Dear Family and Friends at Trinity,

   I was trying to think of something fun and exciting to do on New Year’s Eve this year.  I don’t know why I thought this New Year’s Eve would be any different from most of the New Year’s Eves I’ve spent.  Fun and exciting hardly describe any of them.  I remembered the first New Year’s Eve I was married (that did not turn out as planned either but is a story for a different time!)  I had suggested that perhaps we could go out and do something fun, or even go to, or host a party. I have no idea why I thought any of those ideas would ‘fly”; we weren’t exactly party people! 

  There it was New Year’s Eve and we were home, alone, playing the most boring game of ‘Strategy”, while I also did a load or two of laundry when it wasn’t my turn, which was much of the time.  I remembered my mom’s story about a New Year’s Eve she spent with my father. They were still dating; he had come to Truman to spend the evening with her and her mom and at 15 minutes before midnight he decided to leave!  When my mom challenged his decision, insisting he could stay at least 15 more minutes and see the new year in, his response was, “Well I’m coming back for dinner tomorrow; it will be the new year, and I’ll see you then” and he left.  It was a decision he would regret for the rest of his life because the story was retold every new years eve for the next 46 years they spent together.

  Expectations. Hopes. Plans.  We make them for New Year’s Eve.  We make them for the new year.  We make them for life.  Some of them, if we are honest, were doomed from the start. They were unrealistic. Some of them struggled on for a while and then crashed in around us, for many different reasons. Others thrived and even went beyond our wildest dreams, also for many different reasons.

   I began to think of my own life. MY plan was simple: live in Martin Co. and work for social services.  I have lived in 5 states, some for short term projects.  My life in ministry has had me serving churches in 6 denominations and in non-denominational work as a chaplain in hospitals, HOSPICE,  a college, and an addiction rehab center.  I have travelled in at least 29 states and 18 foreign countries, some of those several times.  I have escorted youth and adults on education or work mission projects to Indian reservations in SD, Jamaica, Washington DC, New York City, and Russia. My home has been a refuge for college women dealing with eating disorders, a high school girl abandoned by her parents, literal refugees from a war-torn African nation, and foreign exchange students. I have met high-powered people and those with no power at all, and have celebrated with persons in their most joyous occasions and mourned with those in times of deepest grief and despair. I have seen some of the most beautiful places on earth and met hundreds of fascinating people.   Of course I have battled a broken heart, disappointment betrayal, cancer-3 times, and grief but I survived! 

 These have been the most powerful, exciting, challenging, sometimes frightening, stimulating, joyful, and rewarding experiences of my life, and NONE of them were on MY original “to-do” list!  They happened when I said, “Here I am Lord. What is YOUR plan for me?”  I am not telling you any of this to ‘brag” about my life; it is not a job resume as I move on down the road. I am simply suggesting that in this season of planning for the new year and of making resolutions, our wisest resolution might be simply this: “I hereby resolve to open my life to God’s plan for me, letting go of some of my own.”  You might be amazed at what could happen; I was!.

Psalm 32:8 The Lord said, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.”Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not depend on your own understandings. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.  

Happy New Year! pjr

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