Our Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas!

Life is slow and quiet in this neck of the woods.  Cape Cod is beautiful in every season and we enjoy puttering around, walking the beach, and exploring sandy back roads.  The Bible Study group we hadn't been to in two years has started again, God has blessed us with friends who've become like a second family, and we often have meaningful work to throw ourselves into.

We look back and see how the pandemic has deeply impacted our lives ... months without being able to spend time with my mom in the care facility, many months that we couldn't see the girls and their families.  Five family members getting covid.  Doing church curled up on the sofa in front of a screen.  People we care about ending up in the hospital, some going home to heaven.  

Whenever Habitat was up and running, Tim's been there.  He's always ready to roll when he can help with odds and ends at church, head up to Camp for a work weekend, lend a hand to other people's projects, hang out with a coffee drinker or two, and keep a watchful eye on whatever's happening in the neighborhood. 

I've spent much of the year quietly listening to countless stories from women of all ages - leading support groups, blogging, sitting by the fire cradling mugs of tea, spending a week counseling those in overseas ministry via Thrive.  

I've been struck with the reality that even though circumstances might be vastly different, the heart of those stories has been the same.  Stress from being separated from people we love, inability to be out and about like we used to, lack of purpose, fractured relationships, too much isolation, and the endless confusion and unfortunate disputes over vaccines, masks, mandates, gatherings, schooling.  

All leading to a distinct undercurrent of sad frustration mixed with a continuing low-grade anxiety.

Thankfully, stressful times can stretch our faith as we realize {again} how little is in our control and how deeply present and compassionate God continues to be.  That He doesn't change like 'shifting shadows' continues to be a great comfort and a firm foundation as we make our way forward.  

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 
{2 Timothy 1:7}

The blog recently morphed from random posts into a weekend newsletter.  It's been fun to do life with a diverse yet united group of readers who value their relationship with Christ.  The continuity of writing over the years has kept me sane and connected during times of transition and loss, and I love the 'iron sharpening iron' relationships that have developed with people far from my own zip code.  

I'm looking forward to working with Thrive again this spring.  And we're kicking off a brand new Stephen Ministry at the church and plan to begin training about a dozen gifted caregivers in the next month or so. 

More than ever, we really appreciate whatever family times we can pull together although it's never often enough.  We've yet to find a more entertaining group to hang out with.  The kids and their parents are so much fun {usually} and the endless energy brings us such joy {until we've had enough and need a nap}.

Our dreams to travel around the country, maybe head to a tropical island, or take that long-awaited jaunt to Scotland have quietly been shelved but all will be well.

Thanks for the love and encouraging words you've sent our way in recent months.  We often sift through the wealth of memories, remembering the laughter and milestones and challenges we've shared with you along the way.  Maybe our paths will cross again some day?

Trusting Him  ~
Tim & Linda

If you want to keep in touch, you'll find me here at LindaStoll.net.  I'd love to enfold you into this supportive community!

P.S. #2
Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus