Eight months since I last wrote anything here but I plan to get back to regular posts very soon. I wanted to mark this Christmas time with my thoughts, my thanks and my prayers to every one I know and to those who read my blog but whom I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting.
The last months have seen us celebrate a family wedding, a birth and a graduation. As a family we have also shared our loved ones difficult times of ill health and anxieties in some of the problems life has thrown us.
I am delighted to say that my beloved sister, who had been diagnosed with another small breast cancer, has had successful surgery this morning, (yes Christmas Eve!) and has returned home to enjoy Christmas with us. She will undergo further treatment in the New Year but her strong faith and courage has been an inspiration to us all and she has brought hope to so many others.
My brother, who suffered a mild stroke last week, is well on the road to a full recovery. So, for a while, we can all relax and take time to appreciate the precious nature of life and our family relationships, with thankfulness for the care given by our NHS, and gratitude for the love and prayers of friends and family near and far.
I also want to say how deeply grateful I am for all those who have supported me this year, emotionally, financially and prayerfully. I feel incredibly blessed to have so many wonderful friends who are always there for me when I need them. I don’t know where I would have been without my sister and my two gorgeous daughters.
My girls are an immense source of comfort, joy, fun and pride to me. Their love, care and concern, as well as the reality checks, sustain me through all that happens. Our love for each other is shown in so many little ways as well as the big gestures. I never take our relationships forgranted and hope that they both know how much I love them.
I have been privileged to share some of the heartaches and tears of others, friends who have lost loved ones, clients that I have counselled and friends whose lives have been turned upside down. You are all in my thoughts and prayers as I write.
Reflecting on the year that is drawing to a close I find myself thinking that despite the shocking and often terrifying events that have shaken the world in the last year there is still much goodness about. The triumph of the human spirit over adversity keeps us humble.
Its our humanity that connects us and as one person to another there is more that unites us than divides us. In her talk last weekend my friend Elaine said that “… forgiveness is the key to the handcuffs of hate…” Easy to say and sometimes almost impossible to contemplate.
That’s why we celebrate the birth of Christ, He came to enable us to receive forgiveness and to teach us how to forgive others. As I said, easy to say but so hard when we’ve been wronged, betrayed, hurt. No one can make us do it but I can testify to how freeing it is when you no longer carry the bitterness around with you.
The following prayer came to my attention at the end of our nativity service, beautiful words and a hope for the future.
Help us to remember the birth of Jesus that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be your children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake.
(Robert Louis Stevenson)
Thank you for everything you have blessed me with. I wish all of you a peaceful and love filled Christmas, and pray that the year ahead will be kind to you.