Christmas is always wonderful, but this year has been exceptionally moving for my heart. We have concluded services, had a family dinner with all our children and guests at the table, all the gifts are unwrapped.
So although the lights in the living room say Christmas celebrations have not concluded, I look back at why this year meant so much to me. Four quick reasons come to mind immediately.
1. Family still tops the list of things that mean more than anything.
When I had surgery in November (everything turned out fine), the ones that I cared to see as visitors were family. I am a true introvert, if the truth be told and do not require much human attention, but their visits always were a highlight. Harmony in the family means everything. Not hearing from or speaking with the family regularly leaves me unwhole.
At some point in the future our children will need to relocate for better financial opportunities, so I want to count this present time as precious. I savor our family gatherings and holiday opportunities. Their laughter, the safety of being "off-the-clock" in their presence is priceless.
2. Jesus is not done with Europe.
On Christmas Eve we celebrated our tenth year in this facility. We have restructured our credit, lowered our interest rate by 3% to 2.4%, meaning we will pay off this entire million dollar project in ten years. Taking two full years off of the original payment plan.
Services were wonderful this year with somewhere around 300+ in attendance - standing room only, all seating occupied and children on their parents' laps.
Photo credits: Keith Gandy
In what appeared to be the almost impossible continent of western Europe, a solid missionary-sending, church-planting church has been established and continues to grow.
Jesus is not done with Europe, and with gratitude I say thanks to our partners that make our ministry here possible.
3. Jesus is not done with me.
2013 did not look so bright for me physically after the severe stroke-induced brain damage. Two surgeries this year caused me to wonder what the future might hold.
Based on the number of planters asking me to mentor or coach them, plus the momentum swing in our church, I am so energized. Jesus does use broken people to build His kingdom. Being a sports fanatical American has not helped. We worship success, successful people, not the broken down. I am just having to learn to trust Jesus also for this new phase of ministry. What a ride - He is not done with me.
4. How much better will 2015 be?
If these amazing and beautiful experiences have been our delight in 2014, how much better can things become in 2015? I look forward to being a catalyst for seeing lives transformed, for seeing the disheartened inspired, families restored and reconciled, for seeing the guilt-ridden connected with our gracious Lord.
I leave 2014 in the rear view mirror so envigorated and excited about entering into the thrill of 2015.
Christmas 2014 was special for me, I trust it was for you. This was our 32nd Christmas in Europe - wonderful.