Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! It has been great coming back home to Seward over these last couple weeks. Worshipping at St. John again has been a real joy and a great reunion with many people. It is certainly different celebrating Christmas this year as compared to last year. I am no longer a permanent resident of Seward anymore, but merely a visitor here to stay only a few weeks. Seward will always be a home for me, but it’s not necessarily my current home anymore which is sad. I miss the small town feel and laid-back life that is found here. Valpo and Chicago are filled with hustle and bustle and plenty of places to shop and eat, but I’ll take the Nebraska life any day. So thank you for welcoming me back, as it is good to be home. A few more days and I’ll be heading back. I am excited to see what the second semester holds for me, but I’ll miss my family, my St John family, and my Seward family just as much.
As I sit here writing on New Year’s Eve, I’m looking back on how much change has occurred this past year. 2013 and 2014 will be two completely different years for me. 2013 is full of wonderful memories including high school graduation, trips to Alaska and Hawaii, and the start of college. Included with this post are pictures highlighting my first semester at Valpo including a trip to pumpkin patch with friends, weather balloon launches, a family visit in October. It was truly an exciting time, but it had its sad and disheartening moments along the way. If I may, I would like to borrow Pastor Blanco’s idea from his sermon where he left room to fill in an adjective to describe one’s family. I would like to modify that to say my _______ year. As you look back upon 2013, what words fit in? Maybe it’s happy, exciting, or fun. Maybe it’s sad, heartbroken, grief-filed. Each person will have a different word that fits best. What word fits for you? For me, I would call it my bittersweet year. It was a year filled with many blessings from God, but it was also a year filled with realizations that I am almost independent, I don’t have a true home anymore, and I will most likely always be separated from my family by many miles for the rest of my life. Life is full of ups and downs, and this past year was definitely a representation of that.
So what will this next year be? I may be getting better at predicting weather, but no one can predict life. However, at the end of 2014 I pray that you can say it was a “Christ-filled” year filled with God’s blessings. Whether in life’s ups or downs, resolve to praise the Lord in every part of your life during this new year. Romans 8:38-39 is one of my favorite passages pertaining to this topic for it says, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Anywhere we go, God is with us and that should be comforting to people of all ages. For youth, the King of Kings will be with you on the court, in the classroom, and with you when you hang out. So keep praying and holding onto Him who gives you the ultimate strength as this second semester begins. (And if you have time, read all of Romans 8. Probably my favorite chapter in the whole Bible!) So God’s blessings on your new year as a new semester starts and this cold winter continues. And if anyone ever has any questions for me or just wants to say hi, email me at Zachary.firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be more than happy to chat with anyone and everyone.