Monday, December 26, 2016

The 2016 Belated Christmas Letter

I started a new tradition last year. 

The day after Christmas, I finally stopped long enough to write a belated Christmas letter. This year, I'm continuing the tradition with another after-Christmas letter.

This past year has been filled with change, most of it joyful. 

Ryan celebrated his one-year anniversary at his dream job, as software developer for Square, Atlanta. He bought his first home, a skyscraper condo in downtown Atlanta. He has a wonderful girlfriend, Hannah. He adopted a new dog, Bento, and has experienced the joys (and difficulties) of owning an energetic puppy. 

He's become an adult, and it's a wondrous sight to behold.

Sam (my neighbor) celebrated the first anniversary of his wife's death by deciding that I didn't have to cook all his meals anymore. With some help, he's recently started cooking for himself. All the cooking was quite an adjustment, but we've made it through. His new independence has been good for both of us.

I joined a new church (Hope Church) and found a new family. 

I don't love my "old" church any less, but Hope is closer to my home and it's gluten-free. And God led me there.

I've begun to call myself a writer. No qualifications. No shame. It's what I do. It's how I process life. 

I finished a complete rewrite on my first novel this year and sent it back to the editor for line edits. I've already received beautiful, encouraging feedback on the changes and will start preparing a proposal this week. (Hoping 2017 will be the year it makes it into print.)

I've written more non-fiction than I thought possible, and published my first online, digital Bible study, an in-depth look at Hosea. The in-your-place, at-your-pace format was well received, and I've already started writing a new study on James.

I've begun to call myself a retired physician.

I didn't go back to work as a physician, despite so many people asking me to reconsider. 

I became a missionary. 

To my utter surprise, fifty years after I first prayed with Isaiah, "Here am I, Lord. Send me," I became a missionary. I was already on mission, as anyone who knows me well already recognized, but I became an "official" missionary with Global Outreach International. 

As Director of Intercessory Prayer and Outreach, I've done more outreach and prayed more prayers than I thought possible. I've spoken dozens of times, to groups of all ages. 

My mama said I wouldn't be able to fit all the funerals in, and she was right. 

Once again, I attended more visitations and funerals than I dreamed possible, and missed almost as many. 

Friends and family have been more important than ever.

I've taken time to enjoy lunch outings with friends on a semi-regular basis. I joined a new supper club. I've spent more time connecting with family.

I've seen the hand of God at work in my life, in my heart, in my circumstances, and it's been a wondrous thing.

I've enjoyed good health, ignored the usual admonitions to slow down and stop juggling so many things, and finally recognized that God made me this way. I prefer it. It's tedium that saps my strength, not doing multiple things 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. 

2017 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

Today, take a few minutes to look back over your own year. What were your joys? Your sorrows? Your victories? How was God at work? 

Give your life an "annual review" so that you can decide what to keep and what to let go of in the coming year. Let's live with intention in 2017 and glorify God with the life we choose.

As you consider your year-end giving, please consider including support for this ministry, which is totally dependent upon the support of those who partner with us. We need your prayers, your hands to help, and your financial gifts to continue.

Here's the link to give: Global Outreach Acct 4841 If you'd rather use a check or money order, make it out to Global Outreach. Remember to put "Account 4841" on the "for" line. Mail it to: Global Outreach, PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802

In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Heart of Christmas: A Heart that Gives