I have given a lot of thought to what I'm about to say. 2016 for many people that I care about has been a less than ideal year. There has been pain. There has been loss. There has been sickness. There has been death. There has been chaos. All of these things have affected me to.
If you had to theme your year in one word, what would it be??
I could say pain. In more ways than one this year was devastating. I could say loss. Everything is different for me. I could say death. I have done 10 funerals myself and I have been to over 20 funerals in the last 18 months alone. But those are not my words.
Yesterday when I got back to Pennsylvania, before I headed over to hang out with my friends at the recovery meeting, I checked my mail. Inside I found a package that included the giving key in the image attached to this post.
Through all of the pain, loss, sickness, death and chaos, one thing has remained the same.
More than ever before, 2016 has taught me that you can't always control what is going on around you, but you can choose what you are going to focus on. You can't always control your circumstances, but you can decide what you are going to hold on to.
This four letter word has changed my life. I have preached about it. I have sang about it. I have written about it. And there are many more messages, songs and words to be shared, but this is my word.
I write these words from a dark room that is not the home that I started the year off in. I have learned that home is not a place. Home is where you share life with those that you love. I am so blessed to have a roof over my head and a place to heal.
I write these words with very little worldly possessions. Physically,
my life has been reduced to 15 boxes, a guitar, a bike and a cot. I had to let go of what was if I have any chance in embracing what is ahead. I have learned that things do not define our value. And I get to rebuild my life with much more than what most people in the world have.
And last but certainly not least, I write these words with a heart that is on the mend, that is full of hope and full of dreams, and ready to receive every promise that my heavenly Father has spoken over me.
I have received hundreds of messages from friends all over the world in the last couple of months. We all need hope, but everyone can relate to pain. It touches all of us. And it has. I prayed for God to not let my pain go to waste. He hasn't.
With every person that has reached out, and every story that I have read, I have become even more convinced of the calling that God has placed on my life to share hope and encourage people one word, one song and one conversation at a time. I'm so thankful for God's hand in my life.
2016 has been a lot of things. But I get to decide what I am holding on to.
God is not finished with my story. If your heart is still beating, He is not finished with your story either. Be encouraged. Keep breathing. The darkest part of night comes just before daybreak.
The giving key that I received last night is more than a gift. It is the melody in my heart. It is the anthem of my soul.
Hope has carried me. Hope will see me through. Jesus is spelled with five letters most of the time, but I spell His name with four.
H O P E (Post from December 31st, 2016)