My word for 2021. This is an unusual word to choose and probably not one you would have guessed, but the more I think about it, the more excited I am about going forward into a new year.

At first, I thought my word was going to be “Forward” and then I was sure it was going to be “Gratitude”. Both of those would be appropriate and both are still important words to ponder. I will go forward in faith and I will endeavour to be grateful in all circumstances.

But I chose, “SURPRISE” because it means a few things I want to focus on in the coming year. It means “astonish” and “amaze”. For a myriad of reasons, I will be astonished and amazed over the next 12 months. For good, happy, joyous, sad, and tragic reasons, I will be surprised. I will see and experience things I could not have predicted.

Every day is filled with surprises, especially because we cannot predict what will happen, what we will read, what we will learn, who we will connect with, and what events will happen in our families, friendship circles, company, and the world.

Years ago, someone encouraged me to look for “surprise joys”! I have always liked that phrase and try to find things that bring joy in a surprising way. It may be the robin that was in my yard yesterday (on New Year’s Eve) or a flower that pokes through the soil in February. It may be an unexpected gift, a kind word, or just a smile I did not see coming. It may be as wonderful as the news of an expected baby or the confirmation of a new client. So many surprise joys are waiting for us to see and experience…and I pray they remind me of God’s goodness.

While most things will surprise me, nothing will surprise God. And that is one reason, I have chosen this word for 2021. He knows all and will be with me, no matter what comes along. His plans are not to harm me, but to give me hope and peace. He loves to carry me through the tough times, and He loves to watch me see His plans unfold.

My 2021 verse will be from Jeremiah 29: 11-13. While we most often see the first part of this passage, I want to remember the last part especially. I WILL find God and He WILL listen to me when I seek HIM. He is gracious and patient and waits for me to call upon Him. And when I do…He is loving and kind and will give me peace. He is always faithful.

We go into each day in faith. We must make a choice to trust God with the details and be assured He will carry us through – whether the surprises bring us happiness or sadness. I can be sure there will be unpleasant surprises I could not predict today. But I am not supposed to know them today and God will give me what I need when they arrive. How could I do life without knowing my faith is in God and Jesus is always with me.

And so…I am going into 2021 with a desire to look for surprise joys and with the assurance all surprises are a part of God’s plan for my life. Everything will be new to me each day, but everything is known by Him. I will be gifted by His plans to prosper me and not to harm me and I will call upon Him each day. He will listen – He can be found.

I am praying for surprises in our company. Client work we did not see coming. Financial health that surprises us and helps our accountant sleep at night! I am praying for surprises in my family – experiences that express our deepening love for each other. I am praying for surprises in my marriage – ways to show and receive love that are new and heartfelt. I am praying for surprises in my friendship circle – conversations that build each other up. I am praying for surprises with health – for miraculous healing for friends and even those I do not know. I am praying for surprises in our world – unity and care and kindness as we have never seen before.

I will go into each day with gratitude and thank the Lord throughout my day as I unpack each hour. I think “Gratitude” goes well with “Surprise”. They work together. As uncertain as everything is, I need not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, I will present my requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

I learned in the past year that a weekly journal of “what if” prayers was a meaningful practice. This coming year, I am going to keep a Gratitude Journal and a Surprise Journal. I know they will go hand in hand.

– Catherine