Daring to Hope in 2021

I don’t think anyone misses 2020. For most of us, it became the ultimate year of loss.

Loss of normal life.

Loss of daily work rhythm.

Loss of solitude for some, and loss of community for others.

Loss of connection to a church home.

Loss of health.

Loss of financial security.

Loss of life of beloved family members and friends.

Loss of a clear path forward through escalating uncertainty and discord in our nation.

This overwhelming sense of loss in every aspect of life left many of us with lingering wounds as we struggled to find hope. Myself included.

As the annual chapter page turned to 2021, I wondered how I could muster up hope. I don’t espouse New Year’s resolutions, and wading through unchanging difficult circumstances weighed heavy. But I also recognized the need to walk forward from the losses of 2020.

So I decided to go back to the basics of spiritual renewal: creating and committing to a healthy rhythm of life.

Everyone has different passions and interests, so healthy rhythm looks different for each one of us. The need for healthy rhythm, however, remains universal. Healthy rhythm (also known as a rule of life which sounds so rigid to me) actually promotes freedom and refreshment. Healthy rhythm includes the intentional practice of spiritual disciplines as well as regular engagement in activity promoting physical health.

Healthy rhythm engages our mind, body, and soul.

I encourage everyone to take an hour to pray through: What activities uplift and bring joy and delight to you? What makes you smile and warms your heart? Where do you most often sense the presence of God? What activities help you focus on entering into conversation with Jesus?

As you pray through these questions, start crafting a rhythm for each day, or a rhythm throughout the week. I decided to focus my healthy rhythm on three areas:

  • Meditation on God’s Word
  • Daily exercise
  • Regular activity that brings delight

I’ll share some details of what I’m doing, but please don’t use this as a benchmark for comparison––I only offer this as a sample from which to glean ideas.

Meditation on God’s Word. Before work, I start with a One-Year-Bible daily reading plan, and then I spend 20 minutes in meditation and prayer. My overarching Scripture for the month of January is Isaiah 26:3–4: “You will keep in perfect peace she whose mind is steadfast, because she trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” Each morning, I pray through these verses and meditate on how they apply today.

  • Trust: My God is the maker of heaven and earth, and I stand on the immovable Rock of Christ. He is good, faithful, and full of compassion. He is my strong fortress and my shield, and when I run to him I am safe. He alone is worthy of my trust. Trust is the foundation of my relationship with Christ.
  • Steadfast Mind: My trust in God allows me to turn away from the stresses and challenges of the world so I can focus on him. Part of the mystery of faith is that I have a role to play in my spiritual formation. The Holy Spirit transforms me, but I enter this work with him. The Apostle Paul tells us how we can do this in Philippians 4:6–7: Don’t be anxious. Pause anxiety, frustration, fear, and disappointment. Instead, pray, talk with Jesus, and share your requests. Praise Him regardless of circumstances or outcome. And his peace, which surpasses knowledge, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. (See also Romans 12:1–2)
  • Perfect peace: Peace is a gift of God and fruit of the Spirit. As we tend the garden of our minds––as we water and fertilize and nurture with life-giving truth––the Spirit of God makes the fruit of peace grow. This peace sustains us and allows us to flourish, even in dark valleys of life.

Daily exercise. Since I still can’t run due to my back surgery, I spend time each day walking. The times and distances vary, but I’m consistent. My hope is to also start bringing in other types of exercise in the coming months.

Activity that brings delight. I adopted a rescue pup over the Christmas holiday so I’m spending time walking and training her. I’ll admit that we’re experiencing some challenges with this older pup as we help rehabilitate her, and these challenges aren’t always delightful. Thankfully, she’s a love bug and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to give her a safe and loving home.

Friends, there’s no cure for difficult seasons. But instead of struggling with hope, I’m now daring to hope. And after a year like we just experienced, daring to hope is just that––DARING. It takes courage. Our courage grows as we stay grounded on the Rock, keeping our mind steadfast, and allowing the fruit of peace to flourish.

What’s most important is continuing to seek God and his invitation in this season. Day-by-day and moment-by-moment. Don’t let discouragement creep in. It takes 21 days to create a habit, so it will take time for our new rhythms to feel natural and unrushed. The good news: when we prioritize disciplines to promote spiritual and physical health, delight and unexpected new beginnings will grow.

Cheers to 2021! May it reign as our year of HOPE!

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The Last Mile of Life

Everyone faces life and death crossroads. And everyone’s experiences differ. This year in particular has impacted many of us as we or a loved one walk the last mile of life. Today my emotions remain raw while this season of incredible loss for me and my family wears on. I don’t have facts and figures to try to make sense of it all. Instead, I’d like to share a few thoughts from my heart. Continue reading

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Life in the Rearview Mirror

There’s nothing normal as we head toward the end of 2020. We long for “normal.” We want things to go back to the way they were in February 2020, or October 2019, because no matter how hard things were then, at least we understood our known normal. Continue reading

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Please, No More!

Like many of you, I thought this fall would usher in the return of normal work hours in offices and schools, eating in restaurants, and gathering with friends. But COVID-19. It feels like we’ve lost so much this year. How can we move forward into fall when we continue to grieve the loss of so many aspects of our used-to-be “normal” life? Continue reading

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A Message for Weary Souls

As this over-the-top-difficult year wears on and hopes for a summer reprieve or a maskless fall fade, my mind can struggle to muster up positivity. I’ve heard I’m not alone. Apparently many of us wrestle with the lack of normalcy, inability to plan a way forward, and uncertainty of how long “this” will last. Continue reading

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Sheroes of the Bible

The last two months unfolded like an archeological dig. Week after week, I joined a group of women to unlock stories of the past, dust off musty translations, and peer into golden lives of unlikely sheroes. Who are these sheroes? Women easily overlooked, discounted, and even scorned. Continue reading

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Robbed of My Right of Passage

In this Covid-19 time, there’s a group of celebrants who feels the loss of their special day more than others: Graduates. With no stage, no diploma in hand, and no procession, it’s hard to feel the same sense of accomplishment and closure. How do I know? I’m a 2020 graduate. Continue reading

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The Week After Easter

The Easter message––that Jesus came to set us free and give us new life––does not change. Even in the confines of a pandemic. No one could have foreseen the magnitude of coronavirus strife. Except Jesus. Jesus knew that days like these were coming. Continue reading

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Your Christmas Wish

Each year growing up, I made a list of things I wanted for Christmas. “A horse” always topped the list. I knew I had to be nice, not naughty. Looking back, that’s probably why I never got the horse. Anyhoo… Continue reading

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Running the Race of Life

As Thanksgiving approaches, many of us are gearing up for our favorite running day of the year. Even non-runners love the annual Turkey Trot which leads to a guilt-free feast. Whether or not you run, we’re all called to the race of life, and we all need encouragement along the way… Continue reading

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Waiting Out the Wait

We’re not good at waiting. We live in a culture of instant response and immediate gratification. “Right now” has become the norm and expectation. Unfortunately, at different times in life, we all have to wait. Continue reading

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What CAN I do?

We experience seasons of illness and injury that engulf us like a suffocating suffering. We want to hope for complete healing. What CAN I do? I’ve pondered the depth of this question. Continue reading

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Sometimes There Aren't Words

Sometimes there just aren’t words. But in those times there is Someone who speaks… Continue reading

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Welcome to My Messy

My life is messy. Of course, you wouldn’t know my life is messy just by looking at me. Most of us don’t want others to see our behind-the-scenes messy truth. And whether we recognize it or not, we live in a constant battle for self-worth, fighting against isolation. Continue reading

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Your Life through the Keyhole

How we view our life each day is like looking through the keyhole of a big old door. It’s as if we’re looking at ourselves, other people, and circumstances through a tiny window. Our vantage is severely limited. Continue reading

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How Not to Hate the Wait

In our world of one-click shopping and on-demand streaming, much of life no longer unfolds over time. We want what we want when we want it. We require instantaneous life. Unfortunately, God often asks us to wait. Continue reading

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Unanswered Prayers

When someone dies, we struggle with the “why”. Why didn’t God answer our prayers? As Easter approaches, the “why” questions of the disciples mirror our own. How can we continue to trust God? Continue reading

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Who Do You Say I Am?

Many of us know the greatest stories ever told. And often our focus is on the action or players or outcome. But the stories of the Bible have another purpose. A.W. Tozer said, “What you think about God is the most important thing about you.” Continue reading

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Fear or Faith at Work?

It’s no fun living like a double agent with different personas at work v. home. How do we overcome fear of living out our faith at work? Do we have to talk about Jesus in order to be a witness at work? Here are 3 critical truths. Continue reading

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Why Work?

The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why” (Mark Twain). If we’re honest, we all want to know the why… Continue reading

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Greatest Gift: A Partridge in a Pear Tree

What’s your favorite Christmas carol? One of my all-time favorites is the “12 Days of Christmas” as sung by John Denver and the Muppets. Corny, maybe. But then I found out the meaning behind the words… Continue reading

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No More Masks

Masks. We all wear them. We’re afraid to let people see and know the real us. We hide behind our masks and often fake it. But freedom comes when we live out our truth. Continue reading

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What's Your Superpower?

If you were approached by a genie wanting to grant you one wish for any superhero power, what would you ask for? My first thought: ask for something I could use in the battle between good and evil… Continue reading

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Work in Heaven?

As Labor Day approaches, most Americans anticipate a well-deserved day off work. For many of us, work is a daily grind. But what if work isn’t supposed to be a grind? And what if our work doesn’t end with our time on earth? Have you ever thought about work in heaven? Continue reading

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Better to Have Loved & Lost?

As human beings, we cannot live healthy, abundant, prolonged lives without love. We are created to love. We long for love. We will do crazy things to show our love. But at some point in our lives, we will all lose love. What then? Continue reading

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2018: The Year of Open Doors

As we approach the mid-point of the year, most New Year’s resolutions are a faint and distant memory. But what if 2018 could still become “The Year of Open Doors” for you? Continue reading

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Sit Among Your Weeds

Today I start with a confession: I’ve been struggling. Weeds are the straw that broke the camel’s (my) back, so to speak. The last little burden that became unbearable. But from my weeds emerged a transformative message from God… Continue reading

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Consider My Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets are to Texas what tulips are to Holland, azaleas are to Augusta, and cherry blossoms are to Washington DC. But what makes bluebonnets so remarkable is that they’re WILD. These words came to mind: “Consider how the wildflowers grow…” Continue reading

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A Promise from God

Whether our requests are big or small, at some point we all wonder if God hears us. Does the Creator of the universe care about our prayers for a new job, loneliness, a persistent cough, or help paying bills? In a word: Yes! Not only does He care, He promises so much more. Continue reading

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The Intersection of Faith and Work

We all work. Our workplaces may look different, but they share a commonality: intrinsic value to God’s Kingdom. Your work has eternal value. Continue reading

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Which Way Did He Go?

We can’t focus on both Jesus AND circumstances. It’s impossible! If we choose to focus on circumstances, suddenly it’s as if Jesus is gone. Continue reading

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Why “Do Good” For No Reason?

We genuinely want to help others. But it hurts when there’s no response or, worse, a bad response to our good efforts. So why keep trying? Continue reading

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When Enough is Never Enough

When was the last time you had everything you wanted? Splurge to lift your spirits. Save for something big. What is enough, really? Continue reading

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Cross the Starting Line - Just Start!

Is it harder to cross the starting line or the finish line? We often don’t move forward because we’re too afraid of the unknown. Just start! Continue reading

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