Reflecting on 2016

I’m not much of a resolutions kind of girl but I think it’s healthy to take time to consider the past year, both the good and the hard. I’ve always felt that reflecting on what you have experienced helps give perspective to your current situation and hope for the new year.

Ours is a family of faith and we have relied heavily on it in 2016. We literally started the new year with a cancer diagnosis (my sister) and we are ending the year in good health – praise! But all of the in between was challenging to our faith and stamina and for me personally, living so far away and not being able to physically be there for my sister was extremely difficult. I wanted to bring her food, go with her to appointments and sit in the waiting room at doctor visits. I wanted to fly down for her surgery and support her in her recovery.

But with four small children and 1300 miles in the way, physically being there was just not possible. Instead, I supported her from afar, through prayer and phone calls and gifts in the mail. It was not easy for me and made me question living in Maine. Add to that the very real issue of seasonal depression and what I call the five year itch of living here and I was feeling more than ready to pack my bags and move back south.

My husband and I spent a good part of spring and early summer considering opportunities that might bring us back below the Mason Dixon line but there seemed to be no doors opening and neither of us felt like we were being led somewhere new. By July, Maine was showing off her finest and we were thoroughly enjoying all that is lovely and precious about this place. I remember being out on the water as family one day and feeling peace in my heart that this state is still home for our Miller Party of Six.

And with the hard came a lot of good in 2016. Relationships with friends grew deeper, new friends were made, a creative outlet (this blog) was launched and a house addition was started (almost done!) I’ve watched my husband work so hard to provide for our family, my children work through their own challenges both socially and academically and other family members show great courage despite what lay before them. It has been both inspiring and encouraging to see so many loved ones persevere in their own circumstances with so much grace.

I won’t lie that I get anxious heading into a long stretch of gray days and extreme cold. This week has already teased and tested me with those old feelings of sadness. But like the others in my life that I admire, how I respond to my situation is my choice. At our Christmas eve service my pastor said something that really resonated with me: “Joy is not determined by the circumstances around you but Christ within you.” I wrote it down immediately and taped it to my bathroom mirror and hope to use it daily as a reminder of how I want to live each day – choosing Joy.

So while 2016 started out in a way none of us could expect, it ends with great hope for what may be ahead in 2017. Happy New Year Everyone – I pray that your 2017 brings you and yours hope and joy!

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