I am on a anniversary get-a-away with my wonderful husband of twenty-nine years. So this will be short, simple and sloppy (unedited). But I want to share with you why this time of year is so special to me. And I pray that this new year will hold special surprises, abundant blessings and dreams come true for you too!

I love New Year's! I'm pretty sure it is my favorite holiday. And even though it is actually just another day. I love what it symbolizes. A fresh start. A clean slate. A new beginning.

I am a goal maker. A list keeper. A get it done and cross it off the list kind-of-a-person. And the start of a new year is the perfect time to do this. Every year after Christmas, I begin to reflect on the past 365 days. And I make goals for what I want to accomplish in the days, weeks and months ahead.

However, New Year's is also very special to me because it the time I celebrate new birth. 33 years ago, after running hard and fast away from God, I answered a pastor's plea to kneel beside my pew and surrender my life to Jesus Christ. I was seated in the back row closest to the door so I could flee, instead I was the first person down on my knees. "God," I cried out, "I have made a mess of my life. Please take over and be my Lord."

I slipped into that church, at midnight on the 31st of December. A young woman lost, empty and broken. I walked out in the wee hours of the first day of January with a forgiveness, freedom, and peace I had never before known. Truly, I encountered the born again experience that Jesus taught about in John 3. I began my new year with a new life, a new heart and a new purpose.

Just a few years later, New Year's became even more special to me when I celebrated another new beginning. Once again I walked out of a church. But, this time it was by the side of my new husband. We were about to begin a new year, a new season and a new life together.

"I will," was the proclamation the pastor admonished us to answer his questions with. He wisely counseled us that times would change, our lives would change, we would change. He challenged us to commit ourselves to a marriage where we would say, "I will marry the changes." Wow, we could never have imagined the changes that would come in the years ahead. And tonight, on our anniversary and many changes later, we still remember to say "I will" be married to you and all the changes that we know still lie ahead.

As I close, I wonder if New Year's is just another day on the calendar for you or if it is a time of new goals, new beginnings or a fresh start? Either way, I pray this new year that you will experience fruitfulness in your labors, peace that comes from a surrendered life to God and commitment that endures the changes and challenges of time. God bless your 2012!