To encapsulate this past year into a few words or emotions is impossible. So much happened in such a short period of time it’s hard for my to really process all of it, but I wanted to share my personal insight and reflection.

First, I am grateful. I am grateful for my life and all of God’s blessings. Through all the storms of this year I have seen God at work through friends and family. I thank you all for your support, friendship, grace and prayers. Whether it was sharing a cup of coffee with conversation, prayers given for hard decisions to be made or the expression of your support by lifting a box and putting in our moving truck—I am truly grateful and blessed.

Second, I am happy. I am happy to have a partner in life who truly loves me for who I am despite my faults and shortcomings. I am happy to have 5 great kids who have showed perseverance in this year of tribulation and trials. They have pitched in when we needed them to, adapted to ever changing landscape of school shutdowns and have put in a tremendous effort to rise above it all.  I am happy that despite health challenges my mom is with us and continues to be there for me even as an adult. I am truly blessed and happy to have such great people in my life everyday.

Third, I am dismayed. I am dismayed by all I have seen this past year from people. As far as I can tell evil is alive and well in our world. We’ve seen our leaders abuse their power, we’ve seen our neighbors destroy businesses and tear down our communities, we’ve seen hatred on a monumental scale as people have been gunned down in the streets, attacked and maimed. We’ve seen a great divide happen in our country because a difference of opinions is not tolerated. By all of this I am truly dismayed.

Fourth, I am frightened. I am frightened of what the future holds for all of us. Big pharma, big tech, politicians, the 1%—continue to make decisions that are not in the best interest of the common man. Many of us want to live peaceful lives, work hard and care for our families. However, due to poor decision making at the top, criminal actions, abuse of power, and an ferocious appetite of control—it is making it harder for all of us to do.

I truly believe God exists and has a plan for all of us. It’s time for us to stop looking down at these small little black screens and start looking up at the heavenly skies. There is so much beauty all around us in people and in nature.  You are more than you’ll ever know. You are an incredible and extraordinary creation—you are not just a number or an avatar on a screen.  Our rulers use fear and anxiety to control and manipulate us.

This year I refuse to let others steal my joy, my freedom and manipulate my emotions—-I hope you will join me.

Much peace and love to all of you!