“Oh my word; can you believe it’s Christmas already?”

“I know! WHERE HAS THIS YEAR GONE?”

If you are a human being, chances are you have had this exact conversation or something very similar in the last few days.

I’m not quite sure what it is about the build up to Christmas, but it can make us freak out a little. It’s like a glaring reminder that another year is about to end and a fresh new year is about to begin. Suddenly we feel this pressure to make everything count for something. We cram our days with activity hoping to give this year some kind of extra meaning. We hope that if we can do more then we will be able to end the year with a bang. Can your relate?

A year can represent so much. And I find myself all too often hearing  “I can’t wait to see the back end of 2016.” For some this year has been great and you can’t relate to the statement above. It’s been a year of increased success and exciting adventures. Maybe you’ve had a baby or your business has thrived in ways you never could have imagined. Maybe you’ve reached all your set goals or perhaps you have fallen in love. (How awesome).

But, for others this year has been difficult. Like, really difficult. Maybe you’ve tragically lost a loved one or something you’ve dreamed of and tried has failed. Maybe your marriage fell apart or this year has come and gone and you still don’t have a baby.

For me this year has been one of extreme highs and lows. I started off declaring that this would be the year that I LIVED; truly lived. The year of embracing LIFE and being in the moment. It was a great vision for my year and yet somehow, I chose to let busyness to dictate my days. Everything looked good on the outside, but on the inside I craved more. In my attempts to be a “perfect” wife, mother, pastor and friend I had somehow lost the ability to be present in each day. Thankfully on a trip to Israel earlier this year I got to tend to my soul. I chose to see all the good in the year past despite the harder times and faced the lessons that life was teaching me along the way. I embraced pain and saw past loneliness. I chose gratitude even in my questions. I let myself feel joy and peace. I saw the beauty of my marriage and family. I praised myself for making brave decisions and I fully appreciated the gift that is the local church. I saw with fresh eyes the purpose and potential that lies within the church- to connect people to the only One who can truly bring rest to our souls.

I wanna encourage you today, no matter what this year has held for you – don’t let it end without answering one of the most crucial questions, HOW ARE YOU? Like how are you REALLY? This is not a surface level question; this is an exploration of what is inside you. How is your soul?

Take a moment before this year ends to reflect. Let yourself feel. And then will yourself to be grateful. Write down 10 things you’re grateful for each day in this lead up to Christmas. Come on – I dare you! Let gratitude lead the way. We all have so much that we can be grateful for.

My hope is that you would finish off this year by being honest of where you are at and giving thanks in that place. I believe miracles follow thankfulness. We often give thanks around our dinner table and it does something to our hearts and attitudes every time.

Each day we are faced with choices. Christmas time is no different. Busy is a choice. Stress is a choice. Rest is a choice. Joy is a choice. My prayer is that you would choose well. And that as you choose gratitude you would encounter peace, that you would know Jesus, the bringer of perfect peace and that this would allow you the confidence to say, “truly IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL.”