This year has been a heavy one for a lot of people in my immediate circle and for the world in general. As stories of unrest, bigotry, terrorism and other bad news stream at us through the media, it’s difficult to see the peace on earth or good will toward men. Sometimes, finding hope in adversity seems impossible. But, the silver linings are there if we have eyes to see. Even in the smaller events in our lives we can find blessings if we aren’t determined to be drama queens. It’s all about attitude. Here are a few “good” things from my life this year.
Early this year was my black belt test. I have been practicing martial arts for several years now. The months that preceded my test were very demanding. Nightly work outs and training for hours, memorization, bruising, broken hand, cracked ribs, bleeding knuckles, a black eye or two and a fat lip. It was a sweaty, exhausting business. Silver lining: Fitness, confidence, empowerment and a freaking awesome black belt.
I went as a chaperone on symphony tour to LA with my oldest son’s high school. I was crammed into a bus with a bunch of high school students, trying to sleep in my seat (not comfy) as they sang songs from Frozen in the middle of the night. Then it poured rain the whole time we were in LA. Weird weather—I used to live there so I know! I sloshed through Disneyland with a bunch of crazy teens getting soaked and exhausted in Stand-in-line-land. Silver lining: Watching the kids perform on stage at Disneyland, California Screamin’ several times while howling at the top of my lungs into the night and bonding with my son and his friends. Worth it.
I hiked Bryce Canyon with some writer friends. It was a bit of a stressful time to squeeze in a trip since we were all getting ready to put on another Teen Author Boot Camp—which is a big, fun writing conference for teens. The drive could have been boring but the people I was with are highly entertaining. The weather was a bit chilly, the hike was a bit challenging and the ground very muddy. We all ended up with red mud all over. Silver lining: Nature is beautiful and time with true friends is priceless.
My beautiful, fun, amazing cousin, Theresa moved away to Missouri to serve a mission for our church. Boo. I miss her all of the time. Silver lining: She’s learning and growing as she loves the people there, teaching them about the Savior and serving the community.In the summer was another school tour with my son. This time abroad—which already is a silver lining! But it was hot and crowded there and traveling with dozens of teens is a challenge. It was non-stop, lots of walking, tons of bus travel and little sleep. Do they seriously not know what air conditioning is? The accommodations and food were often less than stellar. One place we visited was the concentration camp at Dachau. It literally hurt my heart being there. To be in the actual place where so many people suffered so cruelly was an emotional experience. Silver lining: It was culturally awakening. It made me ponder on my blessings. It made the inspiring words of holocaust victim, Corie ten Boom, when faced by one of her oppressors years after her liberation, all the more relevant and powerful to me.
“Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him….Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness….And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives along with the command, the love itself.”
An awesome reminder to me that forgiveness is essential no matter what the offense—something I would cling to in my own life as 2014 progressed and challenges came.
All around the same time my grandma passed away, my young special needs son was bullied at school, my family had some big financial setbacks and my dad was hospitalized with a stroke. Silver lining: The support and love of true friends in times of need, memories of my grandma I will always be grateful for and an appreciation for life and all of my blessings. My dad’s miraculous recovery so far has been a gift.
Every year is a mixed bag of challenges and triumphs, joys and pains. But depending on how we perceive it—we can find the blessings in all the events of our lives. It comes down to attitude and faith that what happens in our lives is in God’s hands. If there is one thing 2014 has taught me in addition to the ones mentioned, it’s that when a door slams in your face or when something unexpected happens, it’s for the best and there is another path prepared.
“‘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’” Jeremiah 29:11
Wishing you all the Happiest of Holidays, a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.