Dear family and friends,
To paraphrase Charles Dickens, I will say about 2016 – It was the best of years; it was the worst of years. It has certainly been an eventful year!
2016 brought many firsts. The first year of college (Hannah), the first time working outside the home in 19 years (Lynnae), the first kid’s broken bone (Hannah again), the first time a kid made a competitive high school soccer team (Jonathan – and he’s only an 8th grader!), a first grader (get it? That’s Grace), and the first day of a new career (Jim).
It also brought an important last. As many of you know, Jim was laid off from a job he loved, a job where he had spent the last eight years, in April.
It was unexpected, and to be frank, devastating.
How do you reinvent yourself and your career in your 50s with a wife in her 40s?
It’s not easy. We’ve spent the last seven months figuring it out.
In many ways this has been a very difficult year. We’ve been stretched financially…really stretched. We’ve been stretched as a family. And our faith has been stretched.
But we’ve also been blessed. In the midst of a difficult year, we have had the privilege of seeing God work from a vantage point we haven’t experienced to this degree before.
We will walk away from 2016 knowing three things.
1. The Miracle of God’s Provision
This year we lost 75% of our income when Jim lost his job and I lost my biggest writing contract. To say I panicked is an understatement.
But each month we pay the bills. Each month we look ahead to the next month, and our ability to pay the bills seems a little less certain. But each month God provides just enough.
Sometimes I get an extra freelance job. Sometimes Jim gets an extra sporting event to announce. Sometimes we get an unexpected financial gift.
God doesn’t always provide everything we want. He never promised that. But over the last seven months, He has provided everything we need…sometimes down to the penny.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
2. The Blessing of Family & Friends
As we have faced hardship this year, we’ve had to pull together as a family like never before. At this point Jim is working three jobs, and I am working two.
That leaves little time to keep the house running.
Our three kids have stepped up to the plate in an amazing way, cleaning the house, babysitting the youngest, and helping out when Jim and I are too exhausted to do anything at night.
Our extended family has pitched in on those occasions we need someone to pick up the kids from school or have other miscellaneous needs.
And our friends have been an amazing encouragement with their words and prayers for us.
All of those things make a huge difference in our lives, and I wouldn’t give up my family and friends for all the money in the world. We are blessed.
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25 (ESV)
3. The Knowledge of What is Truly Important
Where is your hope when life doesn’t go your way? We’ve had to dig deep this year. I personally have realized that there have been times when I’ve inflated in my mind my own ability to run my life and solve my problems.
Financial problems? I’ll just work more. Problem solved.
A discouraged husband? I’ll just say the right thing, and everything will be better.
Worried children? I’ll just reassure them, and the worry will go away.
Except that’s not at all how it worked this year. More work did not equal enough money, and the right words didn’t change the situation causing the worry.
As a family we have come to the realization that our lives are completely in God’s hands.
As a control freak, it’s hard to give up control, even if that control is just an illusion.
But as a Christian, being forced to admit my own powerlessness over and over has strengthened my faith and hope in God immensely.
And our hope is only in God. Through Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection three days later, through His payment for our sins, we know the end of the story.
No matter how life turns out for us on earth, we know our eternity is in heaven. And that knowledge turns even the worst of years into the best of years.
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:2-5 (ESV)
Remember the reason we celebrate Christmas. Christ is the reason for our hope.
Have a Merry Christmas!