Tuesday, December 20, 2005

#25 My Christmas Letter

My Christmas Letter
#25 December 20, 2005

"All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed." (Isaiah 61: 9b)

Have you ever received one of those Christmas letters? You know the ones I mean. The long, two page documents recounting the events of the past year in a family's life, usually accompanied by a family photo next to a beautiful Christmas tree or outside in the new fallen snow. I know you remember. Dad is the anchor of the family...strong, handsome and so into his children that he won the father of the year award. Successful businessman, soccer coach, all around great guy! Mom, "the glue that holds them together", busy, lovely, nurturing, loving in the face of all adversity. Little Billy, on his way to soccer (or baseball, or basketball, fill in the blank) stardom, an all A student.... And Jenny...budding ballerina....so cute and cuddly. LET'S GET REAL!!!

We would all love to spend a Walton Christmas...or have all of our problems wrapped up in 60 minutes of love like on Seventh Heaven. (Secretly, I want to be Annie Camden). But as someone once said, "It just ain't so!" Why do we feel the need to sugar coat our lives and make it appear that our year held no problems or that we have faced no difficulties? I don't know these answers but I do know that Jesus was true to His promise..."In this world you will have trouble." (John 16: 33) So welcome to MY Christmas letter.

The year 2005 held the loss of wages due and ultimately the loss of work. Bills behind. Struggling to make ends meet. The loss of the family vehicle due to engine failure and no one willing to extend us the credit for another one. Driving a borrowed car. Knowing inside that the Lord had something else for me to do in service to Him, but fighting Him every step of the way for months. One day fighting with God, the next rebuking the enemy...couldn't tell who was speaking to me and telling me it was time to move on. Ending most days feeling like I had been beat up and left for dead. The defining moment came when one of my clients attacked me while I was alone at the ministry office. Decisions to be made. The end of my director role at My Father's Business...the loss of the borrowed vehicle. Chuck taking on even more responsibility than he needed or wanted.

An 18 year old bent on sabotaging his senior year in high school. My oldest daughter moving out of our home to follow a decision that I was totally against. My father being diagnosed with cancer...again...this time of the bladder and prostate. The same father who along with my mother are full of anger and bitterness and will not speak to me...unwilling to restore relationship with me or my family. Struggling with the huge decision to leave the church and friends that we had known for nine years to follow the Lord's leading to a new place and new opportunities. The end of our days at My Father's Business and Grace Community Church. And just recently, the news that Chuck's daughter Elizabeth has leukemia and will be facing a couple of years of treatment, chemotherapy and dramatic life changes. I'm sure there's more...but...that's enough to make my point. I'm starting to feel like the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians Chapter 11...boasting about his sufferings. (See 2 Corinthians 11: 16-33)

So here we are at December 20, 2005. Chuck has a wonderful job that he loves and looks forward to each day. I laughed at the devil the other day because in spite of all of the trials we've faced, they only drove us closer to each other. Our marriage is stronger than it has ever been and I love that man more today than I could ever put into words. No matter what has been thrown at us we have been blessed to have it draw us closer together instead of apart. Our monthly bills are not behind anymore and we are in the process of working on others. God has richly provided for us out of His boundless mercy and graciousness. My son graduated from high school and is growing into a fine, mature, responsible young man who makes me laugh every day. Out of his problems came a closer relationship between mother and son that I wouldn't trade for anything. We have become part of a new fellowship of believers who truly evidence the love of Christ to others. We are home. It is not a perfect group of people...but Jesus IS perfect and His love is manifesting itself and the presence of the Holy Spirit is there. We are being pointed to Christ and Christ alone. God is still permitting me to be an empty vessel for His use in writing "Tuesday's" each week and has given me a big vision for ministry in the future. My daughter is still living away from home, but God has taught me how to love her and let her make her own decisions and He is breaking generational curses of rejecting your children when you don't agree with them.

My dad still has cancer....I still don't have a car....my parents continue to reject me...Lyz still has leukemia. But did you notice something? With each problem has come God's hand making "all things work together for good." (Romans 8:28) My Jesus has been there in each trial, in each heartache and looking back...good has come...I wouldn't change it now. So I trust Him...with my dad, my children, my transportation, my step-daughter. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. If He worked in the other situations in my life...I know He will work in these. If I never had any problems, I'd never know that He could solve them. I'd never know how faithful and loving and kind and gracious and compassionate and patient He is!

So that's my Christmas letter. May I make a suggestion? This week as we concentrate on the birth of our Savior, take some time to think about the past year. Look at the trials and hardships that you have endured. Share them with others instead of trying to make your life look perfect. Magnify God and His presence in your life. Share with others the answers to prayer that you have received. Encourage them with the fact that God was present in your life and that He will do the same for them. Don't be a Walton or a Camden...be you and use your life and experiences to bring Him glory! See what God has done....In the song by Natalie Grant called "Held", she sings..."This is what it means to be held, how it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive. This is how it feels to be loved and to know that the promise was when everything fell..we'd be held." I've been held for the past year....held tightly in my loving Heavenly Father's arms...I will not hide the hardships in my life because the fact that I've survived and prayers have been answered and God has been ever-present in my life and He has used what the enemy meant for evil to bring about good ...gives Him glory and honor and my life can be for the display of His splendor. Those who read my Christmas letter can say, "They are a people the Lord has blessed." (Isaiah 61:9)

Merry Christmas from our family to yours,

Donna Schultz


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