“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” -Psalm 147:11

The past couple of years I’ve spent the weeks leading into January 1st asking God for a word to guide my next year. A word that I can press into-whether it becomes the umbrella for my goals, the anchor on the hard days, or something to set my eyes on that’s bigger than momentary trials.

️I loved how in 2016, I heard the word FREEDOM so clearly, and He was faithful in helping me find that in so many ways. I paid off a large amount of debt through an incredible side job. I let go of some unhealthy relationships, and found some pretty incredible new relationships that brought a sense of authentic community. I took control of my health, ate a more plant based diet, and even ran a half marathon! There was great freedom and joy in all of this. But God especially gave me freedom as I pressed into counseling and a recovery group for my people-pleasing codependence, and for the first time ever, I found my identity completely in Christ. That year was life-changing for me in stepping into that true sense of freedom.

️This past year, I claimed the word REDEMPTION. I learned that these words for my year are not necessarily a road map, they are a stepping into of trust. After divorce and single-motherhood, I think I imagined that “redemption” would mean God saving me from some of the burdens of my situation. I thought 2017 might bring greater financial redemption, a new home, a relationship that could fill the holes left by past wounds, and a greater sense of a traditional family for me and my son. The redemption God had in mind was different than what I imagined. He revealed to me how much work He is still doing to fill up my empty places. His healing touch has covered so many of my relationships and circumstances. I’m learning to step back and trust God to lead me on HIS own path of redemption for me. And that means releasing my control on my best-laid plans, laying them at the altar, and for once, not picking them back up again.

️Over the past two weeks, looking to 2018, I asked for a word again. Can I be honest? I almost felt frustrated by the word that continued to show up- HOPE. My hopes have been at times dashed and defeated, and I hate to say that hope hasn’t been coming super naturally for me lately. But maybe that’s why God is whispering it to me, nudging me to a place that feels a bit cliche and uncomfortable. He maybe knows I could use a year focused on hope and the goodness He has for me. This year, I will work on finding my hope for the future in the Lord- not in my striving, my expectations, my goals (whether I achieve them or not), the people around me, my financial situation, my relationship status. God is the source of hope I want to cling to.

This verse was one I used to focus during my half marathon training, and it’s been coming to mind a lot today again:

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” -Isaiah 40: 30-31