Merry Christmas 2018!
Dear friends and family,
We’re thankful for another year of the Lord’s goodness! 2018 marks our first year as a family of seven (is that even possible?), five years in our house on Arrowhead Circle, six years in Florida, and thirteen years of marriage.
The year has flown by, as years are wont to do. Isaiah Brooks was born in June, on our anniversary, no less; and he’s been a constant joy to our family as all our children have taken it upon themselves to become his little parents. For those of you who are wondering: yes, five kids is a lot.
The music ministry at the church continues to flourish under the Lord’s gracious hand. The orchestra has grown steadily to around 25, and the choir loft is so far beyond capacity that we’re considering stacking singers vertically. All in all, I have as many opportunities as I can manage to write and orchestrate for such a gracious group of servant-musicians. It’s a joy to serve alongside every single one of them.
The Lord has also provided a wonderful team of leaders for our children’s choir program, which I have long wanted to see grow and expand. We’re constantly reminded that these children are souls before they’re singers, and we feel the burden of teaching them God’s Word through music, and praying for their salvation. It’s really a poignant re-calibration for all of music ministry: our measure of success isn’t the polish of the production, but the humility and Christ-like love modeled by the musicians.
I confess it’s a constant struggle to stay on target, for there are so many musical things we could do. But Paul reminds us in Colossians 1 that he labors with all his might to “present everyone mature in Christ.” How futile it is to try to minister in our own strength alone, if the goal of our ministry is that which only God can ultimately accomplish! “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1). Perhaps it’s revealing that our hearts love to retreat to external metrics because we perceive they’re easier to achieve. But the grace of a healthy church is that we’re constantly challenged to build with “gold, silver, and precious stones” that will endure the test of works (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
Our children are growing and growing and…. growing. We basically operate a food truck at this point. Jonathan is continuing to improve on the violin. He loves to read, draw, build, and play. He thinks deeply and asks hard questions, and he’s embracing his role as the oldest child. Heather is nearly as tall as he is, growing into a beautiful young lady, and she loves holding Isaiah… even when he’s announcing his displeasure to all and sundry. Ellie is a bundle of energy and personality, our most vivacious child by far, who’s never met a stranger. Owen is growing and changing too, talking up a storm, but his chubby cheeks show no signs of slimming down. And Isaiah is a generally happy baby who loves attention, grabbing faces, and (recently) yammering at anyone who will listen.
What can I write about my amazing wife? I can only marvel at the world of meaning in such a tiny, unassuming axiom: “Whoever finds a wife, finds a good thing.” Rachel serves and serves and serves again, wrangling the h̶e̶r̶d̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶c̶a̶t̶s̶ children with inexhaustible patience and grace. Her life is a constant reminder to me that the Lord’s kindness to us is undeserved. We’re thankful that, in the midst of raising small children, we’ve still been able to serve together in the music ministry.
Our fleeting earthly life is not about us, friends. We’re here to serve Christ and His church. For indeed, “[Christ] died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15). When we live that out, we can rejoice. And when we fail (daily), we can cast ourselves on God’s grace.
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase,
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half-done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
- Annie Johnson Flint
May you know the grace of our Lord this Christmas season, “who, though He was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich.”
With love and thankfulness,
Dan, Rachel, and family