I don't know about you, but this past year has been full of ups and downs, good days and some not-so-good days, and many changes.

Actually, after I sit at the end of each year past, I think the same thing.

Even in the midst of all the uncertainty and inconveniences we face, we know God is with us. We know that His plan is perfect, and there is a reason for everything. If we go into this next year knowing and trusting in that, how much of a difference would that make for you and everyone around you?

There will always be something. A flat tire, an unexpected bill, a broken washer right before a big trip, a big decision to make that isn't easy. Trying to decide what to cut to make your family budget work better, or maybe it's taking care of a sick family member or even the unexpected loss of a friend or family member.

What if we chose joy rather than waiting for joy to find us even in the midst of these times in our lives? If we look at every situation as an opportunity rather than something to be fixed? We may not have enough money to go out to dinner, but how can we glorify God even more by staying home and sitting around a table to eat and fellowship with our loved ones?

You may have a flat tire, but rather than getting upset, take the time you have while you're waiting to see how many people cross your path whom you can share the joy of Christ with that wouldn't have been there if you hadn't gotten a flat tire.

This isn't easy for any of us to see while we are in the middle of the trial, including me. I am learning a little more as I get older to stop and realize that sometimes the trials are there to strengthen our testimony or to make us stop and be still and to see and appreciate the things and people around us.

When we continue to move at such a high speed in life, and everything seems to be going well, we forget how we got there and Who really should be getting the glory. We as humans work hard and feel the need to do and take care of everything. Sometimes, God takes a moment to remind us that we are not in complete control and that He is and is always there with us.

I pray, with this new year, that we all take time to find joy even in the midst of the most trying times or aggravating circumstances.

Slow down and enjoy even the smallest of details. Take the photo and save the memory. Laugh a bit longer and remember what it feels like.

Spend a little longer with your family. Pray more, spend more time in worship, center this year around Christ rather than yourself or others, and see if this year is a little bit better than the last.

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