So December was a bit sparse blog-wise for me – it’s just (unfortunately) such a crazy-busy time of the year. But I’m preparing to get back on track with writing and sharing my travel tales which I have sorely missed doing. In the meantime, I’ve been doing some reflecting as we close 2013 and welcome 2014, and I wanted to share some of my “reflections” with you.

I’ve been feeling very disconnected with the rest of the world. Which strikes me as a bit odd considering my insane desire to see and explore all of this world. I recently scrolled through Time’s 2013: The Year in 365 Pictures and realized (again) how good I really have it. I complain about my job, lack of money to travel, single status, etc., yet seriously, how important are those things when people are struggling to just live and breathe and be! It’s so sad.

I don’t have to worry about getting shot on my way to work…I have a bed enclosed in walls and covered by a roof to sleep in every night…I have my family alive and near…I have a car, money in the bank (little as it may be), food in my fridge, and all my limbs intact.

I wish I could DO something to help people! I’ve said for years that I would love to work at a job that makes a difference in this world. However small that difference might be. Not just work for money, to pay bills, to buy stuff, to go places. But work at something that I’m passionate about – that is leaving a mark on this world. But what does that look like?

It seems like an impossible task, making a difference in the world. Especially when there is so much suffering affecting so many people the world over. But…maybe I need to bring my focus in a little bit first. Start by making a difference right here.

I’m not currently in a situation where I can travel all over, bringing aid, hope, and love to those living in refugee camps, or recovering from natural disasters, or dying from malnourishment. But a smile, a touch, or a kind word can mean the world to a neighbor, a classmate, a co-worker, or a stranger – any of who could be suffering – and give them a glimmer of hope in that moment.

All too often I turn away from unpleasant things, but I think it’s time that I start making my dream of leaving a positive mark on this world a reality by starting small. So what if I’m not quitting my job and joining the Red Cross or the Peace Corps (although who knows what could happen in the future?). That doesn’t mean I, and we, can’t make a difference right where we are, inside the borders of our own city, state, and country.

Start small. Start at home. Who knows how that will grow and spread. And in the meantime, pray for those suffering all over the world.

Bring hope, show love, promote peace. Be a light in what can oftentimes be a dark world to many people. Be a difference-maker.

I pray that you, whoever you are and wherever you are, have a blessed new year! That you experience the joy that comes with looking outside ourselves and actually seeing the world and the people around us – and perhaps playing a role in making both better.

Here’s to a joy- and hope-filled 2014!!!