Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My 2016 Christmas Letter to You -- from Christine

Outside is a winter wonderland as I write this Christmas letter. What a sweet surprise to have so much snow around our brand-new house, that is tucked much closer to the mountains than our previous home.

2016 has been one of the most hectic years we have ever experienced. Back in
January my mum was busy knitting winter hats for the homeless, my husband David was working full-time at our local hospital as engineer, and I was pounding away on the laptop doing last minute edits on my first non-fiction book Finding Sarah Finding Me. As a family, we also experienced the grief of losing Ian, the dad of our beloved son-in-love, James. We all miss him so much. What a joyful singing voice Ian had for God.

By February, though, we were perplexed by the number of real estate agents who’d ring on the doorbell, asking if we were interested in selling our townhouse.

By March David and I had the idea that the Lord was nudging us ever so slightly. We started working on the house to show it off at its shining best, and I started to dig up my favorite rose bushes and shrubs (after they finished blooming of course) into pots for the eventual move. I’d dig, and my mum would bring me tissues to blow my nose from all the hard labor, and cups of tea to sustain me. It’s a two-man job.

By the end of April we were ready, and our agent showed our house in May. Four days later we had an offer we couldn’t refuse. Very quickly we found a new house a little farther east. A cute, smallish bungalow that we can share comfortable with my mum. It feels like a cottage, and I love it. Perfect for us old folks.

The month of May saw me scrambling like crazy to promote my brand-new
release, a historical romance titled Sofi’s Bridge. I feel badly—I really haven’t done justice to that book as far as promotion is concerned. But then—promotion—YUCK. It’s the bane of an artist’s life.  So hard to remain a human being if you’re always saying, “Hey, buy my book…..Pulleeeeeeeeeezzze.”

June !!!   Ah June. Last minute preparations that found my daughter, Lana, Granny, and me, making the burlap and lace aisle and table runnbers for my son Robert's wedding to his beautiful Sara. We all drove to Alberta in separate cars. Our car was loaded with pots of fresh lavender plants, wedding stuff, much of Robert's stuff he'd left behind at our house, as well as Charlie, our 2-year-old Welsh Spring Spaniel. I promise here, that I will never, forevermore, ever travel with that dog again. He insisted in sitting in my lap through the entire range of Rockies.

Granny flew in to Calgary, and we and Sara’s family all stayed in houses at the Canadian Southern Baptist College and Seminary. Whew. During that time, my son Kyle and son-in-love James helped David and I clean our son Robert’s old apartment, and move his stuff into Sara’s place. Talk about exhausted. But we were overjoyed to meet our new daughter-in-law’s family from Virginia, Pastor Julio and his wife Carmen, and family. One of the greatest joys in my life is to now be related to the Ruiz family. J  And the wedding was sublime. Overflowing joy.

July. Oh my word. July. We came home from the wedding, packed, cleaned, packed and cleaned some more, and moved to our new house. Once the inside of the house was reasonably set up, I started to dig my front garden. I had all those pots of roses and shrubs that needed to get into the ground long before winter set. By the end of August I had this done.
Granny and I moved rocks. Like a chain gang. I’d send my 76-year-old mother out with a red bucket—like any good Irish woman—and she’d toddle off to the unbuilt areas in the complex and load up her pail for our garden. We dug one rock the size of a giant dinosaur’s’ egg out of the front yard, and planted the lilac tree in that hole. Thank the Lord, my sister-in-law Michelle found me a $10 wheelbarrow on an auction site, and that’s made the whole chain gang business so much easier on Mum and me. But the garden is starting to shape up. 2017 we will work on the back garden. I’ll have Mum digging holes for the trees in no time.

In the middle of August, I was once again scrambling—at the same time as rock
digging—to promote the release of a second book this year, Finding SarahFinding Me.  Again, because I was so busy digging my new rose garden I have not done a proper job on promoting this book either.

But also in the middle of August we had the joy of our very first granddaughter being born. Kyle and Crystal had no idea that I had used the working title Just Like Hannah for my non-fiction book. So what a joy it was when they decided to call their little girl Hannah, just because they liked the name. Talk about serendipitous.

Late September David and I took a 10-day trip to Alberta to visit Robert and Sara, and I spoke at 2 Christian Women’s Clubs (Drumheller and Disbury) and at a book club at Unity Baptist Church in Red Deer.

We also squeezed in a short fishing trip for David.

October, we drove home and put on Thanksgiving dinner for our all our kids and family. And oh how I love my kids. All of them. Pleased as punch that David and I now have 5 grandsons and 1 baby granddaughter.

After that, I took a long rest. Oh my word, did I need it. So did David and my mum.    

November, Mum and I drove down to Washington State to visit my birth-daughter Sarah and her hubby Mark and the two baby boys. Note that this Sarah has an "h" at the end of her name, a slight difference to my daughter-in-law Sara's name. 
I am so honored and thrilled to pieces that my birth-daughter Sarah has her little boys call me Nanny Chris. What a joy to see my first-born’s children and to play with them. It is one of my greatest joys to have grown children and grandchildren.

By November I started back to my writing career which has stalled due to the busy-ness of this past year. David continues to work steadily at his engineering job in the hospital, and we recently attended a seminar for people retiring in the next year or 2. We can’t possibly be that old already. Can we?

And Mum found her knitting needles and has started again to knit toques for the homeless and baby toques for Prolife, while I, in the living room, pound away on my laptop once more.

As we look forward to 2017, we pray that we will continue to serve the Lord with whole hearts.

It is my particular prayer, that I especially will grow more and more in love with Christ, and love my neighbor as myself, as Jesus instructed. These days in the news Christians seem to get such a bad rap. Too bad people only hear those voices that do not speak the way Christ wants His followers to speak. Real Christians are busy, head-down, hard at work to relieve the suffering of people in missionary work, or in churches, and speak words of love to bring comfort to those who are hurting.
As I finish off this Christmas letter, I bow my head and pray for my friends, that the Lord will draw you close to Himself. That you come to know Him in truth. That you let him shine His face upon you.

Hugs for now, have a wonderful 2017. I promise next Christmas letter will be much shorter.


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