Years ago, my mom shared a brilliant Christmas tradition with me.
Every year, when I pack up my Christmas decorations after the season is over, I write a letter. It’s a mixture of memories, prayers and dreams.
I started this in 2006, and when Matt and I got married in 2012, he started writing one too. It’s incredible—and often funny—to see what we were thinking in the previous year. For example, my 2006 letter begged, “God, please let me go on at least one date next year!”
Well bless my heart. I guess that was a tough year in the love department!
We write about all the major things that happened that year and all the things we hope will happen in the following year. Then we date it and pack it away with the decorations. When we get our ornaments out of the attic the next Christmas, we sit down and read the previous year’s letters.
It’s always fun to read your thoughts from a year ago—thoughts you may not even remember having until you’re reading the words on the page.
Not many people are great at journaling (I’m definitely not!) but everyone can sit down for five minutes to write a letter once a year. Here’s the best part: When you go back and read them, in your own voice and your own handwriting, it gives you a bigger perspective and more appreciation for what God is doing and has done.
These letters tell the story of how far He’s brought you and all the prayers He’s answered. They tell of the moments when He protected you, even when you didn’t realize it at the time. The pages are full of testimonies of God’s faithfulness.
And they’re always good for a laugh as well. There will be some things you just knew were going to happen a certain way that definitely did not happen. (And, usually, thank God they didn’t!)
There will be other things you hoped and prayed for, and now you realize just how small those dreams actually were. What God did was infinitely more than what you could have ever asked or imagined.
So last night, Matt and I sat on our couch in front of the fireplace after unpacking ornaments and decorating our tree. As we sat there, surrounded by tissue paper that has been crumpled and uncrumpled many times, we read our letters.
Here are just a few highlights.
In the 2012 letter, I wrote a prayer about finding a house and being able to afford a down payment.
“Maybe we can at least afford something smaller, but it’s okay because it doesn’t have to be our forever house. I don’t know how we will do it … but maybe if Matt’s project sells then we could pull it off.”
Then, a year later in the 2013 letter, I wrote about how the project sold, we saved like crazy and were able to purchase a steal on an incredibly beautiful home that we will hopefully be in for a very long time.
In the 2012 letter, I also wrote about feeling God’s call to write and speak professionally, but I wasn’t sure what that meant at the time.
And then in the 2013 letter, I wrote about being promoted to a Ramsey Personality that year which was “so much more than I ever imagined.”
In the same letter, I wrote a prayer that I would become great friends with Rachel, update my kitchen and complete my business coaching certification through the International Coaching Federation—all of which happened this year.
Matt and I write our letters separately, in our own styles. Mine are about seven pages and Matt’s letters are about seven words! And we don’t read each other’s until the next year. Although we write them separately, I realized last night that we both wrote last year about wanting to start a family this year.
I sat there on the couch reading those words with my husband—the prayers of our hearts on the page from one year ago with my big belly sticking out below the letter.
I couldn’t help but fight back the tears at just how faithful God is, year after year.
So this year when the Christmas season is winding down and you’re packing up your ornaments, I hope you’ll find a few minutes to write your own 2014 letter.
Next year, and every year after that, when you open and read these handwritten notes, I know you’ll be as blessed as I have been. And I hope you’ll be reminded of just how good and how faithful our God is.