Happy 2012! For the last few years, rather than making New Year's resolutions, I've picked one word to frame my year. I got the idea from my friend Scott and his church in Wilmington. The basic idea is this: pick a word, one word, that you want to grow in, or learn, or feel like God is speaking to you.

My word this year:  New.

2011 was a big year. There were lots of changes, lots of tears and lots of growth. It was a very hard, but very good year. There were times this year, even recently, when things felt so dark and so broken that I started to wonder if it would stay like that forever, if hope would ever rise up again in my soul. There were days I got caught believing that things would never change.

My friend Becca gave me my own copy of Bittersweet this year for Christmas. (After I spent the last year reading hers and borrowing it off and on). I've read the stories already, many more than once, but I was excited to read them again. And so as I sat in the RDU airport, waiting for my flight to Phoenix for Christmas, I opened up Bittersweet to re-read "Evergreen," one of the few Christmas-y ones in there. And Shauna's words in that essay spoke directly to where I was so often this year.

She writes,

"When things are dark and splintering, I get stuck, believing that it will always be how it is right now, that new life  will never come, that change will never really break into my life...

I don't know where you are these days, what's broken down and what's beautiful in your life this season. I don't know if this is a season of sweetness or one of sadness. But I'm learning that neither last forever...That's how life is. It won't be sweet forever. But it won't be bitter forever either. If everywhere you look these days, it's wintery, desolate, lonely, practice believing in springtime. It always, always comes...New life will spring from this same ground. This season will end, and something entirely new will follow it.

I read these words, and I cried. Bawled. In an airport, remember. People were staring. But I didn't care. God was clearly speaking to me, through this book. I cried because so often this year, I wanted it to be over. I cried because I know the dark splintery-ness all too well. I cried because these words spoke of new life, new hope.  These words reminded me that every morning, the sun does rise. And after each winter, spring does come.

So wherever you are this year -- whether you couldn't wait for 2012 to get here or not, rejoice in this new day, this new season. Like Shauna said, practice believing in springtime. Practice believing that God can and will make everything new.

Join with me in believing in new life, and clinging to the one who will bring it. For God is saying,

"Behold, I am making all things new." Revelation 21:5