While my temptation is to begin counting down the days until spring, I don't want to overlook the blessings of today. Social media is full of nasty "good riddance" comments to 2016, and I'm sorry that it was such a painful year for so many people. But every day that we awaken is a blessing and an opportunity, even if it doesn't always feel that way.
As a new year begins, it's a great time to pause and reflect on the gifts and challenges of the previous year, but more importantly, the lessons that have been learned from them. It is a time to ask questions about who I am and about who I want to become, about my life and its direction.
I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions, as they don't usually last past January 15th, especially if they involve diet or exercise. But I do believe in choices, and making an intentional adjustment to the trajectory of our lives and our identities.
I've never known a year to pass without both blessings and disappointments, and my prayer is to be shaped and molded by these into a stronger, wiser person. But above all, I pray that I would be shaped and molded by my Creator and my Savior as I draw near to Him, to become more Christ-like and less self-centered. I want to surrender all of myself, all of my hopes and dreams and heartaches to God, and to allow Him to use me for His Kingdom work.
2016 involved more than a few challenges for me, in a lot of different areas of my life. But in each of these, I've seen God at work to lead me and my family forward and to draw us closer to Him. One day, overwhelmed with the weight of struggles on my shoulders, I cried out to my Father and He replied with II Corinthians 12:9 (just as He did to the Apostle Paul): "My strength is made perfect in weakness."
I've spent a lot of time meditating on the meaning of this, and I've come to the conclusion that my weakness is a vesssel for God's strength. The more aware I am of my own deficiencies, the more I turn to the Lord and ask Him to pour His strength into me and my life.
I'm not exactly sure what the coming year will bring, but I suspect that it will involve new challenges and disappointments, and with these, new opportunities to experience God's work and presence in my life. Opportunities to grow in faith as I trust Him, and to grow in character as the raw edges are smoothed away by the sandpaper of my struggles.
As we enter a new year, 2017, my prayer is that each and every one of us will encounter the Creator and Savior in a new way and be transformed by it. God bless you and keep you in the coming year!
And, in case you need a little encouragement, here is the cutest video on New Year's Resolutions I have ever seen! I have no idea who this little girl is, but she is precious!