What a year! Now depending on your vantage point, that statement could mean something different. It was a year that seemed almost surreal at times, but as we say in the newspaper business, you can't make this stuff up. There's no need to, truth is stranger and more interesting than fiction.

Political differences continue to divide, nothing new really, our country has fought a civil war and other wars over differences of opinions or beliefs. The major difference is in current times technology's influence and impact has changed the way information is dispersed and consumed, creating new issues.

What is fact, what is “fake news,” what is bias, and what is impartial?

It's hard to discern at times between opinion polluted truth and unbiased truth, real news; it makes old-school journalists shake their heads.

Social interaction now is mainly through online or social media contact, or cell phones leaving less time for real eye-to-eye, person-to-person interaction. Think about your last family or friends dinner, watching TV, or family get together, how may had phones out?

Even many church and worship services have been changed to slick, technology-infused productions.

Nothing is generally all bad, including technology. The same technology that divides us and alienates us also connects us, unites us, inspires us, and activates us.

Despite the change, the chaos, the upheaval, as always focusing on what's important, what's right, what's good, what's useful, what's meaningful, is what matters. It's what keeps us grounded.

My favorite things inspire, motivate and warm my heart, drive me forward, and keep me hopeful and motivated - the healthy giggles, tender hugs and kisses of little ones, goofy, crazy adventurous fun with grandchildren, my husband's strength, support and love, my hand in his, time with my grown kids and parents and brother, a meal or night out talking with friends, a swim in the ocean, a summer's night by the lake, breathing mountain air, autumn sunshine and leaves falling, a wild thunder and lightning storm, powdery snowfall, a bottle calf, a snuggly puppy, a rousing and inspiring Sunday sermon, cherished memories of those passed on, and faith, oh, wondrous, grace-given, faith in all that is good and holy!

If we look only at the glass half full or half empty we miss half the picture, half the experience. Experiencing life is about taking in and appreciating the glory of the good, but it’s also about striving to change the bad and the wrong, or making a difference however we can. We can’t change others, and obviously, we don’t have control over everything, but we can control our own reactions and actions, which can affect our own world and just maybe the world as a whole. There’s strength and gifts only earned by trials, and triumph over adversity. Stay the course of hope.

To each of you, our readers, may this New Year, 2018, be one of love, peace, hope and most of all faith.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.