2020: Plow in Hope

Jan 25, 2020

A few weeks before the end of the year, I was sitting in church one Sunday, and the speaker was talking about hope. She quoted several scriptures in quick succession, including, "Paul says we should 'plow in hope,' and I admit that's sometimes what it feels like to me."

My mind latched onto that phrase--plow in hope--and I couldn't let it go. I was intrigued, fascinated by it. What exactly does it mean to "plow in hope"?

Turning to the scriptures, I found the verse and was rather disappointed to discover that Paul was, in fact, literally just talking about plowing a field: "He that ploweth should plow in hope" (1 Corinthians 9:10).

I might have just let it go, recognizing my life is pretty far removed from a farm and crops, but I continued to ponder on this idea of plowing in hope. And as so often happens with holy writ, once my mind was engaged, the insights and applications rolled in. I decided this charge to "plow in hope" would be my theme for 2020.

Hope is both a thing and an action. I kind of love that about it. It is something I want and also something I do. It is both the expectation of good things on the horizon and exercising a certain kind of mindset.

These things are all true, but when I attach the word "plow" to "hope," it adds another dimension to the concept.

First of all, when Paul said, "He that ploweth should plow in hope," what he was really saying was, "Whatever you do, do it in hope." If I'm taking care of kids, I should do it in hope. If I'm helping a friend, do it in hope. If I'm cleaning my house, do it in hope. Hope is actually a way of life and should color everything I say or do. (And what, you might ask, should I be hoping for in all of these instances? How about an eternal perspective, my best effort, or a good outcome?)

Second, when I look at the word "plow," I think of hard, physical labor. It isn't easy to plow. It takes effort to turn over the heavy soil and make it ready for planting. Likewise, hope requires energy. I sometimes think of hope as being this very weak  attribute; it feels like you're not doing much if you're just sitting around hoping that things will eventually be better. But if you're plowing in hope, then you're actually up and doing: you're not waiting for your life to be better, you're making it better.

And finally, a farmer plows his field to prepare it for sowing. It is the very first step in reaping a harvest. He can't plant a seed if he doesn't plow first. Similarly, hope is my first step in making my life ready for new growth. It primes my mind and heart so I can learn from the past and prepare for the future.

As I planned my goals for 2020, two things guided me. The first, obviously, was this phrase for which I've just written a whole discourse. The second was the new Children and Youth Program for my church.

This new program encourages boys and girls to set goals in four categories: spiritual, physical, intellectual, and social. I love this framework because it helps give more of a purpose and direction to those things we have a desire to do. I helped Aaron, Maxwell, and Bradley set goals for themselves in each of these four categories, and I decided to use it in organizing my own goals as well.

With 2020 well underway, I am already deep in the trenches with some of these goals, and I am loving them so far.


  • Make a meal plan every week
  • Try out grocery pickup
  • Learn how to parallel park
  • Learn how to fold a fitted sheet
  • Go on four new hikes
  • Continue habit of exercising four times each week

  • Write one poem every week
  • Write one book review each month
  • Read a book about writing and/or participate in some kind of writing challenge (still researching this one . . .)
  • Knit something out of linen
  • Sew something with serger
  • Spend more time in books and less time on phone

  • Edit family videos (do this with Aaron)
  • Teach someone to knit and/or start a knitting group
  • Weekly communication with siblings
  • Give hugs to Mike and boys every day
  • Take Aaron on a trip to celebrate 12th birthday
  • Find a way to store journals safely

Without proper explanations, I realize that many of these goals might seem a little vague, or it might not make sense why I put them into the categories that I did. I thought about giving a little background on each one but decided I liked seeing all of my goals in a compact list. More details will come later, so feel free to ask questions if you have any.

Also not explained is how these goals will help me develop greater hope. It might not be completely obvious on the surface, but almost all of them were prompted by hope in some way, and I have confidence that as I complete them, this attribute will become a more prominent part of my life.

When I was a freshman in college, I was in one of BYU's unauditioned choirs. We sang a song that was based on a poem by Emily Dickinson. In recent weeks, as I've been thinking about the nature of hope, those words have come back to me: "Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul / And sings the tunes without the words / And never stops at all."

I am looking forward to a year of putting in my plow and allowing hope to let me fly.


  1. I'm super into genealogy and finding names for the temple, so if you need any help, let me know! Once you start, it's kind of addicting.

    I really liked On Writing by Stephen King, and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I also like Julia Cameron's work with writing. I've tried to do NaNoWriMo before, but I wasn't able to quite reach the word count (though I think I did write most days).

    Best of luck with all your goals!

  2. I took Brooke's meditation course this time last year and LOVED it. I had some pretty profound experiences doing it. Hope you enjoy it too!

  3. I'm thinking I'd like to be the beneficiary of "teach someone to knit" goal!

  4. I love this post Amy. It speaks to me right now, as I feel like I, too, am plowing in hope. Thank you.


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