As each year draws to a close and I ponder possibilities for the next, I try to find one particular word to carry into the newness. I wait for one that rises to the surface and won’t be quieted. For 2022, it was “surrender” and I have to confess, it was beautiful but also painful at times. Much like life in general. And now as I sit down to write post-holidays after a glorious time spent with family, I unfurl and unpack my one word for 2023, which happens to be “STORY” …



“A storyteller’s job is to find the common threads in this tattered world and hold them out so that a reader will grab and pull until the veil is torn in two and they behold the heart of God.” Robin Jones Gunn

I realize you may be wondering why “story” is suddenly so profound for one who spends her days writing actual stories as a fiction author! Truly, I count it an absolute privilege to be able to serve readers by writing books, particularly where hope and faith and truth are threaded through the pages, but we are all storytellers in real life—and this year I want to pay attention to story in fresh ways.

In an interview on the Make It Count podcast, I was asked what legacy I want to pass down to those I know and love. This was a tough question for me. After much consideration and deliberation, I decided upon a legacy of STORY.

(If you’d like to check out that podcast episode, you can find it here: MAKE IT COUNT with Sue Donaldson.)

After all, it’s through STORY that I am able to “write heartwarming encouragement for your soul” in my work life. But also, we humans love to listen to story, we are connected by story, traditions and cultures live on through story, Jesus Himself used story—there’s immense power in story!

“After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” Philip Pullman



Therefore, in 2023, I want to be more intentional with:

  • WRITING— as a fiction author, I have a constant stream of stories coursing through my imagination! But I want to use my time and talents wisely, so I pray for wisdom in knowing which ones to pursue and which ones to put down. What needs to be included in a novel, and how much of my personal story to share elsewhere.
  • READING— you all know I’m a fiction fan and adore reading for pleasure, but this year I want to weave more memoirs into the mix. Learn from the struggles and successes and loves and lives of others.
  • LISTENING— there are times when we need to simply sit and hear someone share their experience. Feed them cake and listen to their story! Make space for them. Make time for them. It’s something I certainly need to work on…
  • LIVING out my own story— fully and with integrity, in the most loving way possible, whatever that looks like. Showing others that God is the Author of my life and that I trust Him in all circumstances. Stretching and growing in every chapter.


“Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;

    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,

The days of my life all prepared

    before I’d even lived one day.” Psalm 139:16


Friend, we each have a unique story to be shared or used as a catalyst for empathy and understanding. We can all take time to listen to the story of others, to be attentive and compassionate and loving. (How I wish I’d listened more to those of my grandparents!) And through the meandering chapters of our very own life story, we can trust the Author to be faithful always.

“When life spins a bit wild—the best thing to do is fall wildly in love with the Author of Life, who is the author of your Life, and let Him write you a love story, your love story.” Ann Voskamp 

I pray that God will give me courage and kindness in my written story, in my spoken story, and in my lived-out story this year and for years to come…

“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.” Charles de Lint

Do you have “one word” for 2023? We would love to hear in the comments below. ⬇︎

🎉  Happy New Year, one and all!

P.S. My latest STORY is a thrilling, hope-filled, heartwarming read—and I’m fairly sure it’s totally acceptable to still be reading about Christmas when there’s snow on the ground! 😉  The Christmas Cabin is HERE!



Linking up with some fabulous encouragers! Check them out:


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