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Divinely loved ones [divinely loved by God], stop thinking that the smelting process which is [operating] among you and which has come to you for the purpose of testing [you], is a thing alien to you.  (1 Peter 4:12 Wuest Expanded Translation)

2016 was a very trying year for me and for many that I know.  I posted little the second half of the year and took all of December off as I prayed and focused on what I learned in 2016 and how I want to grow in 2017.

I lost family members in 2016, some I was close to, and others not so.  I have experienced medical issues this year that pushed me to my knees (two shoulder surgeries, nerve damage caused by the first surgery, and a thyroid issue that has put 35 pounds on me the last three months of the year).  I also have relatives dealing with serious disease including battling cancer and medical issues that are so bizarre that the doctors cannot figure out exactly what is wrong and how to treat it.

My wife was out of work for 7 ½ months in 2016, so the finance issue was brought to the forefront and we praise God that she is currently employed despite a 33% pay cut and a 50 minute commute instead of the 5 minute commute of her previous employment.

I am also dealing with close friends (I can count my close friends on one hand) who have left my city, plan to leave my city in 2017, and those who are contemplating leaving this city.

God does not only use “negative” things (for that is how we think) to shape and mold us but positive things (for that is how we think).  This year I changed my disposition from a pessimist to an optimist by one event in 2016: the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.  As a life-long Cub fan I have been disappointed year after year my whole life and truly believed I would never see a World Championship for the Cubs.  But now I know anything is possible!

None of these things should be alien or strange to any of else (see our passage above).  We may ask “why?” or react in a negative way at first to adversity.  But when we stop and kneel before our Loving Father we will see that everything that we go through is part of the process of The Plow working in our lives.  I thank God for the process and I enjoy writing about that process in my blog.  I pray that I can keep my goal of blogging at least twice a week in 2017 and being an encouragement to family, friends, and new friends in the coming year.

May 2017 bring us all opportunities to grow in the knowledge of the Lord.