For those of you who are just meeting us, crazy Christmas Greetings have been our tradition since the kids were little. We’ve had creepy cards, inspiring cards, silly cards, and some meaningful cards too. Somehow, despite all that was going on we were able to pull one together this year. After the wild adventures of the past 6 months, the Wizard of OZ seemed fitting. Ian needed a heart like the Tin Man. Randy needed a brain like the Scarecrow. Micah, needed courage as he faced his own journey with muscular dystrophy. Kaiya, I wanted to make her Glinda because she always made my days sparkly. She wanted to be Dorothy even though I’m the one who really wanted to go HOME. Bop Bop and Nana, well they make a cute Oz and Wicked Witch of the West but don’t play those roles in our lives. (Yes, I did talk with Nana before making her into the witch. No, she is not like the witch at all. She’s probably much more like Glinda who can fix anything with a wave of her magic sewing machine.)
Here is the greeting we handed out this year. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t get one. We couldn’t get our mailing together. Randy is much more terse than I. His Christmas greeting is followed by a version Ian and I wrote together earlier this month.
Here’s a link to the that moment when tricky Glinda drops the bomb…
Dear Friends and Family,
2016 has been quite an adventure for us. 84 year old Bop Bop and 79 year old Nana had the healthiest year of us all. Dialysis, short stints of high blood pressure, ingrown toenails, Korean Soaps, Fox News, Senior Ministry and Crafts. Almost 80 and she has so much energy! And boy is she crafty.
In many ways people only search for the help of the Powerful Wizard like Oz when they have problems too big to solve on their own; a new heart, a brain, some courage, and a way home. What we want from Him is a quick fix! After our year we felt in need of a Wizard like Oz, but instead we found a Real Heavenly Father who makes all things better, even the hard times. Ian was diagnosed with severe heart failure on July 3rd. Our Father was hidden by a curtain of our own fears and desires. We learned to cast our burdens on Our Father and pierce that veil. What we found was happiness that can’t be taken away. We learned to trust God through Ian’s heart failure, hospital life, waiting for transplant, enduring the pain of transplant, and being humbled by the precious gift of the new heart. We will never be the same. We learned to Trust Him no matter the circumstances. We learned to enjoy the moment. Life is so precious.
In November, Randy, our earthly dad discovered a tumor around one of his acoustic nerves. And now in this Christmas season we have to grow accustomed to the fact that he will be as deaf as a sack of potatoes on the left side. (Potatoes aren’t like corn with ears, they only have eyes.) His brain surgery is scheduled for December 6th. Our desire to see him healed quickly could have blinded us to God’s goodness. Again He was asking us to trust him and not worry, so soon after another major surgery! Because we had practice though, we are prepared again to trust God. (You can read about the results of surgery here, 411: Tuesday Brain Surgery, Thursday Discharge?!?
Micah needs courage to face his own future. It’s terrifying to think about going through heart failure like Ian. As much as we want to rescue him from this worry, this too has been a part of his growth in 2016. We pray God would give him the courage to trust Him with every day. It’s a lot for a 13 year old to bear. He has matured so much while learning to manage his own things, study at the Hayashida Boarding School under the very skilled tutelage of Mother Theresa herself, be the big brother to Kaiya, and just miss hanging with Ian. He has grown courageous already.
Kaiya has grown up so much through all of our adventures. She’s missed home with all of her family in it. We pray she’d learn that her real home is in heaven, and that Jesus’s unending, never-giving-up, always-and-forever-kind of love is going to get us there.
Me, I just wish I had a magic wand to make all the problems go away. But the journey has been a faithful teacher. The results are priceless and all the affliction has taught us life altering lessons. I have learned from my hero, who lived through the death camps of World War II, “In darkness, God’s truth shines most clear.” – Corrie ten Boom. That much is true. The dark times full of questions and fears made God’s truths shine like homing beacons.
Like Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego, we put our lives into His hands and will serve Him even unto death, for it is He who will decide wether we live or die. When they were about to be burned those three youths knew that God could choose not to save them and they were fine with that, for our Oz sees all and is sovereign. Our Great and mighty King did choose to deliver us and for that we praise Him, but should we have died, our family would go on praising God’s awesome power. Should we only except good from God and not adversity? -Job. It is sick of us to praise a God who kills for no reason or for sport. He doesn’t do that. All things, even the darkest times, work out for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) We praise Jesus, who sacrificed all for our world and loves us more than anything we could imagine.
On Jesus’ birthday take your time giving thanks, even thank Him for the tests in your year which challenged your faith. They are valid tests.
On the big scheme of things, we are all in testing. It feels like suffering. Suffering produces endurance. Endurance produces character. Character produces Hope. And that’s when God’s love can be poured out into our hearts and make us new! (Romans 5)
He makes all things new, even our ways of living, thinking, feeling, and loving.
Merry Christmas and May God give you a Happy New Heart, Mind, and Soul in 2017!
EN and Jill for our whole Family,
This Sunday, father and son will be reunited on the worship team for the first Sunday in over 6 months!
If you find yourself without a place to worship this Christmas morning, please join us at Crossroads Community Church in Mission Viejo, Sunday December 25, 10 am. You’re always welcome!