I went with a non-fiction reflection this last year and my hope for 2018.
Everyone has endings and beginnings. At times, we think we are at the end of ourselves. We may think, "this is it. I can't go further. I'm done. It's over. I have no more energy, courage, or creativity to give." But, the next day dawns, and we wiggle our toes. It isn't much. It isn't a marathon, but it's a start. Then, we take a step. Then, another. It's nothing profound. It just is. We find ourselves at a new beginning. It isn't an easy beginning. We may start this new beginning with regrets from past endings. We may start it with the baggage of pain or shame. We may start it with extra weight, literal, metaphorical, or both. But, what matters is that we start, even sometimes after we thought we gave up everything, even hope. The hope is still there, somehow. We don't even know how it made it through the hell, whatever that hell was, but the hope is still there, shining.
From my perspective, that little light still shining is the reason for the star over Bethlehem. From my experience this year, after a hell of physical illness, surgery, pain, and exhaustion which clouded my mind, I didn't know I was still clinging to any hope at all, but it was still there. Nothing could extinguish it. I still had the hope of Jesus inside of me, pushing me out of bed ... even if I didn't get out of bed until noon and had only enough energy to stay awake until 4 p.m. I was cranky and didn't want to pray, but I did anyway. Some of those prayers were more of a "Why, oh, why have you forsaken me" kind of prayers instead of "Enter His courts with Thanksgiving" kind of prayers, but I prayed anyway, despite myself. I kept getting up, taking small steps to recovery, for months barely making it down the hallway, and then barely to the back deck, and then barely to the end of the long, gravel driveway (who knew it could feel so long), and finally nine months after the pain started, I went on a three mile hike in Montana, huffing and puffing as the slowest family member up the hill, but I cried tears of joy when I made it to the top. I am alive and glad to be alive. I am still not in good shape, but my doctors have reminded me to be gentle with myself - to rejoice in five pounds lost by the end of the year and to be glad that I have a chance to recover from illness and the two surgeries which were only five weeks apart, not to mention the five biopsies and other medical tests and procedures which took place. I still have health issues. I still have doctor's appointments. But, I am breathing, I can exercise, and I get to hug my family. These are the basics that matter as I end this year and look to the beginning of next one.
The crazy part is, I was afraid to dream for a while. I was afraid to make plans for my writing, ashamed of how much I hadn't finished. Then, I started writing short stories and poems, and I started planning an epic series. I made one of my goals for December: to think of 6 Impossible Things Before Breakfast. And, I've been dreaming big for 2018 and beyond. I'm not afraid of dreaming anymore because I have remembered to focus on the hope that is within. I have hope and my hope has made me strong. I am ready to begin again, and again, and again. I'm ending 2017 and beginning 2018 with hope.
This next part isn't for the WEP Challenge, it's for all of my readers who have read/purchased my Summer Vacation Devotions book. This video is of Peace Rehabilitation Center. It's where I send all of the money I make from the Summer Vacation Devotions book (plus, a little more from me). These ladies know what it means to begin again. For a newer video, go here: http://peacerehab.org/