It’s a New Year and as I wipe the slate clean again I remind myself that what’s in front of me is a lot more important than what’s behind me.  After all, I can influence what’s coming to me, but I can’t do much at all about what is washing away in the tide of last year.  That being said, here are eleven, and there are certainly a lot more, of my reasons to go confidently into the days ahead.

1. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We stand in life at midnight; we are always at the threshold of a new dawn.”  So as you watched the ball drop on the old year to usher in the new, you observed the crisp dawning of opportunity.  It’s a new day, marking the time for a new you.

2.  Romans 15:4 reminds us that “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”   Think of it!  We’ve been in this school of life with a great teacher, learning lessons, growing, changing and preparing for a new day.  We are ready for a New Year because we have hope.

3.  We still think and dream and imagine.  Henry Ford once said that he was looking for a few good people who had the capacity to NOT know what can’t be done.  We have the option to leave behind what we think we know, and discover what true greatness lies within us.  How exciting!

4.   We love the notion that all things are possible with God.  Yet, we often look at lack or limitation and forget that they do not hold any real power over us.  Carl Lewis may have had his personal failings, but he believed in the impossible.  He remarked, “Scientists have proven that it’s impossible to long-jump 30 feet, but I don’t listen to that kind of talk.  Thoughts like that have a way of sinking into your feet.”  What are you listening to today?

5.  Follow your heart.  Your heart knows the most precious things and leads you with strength.  It’s time to trust it.

6.  Peace is yours every time you walk confidently toward your dreams.  Thomas á Kempis said, “We should have great peace if we did not busy ourselves with what others say and do.  Let’s busy ourselves this year with all that we alone are meant to achieve.  It is our calling and our life purpose.

7.  Shine your light.  It is nearly impossible for a light not to ignite the hopes and the hearts of others.  This is your chance to turn up the high beams and add to the brilliance of those around you.  You are a beautiful light in the world.

8. How blessed we are that we can walk and live and breathe in the precious gift of Grace.  Matthew Henry put it this way.  “Grace is the free, undeserved goodness and favor of God to mankind.” Each person you see is wrapped in God’s Grace and is deserving of the best you have to offer.  Relationships built on Grace are always renewable resources.

9.  We have the blessing of forgiveness.  We may not be able to change a thing that has happened in the past, but with a renewed heart and spirit of forgiveness, we can most certainly change what happens in 2011.

10.  We get to begin again, to act in a new way.  As Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”   You’re back on track now so keep going.

11.  Of course, you would expect my favorite reason to be hopeful is all about love.  St. Augustine said, “Love is the fulfillment of all our works.  There is the goal; that is why we run:  we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.”

You probably have eleven more reasons to add to this list and I encourage you to do so.  If you find one reason here to have more hope, then embrace it.  Hold it close to your heart and remind yourself that this is your year.  You have everything you need to celebrate life.

Happy New Year, my friends!