Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Christmastide to You!

Ah, the frenzy that is Christmas Eve is over, Christmas Day is past, and now we settle into Christmastide for a short while before the Epiphany.

For me, this is a relaxed time. We generally keep the decorations up until New Year's, and really, if we were to follow the Church calendar closely, we can keep them up until Jan. 6 (Epiphany). The house has been tidied up a bit, grandson S's new toys have been integrated into the household and we can just enjoy a little bit of free time before having to get back into the routine of daily life. Even though I work a few days next week, even that is a bit more relaxed. I wish I could say the same for my husband, who has been especially busy. I'm just glad that he has had a few days off recently.

This is a time for reflecting on the past year. Some of you veteran readers may be tired of my summer saga, but it bears mentioning because it was a significant turning point for me in 2009. As the year began, and through the summer, I had felt like I was losing so much -- a friend and a church -- but as the rest of the year played out, I have found that I have gained much. I'm closer to my family, my new church has been a haven for spiritual growth, and I'm becoming more aware of my own strength. Those who have been my friends at my old church continue to be my friends, just as others from previous congregations have been. In fact, I'm lunching tomorrow with a friend from my first Episcopal congregation. I feel a little like Job (though, thankfully, not experiencing losses to the great degree that he had). He lost a lot, but God blessed him greatly. He expressed his frustration to God, but still kept the faith. That's the amazing thing. Not by my strength alone, but with God's help, I weathered this storm in my life and was able to see and appreciate God's great blessings as I got through it.

Our family has become a tight little unit. We are still dealing with some legal issues concerning grandson S, but hope that 2010 will be the year of getting them resolved. Stepdaughter J is doing well in school -- a 4.0 average for her first semester. And I love and appreciate my husband R more and more with each passing day.

I have some goals for this year. I'm preparing to take the state exam for Special Education certification. That will take place in late January. You'll certainly will read a prayer request before then. I'll then apply for special ed as well as regular ed teaching positions for the coming school year. Spiritually, I hope to have a new spiritual director and get back on track with my prayer and worship life. I'd like to take better care of myself physically, and fit some intentional exercise into my daily routine. And I want to continue my vigilance over my mental and emotional health. That vigilance stood me in good stead in 2009.

When I reflect a little further back, say the past six years, I find that I've traveled a long road. From living an out-of-control, scared, not wanting to live existence, I have (again with God's help) built a life that has value to myself and others. I'm aware that God has always valued me, and now I have the opportunity to help others see God's value in themselves.

But of course it's not all smooth sailing from now on. I have no idea what the future holds, so it's not a time for complacency. But I can, if I allow myself to lean upon God's strength, be ready to meet the challenges. I can be confident that God will be there to help me. And by allowing God to help me, I don't have to worry so much, I can look to the needs of others rather than curving into myself. I can -- with His help -- love and serve Him. That's what it's all about, anyway.

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