Dear Lord, 

Before 2020 even started, I knew it would be a harder-than-usual year. My dear mother-in-law was slowly slipping away from us as the cancer made her weaker and weaker. We knew every time we saw her it might be the last. On February 26th, you took her home to your loving care where she now has the peace she deserves.

Then, Lord, we had barely arrived back home, and this weird new world of a pandemic started. We went into lockdown mode, but overall that was not too difficult for us, being the secluded type of people that we are. However, I did watch and worry about my own dear parents and pray for those less fortunate who were hit harder by the shutdowns. 

Then came June, Lord, where I received the news that I had breast cancer. I cried, my husband cried, then we tucked in and did what needed to be done. There were three surgeries, follow-ups, and many nights in a hotel room with my sweet toddler begging to “just go back home”. 

In the midst of all this came other news that was hard to hear. Long-term medical diagnoses for immediate family members, family members with life struggles, and loved ones fighting with anxiety and depression. 

But through all the craziness, I can look back and say with a smile, “Dear Lord, what a year it has been!” Because even with the pain, the sadness, the tears, and the worry, I have felt your presence every step of the way. 

From that first moment in February, as I stood next to my sweet mother-in-law’s bed and felt your glorious presence and peace enter the room as she took her last earthly breath, to the moment I woke up from my last surgery in November knowing everything was going to be okay, you have been there by my side. For that, I can rejoice.

You have used the circumstances this year to show me again that, truly, faith can move mountains. I have seen prayers answered and circumstances changed for the better. There has been peace in the midst of chaos.

This year, Lord, has been a year of growth for us; growth in our faith, in our spiritual lives, in our marriage, and in our family. We have grown closer to each other and closer to you. The circumstances that cause growth may be hard, but I am grateful for the chance to grow as a person, and you offered that to me this year.

Regardless of the circumstances, this has been a year to be thankful. Thankful that we have each other, thankful for our blessing of home and love, and thankful for family and friends.

I am thankful for a family that will drop everything they are doing and will travel hundreds of miles to be there when they are needed. Several did, and many offered, and for that I am thankful. I am thankful for the friends who called, sent notes and were there at a moment’s notice.

Lord, despite the craziness of 2020, despite the bad things that happened to us and others around the world, we would not ask for you to erase this year because it is in struggles, in grief, in heartbreak, and in times of testing that we become stronger in faith, love, and community. It is in times of storm that we really understand what peace is all about.

So, I sit here at the end of 2020 looking back, and can say with a grateful heart, “Dear Lord, what a year it has been!”