Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Belated Christmas Letter



"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 nasb

I didn't send out Christmas cards. I meant to do it this year, but I didn't. I didn't write a Christmas letter, either. I meant to do that, too. I love those letters that summarize the high points of the last year, and intended to write one of my own. At last, I've gotten round to it. 

In a way, this is my "Christmas letter". 

The whirlwind of Christmas is winding down and I've had a few minutes to reflect on the past year. What a year it's been. Full of joy mingled with sorrow, laughter tinged with tears, triumph with a touch of defeat. 

It's been one of the best years of my life.

My son graduated from Georgia Tech and started his dream job. He's happy and content. He has a girlfriend I love more than I imagined possible. It's been a joy to watch him as he becomes the man he was born to be.

My writing has prospered. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers and a writers' group, attended my first big writing conference, and wrote more than I thought possible. My first novel (still being edited) placed in the top three in the Oregon Christian Writers' competition (a national competition). I received more encouragement than I deserved this year. 

At sixty years old, I have begun to believe that I'm "on my way".

After raising cattle for a quarter-century, I sold all my cows. I adore cows but I had to put out feed in single-digit weather one too many times last winter. It's been a relief.

I taught myself to do a cable stitch and knitted my first afghan. 

Maggie the Wonder Dog had a severe eye injury that took far too long to heal and left her with a cataract and limited vision in one eye. She endured it all with far more grace than I would have, and I learned a little more about perseverance.

I've attended far more funerals and visitations than I thought possible in a single year. 

People my age. People younger than me. People I loved. There were a few times when I couldn't fit them all in. Mama said that would happen, but I didn't believe her. I do now.

Jamie (my neighbor's wife) died this year and I've found myself taking care of the elderly man who, as my "farm manager", took care of me for decades. It's hard beyond words and sweet beyond my wildest imagination. I've watched this dear man begin to cook, wash dishes, do laundry, and clean his house. 

Sam and I decided yesterday (finally) that we're going to make it.  

After more than two decades at the same church, I've spent the last two months visiting sister churches in our area. It has been precious beyond belief. 

I've found that the family of God is anywhere the Spirit of God abides. 

I've come to understand the body of Christ universal in a new way. It's not confined to denominational boundaries, brick walls, or territorial boundaries. I knew that already, of course, but I've experienced it in a new way, and I'm better for it.

I spoke and taught and volunteered and celebrated the Risen Savior. I laughed with friends and family alike and enjoyed meals around the table with those I love.

There've been hard times and a few times when I wasn't sure I would make it through, but I did. Looking back, I've grown and learned from every hard time. 

I wish I'd done a few things differently, but I wouldn't really change a thing. (well, not much)

It's been a great year and I've seen the hand of God so many times that I've been in awe of His mercy and grace. 

None of the good things I've experienced were of my own making. They came straight from God, because every good and perfect gift comes from above. 

What's amazing to me is that a new year is lurking just around the corner. In less than a week, we'll start working our way through another year. My prayer, for you as well as for myself, is that we do what Jesus said to do. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. If we do, everything else will fall into place.

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, 
and all these things will be added to you." 
Matthew 6:33 nasb

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In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links:  Finding Christmas: The Good Husband, Finding Christmas: The Sin FastFinding Christmas: The Mission StatementFinding Christmas: The Divine Paradox, and Finding Christmas: The Storm ShelterFinding Christmas: Overcoming, and Finding Christmas: Giving Ourselves

The most read post of the last week: Finding Christmas: The Good Husband.
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The Clay Papers (lessons in being moldable in God's hands, based on a series of pottery lessons) is now available as a 99 cent ebook on Amazon. Click the link to see more. 
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 #JesusChrist #disciple #seekHim