Every New Year celebration means I’ve grown another year older and wiser. Here are a few thoughts I wish I could share with my younger self.  

Everything is going to be okay. No situation lasts forever, and many problems resolve themselves in time. Life does get better.

You deserve good things. No one deserves bad treatment, and you don’t have to tolerate abuse. Believe you should receive better and expect more from your life.

Trust your gut. When you feel uncomfortable or uneasy about a person or a situation, God is telling you to be careful. Listen to your spirit and know God is speaking to your heart.

When it’s time to go, move on. Too often we waste time clinging to roles or relationships that no longer serve our spirits or contribute to our growth. When you feel you’ve outgrown a station or a season, God may be prompting you to make a change and begin a new path.  

Everyone has their own problems. In our current culture, we often see only the surface of others’ lives, and everyone seems to be having more fun than we are. The truth is that everyone has experienced pain, and everyone needs compassion and understanding for whatever they are going through.  

Never “go along to get along.” Too many of us were taught to compromise our hearts and sacrifice our values in order to make others happy. If you are grimly tolerating a situation you know is wrong, either work to change it or accept it is not the right place for you.

Good relationships are built. The best relationships, friendships, and marriages don’t just happen. They require investments of commitment, work, time, and effort to make them successful.

Each person is responsible for his or her choices. We can’t blame others for our mistakes or bad behavior. We choose our actions and the people we want to become.

Reconsider your spending. All the material possessions we buy can’t really bring happiness.  All the clothes, shoes, jewelry, and books we purchase eventually became outgrown or outdated and get thrown away. Think carefully about how you spend your resources.

Invest in experience. The real reward of life is meaningful time shared with people who care. Don’t waste your time and money on things or people that don’t bring joy and value to your life. Focus on the positive and share your experience with people who strengthen and encourage you.

This New Year, I’m looking forward to a time of phenomenal productivity and change. I’m continuing to learn every day, and I’m excited about the lessons that wait in the days ahead.

What advice would you give a younger you? What are you looking forward to learning in 2019?

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Each year at this time I contemplate the meaning of Christmas. In the midst of shopping, spending, wrapping, and socializing; I pause to consider the true significance of the season.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men! (Luke 2:13-14)

All the meaning of Christmas is expressed in those two lines. At Christmas we are to praise God and be grateful for the many gifts He has given us. We are to enjoy a time of peace and share our joy with others. At Christmas we remember to celebrate the birth of Jesus and give thanks for the blessings He brings.

This Christmas I pray you enjoy a peaceful and glorious holiday season. Please know that God is with you through every season of the year.

How do you celebrate a peaceful Christmas? What gives the most meaning to your holiday?

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I have not always felt excited about the arrival of winter. Each year when cold weather began, I feared the extra expenses, the gifts I had to buy, and the contributions I was expected to make. I worried about the weather and the way life grew more complicated. I resented the increased demands on my time, the shopping I was expected to do, and the events I was obligated to attend.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to appreciate the special blessings of winter: the weekend nights making popcorn, snuggling under blankets, and watching old movies. I value the extra time devoted to spending with family, friends, and the people important to me.  

I have learned that I choose how I approach the winter season and what Christmas means to me. I decide where to spend my time and money, and I will invest my resources in the ways that bring me the most reward.

I choose how many gifts to buy, whom to buy for, and how much to spend. I refuse to enter any mall or store where I will fight with crowds and stand in line with other tired and frustrated customers. I choose to do my shopping early and then relax as the holiday approaches.

I choose how I will spend my time and the people who will share it. I am free to politely decline invitations to events and activities. This year I RSVP’d “Not this time” to a very important evening, because I plan to spend that time with my mentee, eating pizza and chatting at my dining room table.

As I get older, I find it more important to choose a peaceful and reflective winter and holiday season. I prefer to relax into the deep silence of winter nights – the time of serious thought and contemplation. I choose winter as my time to wrap in warm quilts on the couch, watching A Christmas Story for the hundredth time. I spend my winter evenings appreciating and enjoying the company of the people I care for most, preparing for the change and renewal of the year to come.

This year I encourage you to enjoy the winter months as a time to consider and plan, discuss and dream. I hope you make winter and Christmas the time of rest they were intended to be. I pray you enjoy a peaceful and comforting winter and holiday season.

How have you changed your approach to winter and Christmas? What are you looking forward to this season?

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