Christmas 2021

Sometimes we wait, patiently, for a miracle - and then, on other occassions, the miracle happens before you even ask.
The storm at the end of October was so violent that it uprooted the walnut tree. The extraordinary noise of the storm alerted our neighbour - who came out of his pigeon loft to see what was going on. The walnut fell at that moment. How it missed him is a miracle. The top of the oak tree was torn off, missing us by inches, falling in the lane. The top of another ripped the overhead electricity supply lines from their brackets. Tiles were being whisked off the roof. And yet no lives were lost, no injuries; we are so very grateful.
Seeing the immediacy of such protection - guardian angels, perhaps - makes it easier for hope to arise; it doesn't matter how long we wait for the next miracle.
Sophie, Matthew and Andrew have enjoyed recognition for their efforts to do good, work well and improve the lives of others. Andrew has worked hard - perhaps moreso than ever - and is working in Sheffield, looking after himself, paying his way and contributing to society. He catches up with Tim & Sophie regularly and often, building up even stronger, loving relations. He's also learning to drive with a manual gearbox; it's so encouraging to see how his co-ordination and wisdom have grown. We're all grateful for your support and prayers - the dividends are there for us all to enjoy.
There's been the joyful news of the safe arrival of another neice; Sophie & Tim have spent much time in Co Durham this autumn.
It's been a sad year in many ways; saying farewell to Khalid and to Jane - and again to Cynthia. We'll never cease to bless our food and each other, especially when vegetarian; learning to be so generous as people as well as with resources has been one of those richest blessings.
The freedom to travel has made it easy to return to regular visits to Ripon; much laughter at the family birthday in November.
Allison has combined exams officer with being senior administrator; cycling to work most days has the added benefit of leaving space in the school car park for others while the development works roll on. One of the special schools in the group regularly decorates one of the trees in the town's Methodist Christmas festival.
A more unusual benefit to lockdown and online living has been learning new songs via the Netherlands; we learnt
Zing zijn lied opnieuw by Opwekking before we heard Bethel's original and Eline Bakker's Abba seems to combine Dave Bilborough's classic with Matt Redman's Zephaniah 3.17. Our Dutch friends are generous in correcting our accents!
A joy, as ever, to collate and promote what's going on in the churches across the area. Once again, there's a chronological list of Christmas services via
www.ctspad.org.uk/christmas. The Googlemap covers most of the south of the county up to the A17 and A52. All there for the benefit of others.
With our best wishes for Christmas and the blessings on their way in the New Year

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