Rejoice I say, rejoice. I feel a little like Paul in writing this letter to y'all; so it's probably no coincidence that before my mother decided on a name for me she narrowed it down to two: Philip and Paul. I'll be the first to admit I am about 1% the man Paul was...which is probably why I ended up with the name Philip :)
When I reflect on 2008 I get two responses. One is dark and gloomy and much a response to what I hear on NPR and other news sources and it involves failing companies that have been around longer than my 86 year old grandfather, a financial industry that was driven by greed which led to its collapse and then bailout, politicians promising to bring change and in my own backyard a flailing auto industry whose top executives each fly to Washington on their own private corporate jets begging for money to survive.
Although 2008, for me personally, provided the most unexpected news of my life I can look back on it and say honestly that I have not seen in any other year more blessings in the lives of those I call family and friends, who have remained steady and true in acknowledging that Jesus is the source of life and the source of their existence. Yes, there has been a lot of noise with the economy, but here's a quick list of the blessings from 2008 of my valued friends:
- The Gritters have a successful transition to Philly as Sarah lands her top residency placement and Tom sees continued growth at McKinley even with the housing market collapse and was granted the opportunity to work remote full time.
- The Balazers see the arrival of their second darling girl Annabelle as they finish up their three year stint in Chicago before Andrew kicks off his legal career with an awesome opportunity in Detroit
- The McCollums (great friends from Charlotte) make a decision to give up the American dream for a year in Malawi, Africa to spend time caring for children who live in the third poorest country (start 7/2009). Amidst this commitment to go to Africa, Daniel was promoted to Consulting Manager even with the company's owner knowing that he will only be around for six more months. Jamie also landed a wonderful teaching position this year and was able to complete her degree!
-The Bajenarus entered into full-time ministry work with their church and are anticipating the arrival of their second child.
- The Brabbs Seniors (my parents) spend a year in India which allowed them to pay down all their debt. Just prior to the shootings in Mumbai my parents were told by their employer that due to budget cuts they would not be returning to India.
- The O'neills: Double up their efforts at growing their family with twins that are due in 2009.
- The Bromleys: After a challenging 2007, both Don and Julie see promotions at their jobs and just recently experienced the arrival of their second daughter, Brynne.
- The Botts: Sam continues to dominate his "smart people" exams and they too experience the arrival of their second daughter, Ingrid.
- The Lynns move back to Ann Arbor after Kevin is able to land a job just miles from their new home which now includes 3 after the very recent birth of Monica!
- The Jominys see their twin boys who arrived early live a healthy first year as Brandon finishes up his two year stint at the Harvard Business School.
- Mark Spencer (the only single dude) is blessed with the opportunity to travel on two missions trips (New Zealand & Guatamala) while he completes his first full year in the Corporate cubicle, where he takes no time to rise to the top and also is given the opportunity in the training department. I won't make mention of the girl....although I guess I just did. ;)
- The Brabbses finish construction on their home, Iris sees her first year and Ocean (and Cassie for that matter) survives his Terrific 2's. Also, just last week Phil was offered a new position that provides new opportunities at his current employer, while finding the time to move his side software project along.
On the news each day we are repeatedly reminded how bad things are at home and in the world. This message is an interjection and objection to that message. 2008 was very challenging and difficult for many, and I can relate to that message. BUT, I think as we count our blessings and review the work of our Father in our lives this past year, our joy will not be stolen.
I am not trying to dismiss the cancer in our world, nor the cancer in my body. But it would be wrong to dismiss all the good that God poured out on us this year, all the good He continues to pour out on us and all the good that He promises to always pour out on us.
Thanks for keeping me engaged with your lives this past year. I think about all of you regularly and I am always thankful to be able to share in the joy and hope God passes through you!
2009 should be a year of parties, because there is so much to celebrate from 2008. May you have the strength and awareness to continue to acknowledge the Father in everything you do and everything you become in 2009.