Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and wonderful and blessed New Year!
[I thought I would post our Christmas newsletter to my blog this year instead of actually sending it out via email or through the post. I don't know, maybe I am getting old or maybe I am just a bit lazy this year. Maybe I am "hip" with the new technology and think that this is a much better way to send out our greetings and news! Oh well....]
Dear family and friends,
This has been an incredibly interesting year for our family. It started out as normal as could be and we (David and me) expected it to be about the same as it has for every other year of our 23 years of marriage. The new year began without much fanfare, even though every New Year's is a celebration of David's birthday (Jan. 4th). The winter months passed without any major upsets or interruptions.
David continued to work as a marketing consultant with MMRT, his marketing consulting firm. He helped several of his clients achieve new sales and marketing goals as well as encourage 30-40 business professionals each week through his Mastermind Roundtable groups.
I was involved in AWANA at Scottsdale Bible Church and completed my 10th year as a Director/Leader. This past year I served as Sparks Director (along with a sweet gal) and helped organize and orchestrate our weekly club meetings for about 100 K-2nd grade students. I also had the opportunity to teach the 3-6th graders in our weekly Council time meetings (what a great blessing to me!) I also continued to work for AceWeb Promotions, my web design and hosting company. 2007 marked my 10th year as a web designer!
DJ completed 8th grade at Arete Classical Christian Academy (our home school.) He continued to excel in school and also as a pianist. He performed in several recitals and even arranged two musical selections for the "Strings and Things" chamber group. He has enjoyed Youth group at Paradise Valley Church (my parents church) and attended both the winter and summer retreats. The highlight of DJ's summer was his baptism in May 2007!
Our family plans for fall included beginning High School (at home), more music/lessons, as well as working in our home offices (David in sales and me in web design). However, the Lord had different plans for us and on June 1, we were all shocked to find out exactly what He intended for us. My dear husband suffered a mild heart attack, really a precursor attack or a warning sign on June 30. His left arterial descended artery was 85% blocked and he ended up in the hospital for 5 days in July. Thankfully, the doctors were able to clear the blockage with a stent and after a couple very scary days of uncontrolled blood pressure (and fear of stroke), David was able to go home. The months that followed were not as easy nor as "normal" as we had hoped. David had a difficult time adjusting to the medication and found the side effects to be intolerable. Most days he was unable to work or drive due to the light-headedness and marked weakness in his body.
The days seemed to fly on by and before we knew it, Christmas 2007 was around the corner. David has been able to become more acclimated to his medication and while still not feeling 100%, after 6 months, does feel more like himself now. He was finally able to resume a full-time schedule with his clients and is looking forward to a more prosperous 2008. I had cut back on my work schedule in an effort to prepare and teach 9th grade to DJ, but with our mounting uncertainty over work and finances, decided it was best for me to work more hours. DJ has done amazing well with 9th grade and is developing as quite an excellent pianist. He has performed in recital and also with the chamber group (twice in December). He also gave a private performance to the residents at the Life Care Center of Scottsdale (the rehab and nursing facility where Grandpa David is until January, 2008.) David Sr. (David's dad) fell on December 9th and was hospitalized with compression fractures in his back. He moved to the Life Care Center on December 13th and has been having physical therapy daily since then. It is our hope that he will be able to come home sometime after the New Year.
So as our year winds down to these remaining days, we look back and wonder how it was possible for us to start off with such high expectations and end with complete uncertainty for our future. David faces his 50th birthday next week and has wondered what the "next' years will bring for him. He has finally returned to an exercise routine and is determined to lose a few extra pounds. I am anxious to begin the new year and know that the Lord has a mighty and wonderful plan for each of our lives.
God has been so faithful to us through this entire year. He has graciously provided medical care, finances, provisions (food and shelter) as well as spiritual nurturing. We are truly blessed and are amazed at His mercy and grace. There has not been a day pass by that we haven't thanked Him for His presence in our lives and for giving us a future filled with hope and peace. We know, of course, that complications and the stresses of every day life abound, but God has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us and that His peace will surround us and bind us to Him. We are indebted to Him and are trusting and relying on Him for our daily bread.
As we spend the day worshipping our Lord and remembering that first Christmas morning, I am reminded of something our new Pastor shared with us Christmas eve. Pastor Jamie gave the most interesting message on Luke 2:1-20. I always think how difficult it must be to preach the same Christmas story over and over again. For most of us, we have heard the story so many times that we tend to not pay much attention when it is read each year. However, this year, Pastor Jamie said something that has changed my perspective on the entire Christmas message. He said (I am paraphrasing) that "your perspective on Christmas determines your expected outcome or experience." Ok, so not earthshaking new information, as most of us realize the that what we "think" can indeed alter or determine our experience or outcome (post-modern psychobabble with a kernal of truth tucked in there). Generally speaking...if we are positive people, always thinking of the "good", we do tend to experience a more upbeat and positive outcome, no matter the situation or circumstance (aka Norman Vincent Peale and his power of positive thinking approach). But, as good pastors do, he didn't just give us a mealy-milktoast type of "think good thoughts and experience good things" type of message. No, oh my, no! Instead he went on to explain five different views or perspectives on the birth of Jesus Christ and then brought them up-to-date with a modern twist. [An aside: we are grateful that God has brought us a true theologian to our pulpit and are blessed to learn as the Spirit gives wings to his words each week!] They were: passion, practical, prophetic, political and personal (embodied by the shepherds, the magi, Simeon, Herod, and Mary). While all of all these views, none of which are bad or necessarily wrong, do deal with a part or aspect of the Christmas message, it is only one that really gets to the core of the truth -- the reason Christ came and was born on that Christmas morn. The one view he encouraged us all to contemplate was that of Mary, Jesus' mother. His reference verse was Luke 2:19:
But Mary was keeping within herself all these things
(sayings), weighing and pondering them in her heart.
[If you are interested in hearing his entire message, click here to download it.]
My paraphase again -- Mary had been told my the angel what to expect and she believed him. When Jesus was born and the world was in chaos around her, she still believed that her child was "God my Savior". I am sure that Mary was quite surprised by the shepherds praising God, by the magi giving gifts, by Simeon's blessing, and by Herod's hatred of the baby Jesus. However, her faith never wavered and she believed what the angel had told to her so many months before. Mary treasured the truth and pondered them (or thought about them much) in her heart.
Yes, Pastor Jamie's message spoke to my heart last night and reminded me of the many ways I could approach Christmas day. Thanks to God's gracious Spirit who gives understanding and light, I now have a better way to ponder the wonderful gift of Jesus the Christ.
Therefore, as we look forward to the new year, it is my prayer that "we keep within ourselves all these things (sayings), weighing and pondering them in our hearts." Let us not forget why God sent His Son to us and how we may receive Him. Let us not lose heart nor lose our perspective when the chaos of the moment or that unfortunate circumstance comes into our lives next year. Let us treasure up the Lord Jesus Christ and remember Him always.