As I sit and write this week's column, it is early on New Year's Eve.
I am tired as usual and trying to determine if I want to enjoy the festivities of the evening with friends, or simply bury myself beneath a pile of blankets and attempt to stay up long enough to watch the ball drop on TV.
I just finished "creeping" around on Facebook to see what everyone else's plans for the evening entailed.
It would seem that at this time, the majority of the posts I am reading discuss just how horrible 2013 was and how everyone hopes the new year will be different and much better.
I gave that notion a little bit of thought and then realized that this seems to be an annual trend.
Just a little over a month ago, the posts spoke of how thankful we all were for the various things in our lives.
Now, the focus seems to be on forgetting the past year.
I don't think that forgetting all of the hardships of our past is such a good thing. Life is about ups and downs, taking the good along with the bad.
There is always something to be learned or gained even from the bad.
Sometimes, it makes us stronger, sometimes it prompts us to see things in a different light and to rethink how we react or respond to a situation.
Sometimes it is a life lesson and sometimes, it just simply opens our eyes.
Always, it makes us grow.
During the past year, there seems to have been many tragedies and loss in our area.
I myself have experienced a couple of losses.
As much as a loss crushes the heart and weakens the spirit, there still can emerge some light out of the darkness.
A loss can draw family and friends closer together. It can help us to realize how fragile and precious life is and teach us not to take it for granted.
From it, we can rethink the priorities in our lives and put the people most important to us at the top of the list where they belong.
Dealing with poor health can prompt us to change our lifestyles and to make healthier decisions in what we put into and what we do with our bodies.
It can also be a catalyst for change that we can pass on to our families so that they too can make healthier choices.
No doubt the loss of a job can create many, many challenges for someone, especially if they are the main provider for the family.
But even in that there can be benefits.
We learn the difference between want and need and learn how to budget to help manage the needs.
I have a friend whose job loss was actually a perfectly timed blessing for him and his family.
He was able to stay home and care for his wife following a very serious brain surgery and shortly thereafter required surgery of his own.
A job loss can also provide you with the opportunity to branch out into a new career.
It could also mean the chance to go back to school and broaden your knowledge and skill sets.
Whatever setback or heartache you have experienced this past year, try not to let it weigh you down.
Instead, try to draw something positive from it to carry with you as you move forward in life.
When the hits just seem to keep coming I love to reflect on the following verses from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace."