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Merrrrry Christmas!

A Very Blessed Christmas to you all!

I still get so excited this time of year! As if I become a kid again. This Season renews me. The cold air invigorates me, the way a room feels extra warm when you come in from outdoors, -even the "usual" coffee tastes better! Well, the weather blessed me twice in 3 days this Fall, once with warmth and once with snow:

I had already "winterized" my motorcycle, but I have 2 rules about riding it: (1) It must be 40+ deg and (2) Not raining! Well, Sat. Dec 7th qualified, so I took my 'bike

out for a final run as the temperature was a balmy 44degrees. Then,

on Sat. Dec. 9, it snowed! I actually went XC Skiing on the Windham rail trail that Sunday! ---------------------------------->>

I only lasted 22 min. on the trail for the first time out but it was so delightful. My body was just craving that exercise! I do hope that we have a White Christmas!

Well, I had tried to cut back on some of my church duties this year, but I've come to learn that the choir is a lot like the Mafia: "Once you're in it, you're in it for life!" I didn't know that when I joined the choir 20+ years ago! So I sang in the special/select choir for "Carols and Lessons" this past Friday. -Had a solo part and I absolutely "nailed it!" I was thrilled. Got a lot of compliments later that evening. Felt great about it. Although it was poorly attended, it was taped and will be on the local Salem NH cable TV channel.

I am also in several other ministries ( 6 so far.) in our parish. I met Fr. Tom in the hallway one day and he asked, "How do you keep going [with all of these ministries]? I quickly told him, "I take naps." He laughed -but it is True! I have been taking the "Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius" with Fr., Tom, ( a Jesuit) this fall. It will last for 30 weeks. It is an amazing program, and friends tell me that I am "always smiling and happy" since starting the program. I'd say that the most demanding one is the DivorceCare ministry; but it is also very rewarding. We see people in tears on the first week, emptying one tissue box after another and then, after a few weeks, they are smiling and laughing.

God seems to want to keep me in this area; I have had invitations to teach in distant states, and had a dream to travel out West, but he has made the past 2 years very easy for me. By that I mean: low stress. One of the counselors in my office building calls me "Mr. Zen" because I am always composed and peaceful. But why worry? God's in charge.

I have continued to downsize my life and even my Christmas decorations reflect this: I found a "Charlie Brown" Tree ------------>>>>

at the gift shop at Windham Junction Kitchen. (Love that place.) The tree is artificial of course, has LED lights at the end of each of the (few) branches, and it takes up very little space and still carries the message. -But two ornaments is the MAX for this tree!

I was going to attempt a "StayCation" this Winter instead of the usual XC Ski vacation in the No.Conway area, and ski in the North Andover Trails, but I have to go where the snow is and just now that is in North NH, not in nearby North Andover.

In November I saw some cooking done on the internet. It was a "time lapse" video zipping along without directions, so it took me about 4 weeks of trial & error and taste-testing to perfect it. I then offered it to the local rectory and now they want me to prepare it when they have a special guest at the end of the month! I'll take it as a compliment!

The office? Well, it continues to struggle. I figure that this is so that I can use this "transition" time in my life wisely, and not run-ragged. I'm grateful. Oh!

Actually, looking back at the past year, that is my theme.... just grateful. It's a good feeling. Like the word "HOPE" which cannot be used without referring to God, so too for me, "Grateful" is an immediate re-connector to God (for me, at least.)

May your Christmas Season be Glorious!


Dr. Joe

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