Wow, I can't believe another year has begun. In one way, it seems like this year has flown by, but there were times when it crept by in mind-numbing slowness.
It's been a crazy year.
*Dad's stroke in April.
*The following months of separation as he recovered with my mom as we kids kept the band going and the bills paid.
*Our joyous reunion in July.
*Celebrating my 25th birthday in August.
*Finally setting my wedding date (April 4th, 2014) in September.
*The overwhelming chaos of planning a wedding.
*In October, facing my worst fear as an almost military spouse: deployment.
*Rejoicing with my twin sister in her November proposal and her own wedding plans.
*Confronting new fears as Ryan is forward deployed from Kuwait to Afghanistan during the month of December.
*The bittersweet moments of spending my "last" Christmas with my family before things change.
*Trying to ignore the gaping hole left by Ryan's absence during the holiday season.
There has been a fairly even mix of good with the bad this year, though it sure didn't seem like it at the time. This year has stretched my faith to new limits, yanking it thinner than the strand of a spider's web at times. However, I've learned a lot through it all. If I may, I'll share them with you this week. :)
When you fear the future, look to the past: God proved himself (and continues to do so) through every trial I went through this year, even previously undiscovered fears like almost losing a parent and having a loved one in danger. Even when the ghosts of what-if and what-could-happen haunt me at night, I have a foundation of proof, a legacy of His protection, to stand on and deflect their arguments with. What events lay behind you that God has carried you through when you thought you wouldn't make it? The God of yesterday is the God of today and tomorrow.
Focus on the positive: I can't control my circumstances, but I can control my attitude. There is so much negativity in the world, we don't have to look far to find some. I'm training myself to actively search for the good, especially when there seems to be none. A happy side effect of positive thinking is the attitude of gratefulness that appears with it. What is one thing today that you can be thankful for?
Empathize with your neighbor: When I go through pain, sometimes I forget about everybody else. If I sit around and feel badly about my problems, it's going to drive me to the depths of despair. But I have to remember that I am not the only one who's going through a problem like this. If left to my own devices, I will become bitter and build walls around myself. But, if I let it, my pain can transform me, giving me a heart for the other people going through it, because I know the depth of their hurts firsthand. I know their pain; literally. Is Jesus asking you to turn your circumstances over to Him so He can heal your hurts and use you to assist in healing others?
Cherish the moment: Whatever season of life you are going through, good or bad, will eventually change. Don't let yourself be lulled into complacency, taking things (or people) for granted, especially during this special holiday season. Purposefully enjoy them today; they may not be there tomorrow. Don't just survive in your circumstances. Thrive in spite of them. (Borrowed from a friend's blog post that hit home with me. Find it here: http://5020genesis.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/thrive/#comments.) Dance in the raindrops. Laugh in spite of your heavy heart. Live each day so that if you died tomorrow, you would have no regrets. There is peace and joy to be found if you are strong enough to look for them.
Happy New Year, my friends. Thank you so much for reading my blog. I'll have a book giveaway next time, I promise. ;) I pray that Jesus is a very real part of your life during this winter and the entire year. God bless!