We are thankful for our family, friends, and the way the Lord has blessed us through circumstances this past year. There is a myriad of reasons why it is a challenge to live this life but it seems to me that there is a wonderful balance. As we look around us and take in what we see, in people, places, and things, we experience both joy and sorrow. Our hearts sing when we welcome new friends and reunite with old ones. We are saddened when the time for departure swings around. We are excited when a friend is healed and our hearts ache when someone passes away. God blesses us with the incredible beauty of creation, but then here comes a raging, destructive grass fire. Ups and downs, smiles and tears, all part of making our way through life. To learn to give thanks for the bad as well as the good is a lesson we are learning, a continual process as we so easily revert back to complaint and worry. A good reminder from the Good Book; in Romans 5 “…challenges produce perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope”. Hope. Hope for earthly situations, hope for eternal life.