You are about to come to a close. You have given me so many surprises and joys this year. I recall the many blessings that God brought through you and the countless times I had reason to thank Him for something that happened. Opened-ending chapters that were resolved, questions that were given answers, faith that was strengthened in times of uncertainty. I've been humbled at the numerous occasions when God moved in a special way. I think back to the beginning of the year and throughout the months, the Lord showed His care and His provision time and time again...even when I lost faith that He would provide as needed. Never once in the last 12 months did God ever fail me.
While you gave me many happy moments, you also provided me with some sad ones as well. Starting with the loss of my sweet friend Katie to cancer, you sprinkled sorrow in amongst the joy. I watched friends lose loved ones to tragedies unexpected; I even had to let go of a friendship I had come to care deeply about. But this is life...and you offer what every year since the dawning of time has. Thanks to a fallen world, such griefs are part of us every day. We cannot pass through this earth without them as they create in us a longing for a better place where sorrow doesn't touch us anymore. I used to fight these tragedies. I thought they were my enemy instead of my friend. But past years and a faithful Savior taught me otherwise. I have learned to see them as my friend, my teacher. Adversity isn't something I fear because I know I can't escape it. 2016 will hold its share as did 2014. You were no different. But I'm okay with that. I have to be...because my joy in the sorrow depends on it.
I am grateful that during this year, you knocked my socks off more than once: with new friendships, unplanned experiences of wonder, and so many other grace-moments that I now count as choice blessings. God used you to help me become more content and less worried, to welcome sadness instead of resist it, to reach out in love to others more deeply and sincerely and...in turn...to become richly blessed. As you near your end and fade into the annuls of time, I will always remember you with gratitude. You were a turning point in my life...a year to cherish and fondly recall.
Now, when you give way to your successor, I pray that the surprises may continue, that the love may grow, that the trust may deepen. I don't want what you started to end...but to keep going...and to increase. I am learning to start the new year planning less and hoping more. I am starting to gain a better grasp of the necessary need for me to have my mind blown. I have so little control over life that I find it easier to simply go from year to year believing more and fretting less. Living with an open heart, loving with an open hand. Knowing all along that, through it all, there is an unchangeable God caring for me in a changeable world.