2020 – Revised

covid 2020

It’s time to revisit your plans, hopes, and assumptions for the year in a hopeful and expectant way.

I start each year by praying and seeking the Lord for a theme for the coming year. Sometimes I get a theme scripture or a focus word. This year I took a slightly different tack and chose three words, based on the 3-Words work of Chris Brogan. The approach Chris promotes is to identify three words that you will use to guide your priorities, choices and daily actions throughout the year.

My three words for 2020 are: Reach, Surrender, and Gratitude

Taking A New Look 

In my last post, I encouraged you to see this season of shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders as an opportunity for creativity and innovation, seeking ways to use this “new normal” to make positive changes in your life that will move your life and marriage forward.

In reflecting on my own advice, I took a fresh look at my 3 words for 2020 and reassessed them based on the new environment I find myself in. While the three words pertain to the whole of my life (family, work, marriage, and ministry), here I’m only describing what I think our “new normal” means for Heaven Made Marriage.

Reach – As it relates to this ministry, reach has two dimensions for me. The first has to do with stretching myself and reaching outside my comfort zone. It means doing things I’ve not done before. Now that my 60-80% work travel has been cut to zero, I’m using the available time to lay the groundwork for some great new things here at HMM, starting with a total website redesign, which has seriously stretched me to my technical limits!

Reach also has to do with reaching more marriages. With all the uncertainty about when the current limitations on group gatherings will lift, Jenni and I are looking toward creating more of an online ministry, much the way schools have done. We don’t know exactly what this will mean or how it will look, but having more online resources will definitely allow us to reach beyond our immediate circle of influence.

Watch this space for future announcements about new marriage-building resources! There are many exciting things to come!

Surrender – If you’ve been around Heaven Made Marriage for any length of time, you know that I’m big on the importance of surrender in marriage. You also know that I don’t use the word with the typical weakness, loss, giving-up connotations. Rather,  to me, marital surrender means allowing yourself to be fully known and completely loved as you are. In ministry, as in marriage, surrender also means letting go of trying to control outcomes and letting God be God, trusting that he has only good intentions for me and relying on him to do what he has promised. It means not striving but thriving even as I rest in him.

In the past year, especially with my intense work schedule, our focus has been on hosting small weekend retreats at our mountain home, which the Lord led us to last year in a rather miraculous fashion. It’s the perfect venue for small, intimate retreats. Sadly, we’ve had to cancel the last two retreats due to coronavirus, and it’s not clear when we’ll be able to resume hosting them. We’re having to let go of the disappointment and trust in God’s timing. At the same time, we are rethinking how we might be able to do an online version in the future.

Gratitude – Last year was one of frustration as it relates to Heaven Made Marriage. My crazy work travel and our combined job stress stalled all our plans and hopes for expanding the resources we offer. But out of those circumstances came the inception of the marriage retreats, which have proven impactful for the couples involved. But God is leading me this year to flip my perspective. Instead of focusing incessantly at all the things we haven’t yet been able to do, we need to be grateful for all God has done and is doing. Rather than looking at the long list of projects in frustration, we need to see them as opportunities God is creating and trust him for the right timing for each thing.

Being grateful for what you have and for what you’ve come through will shift your attitude toward the future to one of hopeful expectation instead of doubt and dread.

It’s a New Year

What plans, resolutions, and expectations did you have going into 2020? How has the “new normal” of the coronavirus interrupted your hopes for the year?

The future is uncertain, but it’s likely that the effects of the global pandemic will reverberate throughout the much of the year. My encouragement to you is to take this opportunity to prayerfully reconsider what you thought this year was going to look like and ask God to reshape your expectations in a hopeful way.

Don’t allow the new normal to steamroll your year. Instead, take ahold of it, reshape it, and allow God to do his miraculous work in and through you in a fresh new way.

Please share in a comment how your 2020 has been disrupted and how you have reset your own expectations and plans.

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