Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas! A Christmas Letter for 2012


It has really been years since I wrote a Christmas letter. After a while it seems like there is no way to catch up so how do you even start? Instead of catching up I’ll just tell you how we are right now and send you our love!  Where I come from that ‘dawg’ will hunt.

Jimmy has become a fine carpenter. He started out "pushin a broom in an 8x12 4 bit room" when we first came to the south. He has progressed to finish work and has a partner and they keep each other entertained with dumb jokes and manage to make an income. It’s amazing really. They even look alike. If I had planned this letter this is where I would post a little picture of the two of them and center it in the middle of the page. However this is not planned, in fact this is late because it is December 21st ( just in case we had the end of the world?--ONLY THE FATHER KNOWS!) and I haven’t even addressed the first envelope, so no picture. Just imagine if Jimmy had a brother who looked like him, and talked like him and made jokes like him; sometimes worse! That would be Don, Jim’s southern best friend. 

I have not been employed which embarrasses me but it’s unavoidable. Years of steroids for asthma took their toll and I have had to pay my dues with orthopedic issues; nuff said. BUT the good news is you can’t keep a good girl down or a hyper one either so I manage to keep busy and volunteer my time. It seems God gives me an assignment every day of my life. I might not have a plan but I will have a job to do before the day is done. I have been teaching a ladies Life  Group class which is the new terminology for Sunday school. It is multigenerational and the women have named our class the MsFits, if you need a home you’ll fit in with us. We have a diverse group of age, race, occupation, life situation, and God blends us into a cohesive and loving group.  These ladies are the highlight of my week and it is my humble joy to lead them. God shows up big for all of us faithfully every Sunday in spite of the teacher.  

Through some friends of ours that we met when we first came to MS I have started being involved in an inner city ministry downtown called We Will Go  And this ministry has stolen and broken my heart.   It is amazing to see what God has accomplished with one couple who would say yes to Him and do the unthinkable; move their little family into the heart of the ghetto. Seven years later there are two camps many renovated little houses, a pavilion for church, a food ministry, clothing ministry, mission’s bases overseas and many lives transformed by Jesus. Former drug lords are now serving others and travelling overseas to share their own story of what Jesus can do to transform a life! The whole thing has me shoutin glory to God or on my face having a snot slinging cry. God has placed a call on my life to this ministry and you can pray for Jimmy and me to be united in this. God’s will be done!

Our kids are all alive praise God. They are making their way in the world. They are old enough to write their own Christmas letters and share their own stories. What we get are photo cards which I love and they stay on my refrigerator all year being changed when the new ones come. Now you know how often I wipe down my refrigerator door.  Oh well, when my life is over it really isn’t going to make a hill of beans difference how clean the house was.

Jimmy and I have been seriously discussing downsizing.  We didn’t plant a garden this year. The zinnias came up on their own. In fact between perennials and annuals that reseed themselves the garden happens by itself but still needs weeding and watering.  This yard seems bigger every year and so does the house and the amount of energy it takes to keep it up is more than either of us want to give.  I have really lost the desire to have a lot of stuff and if most of my things hadn’t come from my family I think I’d have one big garage sale. This will work itself out over time and hopefully this year!  We’d like to sell in the spring, when we can sell the garden with its nice house.

Kayla is home for Christmas and we haven’t seen her for 3 years and we are so glad. There aren’t words really for how we feel to have her home!  Heather is our joy she is awesome. Jen and Lindsey and David have become good southerners and Jennifer has been so supportive of me and such a loving daughter. I can never thank her enough.

Jimmy’s batch is all good! We have such cute little grandchildren out in California it is a crying shame that we are separated. We can’t afford to go back so it would be over the moon cool if they all got the bug to live cheap and come our way. We could sure make somebody a good deal on our house DEREK !  Derek and Jamie go to our old church in Felton and live in the neighborhood we left behind. How is that for déjà vu?  Brandon and Mary bought (AMAZING) a house in California and have two gorgeous children together and her son Chris. Jamie is in the same place, with his faithful wife and man-cub of a son Austin at 16 is GROWN!

Shaunaus is out here near us and works all the time and if she is not working she is cooking something wonderful. She is an undiscovered chef. Her latest toy is a smoker. There is no telling what she will come up with. I just want to eat it.

My good friends moved to Felton and their son Conrad is going to Belhaven because of my blog. How is that for a small world? Meredith came to visit and I just couldn’t get enough of her. I love that girl! It is awesome how friendships made long ago grow and deepen and just get better. Distance can’t erase love. Time can’t erase love. In fact nothing can erase love, especially the love that God has given to us through Jesus. It is the love of God that binds us together. This Christmas I have been reflecting on how truly humbling it was for the God of the universe to consider his position nothing, and let it completely go. To be born as a helpless baby feeling hunger, needing everything and grow up to become a man; amazing. We tend to think of Jesus as half man half God but he was fully 100% man, and fully 100% God.  Part of his humanity though was growing by faith into the full realization of who he was and His purpose here. I really don’t think that Jesus had the master plan of the universe in his mind as a two year old. When you think about it like that, how it wasn’t an automatic ace in the hole, it’s really meaningful to read;  that he was tempted in every way just as we are and yet without sin.

(Sin…ewww did she really say that in her Christmas letter?) Yeah I did because I want you to know what “sin” means.  It’s simple, it means to miss the mark. If you are an archer and you don’t hit the bull’s-eye.  The target is holiness and the standard is set by God. Perfect holiness is the only A game and if you miss the target even once you lose.

How amazing is it that God set the standard and then made a way to give you a perfect game?

Jesus stepped in and hit the standard in perfection and then paid the penalty for all of our mistakes. Justice requires judgment and penalty. If everyone that was ever sentenced got off Scott free why would we even have a justice system? We have an inner compass that screams for justice. We want payment for wrongs especially other peoples. It’s harder when we take a look within. When we do look and we do remember, and we do regret, that is when Jesus steps in and says,” I took the judgment for that, I did your time.”  Jesus took it for everything, and everyone that is willing to receive it. What hurts me is that even if you don’t want it, he still took it. Every lash of the whip, every beard hair ripped out. In Isaiah it says he was marred beyond human recognition. He had to be God to survive to make it to the cross. He had to be God not to explode like a nuclear bomb with all that was heaped on him.  

He was born to die, placed in a stone manger in a miniature version of his future tomb that we may truly live and never die.  This Christmas it is our prayer that this Jesus who we love to serve and live to love, is the Lord in your heart and life.  It is the greatest news we have ever heard and the hope in our hearts.

 It doesn’t matter to me what is politically correct!  In Colombia I learned from the people that whatever is the most important thing going on in your life; that is what you talk about FIRST. Your first conversation shows the highest priority in your life. We can learn from that. I learned from that. This Christmas I am sharing with you the highest priority in my life, Jesus. He took my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh. He gave me a future and a hope.  He gave me peace.  I hope with all my heart you are celebrating his birth, life, death, resurrection and peace too. 


Love Karen and Jimmy

Sunday, December 16, 2012

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

 WELCOME to our cheery entrance! My cousin came over and did this and I think it's beautiful. My husband added some lights tonight, not our usual glitz fest like when the kids are home going berserk lighting everything that can have a light hung  on it but it's definitely Christmas.
 Inside too. Every year I cut cedar branches from the trees we brought here from California. We named them after them. Every year I tell the same story to my kids who can recite it now and ask me If I would like to show them where the trees are planted? Zing--- that makes me feel like an old lady.
I love the fresh cedar, it's not pine but it's free.
 Jennifer and the kids decorated the tree they did a beautiful job. Once that happened it got me started. As I went through my decorations. I thought I have way too much of these things, but then there are the ones that are so special.
 This one I bought in Mt. Hermon California at a crafts fair. I thought it was the cutest little baby Jesus. They used a miniature wreath and made this so simply. The end result just stole my heart. It was $1.
 My old nativity set has born around for longer than I remember. I bought some fancy ones a couple of times and didn't keep them. I love the Willow Tree nativity set but it's got a pretty fancy price tag. This is the one the children have put out year after year. This is the one that makes me think of Evie's song about the little shepherd in the nativity scene trying to get closer to see the baby. I make sure he can see.
 Jennifer made this out of tuna can in kindergarten. IT was the first thing she ever made for me at Christmas. She chose a bunny because her nick name when she was little was Bun-Bun or Bunzarellie. one if the ears is missing now.
 This tiny mouse in half a walnut shell is one of the cutest ornaments I have ever had. An old boyfriends mother gave it to me. I really liked his mother, she sent cute ornaments at Christmas. We were pretty serious and when we broke up it hurt his parents. It broke my heart but then I ended up finding my true love. I hope he did.
 This little doll was made by old ladies in the very first nursing home I ever had a job in. I was 22 years old. That makes this sweet little doll 34 years old she looks great don't you think? In my mind I see Anna smiling, drooling down the stroke side of her mouth while she is making this. I have never forgotten those old women from my first job. I treasure the few of these I have. To someone else they aren't anything at all, just a little out of style trinket. For me it's a memory of other lives and days long past.
 My daughter painted this her first year back here. All my kids are such good artists. Wish I was. I think it's so cute. It'll be a keeper and come out every year.
Jennifer gave me a set of ornaments about the 12 days of Christmas and I put the entire set on a small tree in the dining room. I love the meanings of each of these symbols, especially the two turtle doves taken to the temple as an offering for the baby Jesus.

This season has been unique for me. I haven't been to the mall even once. I ordered some gifts for the little grand children in California off the Internet.  I stood in line on black Friday for the first and last time to buy a printer that we needed. I got the great idea of renting a kiosk next year and selling coffee and hot chocolate to the people standing in those lines for hours. Ka ching!

This year I have been giving away my own special treasures, and found a lot of things that are really nice to give away for free.  I still had plenty of jewelry to share and good books on the shelves. I am maing aprons.
If Christmas is about giving why does that mean shopping? Don't we have plenty to give?  I thought of children who need one pair of shoes so they don't injure their feet in the dump while scrounging for something to eat. I thought of clean water projects, and changing the course of a families life by buying them a couple of chickens or a goat.  These gifts just seemed so much more for the Christ child. It is His birthday we celebrate after all. Who else has a birthday where every one else gets the presents? As sweet as the lord Jesus is he doesn't begrudge us our presents. He enjoys the smiles of children.  It was just more important to me this year to relieve some misery in the world, not because of me,  I think I am finally beginning to just see.  It's amazing how when we stop our own, "I want," talk and look around at how much we already have, how much easier it is to see those who have nothing.

I haven't been blogging because I don't even know where to begin. Last year I watched my friend Elysa have a house fire, rebuild her home, get called to Africa, downsize like crazy, give away all her animals and move to a ministry in inner city Jackson with her husband and seven children. She left a country hobby farm and moved into a rebuilt crack house.

 Someone wise said, "Look around and see where God is working and join Him in it."  You don't have to start a project. God is busy. Look around and see where He wants you and say yes.
I started going to this ministry in the ghetto. Now I am watching as God is showing us to down size, to sell our house , to relocate our animals and get ready to go wherever He asks us to go.
It's an amazing process.  We have begun the journey. I know we are on the right path because I am not afraid, not even a little. I know it is right because I don't have any emotional need to hang onto things that have always held on to me.  I am actually excited, very excited. It is like I have been waiting all of my life to begin to live and now this year, this special Christmas, we are being born.
We are getting ready in so many ways. Ready to see our family, ready to share gifts, ready for change, ready to serve, ready to have the most excellent adventure.

Like Bilbo Baggins who stepped out his door....