This has been a hard year for a lot of people. I remember being part of a conversations just a few weeks into the year, January 21st, and so much had happened that she wondered if this whole year would be a wash. I was still hopeful. I thought it couldn’t be a sign for us that things would be this hard for a whole year, it had only been a few weeks. But through the lens of many families, this year has been the most challenging, the most heavy, the most needy of the recent history. In September, there were those who wished to close the books on 2014 early, ‘just call it done,’ I heard. But we could not and cannot end time early, it marches on to it’s own relentless beat. While it never speeds or slows, our perceptions of it do. There were times where I begged God to speed up the clock. I begged God to speed up those last hours of agony of listening to a friend’s labored and pained breath and for peace to set in, I begged. I pleeded. Time remained constant, although I think I heard a marching band in between each of its steady clicks. And there were times so sweet that I asked if I could stay in them forever, and they flitted past with no concern of my enjoyment of them. The blessings were there in the midst of it all. The blessings were in the life that occurred between those beats of time. In the world of hurt, in the world of joy, blessings surrounded them all. As we round the corners for Christmas Eve, I want to capture that bitter sweet emotion and to speak truth that love was present through it all, God was present for it with us, abiding with us. Emmanuel.