After spending a week in California with Kiehl and Aaron (and Mickey, Goofy, Donald Duck, Winnie the Pooh and others) we had a quiet Christmas at home.
Cody and Taylor (Gatley) Rheault joined us, as did Chad.
Jarod worked at a Christmas tree lot for a few days during the Christmas break. We supported his efforts and bought a tree from the lot instead of heading to the hills and cutting our own tree as we did last year.
For me, there were two themes this Christmas...Gifts and Closing.
Yes, we exchange gifts. We express our love to one another by the giving of a gift, large and small. For some this is done under obligation, pressure, or not knowing what else to do. For others it is a genuine expression "this is for you, I love you" with no other motive or expectation.
This was God's gift to us. He gave us His son. He gave us a way to enter into a deep intimate personal relationship with Himself. Our sin, Adam's sin, separated us from being able to have this personal relationship. A sacrifice (atonement) for this sin was needed, which came as a gift in the form of God's son, Jesus Christ.
This season I am remembering Jesus Christ as the full and complete expression of God the Father who created me and loves me. It is a gift that began for me 26 years ago, continues today and will carry me forever.
The other theme for me during this season has been "Closing". It is the closing of a year and the closing of a season.
In December 2013 we had four children living with us at home. Now, December 2014, we have one child living at home. We enjoy and love each and every one of our children. We have had some struggles throughout the year. We have had some laughs. We have had many many memories. With all of this there has been adjusting for all of us...
- Kiehl is adjusting to life in California.
- Taylor is adjusting to married life.
- Chad is adjusting to life away from home.
- Jarod is adjusting to life at home.
As this season comes to a close, there is a sense of anticipation of what the next season will bring. I am excited to see what God will do in Kiehl's life; I am excited to watch a marriage unfold for Taylor and Cody; I am excited to see Chad's next season; I am excited for time with Jarod as we begin a new year.
Happy New Year - 2015
This closing is giving me the motivation to look and see what might be next...next for our family, next for our church, next for The Shepherd's House, next for Grace Network International, and next for me personally.
I don't necessarily set "new year's resolutions", but I do take the opportunity to look at what I want to accomplish, to do, to change, to improve, to adjust, or even leave the same from the year before.
- Health - I am looking at my diet and exercise specifically relating to my back (Spondylolisthesis) and blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Workflow - I am looking at how I get things done. Since I bounce between home, The Shepherd's House and my personal office, I don't have a specific place to store "stuff" (primarily paper). I have been working for the past 18 months on Document Management Process (paperless) to deal with all of the paper I have to shuffle during the year.
- Ministry - There is much to do at The Shepherd's House and I will continue to step in where needed, but I have also found that I need to be focused in the work that needs to be done. I don't want to put the To Do List before relationships. I want to show up the best I can for others without wearing the mask of "I'm fine" "I can do this" or "Leave me alone, I'm busy."
- Relationships - My family needs me. My children need me. Beth needs me. AND, I need them. I am looking at the time I work and the time I engage with everyone around me. My relationship with God comes first and I pray that He will go before me as I give my best to everyone around me.
- Fun - Sometimes I forget, or I am too busy to have fun. In 2015, I want to be more proactive in creating opportunities for fun for myself and my family.