Goodbye 2011.

I have had the “habit” of keeping a journal every year where I write down my thoughts, concerns, hopes, and expectations for the year ahead.  I find it fascinating to pick up an old journal and walk, again retrospectivly , through the pages of my life.  There has never been a more interesting reflection for me than my musings at the end of last year where I had penned my thoughts and hopes for 2011.  Looking at those thoughts now I am almost embarrassed by the simplicity of my words.  Looking towards a fresh year I had hoped for so many fascinating experiences and opportunities, crazy sweepstakes wins, good growth of the ministry to which we were involved, and prayers that God would safely bring Christopher home.     2011 did hold some of those elements but OH, what a difference a year makes.

* Christopher Ryan Smith did go home in 2011, but not to “our ” present home; but home to be with the Lord.

*  We moved from the home in Tumalo that was rich in memories.

*  We stepped away from Ministry Coaching International where we had served for 12 years.

At the time of my pre-2011 journal entries, I would not have imagined these events occurring.

As I have walked out the unexpected changes in my life this year I have learned a number of things about loss, change, grief, transition, family, and even friends. I have learned a great deal about myself as well and as I enter a new year I sense that I am not the same person I was last year.

With all that I have learned in one very impacting year, the greatest truth I have learned is that God is faithful.  God’s abiding love, compassion, mercy, and grace have carried me through emotions I had never navigated before.  The closeness and comfort of the presence of God has astounded me as He has held me so gently.

I have also learned, again, the power of the Word of God.  Whenever I would find myself in places of challenge, grief, or discouragement I would find great comfort and hope in the words found the Bible. For instance, Hebrews 13:5 says ” I (God) will never leave you nor forsake you”, Jeremiah 29:11 says ” For I (God) know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope.”

None of us can predict what 2012 will hold. I can journal today for the year ahead of me and I can list my hopes, my vision, my dreams and my goals, just as I did last year. The exception this year is that at the very top of the list for 2012 I would pen my desire to know and trust God more; that no matter what comes my way I would be prepared to celebrate the joys or withstand the fierce winds as they blow.

I am not sad to see this year come to a close, but I am deeply grateful for the truths I have learned through the storm.

Many of us have faced incredible challenges this past year; I am certainly not alone in this.  I pray that you , too, have found a “safe place to catch your breathe and press on ” in the caring arms of a God who loves you.  I pray that as you enter a new and uncertain year ahead you will have confidence in the promise found in Hebrews 13:5.  I also pray you will have joy in the journey.

Goodbye 2011~~~pretty happy to see you go……………………

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