It is December 31, 2008 and I can’t help but think “Wow, what a year!” Yes, I thought that I would be at a different point than I am, but in the same breath I know that God has me exactly where he wants me. His faithfulness to me and my family astounds me. The reason I can say that is that I have been reflecting on this past year. There are so many examples of answers to prayer, of people calling or writing just when I needed it, or of books or verses that I read just when I needed them. Amazing!! Tonight I feel compelled to start a new tradition. Tonight we will be remembering all the ways that God was faithful to us and reflecting on some of the miracles and answers to prayer that we saw this year.
Mimi Wilson wrote “when we have a record of how he has taken care of us, it builds our faith and strengthens our ability to rest in his capacity to take care of our circumstances”. I have no idea what the next year will hold, but I am confident that because he has so faithfully taken care of us this year, he will continue. Will it be easy? No, probably not, but I know he is faithful.
Mimi continued to say that “A thankful, contented heart is a gift we give to him” I want to give that gift not only to God, but also to my family. After all, we are so blessed.
Here is an exerpt from our Christmas letter that lists some of the ways God was faithful to us in the last year and half. For those of you that received our letter sorry for the repetition.
*One of the most obvious and immediate ways we saw God’s faithfulness was through the Christian community. Immediately after Rhonda entered the hospital we had visits, flowers and plenty of prayer support. Our church brought us meals at least a couple times a week for almost a year. We’ve also had various people wash clothes for us, clean or pay cleaning, take care of our children and drive us to various doctor’s appointments. They have been the hands and feet of Christ in the midst of our difficulties. I’m not sure how someone can go through a difficult time like this without the body of Christ.
*The week that Rhonda went to the hospital was also the start of Perry’s semester long research sabbatical. The fact that Perry did not have to teach classes freed him up to take care of Rhonda and the boys during the most difficult period of Rhonda’s illness. In addition, we’ve seen God provide for us financially despite having a tremendous number of medical bills. Some of the stories of God’s provision in this area would require more space than we have here.
*Although our families live far away, they also sacrificed their lives by coming to visit and take care of Rhonda and the boys while Perry took various research trips to study Christian higher education in Europe. It’s wonderful to have such a caring and sacrificial family that gives of their time and resources in the midst of our need.
* Despite Rhonda’s illness the boys have continued to thrive and grow. They have become great playmates. In many ways they have benefitted from a mommy who was not distracted but very available for hugs, cuddles, and stories. Yes, it was hard when Mommy couldn’t take them school or come to their parties, but in the midst of it they have surprised us with their empathy. For example, Bennett once told Rhonda, “Mommy, I’m sad for you that you’re sick. I know that it’s hard to be in bed a lot.” And Cody often tells mommy that when he gets older he’s going to become a doctor and a cooker and take care of his mommy. We’ve also seen them learn how to take more responsibility at home and help mommy when she cannot clean or vacuum. They’ve been an encouragement and a good distraction during this time. We’ve both appreciated Bennett’s gift of humor and silliness in the midst of the weight of illness. Cody amazes us with his compassion and profound thoughts (e.g., Why did God give us bodies? Why did God make mean dinosaurs? There are three people who will always love you—God, your daddy and your mommy).
* In our marriage we’ve seen God use this illness to slow us down for both times with him and with each other. Having to stay home and say no to the many good activities that can fill your time has allowed us to enjoy more time together as a couple and a family. Not being able to go out on dates for a while, also sure makes you appreciate the ones we have now!
* From Rhonda: “But as for me, it is good to be near God, I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds” (Ps. 73:28). This sums it up well. God has become a very close companion to me. Is it possible to have peace in the midst of adversity? Does having a relationship with God make a difference? Is the Bible applicable to our lives today? I can now confidently say yes, yes, and yes. Without God’s Word and others people’s stories testifying the same, I know that I would have easily been fearful, anxious, depressed, and discouraged. Instead, I have had to deepen my understanding of what it means to walk by faith, trust when I couldn’t see, and choose to remember the ways that God has and is faithful to me. Through this time my compassion for others has deepened and my prayer life is so different. Yes, right now I cannot physically serve people as I used to, but I have learned that it is just as important to serve them by interceding in prayer. In fact, it is a great privilege. I have become very thankful for the things that we often take for granted like going to church, driving, going out to eat, and even going to the store. My learning curve has indeed been steep, but I am grateful for all that I have learned and I am praying for grace, wisdom, and strength to apply it.
This Christmas we not only celebrate God’s faithfulness through Christ but also the many other gifts he gives throughout our lives. Thank you so much for your prayers