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The last Friday of the year, a great time (and place) to reflect.

Things I’ve learned this year:

– Treasure your friends and never take them for granted. You never know when they will be called elsewhere. And you have no idea how much you are going to miss them.

– Also, sometimes you become friends with people you weren’t expecting, and it’s wonderful.

– You can be still and have a heart at Sabbath even when your world is spinning a million miles a second.

– That being said, times of physical stillness are incredibly necessary.

– Being thankful for what you’ve got, when you’ve got it is crucial to enjoying life.

– Relationships are the most valuable thing you will ever invest in. Don’t give up on them. Keep working.

– God loves you, beyond imagination.

– Priorities, priorities, priorities… and remember that HIS priorities trump yours.

– Be ready for surprise, side trips, and bunny trails.  And enjoy them.

– God restores, redeems, and blesses…though usually none of that looks like what you think

– Pain is not necessarily something to run from, or try to end.

– The Velveteen Rabbit is still my favorite children’s book out there. Read it before the end of the year if you haven’t yet.

– Laugh

– Take care of yourself, and trust your instincts. Often, they’re right.

– Love God and trust Him above all others.

What about you?  What did you learn this year?

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So, you know how a fish swims through water…all it’s life?  And that’s completely natural?  I don’t think the fish ever thinks, “Huh, I’m swimming through water.  I wonder what it would be like to be outside of water.”  Yeah, I don’t think so.  And I doubt even more that the fish ever thinks about the KIND of water it’s surrounded by…or HOW MUCH PRESSURE that water is putting on him.  I mean, think about it.  He’s lived his entire life in the pressure of the water.  He’s never known any different.  So he has no idea.  In fact, since he’s lived his entire life in that pressure, he probably doesn’t think he’s under any pressure at all.

Did you know the same is true of you?  You know how the earth is surrounded by atmosphere – an atmosphere that provides wonderful things like air for us to breathe in and protection from the sun?  Well, that same atmosphere is exerting crazy amounts of pressure on you.  And yet, because from the moment you were conceived in your mother’s womb the atmosphere has been pressing down on you, you don’t notice it at all.  In fact, it feels like you’re under no pressure at all!  And all the while, the atmosphere is pressing, pressing, pressing – pressing 14.7 pounds per square inch ON YOU (thank you NASA for that info)!  I don’t know if you get it – but that’s A LOT of pressure – that you don’t even feel!  CRAZY!

It is completely mind-blowing to me to think of all that atmosphere we are surrounded by, all that atmosphere we just take for granted and don’t even notice.  All that atmosphere putting pressure on you and you don’t even (normally) realize it.

Which, of course, makes me wonder:  what else am I so used to that I don’t even notice.  What ELSE in my life is putting pressure on me that I just deal with – even though I don’t have to (unlike the pressure of the atmosphere – we actually need that).  Words like parents, friends, school, grades come to mind.  My parents put pressure on me about specific things (keep room clean, take a shower, don’t talk like that, etc) (okay – they used to, now that I’m a grown woman – not so much).  My friends would put pressure about how I looked on me, or how I talked, or what stuff I liked, or WHO I liked, or all sorts of stuff.  I don’t like to admit it, but those fuzzy-pictured magazines in the grocery store put pressure on me too – pressure to care about meaningless stuff, or to look a certain way, or to need something unnecessary, or something.  And, well, you get the picture.  We are under a ton of pressure.

And so it’s your choice what to do with that pressure.  You can buckle under it; you can choose to listen to all those voices whispering into your ear…and eventually go crazy, or get distracted from what we’re SUPPOSED to care about (because, that’s the point of those pressures, really).  Or you can do the miraculous. You can ask God to take them off you (because He can and will) and help you focus on the things He wants you to care about.

So you say, “So, I go from the pressures of the world around me to the pressures God puts me under?  Great.”

But it’s not like that.  God will lift the pressures of the world from you…and then help you pursue the things HE wants you to.  And since He’s helping, and He’s God…you won’t be under crazy pressure.  Because He’s GOD, and He carries the burden of that sort of thing.  And, when you live a life pursuing the things He wants you to, it’s more of an adventure anyway.

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