Every year, kids write hundreds of letters to an old man with a white beard who allegedly lives in the North. And every year kids get thousands of presents with big red bows on them. I'm not a big present person. Well, I am. But not a holiday gift person. I melt over roses and cry when I get care packages filled with my favorite chilean candies (thanks Ash and Dani). But gifts that are given on holidays like Christmas and birthdays seem to be given more out of obligation than the heart. Chubs and I give each other gifts for those holidays, but always extremely late. Our Christmas presents are often in May, sometimes in June. But the presents are less about that holiday and more about the chance to give the other person that gift that you had worked on for a few weeks. I appreciate those friendships in my life that run deeper than gifts, indeed even deeper than time or distance.
Today is the 6th day I have spent in solitary confinement and it has been good. I have really just relaxed. Caught up on my One Tree Hill reruns (shhh.. don't tell anyone that I am secretly addicted). Gone to sleep at 4am watching the Catholic scholars debate some early church manuscript on some random topic. And spent a lot of time thinking. One of the things that came to mind during this welcomed imprisonment is the fact that the Lord has given me so much this last year. I consider these my Christmas presents for the year- given from His hand to me over the past 12 months. These are the gifts that I truly cherish:
- I started off this New Year on one of the most amazing vacations ever imagined. Travelling the beautiful country of Chile with my mom and Nigel. There was one part of the trip in particular in which my mom and I shared a moment that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. And I have the Kevin Johannsen cd to help me relive it.
- I got to see two of my best friends marry incredible godly men. Rachel. Chubs. I couldn't have asked for more godly men than the ones that the Lord brought to you. Rico. Dave. May the Lord bless you men as you love and serve these women.
- The friends I met this year astound me. Sarah is truly my sister and I don't know how I lived the last 24 years without her in my life. Michelle is "my fav!". I moved so far and so soon. I would be lost without her as my partner in crime.
- And of course the friends of old. Man, these girls never cease to amaze me by their love for the Lord and the way He uses them to touch my life and the lives of everyone else around them. Ashlee, Danielle, Rachel, Chubs. You have blessed me incredibly this past year.
- From a very young age I was infactuated with Israel. It was my dream to go there and see the land that my ancestors had lived and died in. When I was in college, I became oddly obsessed with India. I found a love for Bollywood and Indian food. This year, I got to visit both of these countries that I had dreamed of for so long.
-My dream of going to seminary came true. And not just any seminary, but Westminster! And all of my expectations have not been dissapointed. I still walk down the hallways pinching myself sure that I am living in a dream.
- This last year I experienced some of the greatest heartbreak. Yes, this was a gift. Every heart break I have experienced has been a result of my heart being attached to something the Lord needed me to give up. And looking back I see how faithful He was to take me out of and away from everything that served as an idol in my life. Many of these things may be restored someday, but for now I am placing my utter and complete trust in the Lord and His timing.
-One of the best gifts that I have received is the chance to spend time with my dad. The Lord has answered my prayers that I had almost considered vain and He has given me so much time with my dad this year. My dad has always been a very special person to me and although we have had our bumps in the road, it has been the greatest treasure to spend time with him this year.
To all of my family and friends, don't forget that the greatest gift we could ever receive is the restored relationship with the Lord that we have through Christ. His love runs deeper than the deepest pain of this life and is the ultimate fulfillment of any and every dream of happiness we have. God is good. He is faithful.