Saying Goodbye to 2015

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2015…The close of another year. The last sunset of 2015 (only because it didn’t rain one particular day this week) No resolutions here, only reflections of what was and hopes of what 2016 will bring. The year doesn’t change when you look at it from the gains and losses.. they are always there. Change. it always comes with each new year.

There will be the same joys, surprises, heartbreak and disappointment.. the only thing that will change will be the circumstances that surround them.

Each passing year… we grow, change and even regress. Most of the time we learn.. if we choose it.  There are times we move backwards, needing a little more space to process, yet we manage to learn something in that realm as well – if we choose it.

Weeks ago I had envisioned a cold crisp night with some fireworks and a clear starry sky – New Year’s Eve, ringing in the new…

Instead…. this is the sky that has lurked the entire week of vacation

dreary. rainy. blah….blah…. blah….

lastblog2015so much for a blazing sunset whisking away the old.. and in with the new huh?

But…. the same as in 2015? It won’t rain always – there will be other sunsets, sunrises and clear skies in the coming year of 2016.

So many good and bad things happened in 2015. I’m choosing to learn from the bad..take the good stuff with me into the next.. and well, just keep moving forward.

Goodbye 2015… once again you have brought lessons…. but you have also brought blessings (of which I will write in permanent ink)

Here’s to a grace-filled 2016. May we give it as graciously as we receive it. – There are so many good wishes I could leave for you at the close of this year… I prefer to leave my favorite verse from Numbers…

Numbers 6

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:

The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

 

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Choosing a “Merry” Christmas

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ChristmasBlog1It is no secret that I have a tendency to be a little “nostalgic” especially during the holidays. I can’t help it, I have always loved everything about it. From the memories of a White Christmas more times than not in my hometown of West Virginia, sledding down a hill with my best friends to curling up in front of the fireplace until the glow put me to sleep.. these were some of the best memories a girl could ever have. There were always sugar cookies, hot cocoa and popcorn to be strung. I am nostalgic when it comes to these memories, I hold them a little more tight as every year passes.

Although you may think from my whimsical, Christmas card-like photos – that all is peace and joy and that I just ooze with Christmas Spirit? Not so. I think Christmas can be one of the most depressing, lonely, and desperate times of the year for more people than I can even imagine. It’s true… there are a lot of hurt and broken people out there.

I gave up on the perfect Christmas a very long time ago. It doesn’t exist. What I haven’t given up on? Choosing the “Merry” in Christmas. It ends up being a decision more than a feeling. It’s one that I learned by observing.

I soon learned that just because it is the Christmas Season, people still depart this life, there are still tragedies, disasters and sometimes there are people who make Christmas their platform to “tell it like it is” – unfortunately leaving a wake of hurt.

I have had loss during the holidays just as others have. My maternal grandmother died Christmas Eve when I was a teen..I was very close to her. As hard as it was? the hardest part of losing her was watching my own mother grieve for many, many years to come.. Christmas was a time for mourning her loss.

What I learned from observing her? Eventually, she made a choice. She chose to make every effort to celebrate Christmas in a joyful way once again. Memories and new traditions were formed and we began to heal some.

Yes, I have a few reasons to dislike Christmas if I focus on those things. I have never felt sorry for myself that we had less than some.. more than others where gifts were concerned, but yes, I have felt sorry for myself on many occasion because of the loss of people… not materialistic things. I still fight it every holiday, however, I choose “Merry” in my Christmas. It is a decision that I make each and every year.

I hope that if you are in a position to choose? You can find a way to have “Merry” in your Christmas too. Sometimes it’s a process, it may take a while. It’s worth the effort… Make new traditions and find ways to celebrate those you have been blessed to love in the past and present.

From the first of December I begin with the baking of favorites, old pictures, revisiting Christmas past and lots and lots of Christmas music. Choosing “Merry”

Sometimes I fail miserably during December and that’s okay too. Our feelings are real – our hearts hurt at times, but at least we know that we can still feel things that matter.

So this year, light a candle…buy an ornament..plant something… choose a way to have your own “Merry”

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Our stockings have long been hung….. and the oven is finally having a rest. For the remainder, I will try to hold onto the many reasons I love Christmas.. and push back the negative ones that I could choose just as easily.

If at all possible… my prayer is that you choose a  “Merry” that you can celebrate.

Joy

Peace

Love

Hope

and if nothing else…. this is one that will always make sense. a reason to celebrate the “Merry”…

Merry Christmas from our home to yours.

 

Luke 2:11

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

The Season of Hope

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Christmas2015Blog2Hope –  it comes in all forms this time of year. Sometimes it is a whisper that it is still possible, and sometimes it is a loud voice that takes you by surprise in a burst of heart-felt laughter. It is here.

It has been heard in several of my circles, seen in many displays of giving, and felt in the inner most parts of my soul. I’m here. Seek me. Embrace me.

Thousands of lights we will see this season – lawn decorations, town street lights, and the glow of our own Christmas trees, yet there has been an even stronger light that I have witnessed in the past few weeks.

There are times when the days are dark for us, for our friends and our families.  We often feel nocturnal, being in the dark for so long. Our vision adjusts accordingly until it feels almost normal. We accept the fact that darkness has come to stay. The time comes when we stop looking for even a glimpse of light. Lost. Discouraged. Broken.

The thing is? Light diffuses darkness. Always.

There are flickers of light in our day-to-day. It’s easy to dismiss them, difficult to see when our eyes are closed tight… closed tight, because if we open them? we know there is a chance of further disappointment waiting. It takes courage to allow the light to penetrate what has been dark for so long.

The season of hope.

Light….diffusing our darkness.

It came in the past few weeks……..

Hearing a discouraged friend, find her second wind to keep hoping, clinging to her faith in spite of her disappointments.

Listening to a young girl sing with peace in her voice during a funeral.

Hearing the laughter of my own child… enjoying time with her friends.

The wonder of a child’s first glimpse of Christmas lights.

The gathering of friends in my home.

The classmate that was able to return to work after enduring chemotherapy for breast cancer.

The friend that courageously teaches her child with learning disabilities.. even when she has nothing left to give.

A kind soul that works at the grocery store..that has more to give than bagging your purchases.

The friend in the middle of divorce proceedings during the holidays..yet her heart of gold remains intact to show love to others.

The grandmother that makes every effort to spend time with her grandchildren, although she is physically in need of nothing less than a miracle.

Those that believe unconditional love is a real thing.

The season of hope….. I will embrace. I believe there is always hope. I have to keep my eyes wide open. Sometimes the light is brighter than others.. wear sunglasses. Press on.

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Jeremiah 29:11-29New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.