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Our Christmas Letter 2021

For decades we included an annual letter in our Christmas cards, with a couple photos and activities we were involved in during the year. Keeping it to a page, it was always a very skimpy overview. This year, we wrote personal messages to each recipient, then added a link to this blog, where you can read all of our activities in depth, along with a bunch of photos. We feel this is more informative. Hope you like this idea. Your feedback will be most helpful. From Jan:

I know everyone is all about looking ahead right now but I think it’s so important to take note of what you’ve learned this past year in order to move forward properly. 2021 had a lot of ups and a few downs and in many ways I think it was the prep year for what’s to come. Here are 7 things I learned or found great joy in doing this past year.

1) I learned the importance of starting the day with prayer. I knew this was important, but this past year I focused on waking up and immediately conversing with the Lord. I tried to begin the day with studying my scriptures but this I had a problem in being consistent. For me, studying the scriptures came more naturally in the afternoon or evening. Perhaps I need to have more determination in this area. 2022 will give me the opportunity m make that a topic of greater importance.

2) I re-learned that what is wonderful for someone else is not necessarily for me.

3) I marveled at and focused on the relationship I have with Shep as my best friend, sweetheart and forever love. Our marriage and love we share have always been one of the greatest gifts God has ever gave me and I am thankful for it. I love Shep more with each passing day. My sweet Mama was so correct when she told me just before our wedding "You think you love each other now but your love is nothing now compared to what it will be in 20 or 30 years."

4) I experienced great joy when we were able to gather with others and go to church, learn more about what Jesus has done and invites me to do as I move forward and share what the Good News is all about. Since I was a very small child I have loved going to church and am SO grateful to be able to do that now.

5) I am learning to pace myself and not just work so fast and so long that my body will be affected and painful for several days.

6) I am so blessed to have a relationship with God and with Jesus. I have always loved them and often felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. I searched for 17 years to find the church where I could feel their presence and deepen my understanding and faith in them. Following my baptism and confirmation as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I began feeling the guidance and love of God through His Spirit. Through the study of the scriptures I have been given a much deeper faith and companionship of the Holy Spirit.

7) I began to feel an even greater urgency to see or speak to my family and friends and share my love and appreciation for each of them. I love you and am grateful for the precious gift of your being a member of my family or a dear friend.

From Shep: As 2021 comes to a close, I would like to express that my faith in Jesus Christ and His Gospel has grown stronger this year. Our Sunday School lessons on the Doctrine & Covenants, along with some amazing online study materials, gave me a deeper understanding of God, heaven, how much our Savior loves me personally, and the trials and struggles that were endured to have truth triumph.

I love reading the Scriptures. Every time I read them I gain more knowledge. I love attending church each Sunday. For almost 20 months that was not possible, so now I see Sunday as an extra special day, because I can go to church again.

My relationship with Jan gets better every day. As you can tell from the posts, we are basically inseparable, and we love every minute together. I love my family, all of them, individually. We have struggles, as all families do, but my love is there for each of you. Our friends are valuable precious gems.

I hope we will see many of you this next year. If not in person, FaceTime works, and so does a text or phone call. This technology brings us close together, no matter how many miles separate us.

I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! May the Savior hold and keep you in His blessed arms.

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