So it’s been a LONG time!! I really do want to get back to writing, but it’s been much too busy a season. Really, with pregnancy, my mind just doesn’t work the same, and I’m a little unpredictable with my emotions! :) But I did write a Christmas letter this year, and I wanted to share it here. I debated whether I should- whether I should even mail it out, because it feels a little heavy. Sometimes I’m not sure if that’s spiritual warfare or a check from the Holy Spirit. Well, I’ve prayed enough over it, I figure there must be someone out there who’d be encouraged. And, again, it’s probably just my pregnancy indecisiveness, but I couldn’t even choose a Christmas picture this year, so I printed out two! It’s kind-of a lottery, who will end up with what. The nice thing about a blog is I can share both! Okay, so here’s the letter…to you. My friends and family. Those who encourage me here…even if you just follow quietly.
Before you even think it, I know…! :) The typical Christmas newsletter is positive, upbeat, and informative. I really do hope this one is, too, because our family has much for which to be thankful. Kids who surprise us daily with joy. Provision for all our needs. A marriage held together by an unswerving God.
But it feels as if this just scrapes the surface. Like a photograph – it captures the essence of our life, but there’s a whole story behind it. Some good moments. Some bad. And I keep thinking I should give some background this year.
So it probably goes without saying, but our journey in 2013 hasn’t been perfect.
The best of the year: A new little one on the way! Yay!
The worst: Unexpected trials with Mike’s business.
Truthfully, it’s humbling when year after year you’re the family facing some sort of crisis.
But several months ago, I read a book by Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of the Holocaust. And she so truthfully shared her struggles, yet, so simply, and obediently followed God.
And the power of her testimony began to grip me – to forgive a people who killed her family – to go back to them to share the love of God. Then, to have a guard who’d been cruel to herself and her sister, express his commitment to Jesus, asking for Corrie’s forgiveness. And her confession: bitterness. But in that moment she remembered Romans 5:5 “…God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” With that, she was able to forgive.
And as more of her story wove its way into my heart, I couldn’t help but notice how much I’m unlike Christ. How He suffered because of His obedience. Obedience being a choice. His suffering chosen.
And when we live without a desire fulfilled or an unwanted fill in the blank, we have an opportunity to share with Christ in His sufferings. To lay down our lives and follow on. To rejoice always. To give thanks in all things.
And I would be a liar if I said I did this naturally. No, I still struggle, and it shows my lack of faith. My lack of believing God when He says He’s working all things together for good.
My life, the life of the Bennett’s, can’t even compare to that of Corrie Ten Boom or obviously, that of Jesus. But each of us has some sort of suffering in our lives. Some Worst of 2013. On the other hand, we’ve also got some Best of. And sometimes the best is just in what God’s building in us.
For me this year, that quite literally means a child. And I can’t help but remember the reason for the season…the child in a manger, given to us 2000 years past.
Corrie Ten Boom said, “There is no panic in heaven! God has no problems, only plans.”
As Joseph and Mary traveled that long weary journey, only to arrive at an inn shut up, to be sent to a stable, where she’d give birth to the Savior of the World, I wonder how much looked like panic? How much looked like problems?
But on this side of history we see the full plan of God – salvation come to all nations.
For this each of us has reason to rejoice!
Finally, at the beginning of 2013, I prayed for a name, a word for my year, and I believed it should be “Joy.” At moments, it was easy, but there were so many moments when it was hard. Now I realize how much joy is directly linked to obedience. Really, God’s calling upon my life and Mike’s has been to be obedient. To persevere in trial. To seek His will above our own. To cast our cares on Him and trust.
And with every death to worry and doubt, every choice to obey rather than disobey, there’s been rebirth – a heart at peace. A joy renewed.
And this is the essence of the Gospel. The background to the manger.
And for this we sing gladly!
Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!