Last year, I struggled with the decision of whether or not to spend New Year’s Eve with my family in Niteroi, Brazil. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d spent a night away from my home and my dogs—but in the end, I decided to go. And I’m so glad I did.

My two sons, my granddaughter, and I had a great time. We shared many laughs, took great family pictures, and danced to upbeat live music. At midnight, we enjoyed the fireworks on Copacabana beach. It was a perfect evening.

The next day, which was also my birthday, I heard God’s voice speaking to me: “My birthday present to you is the gift of enjoying life and doing things to care for yourself, which you often postpone in your zeal to take care of others. You need to also care for yourself, so you will have the energy and inspiration to keep giving to others.”

A few weeks later, a neighbor agreed to paint my walls for a fair price. While the furniture was out of the house, I decided to varnish the items that needed it and sew new covers for the sofa. Then I rearranged the furniture and made other improvements that I’d wanted to focus on for so long. I’d never done as much physical work as in those three weeks, but they left me feeling rejuvenated and re-energized.

A few months later, my church was looking for volunteers to participate in a new English teaching program, and I felt that familiar nudge to help out. As a result, I now teach a class of 30 teenagers and adults. We pray together, listen to Christian music, watch Christian movies, and converse, laugh, and fellowship.

The best thing I gained through these experiences is the (new to me) mindset that life is to be enjoyed at every step, hope is to be felt in the face of every challenge, and enthusiasm and courage are what keep us moving forward.

My resolution for the days to come is to trust in God for the eternal hope we have in Him. His Word says, in Jeremiah 29:11: “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.”1 So I have a feeling that with His help, everything will work out in the end!

  1. GNT