Saturday, December 27, 2008

Farewell 2008

So, here it is, my final blog of 2008.  A toast to the past and to the future.  But first, let me share again that this blog appears in a few different places, so references to comments and such may or may not be obvious to you and where you see it.  A word about your comments - they are encouragement to others who may be experiencing something similar, so I encourage yo to enter into the conversation.  

The last post of 2008 issues a challenge: Share some highs and lows of 2008 and what your hopes for 2009 may be.  I'll go first.....

In looking back and taking a big picture view, 2008 has brought it's share of loss:
  • I lost a pastor and friend whose vision and leadership both challenged and fulfilled the work I do.  (Lost = he moved to a new ministry)
  • My youngest daughter lost a bit of her "care free" childhood as she faced test after test searching for answers to a medical mystery.
  • With the economy taking it's toll in all our lives, I find myself losing my perspective of doing what I want to do to doing what I have to do.  This applies both personally and professionally.
Lest you think 2008 has been a total bummer, there have been some highlights:
  • 2 daughters, both in college, continue to make the Dean's list and make good choices for their lives.
  • After all the testing, the current course of treatment seems to be helping my youngest daughter.
  • Had an amazing vacation this year.
  • Celebrated 21 years of marriage with the love of my life.
  • It seems the hardware they put in my chest last year is keeping my heart beating pretty well.
  • Built a guitar for the first time in my life and it rocks!
As I look forward to 2009 I share some uncertainty with most of the U.S. about our economy and such, but I'm also hopeful.  Here's a few:
  • My church will recover it's vision.
  • I will travel to see family & friends I haven't seen in a few years.
  • I will continue to watch all my daughters grow and enjoy life.
  • Someone will experience hope in their life because I'm willing to share Jesus.
  • I will not break any bones when I go skiing next week!
There you go, now it's your turn.  I wish all of you a Happy New Year.  If you're attending a celebration, I hope it's with friends and loved ones and remember "all things in moderation".  See you in 2009.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Christmas Miracle

It's been some time since I last posted.  I've had trouble with the blog with several posts not appearing (hoping as I type that Blogger has it's bugs worked out, though it seems to be picture related, hence no picture), and frankly, the season I find myself in hasn't allowed me to be as persistent in getting something up.  What season am I talking about?  The Christmas season?  ...well, yes...and no.

Surely you haven't missed the decorations and sale ads that signal what has become America's Christmas.  Or maybe, like me, you're experiencing the added activity that comes with the season. And while much of it is "Christmas related", most times it seems like work for works' sake with no real benefit identifiable.  Forgive my "Scroogeness", 'tis the season to be jolly, but I'm finding it difficult.  Let's be clear, I'm not blaming Christmas, it's an unfortunate coincidence.  One of my daughter's birthday is December 24, it's not her fault either.

What I'm referring to here is a season of difficulty I find myself in.  It seems to be coming from all directions, job, finances, etc.  Perhaps it's the economic "recession" that the media finally admitted we're in which is affecting us all.  Its easy to point to specific things, but I know it's my soul that seems to be taking things hard.  And if you know me at all, you know that I don't write this for your sympathy.

I write this because I know this is part of our human condition.  All of us,from time to time, find ourselves in "seasons" of life that are utterly draining on our souls.  The things that used to energize and fulfill us become just another thing on the "list" of stuff we're expected to accomplish.  The roles we take on in life, spouse, parent, leader, etc.; that most times give us a sense of purpose and responsibility, suddenly become pressures that add weight to the "load we carry".  Life moves from enjoyable to difficult.  Stress is a word that is often used.  For many, such times lead us into depression which is a very real condition that requires professional help.  If that last sentence resonates with you, be encouraged to seek that help out, it's a good thing.

So here I am, and perhaps you too, in a difficult season.  As I said, I don't share for sympathy.  Just like everything else I blog about here, I share to make the point that we're not alone.  The feelings you and I have are common to all of us.  But what to do in such a season?  I must confess that I am limited in solutions, in fact I only know one.  His name is Jesus.

He said some things about times like this.  He said, "In this world world you will have trouble...", I think that's exactly what I've been saying.  He said, "Take heart, I have overcome the world...", which leads me to believe that something different than what I'm experiencing is possible.  And He said, "I will never leave you...", that gives me some comfort in the difficult times.  None of that changes specific situations, but it changes me.  He gives me hope and strength that this world tends to drain me of, and because of Him, I know it will be alright.  He's proven Himself many times in my life, and while I might hope for the miracle of things just changing overnight, I'll take the miracle of Him every time.

Let me close by wishing you a Merry Christmas.  May all of us experience the miracle of Christ in our lives now and in the days to come.