A year ago at about this time I was mulling over what my word for 2021 would be. The word that kept coming to mind was promise, but I dismissed it over and over again. In the middle of a pandemic with virtual school, not seeing anyone in person at Christmas, and vaccine rollout looking shaky, I wasn’t feeling the word promise.

On New Year’s Eve I thought that maybe my word would come to me in the first few weeks of the new year. And I even thought that maybe every year didn’t need a word and maybe 2021 just wouldn’t have one.

But then all throughout this year, things that I’ve been talking to God about for a very long time, things that have been on my heart but I’ve never spoken out loud, even some things that were important to me at a time but I’d since forgotten about have started to happen or fall into place. And each time, the word promise has come back to me and lingered in my thoughts.

And I realized something this year…that I had stopped actively believing in promises. It wasn’t a decision I made at any point. It just sort of happened over time. As life happened, I guess. I still believed that prayers had power and that God answered prayers, but I didn’t necessarily expect promises to be fulfilled.

So I started researching God’s promises. As it turns out there are dozens and dozens of them, and I even pretty regularly read and rely on them – I just haven’t been thinking of them as promises.

* There is a plan for my life. Ephesians 2:10 and Jeremiah 29:11

* I am filled with strength and courage even when/if I don’t feel like it. 2 Timothy 1:7

* I can do hard things. Isaiah 40:29

* I can follow my gut and trust my gut because God provides discernment. James 1:5

* My children may have doubts and bad days, but they are always, always going to be children of God and know God. Acts 16:31

* When I really mess up, God loves me anyway and nothing will change that. Romans 8

* I always have a safe place, somewhere to hide. Psalm 5

* Nothing that happens to me or around me is ever a surprise to a God, so He is not unprepared which means I am not unprepared. Psalm 139

* God knows what I need before I ask and sometimes even before I know, and He’s got it. Isaiah 65:24

* Literally even His name is a promise – Emmanuel means God with us and his name is a reminder of His constant presence as I walk through each day.

In the last few years I’ve talked to God about everything from helping me fulfill my promise to get Ella a car, to living without fear, to providing the perfect helpers for the girls, to healing for hearts and bodies. In the last 12 months, He’s delivered over and over and over again – even with small desires like finding a beloved lost ring. He also prepared people and hearts and things just in time before some tough stuff. There are still things I pray about each day, several times a day, that have not yet happened – and my type A need-to-see-data-and-progress self is not great at waiting or with letting someone else handle it. I want to DO all the things all the time because why do things take so long sometimes??? But the truth is I’m not capable of the biggies, and God is batting a thousand.

I’ve decided my word for 2021 was actually promise, and I even came across a new (to me) promise in words that I’ve read many times before but suddenly read in a new way. In the days leading up to Jesus’ birth, two women who dared to believe in miracles and promises got together to encourage one another. One of the things Elizabeth said to Mary is “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.” Luke 1:45

These cloths with our prayers for the world and community will fill the manger in our church’s nativity.

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