Monday, December 20, 2010

a.k.a. "The Christmas Letter"

To my friends and family:

It’s that time of year again where we all look back on the year before and look with anticipation to the year ahead. This is also called “The Christmas Letter.”

This year has been one of the most incredible and exciting I believe I have ever had. Check that – I know it has been. This has been a year in which I have seen the work of God unfold in my life in powerful and unexpected ways and have seen His promises fulfilled.

It is a year in which I learned for the first time so many wonderful things – the top two being peace and freedom. My heart no longer carries the burden that so long weighed it down, and I can’t tell you what a tremendous feeling that is. Waking up every day after restful sleep, knowing that the torment is gone and that the empty space has been filled with His goodness…it is indescribable. And the peace that passes all understanding fills my heart so that I do not live in worry or fear (except of course in those moments I suddenly realize I’m not worried or afraid and desperately try to find a reason to be. I’m still working on that one).

The truth is, these are two wonderful gifts. And these, I have learned this year and now know. Not in the sense that I experienced them once or studied them in a book or heard about them from a friend; these things I now know because they are my constant companions. In those moments where strife tries to eke its way in, these companions step in and remind me to let go, to set myself free, and to be at peace. And I am. And God comes through for me with every surrender.

These gifts are joined by countless others. The gift of beauty in which I see in myself the masterful hand of my Father, who created something breathtaking in me. The gift of calling in that every day, I know more clearly what God is planning for me and the things He is already working on. Indeed, these things are many and good and what is to come is sweet and simple. Simplicity is another of the gifts He has given this year. Simplicity and stillness and the softness of a gentle spirit. Who ever could have imagined these would be His gifts to me? Yet, they are and I relish them, loving every day the woman He has created.

He has instilled in me discipline, a trait I am still honing. He has taught me that as wonderful and as good as these gifts are and as barely as I recognize myself, I still have the call to live not out of the good feelings and ability to breathe but out of the source of it all. (That still gets me in trouble sometimes – that sense that I could probably make it on the fumes of the good things, but I hunger and thirst for more of the good itself and find better discipline, more peace, and authenticity of spirit when I live out of His abundance.)

There’s so much more I could name, but these are the things that have defined this year for me. There are others, more earthly I suppose, and you might be interested in some of those.

This year saw continued improvement in my health. Strength and stamina are returning to my body, and I am pleased to do just about anything I desire. I have worked outside raking leaves and shoveling snow, played in the sunshine with Aeris and Damien, gone for walks and bike rides, and simply enjoyed doing the things that not so long ago seemed all but over in my life. Truly, He has healed me well, and I am excited to be moving forward with respect to my body and my overall condition but with trust and graciousness to the One who created this body’s wisdom.

This year also saw the completion of my third book (Recess with Jesus) and the first I am hoping to publish, though it also brought a tentative contract offer for the first. I thought it best to hold off on publishing the first for awhile, and the publishing house agreed to keep the contract on the table indefinitely. The truth is that the third book more hits at the stories God has put in my heart to tell, and it is perfectly my style. I am looking forward to having it published and am anxiously awaiting further news from the publisher’s desk on this one. In the meantime, I am gathering notes for my fourth and fifth books simultaneously and looking forward to the challenges of each.

This year came with an expanding and shrinking wardrobe as my baggy pants, too-big t-shirts, and flannel shirts made their way to Goodwill to be replaced by form-fitting items, curvy jeans, a new pair of cords, several awesome shirts (many in pink), a dress (yes, a DRESS…and I love it), and a new pink pea coat. My brown hat with feather and band are pretty swell, as well. Much better than that black newsboy cap I wore for much too long. (Why didn’t someone smack me?)

This year, I have learned much and had plenty of opportunity to work with my hands. Whether it has been working on my car, fixing things up around the house, or creating something visually appealing with my hands, God has given me plenty to keep me busy and to grow in my understanding of myself and His mercy.

A million other little traits that I am finding in myself pop to mind as I come to a close. This has been a year of incredible healing. Not just healing, but redemption and ransom. God truly has a heart for this daughter of His, and it makes me giggle. A lot. (Yes, I said giggle.) I have forgiven many people and restored many relationships. Some are works in progress, but it empowers my peace and my strength to know that I have no hate, no anger, no bitterness in my heart any more. Only love, and there are so many who I may have never been able to love before who now have the fullness of my love. That is by the grace of God. And it includes myself, the toughest of all to forgive. As God and I have spent the year wrestling and uncovering His gifts and promises in my life, He has prompted and prodded and pleaded and even screamed at me to set myself free. I have answered, and I am free. In forgiveness. In beauty. In strength. In grace. In gratefulness. In mercy. In peace.

There have been some tough decisions and many tough moments, but such is life. Through it all, this remains: I am God’s precious daughter, beautiful and blessed, restored and redeemed. 2010 has been an incredible year, and one I will never forget because its friends and memories move on with me to an even more promising, more beautiful, more unspeakable 2011.

I will close with this, even as I am turning it into an art project for my walls. In 2011, there are but three things I hope to remember, to live by, and to love by:

Live a life worthy…worthy of God’s call on my own life and His perfect plan for me and worthy of all He has given and gifted me with, His precious redeeming work.

Be fully that…which God has called me to be and nothing more. And nothing less. And no one else.

Let your life speak…and nothing else requires words.

I’m looking forward to 2011 and doing something beautiful in this world. That is where He is pushing me, pulling me, leading me, and I can’t wait.

With peace and blessings and the fullness of love,