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Looking back in Joy, moving ahead in Courage | 2021 word

When I first started a word of the year, I did so reluctantly. I am not a fan of trends, if everyone else does something, I go the opposite directions. I didn’t plan on picking one, rather God gave me one… and every year after and now I choose to lean into the “word of the year.”

Here are a few of my previous years words and blog post on them:

A few thoughts on Words of the Year.

  • I don’t pick them randomly. I pray in the month of December for a word or verse… usually I sense a theme, get a word or scripture.
  • The word is a guide for the year, I go back to this scripture all year long and reflect on how to build this word into my rhythms.

Looking back on last years word: JOY, who would have thought the year of 2020 could also be the most joyful year of my life? It was as if God gave me this word JOY back in December as promise tucked away in my heart to guide me for what was coming in 2020. The word was seeded in my heart to fight for joy all the more. The word JOY was my guide, I prayed and declared JOY month after month in the strangest year of our lives! And on this last day of 2020 I can say with confidence, I learned to live in the JOY of the Lord as my strength. I tasted and experienced more joy than I can remember.

In August 2019 I wrote: There’s a lot about this year we all wish to change… but for the 5 of us, we’ve also had one of the best summers together as a family. I’ve fought hard to not let external circumstances dictate our joy.

As we walked back from the river taking in the last of the pink sky I inhaled their little skips and magical twirls in the streets.

When I turn off the news, uncheck from the noise and engage the world through the eyes of my babes… their childlike faith and wonder breathes hope into my heart.

Jesus tells us to have childlike faith… to have faith like a mustard seed to move the mountains and to be innocent of what is evil… when I approach each day with wonder and love like my girls see it… the world seems majestic and full of HOPE. Life through their perspective reminds me, there’s still so much to be grateful for… we just need eyes to see it.













2020 was also the year of our Kezia Joy… my sweet Kezi has brought wholeness and JOY into our hearts and homes. When we picked her middle name back in October 2019, Joy represented the redemption in all our infertility pain…  “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing…” Ps 30:11  She arrived in God’s perfect timing– February 2020, and completed everything my heart was missing all those years.

As I was praying and thinking about a word for 2021, I held it loosely, I wasn’t going to be upset if I didn’t get a word this year. I wasn’t getting a sense of a word or direction…. then one evening with clarity I heard the word,

Joshua 1:9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

I initially got a little nervous and told God I don’t like this word, can I have another 🙂

As I went through my books I’d read over the last 6 months to write my 2020 book review I realized the theme of fierce courage that I hadn’t noticed before. I mentioned it in my book review post, but this specific quote has stirred me in a way that I keep going back to it and re-reading. It takes courage to see a move of God in your life, community, city, nation.

“In various crises that have occurred in the history of the church, men have come to the front who have manifested a holy recklessness that astonished their fellows. When Luther nailed his theses to the door of the cathedral at Wittenberg, cautious men were astonished at his audacity. When John Wesley ignored all church restrictions and religious propriety and preaching in the fields and byways, men declared his reputation ruined. So it has been in all ages. When the religious condition of the times called for men who were willing to sacrifice all for Christ, the demand created the supply, and there have always been found a few who were willing to be regarded reckless for the Lord. An utter recklessness is the only attitude that can meet the needs of the present times.” page 44 of Azusa Street.

As with any word of the year, I never try to predict what they may mean or hold them to an elevated status in my life. They are simply a guide that I bring before the Lord. But this word seemed a little different this year… I sensed, for us to live as Jesus-follower in 2021 I will need a Godly courage.

Not a courage I muster-up, not courage that is popular and heroic-like or even praise-worthy. This may be a courage that stings. A courage that brings loss.

This is a biblical courage that will need the Holy Spirit power to walk out in faith. This isn’t cute courage, rather, this is bold as a lion courage. (but the righteous are bold as a lion. – prov. 28:1)

The beauty of the gospel, I don’t have to muster courage. I don’t have to do more or be more. I don’t have to try harder or beat myself up to find more courage within… because JESUS is perfect courage, because he defeated satan, sin and death, I get access to God, I get his perfect courage through the power of the Spirit.

I think Courage births out of place of overcoming fear. You can’t have courage until you learn to shut out the subtle whispers and lies of fear. It’s cutting off fear’s power and listening to the ONE voice who matters. Its retraining oneself to no longer listen to fears voice.

Courage comes from choosing to walk in obedience.
Courage comes from listening to the Holy Spirit and then letting His power be at work through me. 
is letting go of my way and choosing the narrow way.  (Matthew 7:14)
Courage is daily denying self and picking up my cross.  (Luke 9:23-24)

 I don’t know what lies ahead in 2021, no one does. But we can know the ONE who is already there. We can trust the God who created each day and because, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be,” I can walk into 2021 with Courage. 

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