Sunday, April 29, 2012

Moving Heaven and Earth

As I write this blog entry, I am overwhelmed at two things.  One is how great God is in His provision, power, love and ability to surprise the socks off me.  The other is how I often forget that His plan and provision and love is sufficient.  It seems I never will learn that lesson, yet He continues to bless me beyond measure.

About a month ago, I was at our regional music therapy conference with some friends and students.  My friend and I were talking and it came up that my apartment lease was up in June and that I needed to remember to renew it.  My friend mentioned that she was interested in renting out her house so that she could move closer to work and stop commuting.  She really loved the house and wanted to keep it but would have to rent it out to be able to keep it while also renting herself.  So I told her I would come look at it, but at that point I was kind of thinking I wasn't that interested.  Little did I know that God was working out something that I was yet unaware of.

My friend had to leave the conference early due to her grandmother's illness and eventual passing (please continue to pray for her and her family).  I came back home and resumed my routine.  We talked several times over the next couple of weeks...about losing someone so special, about life, about TV shows, about other routine things.  And I kind of forgot about the house.  But then she asked me to come look at it.  So I did.  And I fell in love with it!  It was more than I could ever imagine I would want in a house and the rent was cheaper than what I was currently paying.  I asked all the questions about cost of electricity, insurance and everything else I needed to know.  And the other bonus is that the set up of the house is perfect for starting a private music therapy practice...complete with a room I can use as my office/session room and doors to shut off the rest of the house when clients are there.  I went home and began praying that God would give me guidance as whether or not to rent the house.  I knew I wanted it, but I also knew that I wanted to look at it realistically and not rush into something based on feeling.

I called my dad, and he was excited about it and also began praying about it.  Over the next week, God began to show me in the strangest and most exciting ways that this was something He had been working out for me.  Things from money to issues at my apartment to finding out that my college roommate has family that lives right down the street to friends who are willing to help me move.  The other issue we had to pray about was that my friend would find a house to live in where she worked.  So we did.  And she has received a very promising lead that will hopefully pan out this week (please be praying).  

Some may think that this is no big deal...I'm just renting a house.  But I see so much more!  I see how before I even knew it, God was working out something that was so much better for me than I had planned.  See, my plan was to just rent an apartment until I finished grad school and then see where life took me.  I knew that I wanted to stay in this area and that I would eventually want a house.  And I've been ok in the apartment...but it has never felt like home.  I feel like I'm in a dorm.  And though I never really voiced that until now, the Lord knew that and began planning something better.  Somewhere I could feel like I was home and could entertain and cook and sit in my backyard and see music therapy clients.  I see now that God has been in the details even before I knew I wanted a house.

I have just been overwhelmed this week at how good God is.  Life has been tough these last few years, and there have been times I wanted to give up, times I've been upset with God, times I've doubted.  But over and over, God shows His love and provision in ways I cannot even imagine...even in the midst of pain and sorrow and heartache.  And I'm trying to learn this lesson.  And at times I feel like a spoiled child who just isn't satisfied.  I know God has blessed me beyond what I deserve, but there are still a couple of desires I have in my heart that I wish He would provide.  Don't get me wrong, I'm very thankful...beyond what I can express.  But I still long for those things.

However, God has used this past week and this situation with this house to show me in a very concrete way that His plans for my life far outweigh any I could have for my life.  That doesn't mean I don't have days where I still doubt or wonder.  Last night, I had a conversation with a couple other of my single friends wondering where the godly men were and why God hadn't brought them to us yet.  And then I watched Courageous (if you haven't seen this movie, do it!) this morning and found myself again wondering where men with that kind of integrity and faith and compassion are or, if they are out there, why aren't they interested in me.  I know they must be out there somewhere, but I still question why God hasn't blessed me with the one He has for me yet.  But I know He has his reasons.  I know His plans are higher and better than my own.  I know that my God has something wonderful in store for me.  

And if this past week is any indication, I know that when He does provide this desire of my heart, He is going to blow me away with how He does it.  So I rest in Him, "expectantly hopeful" that He is, even right now, working on my behalf, willing to move heaven and earth to provide and show me how much He loves me.  I am so thankful...thankful for parents who raised me to have faith in such an amazing God, who demonstrated in front of me what a Christian marriage should be and who loved me in such a way as to be a true example of God's love for me.  

So I'm waiting expectantly, knowing that if God is willing to give me things I didn't even know I wanted in such an amazing way, He will also provide the desires of my heart...  But until then, "I'll run into Your arms, the riches of Your love will always be enough..."

PS:  This is the final scene from Courageous...and this is the kind of man I am asking God to send my way.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Time In Between

Today as I was driving back from a visit home, I was blasting some music and singing at the top of my lungs and having a grand old time.  I love music.  It is my life.  I was born into a musical family and even chose a music based career (music therapy) as my life's work.  I find such power in music and am always amazed at how God can use a song that I've listened to over and over and over again and show me something new.

My last post was written out of a dark place where I just felt like I was watching everyone else receive the deepest desires of their heart while I just sat and got passed by.  Even though I'm in a much better place now, I still have moments where I feel that way.  However, today, driving back, God spoke to my heart through a He often does.

I was listening to Francesca Battistelli.  I love her music and love to sing along to it.  A lot of her songs have powerful messages.  And one in particular had the message I needed to hear today.  "The Time In Between' is song that I have listened to and sung over and over.  I've always loved it, and I've listened and read the lyrics many times.  However, today was different.

The song talks about the importance of the time in between events...the time in between Jesus' birth and death and the time He spent in between the two thieves on the cross and how those moments shaped Christianity and our lives forever.  But it was the middle verse that stood out to me today.

As I've said before, Psalm 37:4 is one of my favorite verses and a promise of hope from God Himself.  It says that if we delight in the Lord He will give us the desires of our heart.  Now, I have studied this verse and thought of all the things it could mean...does it mean that He places the desires He has for us in our hearts or does he grant us the deepest desires we have for ourselves...and I believe it means a little of both.  I've prayed that God would place His desires in my heart and that He would give me those things I so desperately want.  Not things like material things...but things like a husband and children, things like a place where I can use music and counseling to help families affected by poverty and all that brings with it.  Things like those that are not simply material things but things that I feel I was placed here to do or be a part of.  And while I feel I'm on my way to some of those desires, there are others that seem so distant and make me wonder if I'll ever have them.

So back to the song.  Like I mentioned earlier, my last post was kind of dark and depressing.  But the devil has a way of attacking me in this trying to tell me that Psalm 37:4 wasn't meant for me, by telling me that God is leaving me out of the happiness He bestows on others, by telling me I'm not worthy enough or good enough or pretty enough or thin enough or talented enough or whatever else I happen to be struggling with on any given day.  And he hits hard!  So today when I started singing along to the middle verse of this song, it was like God said, "see, I do have your best in mind and I WILL give you those desires in MY time and in MY way...even when you don't understand...and no matter what the devil tries to tell you, trust ME for every desire of your heart...both big and small."

See it's in these times of waiting that we grow and develop into the people God made us to be.  It's not easy, and it's not fun.  And I spend many days wondering what the purpose in the waiting is.  But just as the potter places the clay on the wheel and forms it and then has to fire it in the fire to make it shine, God is forming and molding and shaping me.  And even though I don't understand it or see it, there is a purpose in the waiting.  And I have a choice.  I can listen to the voice of the enemy or I can listen to the voice of my Father.  On good days, that's an easy choice.  But on those bad days, it's hard to drown out the lies and hear the truth.

The song says, "Don't take much for this crazy world to rob me of my peace.  And the enemy of my soul says You're holding out on me.  So I stand here lifting empty hands for You to fill me up again.  But it's the time in between that I fall down to my knees waiting on what You'll bring.  And the things that I can't see.  I know my song's incomplete so I'll sing in the time in between."

So here I sit...still waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting.  And I now that my song is incomplete...and until HE chooses to complete it, I'll keep singing.  And trusting.  And believing that He, who is my soul's deepest desire and who loves me more than I could ever comprehend, will bless me and fulfill me with every desire of my heart.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Warning:  This post is not my usual chipper, uplifting, see the silver lining kind of post.  :)  Maybe by the time I get to the end it will turn into that...we'll see...

I'm struggling.  Bad.  It's been a tough weekend leading into this week.  And I'm tired of struggling.  But we are not home yet and struggle is the name of the game for now.

I am single.  I am 38 years old.  I lost my mom almost four years ago.  I have no children.  I have so many dreams for what I want in this life.  However, here I sit.  At 38.  Single.  No children.  No Momma.  And not any closer to where I thought I'd be by now than I was five years ago.

This past weekend I holed up in my apartment...which I know is not smart for me to do.  Several years ago I was diagnosed with depression.  I took some medication, went to counseling and got better.  And it is something I continue to struggle with from time to time.  I have become better at identifying what sets it off, what can lead to it and what I can do to stop it when I feel it coming on.  Like NOT sit in my apartment by myself for over 48 hours straight.

The weekend started out fine.  I cooked like a Paula Deen wannabe.  I cleaned.  I did laundry.  I attempted to do homework.  And I slept.  However, as the weekend wore on, I became more and more homesick and depressed and sad and angry.  I can truly look back at my move last summer and see that God had a hand in it.  Things worked out too well for Him not to have been in control.  However, since that time, my family has been dealt some hard blows. (I've written about that in previous posts and won't rehash it here.)  And as I usually do, I play my part as the stoic one, trying to make sure everyone else is ok and keeping busy so I don't have to deal with how I feel.

See, I'm a stuffer.  I stuff feelings.  The year after my mom died, I spent almost a year stuffing down feelings.  I did whatever I could not to think about it.  And the outcome was not pretty.  So the grief process took me about twice as long as it should have.  See, feelings have to come out...either now or later.  And if they come out later it can be pretty harsh.  So all through last year, I stuffed.  Again.  And again.  And again.  And it all came rushing out this weekend.

So I sat.  I thought.  I pondered.  And I sunk deeper and deeper into the pit of loneliness, self pity, anger and doubt.  Then to top it all off, I had a dream Sunday night that I was shopping for my wedding dress with my Momma.  Talk about a punch in the stomach!  For years, while she was still living, I prayed that God would allow her to live long enough to see me married and to see her grandchildren and to see what God had in store for me.  And then she was gone.  Before any of that took place.  I was angry for a long time about that.  I thought I had dealt with that.  But after that dream, all that anger and hurt and questioning came flooding back.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:4 - "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."  I have long clung to this verse.  Not in the way of "God will give me whatever I want."  But more in the way that if I live in Him and seek His way He will in His time give me the desires He has placed within my heart.  I kept reminding myself of this promise.  And I have questioned it before...but never as much as I do now.

See, life's not fair (not that you had any doubt).  It's not fair that I don't have my Momma hear to help me pick out wedding dresses.  It's not fair that idiots who abuse their children and who drive in cars without putting them in car seats and who call their children names get to have children while I sit here childless.  It's not fair that people can be on their second marriage (due to death or divorce) while I haven't experienced my first (and hopefully only) marriage.  It's not fair that people can talk about how their mother gets on their nerves while I just wish I could pick up a phone and hear her voice again.  It's not fair that I've just seen my own daddy and three of my cousins experience the same loss of their moms this past year.  It's just not fair.  And that makes me sad and upset.

Trust me.  I've heard all the pat answers.  "God will work all things out in His time."  (Yes, I know.  But this doesn't help while I sit still waiting.)  "When you stop looking, the right guy will come along."  (People come on!  Really? I haven't been "looking" for years.)  "You need to focus on what God has blessed you with and stop looking at what you don't have." (Uh, huh.)  "You can have the good memories."  (I don't want memories.  I want my Momma!).  And on and on they go.  And I, too, have been guilty of saying these exact things to other people.  But they don't help.  And my most hated phrase of all - "I know just how you feel."  Um, no, you don't.  You aren't you have no idea how I feel.  Just as I have no idea how you feel.

When you are in the pit of the despair and pain, words mean very little.  What you really need is a friend to listen, to let you cry, to let you scream and to just be there.  To say "I don't have the answers.  I don't know what to say.  But I will be here to hold your hand until you get through this."  I know people mean well, but sometimes those words only make it worse. Sometimes we just need to be.  Just to sit and cry and scream and be honest with God.  Sometimes we need a "Jonathan."  My cousin, Kimmie, sent me the sweetest text today and told me to read I Samuel 18:1-3.  Jonathan loved David as he loved himself.  We all need people who love us unconditionally and who are there through the tough times.

This morning driving to work, there was thick fog everywhere.  And the songs that I kept playing over and over were Steven Curtis Chapman's "Jesus Will Meet You There" and "I Will Trust You."  And God spoke so clearly to my heart.  Just as I couldn't see the road very far ahead of me, I knew that my destination was there.  And I knew He could see beyond what I could.  And He knew where He was leading me.  But at that moment I could only go so far.  And He was willing to meet me there and guide me the rest of the way.

And that is how life is.  During this moment of struggle, I can't move.  I can't see beyond the fog.  I can't see how all of this is working out for my good.  I don't understand why God has withheld from me the things that I so deeply desire.  Not things that I want just to have.  Not material things.  But actual desires I truly believed He placed in my heart.  I know He gives and He takes away.  But I'm getting a little tired of the taking away part.  Or the withholding part.

And God understands.  Jesus will and does meet me in that moment.  In this moment.  And He asks for nothing but honesty and trust.  See I don't question my faith.  I know beyond the shadow of a doubt I have been saved by the blood of Jesus.  I know beyond the shadow of a doubt I will see my family again.  I know beyond the shadow of a doubt He is with me every step of the way.  My faith isn't what is waivering.  My doubt comes in when I think back over Psalm 37:4 and wonder why I haven't received those desires...some of which I will never receive.  I doubt that some of those promises are meant for me.  My head knows they are.  But my heart is broken and a little skeptical right now.

And that's ok.  See, we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and darkness and forces of evil.  And I know this very well.  I am an emotional, passionate person.  When I feel something, I feel it with every fiber of my being.  And while this is who God made me, the devil also knows this...and he loves to torment me in this area of my life.  I guess you could say this is becoming the "thorn in my flesh" as Paul struggled with.  He begged God to take it away, but He never did.  So this battle is not against man.  It's against a force we cannot see.  And it's brutal.  And exhausting.

But we are not home yet.  We were not made for this world. And as I sit here, still struggling, still hurting, still questioning, still doubting...I know that He is here in the midst of it all.  I know that I am not ever going to be comfortable here.  And maybe that was the purpose of this past weekend and few days.

See, I'm sad that I don't have a family of my own yet.  I'm sad that my mom won't be here if I ever do get that.  I'm sad that there is so much pain in this world and I can't do anything to ease that pain.  But I'm not home.  I'm not meant to be content here.  This past weekend I so, so missed my family.  And still do.  I ached to see them and hear their voices.  I miss my dad.  I miss Bryce and Noah.  I miss everyone else back home.  I'm homesick.  But as more and more of us move from here (earth) to there (heaven), I'm becoming homesick for my real home.  Because I also ache to see my loved ones there and to hear their voices again.  And I'm so ready to see my Father and have every question answered and every doubt erased.

I'm so thankful that no matter my struggle, no matter how angry I get, no matter how I argue that life is not fair, God never waivers.  He is there, and He is faithful.  And He understands.  He can handle my anger, my questions, my doubts and even my arguing with Him.  The Bible is full of stories of people who struggled.  People who questioned.  People who doubted.  People who argued with God.  And in that, we are all kin, this human race of ours.

Will I ever get the desires of my heart?  I have no idea.  The way it's looking lately, I'm thinking probably not anytime soon.  But then I'm reminded that the greatest desire of my heart is eternity in heaven with my Savior and Father and Creator.  And that far outweighs any other desire I have.  And I have to trust Him even when I don't like where the road is leading.  Because only He can see through the fog of this life and lead me, through the struggle, safely home.

Jesus Will Meet You There

I Will Trust You

Where I Belong

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's A New Year...Finally!

Happy 2012!  My prayer this year is that it is way better, less painful, more joyful, less loss, more laughter than 2011.  But my verse I'm trying to focus on this year is Job 1:21.  Whether the Lord gives or takes away, blessed be His name.  Trusting that His plans far outweigh my own.  And I've decided I'm done making New Year's resolutions or trying to "fix" myself...because I'm me and I will always be me.  At 38 I'm finally accepting that and embracing the person God created me to be.

So, with that being said, I've made a "Things I Want To Do" list for this year.  Along with not making resolutions, I also don't want to make a bucket list.  I'm one of those people who has to work in small increments...lose 10 pounds at a time, complete one assignment at a time, make a list and focus on taking care of each thing one at a time.  If not, I get overwhelmed and sit spinning my wheels.  And if I make a bucket list, I'll keep putting off doing the things on it.  So, my new goal is to make a list of things I want to do for the year.

This post is probably a little less "spiritual" than my usual blog posts.  At least in the sense that I am not focusing on a specific verse or song or whatever.  But I believe God is God even of the mundane, simple, everyday things of life, too.  And once you see this will realize I'm going to need a miracle to accomplish some of these... :)  So here goes...  (This is in no particular order.)

1.  Trust God more.  Stop doubting that He has my best interests at heart.  He WILL give me the desires of my HIS time.  Knowing that He has not forgotten me, and He knows the number of the hairs on my head.  Even when I don't believe it...even when I doubt it...even when worry sets in.  This is going to require a LOT of prayer and seeking Him...especially in those times when life doesn't make sense.

2.  Go Ziplining.  Now if you know me, you are probably shaking your head and saying, "What??"  Yes, I am afraid of heights.  But I also know this looks exhilarating and fun.  And part of that goal of trusting God more includes not being afraid anymore.  So I want to go ziplining.  Anyone want to go with me?

3.  Take a trip to Seattle.  I've always wanted to go...amazing music and art scene.  And I have a friend who lives there and has invited me numerous times to come visit.  But I always find an excuse to put it off.  Not this year.  If I can afford it, I'm going.  So Sang...get ready, cause here I come!

4.  Buy a bicycle and start riding.  I've been wanting to buy a good bike for awhile now.  I was always afraid to ride down my road back home because we lived in the country and people drove like crazy people down our road.  However, now that I've moved, I know there is a biking trail close to where I live.  I would love to find someone to ride with...because it's always more fun and safer with a friend.  But even if I don't...I'm going to push myself to do it anyway.  Which is another part of that first goal of trusting God more...not being afraid to do things by myself...or maybe that needs to be a goal all of it's

5.  Not being afraid to get out and do things on my own.  I'm a shy person by nature.  I just do better when I have someone to do something with.  But life has turned out that I am on my own often.  So I would like to push myself to get out there.  Whether it's going shopping, riding my bike, trying a new church, going to a movie or concert or show, going to eat at Olive Garden if I get a craving for it...whatever it not be afraid to do things by myself from time to time.

6.  To be more active, lose weight and get healthier.  This is often a goal, but this year I'm trying to change my mindset so it sticks this time.  I'm starting Nutri System to help jumpstart this and plan on making activity part of each day...not necessarily formal exercise.  Because I hate to exercise.  But if I can make it walking with a friend or riding a bike or whatever...I'm more apt to do it.  I'm not getting any younger and I've got to take care of myself.  I'm also approaching it from the standpoint that my body is the temple of the Lord...and filling it with crappy food and not being active is a sin.  I've got to do better with this.  And I feel better when I'm healthy.

7.  Go abseiling.  Again, if you know me, this has you scratching your head.  But it looks very cool!  If you don't know what this's basically rappelling down the side of a cliff. I don't know if I can do it, but it looks so empowering to try.  So again, any takers who want to go with me?  I know I need to take care of #6 before I can try this one...

8.  Declutter and organize.  I am the queen of clutter.  I mean, I keep my apartment clean and try to put everything in its place.  But I'm also a stacker.  I keep stuff in stacks...and I know exactly what stack something is in.  But I'm trying to work on this.  A fellow music therapist introduced me to the 2012 Declutter and Organize Calendar.  And she started a group on Facebook where we can talk about it!  This helps you do one thing each day so that hopefully by the end of the year you are organized and the clutter is gone.  This has always been a losing battle...but not this year.  As my life gets busier, I need more order to function.  And if you know me, you know how OCD, ADD and Type A I am.  :)  So this will be a wonderful thing!

9.  Complete my guest room.  I have a spare room that right now houses the boxes I have yet to unpack (see #8).  This year I want to take some time to clean it, decorate it and set it up.  It will kind of double as an office, too.  That way when my dad or Bryce and Noah or whoever comes to visit (and you better come visit) they have an actual room with a bed to stay in.

10.  Find a creative outlet for singing, playing and sharing music.  I would love to find a group of people to hang out with and just jam with.  I learn so much when I just play with other musicians.  I'm not that great on guitar, but I'm improving.  And I love to sing.  So I want to find some folks who share my passion for music and who just like hanging out and jamming.  And maybe even do a performance or two...

11.  Get back to writing songs.  When I was younger, I used to write songs all the time.  Granted, they weren't always good.  But I loved it and it helped to get stuff out rather than stuff it.  So this year, I want to get back to writing.  Now that I'm a much better guitar player...well the fact that I actually play now...I want to make writing songs a priority.  Even if no one else hears them, I'll know I wrote them.  And maybe one day God will bless me with the opportunity to share them.

12.  Begin some type of volunteer/community work.  My dream is to one day open my own music therapy/counseling practice and provide services for people living in poverty, struggling with addiction and who are affected by HIV/AIDS.  I did some music groups with children at Hope House in Memphis, TN for about a year.  These kids touched my life so deeply, and God used this opportunity to show me His heart for people struggling with these things.  I'd love to also have some type of community center for children affected by these things, as well.  So, if I'm going to do this one day, I need to get out there and learn and meet people and start doing my part to make a difference.  I still want to work with people with intellectual disabilities, too...and  I know that those with disabilities who are also affected by poverty don't have the resources they need.  So this year, I want to find somewhere to volunteer some time and music therapy services and give back.

13.  Start looking into adoption.  This is a biggie!  My life is nowhere near where I thought it would be at 38 years old.  The plan was to be married and have at least 4 kids by now.  But I make plans, and God laughs.  Because He has something so much better.  But here I sit desperately wanting to be a wife and a mother...and I don't see either one in the near future.  The wife part?  I can't really do anything about that...well, I could...but I don't believe in getting married just to get married, and I'm picky and refuse to settle for less than God's best for me.  So I guess I'll just have to trust He'll give me that desire of my heart at some point...hopefully sooner than later...but I'll just have to wait and see.  As for the mother part?  That, I can do something about.  I really do believe that a child should have two parents if at all possible.  However, I also know there are children out there who need a good home, and I know I would be a good mom.  So, I'm praying about this and weighing my options.  I've wanted to adopt a little girl from China for years now...and even started the process awhile back.  But due to finances and life circumstances it just didn't happen.  So I'm going to look into that again.  I also would love to adopt a child with Down's syndrome or special needs.  Yes, I know it is a life long commitment...but I know I can do it.  Especially if God calls me to do it.  Who knows?  Maybe God will bring me someone wonderful along the way and we can do this together (and maybe have one of our own)...but if not, I'm not going to let that stop me.  God knows His plans...and I will trust Him.

14.  To do better at applying myself in grad school.  It still sounds weird that I'm even in grad school.  And I haven't done badly.  I just want to do better and apply myself more and stop procrastinating assignments.  Of course, I also accept the fact that being a procrastinator is just part of who I am, and I always do better work under pressure.  But that also brings a lot of unneeded stress.  So I'm going to work on that.

15.  Go parasailing.  Again.  I have been once, and it was amazing!  My fear of heights totally disappeared.  It was the most peaceful and beautiful experience...kind of like what I imagine it would be like if you could fly.  Again, I'll be glad to have someone go with me!

16.  To update my blog on a more regular basis.  The reason I started this blog in the first place was because I love to write, or rather NEED to write.  And I felt God leading me to share with others what He has shown to me.  My hope is that the reader will find at least one sentence that helps them in some way.  I know there have been times I've gone through something and just being able to know someone else has been there too has been what got me through it.  We are not alone in this journey of life.  The Bible tells us we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses that cheers us on.  And I believe we are to help each other along this journey.  So if even one person has their spirits lifted, finds an answer, feels less alone...I've accomplished my goal in writing.  So I want to make a commitment to update more.

Well, that is the list!  As I've written, it's grown.  And it is a lot to accomplish in a year.  But with God's help, I know I can do it.  See, it's more about what His plans are for me anyway.  This past year has shown me that.  The last few years have been tough...full of pain and loss and hurt.  But there have also been good moments...times of laughter and joy and new things.  God makes beauty out of the ashes of this life.

I hope that 2012 will be a year full of the beauty God is making out of my ashes and out of your ashes.  Happy New Year!