It’s that special time of the year again when we remember and celebrate with thankfulness the central meaning of Christmas, exchange greetings and news with family and friends, and enjoy some of the family stuff – this year with one of our children’s families. And when that’s all we look back in review and much gratitude, and forward with our trust in God’s faithfulness in all circumstances.
We have enjoyed many things in 2013. We started the year with three Melbourne trips, each for celebratory reasons (a baptism, an anniversary and a home move for our son and his little family there). Then we had 3 rich, productive, and reminiscing months in Tasmania while our Adelaide (home) daughter and her family and their two Labs looked after our house while they also made the move to a bigger better home.
The 2½ winter months we spent at home and were able to help welcome our 11th grandchild. In late August it was off to Sydney (another baptism) and Brisbane (for one of our sisters’ 80th). We then in spent four weeks in the Western Australian Wheatbelt towns where we’d also served in 2013, helping out a colleague; while there we were able to catch up with several of our relatives in Perth, and to find and photograph some of the world’s amazing wildflowers for which WA is famous. The last quarter we’ve been at home – other than the eight eye-opening days we travelled South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula with my brother and his wife. The last days of this year we have spent away from home again for almost the first time we can remember: after 40+ years of being committed to “our” church at Christmas time it was fun to spend Christmas with our family in Sydney, and early in the new year we plan to travel home via Canberra and Melbourne for more family time.
Phew! So much travel, the length and breadth of this huge country. There have been times this past year when we wished we could just stay home for a while! But we also enjoyed it, not only the travel and sightseeing, but being part of God’s work in churches and our children’s families.
And people still ask us, “Are you enjoying retirement?” We are very grateful to God and our family that despite our choice to work with on a fairly modest income we are able to do so much with our savings, assets and our little share in Oz’s wealth. But for how long? People keep urging us: “Do it now!”
Because 2012 was already a lot like the above, we decided that I should retire from my last paid work as a day per week chaplain with the aged care services organisation I’ve been part of for 17 happy years. So since February we have been free from work commitments and free to serve where, when and as we choose. When we are at home we both continue to volunteer in various ways in aged care and with our church.
Despite needing lots of water and TLC, our garden is looking good, thanks to our joint efforts. Helen does a tremendous number of things for our family near and far as well as her involvement with two choirs. I spend a lot of my spare time at the laptop, reading the online news analyses, sorting photos, chasing shipping history, researching and writing for my two blogs. The medical is a special interest, off-beat for most people, but it gets tremendous numbers of visits (50,000 in 3 years and constantly rising) and many heartening responses.
Our children and their families remain well, enjoying health, their chosen mix of employment and family time, and each in their own way committed to honouring our Lord.
Our health and fitness remain yet another reason for thanks, although we do notice that the years have taken their toll. Helen exercises and I walk daily and during the summer months we also swim.
Seeing the wonderful blessings that we received during this year doesn’t mean that we don’t take time for introspection and pondering our own lives and life in general. One of the Christian leaders I read online quoted another this morning: “Most Christian ‘believers’ tend to echo the cultural prejudices and worldviews of the dominant group in their country, with only a minority revealing any real transformation of attitudes or consciousness. It has been true of slavery and racism, classism and consumerism and issues of immigration and health care for the poor.” Although this was written in the North American context, it is true generally, as we notice so often when we discuss public issues and priorities in Australia.
Helen turned 70 in October. A good time to reflect once more on what God has given us as a family in our heritage and calling. Our four parents were each in their own way godly people who looked to God for their life direction, daily strength and future hope. They had a firm recognition that God made this world, came to rescue it and will see it through to the end through Jesus – the Alpha and Omega. We pray daily that this heritage will continue through our children and grandchildren and beyond. The church as the representatives of God’s rule has always and continues to struggle with how to bring God’s good news. Yet that is its calling for every age. And ours too.
May God strengthen each of us in the coming year, in whatever way we have opportunity, to bless our families, our neighbours and our world.
With my Christian care, best wishes and prayers for God’s work among us –