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I'm taking inventory of my year, reflecting upon the things that were good; things that expired or that  need to expire; the love in my life; contributions I've  made to the lives of others; contributions others have made to my life; what caused me to grow; where I had setbacks; the state of my joy; what, if anything, I  allowed to compromise my joy; what surprised me; what disappointed me; how I can do better; how I can be better, etc. I try to be mindful not to assess my year, or how I feel about the year, based on what's happening at the present time. Especially if what I'm currently experiencing is so good, or so challenging, that it's all-consuming. Because while it's important to be/live in the present, I find tremendous value in taking time to contemplate my year in its entirety. Just as a life cannot/should not be measured by one experience in isolation, I don't want to define my year solely based on what's happening in my life at the present time. And this may cause me to revisit some of the pain I've experienced this year, but I'm alright with that. Because it will also cause me to revisit my joys. And once I've had my time of reflection, I will celebrate the joy and hope I have that the light of 2014 will shine brightly for us all.

Wishing you a joyous, healthy, loving, peaceful, and prosperous 2014!!!


 
 
This song is a wonderful reminder of the hope and joy Christians associate with the birth of Christ. Buon Natale, Joyeux Noël, Merry Christmas!

 
 
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The movie, "It's a Wonderful Life", reminds us that friends are a blessing. I feel blessed to know I have friends, and am humbled by their love. Here are some quotes that remind me of the gems in my life:

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Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand." Emily Kimbrough

"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24

"The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are." C.S. Lewis

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." Author unknown

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Friendship isn't about whom you have known the longest... It's about who came, and never left your side...." Author unknown

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I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar. " Robert Brault

"Friends pick us up when we fall down, and if they can't pick us up, they lie down and listen for a while." Author unknown


"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17

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Friends are like walls. Sometimes you lean on them, and sometimes it's good just knowing they are there." Author unknown


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The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart." Elisabeth Foley

"Remember, you don't need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends who are certain." Author unknown


"No matter how sure you are that a friend will be there for you, it's still the greatest feeling when the time comes and there they are." Robert Brault

"A friend can tell you things you don't want to tell yourself." Frances Ward Weller

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Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." Oprah Winfrey

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The best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you've had." Author unknown

"The most memorable people in life will be the friends who loved you even when you weren't very lovable." Author unknown

"Any day is a great day to say 'thank you for being my friend.'"  Natalie Taylor

"No man is a failure who has friends." Quote from the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life"




 
 
Not all of us will be news makers and/or trendsetters, but life is so much richer when we use our lives--or at least a portion of our precious, limited time on this earth--to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

Many, the world over, are now celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, who made a significant difference in the lives of others.
In the struggle for freedom, equality, and education for all, Madiba's later years epitomized this quote from Robert Brault: “Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.” 
In two weeks, many of us--the world over--will celebrate the birth of Jesus, the ultimate difference-maker and model of forgiveness for Christians. Wishing you and yours the love, joy, hope, peace, and spirit of Christmas.
 
 
Have you seen the movie "It's a Wonderful Life"? It's broadcast on television during the Christmas season, but I sometimes watch it at other times of the year as its messages resound throughout. In the movie, the life of the protagonist, George Bailey, is challenging--to say the least. As a young man, George dreamed of college and traveling the world. Those dreams were dashed when George's father died and George had to take over the family business. After that, George did what he could to make the best of his life--a great deal of which included helping others. And just when it seemed things were going well, something happened that shook George to his core. Having endured one setback too many, George got tired. He was at the end of his rope, and believed things would be better if he wasn't alive, or had never been born. But before he was able to act on his despair, George was sent a guardian angel who showed him the blessings he had and how his life made a significant difference in the lives of others. In the end, George saw that despite his challenges he had a life worth living, rich in love. It seemed like he was so accustomed to making sacrifices and being there for others that he didn't realize they would be there for him in his time of need.

Some of life's greatest lessons are learned in the midst of our trials and tribulations. We may be devastated or discouraged along the way, but it's important to hold on. As older people used to say when I was growing up, "just keep living . . . chances come around." Nothing good or bad lasts forever, so we must make the best of our circumstances and allow our blessings, our faith, our hope, our joy, to cushion life's harsh blows. One thing from the movie that really resonated with me was that George didn't reach out to his family and friends to say he needed help. He suffered in silence. Many of us do so, thinking no one will understand; no one will be there for us; others will criticize us; we can handle it on our own, etc. I've been there. But like George, I have learned that when we have others who will love and support us in the midst of and through our pain--and allow them to do so--we'll find that it is, indeed, a wonderful life.