To A Year Well Lived

It’s New Year’s Eve.  We survived another 365 days.  We have thrived.  Grown.  Learned.  Oh, how much we have changed.  And now, we wait for the dawn of a new year.

Looking back over these past several months, I see so much that I have done.  Oh, I have served many hours alongside my fellow Corps Members here with the Emergency Response Team (ERT).  I have survived flames and smoke.  Wind and rains.  I have thrived within a community, surrounded by individuals who have made it their mission to support and encourage one another.  I have felled trees, lit fires, mucked flood affected homes, and helped organize and support teams out in the field.  I have learned to lead and to follow.

I have reconnected with several people with whom I had lost touch with.  Friends from school. Missionaries out in the field.  Teammates.  Friends.  I have rebuilt bridges that were lost to lack of maintenance, deliberate destruction, and the chaos of life.  Yes, there have been some that I have let go in the hopes of growing.  I hope in time, those, too, will be reclaimed.

This past year, I have been challenged.  I have taken a stand.  I have fallen.  I have gotten back to my feet.  Only to fall again.  I have learned the value of perseverance.  Of faith.  And I have accepted that I do not have to be perfect.  I just have to do the best that I can possibly accomplish.  And in that moment, I have to accept my best.  And continue to move forwards.

I have learned that, while looking back may allow me to see my mistakes, and looking forwards may allow me to plan my future, I must live in this present moment.  One of my good friends revealed this to me, if we are not in the present moment, we will miss everything that God is trying to show us.  We have to stop, refocus, and find our center in God above.  Abba.  The Father.

I have spent a number of hours wrestling with God.  I know I will lose, but still I struggle with Him.  Through this, I have remembered how much He loves me.  I have seen how much He cares for me.  And have come to grow closer to Him.  He has guided my feet, a shuffling series of nervous steps down the path of life.  The journey that is home.

In this past year, I have shared my stories.  I have written.  And I continue to write.  I have spoken freely about the great and devastating things that I have seen and experienced both here and in the missions fields.  I have shared my fears, the paralyzing grip of disaster and the haunting cry that echoes through my past.  I have allowed my words to wander through the debris field of Joplin and the winding path of my youth, growing up as an Army Brat.  I have shared both love and hate, fear and joy.  Because, when we embrace the journey that we have been on, we grow and allow ourselves to move forward.

Sometimes, I wonder where I am going.  But I smile.  I have learned to embrace joy, despite the pain, fear, and devastation that comes with this life.  This past year, I have made the choice to be happy.  To fill my heart with joy.  And break the chains of hate.  I have chosen to fill my life with positivity, to flee from the negative influences and embrace love.  It has changed my the way I live.  It has changed the way I relate to those around me.  And it has made me a better person.

As this year comes to a close, I am thankful for every moment that came with it.  I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me in the upcoming days, weeks, and months!

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