Many things happened in my life during 2016. Some events were awfully good, while others were just plain awful. Can you relate to that?
Because of my new identity as a travel writer, I discovered hundreds of new restaurants, inns, attractions and towns. In January, I focused on Tuscaloosa and the Shoals. In February, we were in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. In March, we made a great anniversary trip to Plantation Country in Louisiana between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. In April, we discovered the beauty of St. Simons Island, Georgia and more unique shops and eateries in Franklin, TN. And in May, we explored the Five Points area of Birmingham and found several uncommonly good restaurants. In August, we spent several days in Auburn and at Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA. In October, we spent a week on the stunningly gorgeous coast of Maine, and in November, we were back in Auburn to cheer on the Tigers, in Orange Beach for a Food Bloggers Summit and in Franklin to enjoy 3 of the grandkids. Along the way, we met interesting people and made delightful new friends. Then came Cousins Camp and Thanksgiving. Talk about a whirlwind!!!
But, in the middle of all of that traveling, we faced the unexpected death of my beloved stepmother June, the subsequent care of my dad requiring numerous trips to Troy, the ordeal of moving him to north Alabama and then discovering his dire diagnosis of mylodysplastic syndrome. He died exactly 5 months and 2 days after June died.
While I was facing grief in my own family, I had several close friends walking through the last weeks and days with their loved ones, too. All of the sadness was agonizing.
2016 brought many, many tears, while it also provided numerous happy times with friends and family. It’s a good thing I didn’t know what all would happen this year. But, BECAUSE of all that happened in 2016, I’m a little extra apprehensive about all that 2017 will bring. Notice that I didn’t use the word “anxious,” because the Bible clearly tells us to “be anxious for nothing.” Philippians 4:6. I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t see what lies ahead. At this point, I can only see a small glimpse of what the early days of January MIGHT be like.
Recently, the weatherman warned that we would have “frozen fog” the following morning. I had to be out and about and stopped long enough to capture this phenomenon as I drove through my neighborhood. To me, it’s a good depiction of what our view of 2017 is like. We can see a hint of what is there, but the rest is blurry and obscured. We will have to actually “get out and walk through it” in order to see the year more clearly.
I’ve been searching the scripture and reading applications from pastors I admire to find the courage and the encouragement I need to start walking through 2017 with a light, expectant, joyful heart. I especially found Rick Warren’s 3 suggestions helpful. He said:
- Set goals based on God’s direction. Jeremiah 29:11 and 13 — “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. . . . You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
2. Live one day at a time. Matthew 6:34 — “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has
enough trouble of its own.” And Isaiah 26:3 –“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
3. Don’t procrastinate. Proverbs 27:1 — “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” I think that also strongly suggests that if God puts someone on your heart to spend time with or to do an act of kindness for, then do it. Strive to live without regrets.
In addition to Warren’s thoughts, I’m claiming other verses, as well:
Deuteronomy 31:6 — “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Psalm 55:22 — Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.“
HAPPY 2017 EVERYONE! Ready or not, here it comes!
P.S. And, oh yes, my book finally got published in 2016. I hope you’ll order it in print or on Kindle soon through Amazon. “Telling It On the Mountain: 52 Days in the Life of an Improbable Missionary.”