Happy New Year everyone!
I do know it’s not happy for everyone. Life is hard and always will be, but God is good and never will that change. Here’s an update on some of our very normal good and bad moments in January.
I’m resorting to a bullet list for this month’s letter as a simpler way to share a lot.
- 2022 began for us with another round of Covid. Dennis got a positive test result on the Monday after Christmas. That’s twice in less than six months, even with the vaccine. Equally amazing is that I didn’t get it either time! When I took my second test, the longer, more-accurate-they-say one, the nurse who called me with the results said I must have super antibodies. Who knows? Dennis finally started feeling normal on January 5, which also happens to be our Laura’s birthday. I always know he’s improving because he starts teasing again!
- His positive test and slow recovery meant cancelling our trip to attend the Weekend to Remember speakers retreat. Since Dennis and I began a team speaker approach to our marriage events in the late 80s, he and I had never missed one. This was to be our last official retreat as speakers. We hope they will invite us back one day to attend just for the opportunity to encourage the amazing team of couples who are committed to carrying on the ministry of strengthening marriages.
- Since my brother’s death in October I’ve spent more time paying attention to our small family farm, since Dennis and I live the closest. Late in the first week in January we drove down for the day and discovered the recent freeze had broken pipes in my now-deceased brother’s trailer in which he lived. Everything else was fine, thankfully. We got all the water turned off to every building, locked up, and came home with a to-do list.
God has so kindly provided the help we need to take care of things at the farm even though the nearest town is tiny and would appear to have nothing to offer compared to a city. Yet even in this small unknown place I’ve re-discovered and been encouraged by the old-yet-eternal values that used to be commonplace across our country. The woman who cleans for us after we stayed at the farm fell and broke her heel but chose not to sue us. She said it was her fault and not to worry. We went to visit her and checked on her often, took her flowers and food, and tried to demonstrate our gratitude and genuine appreciation.
Last week I asked her if she knew a carpenter who could fix the rotting deck stairs at my brother’s trailer. She volunteered her boyfriend, who refused to charge us except for supplies because we’d been so nice to her.
In the midst of asking God if He wants me to keep maintaining the farm or sell it, He is giving indications like this that He is in it with me for now. Next week I’ll be there while we get the foundation leveled, a much-needed job. And the man doing the work is someone I met standing in line at Home Depot. Another only-God story of provision.
- With Ever Thine Home I’ve been working to finalize our newest ebook, How Do I Love Thee?, a devotion on the 14 descriptors of love in 1 Corinthians 13, and creating several sets of cards for Valentines for our Etsy store. You can find them all here. We are also continuing the search for a managing director and doing a lot of planning and brainstorming for the entire year of 2022. I’ve never had an entire year planned on paper and I’m excited to see how it works … always subject to the leading of the Spirit, of course. He’s in charge, not us.
- Monday the 10th was the beginning of a new semester of seminary. I’m taking “History of Doctrine,” by Dr. John Hannah, who happens to be a long-time friend along with his wife and family. He has been the chair of the history department for a very long time and has an amazing wealth of knowledge.
Here is a link to a chapel message Dr. Hannah gave almost 20 years ago. It will give you a taste of his wisdom and it will be a big encouragement, a warm invitation to more time in your relationship with Jesus. It’s titled “Come Have Breakfast with Me.”
- I’ve mentioned in previous letters to you that I’m working on content about disappointment with God and why we can always have hope. I’m excited to see it developing into something I think will be good and helpful. It’s fun to be in this season of life as I see so much of what I’ve learned over the years—from teaching and reading God’s Word and from the experiences of life—come together into content like this. I’ll keep you posted on what it becomes. Once my editor friend and I get it organized and united, I hope to create some blog posts out of it. Stay tuned.
- I want to share a book I’ve finished in the last two weeks that I highly recommend. Consider this a new feature of my monthly Friends and Family letter; one of my favorite things. It is The Common Rule, by Justin Earley. It’s a very well written and wisely crafted set of “rules” for ordering our private lives so we aren’t so easily driven by the agendas of others. It’s all about making space for the important in our lives.
- Finally, we got a little snow on Saturday the 15th, and to savor it we went for a walk that night as it was falling beautifully in lots of wet heavy flakes. We are both terrible at selfies but here we are enjoying the wonder of a rare southern snow.
I hope you’re are enjoying these personal letters from me. I’d love for you to forward this to a sister, friend or neighbor and encourage them to subscribe to Ever Thine Home. That will allow them to receive this monthly update, be eligible for free downloads of our ebooks, and be the first to know about new things coming your way.
And don’t forget to watch your inbox on Monday for the newest ebook for personal devotions or for everyone in your family to join in together in learning how to love well. I think you’ll find the stories each day to be challenging and inspirational.
Happy Valentine’s Day and may you learn this month how to love more like Jesus Himself.
He is the Perfect Lover of our souls.