

This is the second post in my top ten that relates to mental illness–how appropriate since it’s estimated that one in five will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

#1 – How to Pray for a Wedding Dinner

When I first wrote this article about praying for a wedding dinner, I didn’t realize it would prove to be such a popular resource. It’s back again in the top spot for the third year in a row!


Writing/Reflection Prompt: Have you chosen a key word or phrase for the coming year? Why or why not? I’m taking a break next Monday for a little New Year’s holiday time, but will be back with my key word or phrase in two weeks. Until then, may God grant you comfort and joy as you enter this new year.


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2 thoughts on “The Top 10 of 2018 from April Yamasaki

  1. HA! I was just thinking again this morning that I was hoping you would post on your “word/phrase” for 2019 !!! (I had been telling some friends about your practice as I considered some possibilities for my own 2019 theme.) Looking forward to your next post on this, after your holiday.

    1. Thanks, Bev – one of my friends shared a link to a site that asks questions with a view to helping people choose a word, so I actually tried it. But when I saw the word it gave me, I felt somewhat disappointed, so I’m still waiting for my word or phrase of the year, and will let you know….

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