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Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast. This will be given Jan. 1, 2017.

Although we can do it anytime, the beginning of a new year feels like a natural time to reflect upon the past, even as we look forward to the future. It’s a chance to leave behind yesterday’s regrets, build on yesterday’s successes and look forward to a tomorrow full of potential. There’s no reason to doubt that this year can be the best ever. Indeed, when a positive spirit ignites realistic goals, the resulting flame can fuel our efforts to accomplish great things.

That doesn’t mean we expect the next year to be perfect, of course. None of us knows exactly what is coming, but it’s safe to assume that this year, like other years, will have its ups and downs. There will be moments of happiness and joy, along with moments of heartache and worry. Where can we find the courage and perspective to carry on throughout it all?

A helpful example may come from a sunflower. This hearty and brilliant plant seems to be able to spring up even in less-than-ideal soil. For some reason, adverse conditions are not able to stop the sunflower. In addition, sunflowers are noteworthy for another reason: Their young blossoms always follow the sun. At daybreak they face east to catch the morning’s first rays of light, and as the sun moves across the sky during the day, the blossoms follow it until it sets in the west. Then, overnight, they turn east again, ready to greet the next day’s light and repeat the cycle. In this way, the sunflower receives the maximum amount of the sun’s vital energy throughout the day (see “The Lord Is My Light” by Elder Quentin L. Cook, Ensign, May 2015).

We can begin this year determined to follow the sun, to look to the light, to focus our best efforts on those things of greatest worth. In this way, even if something about our circumstances seems to put us at a disadvantage, even if conditions seem hostile, we can have sunshine in our soul — today and every day.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM,, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143), and The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. MST on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at

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