Saturday, December 29, 2007


It was a wonderful Christmas day. It has been a wonderful Christmas season. With the additional families we are a part of this Christmas, there have been more celebrations to attend. That’s good. These gatherings have proven to be a good way for Lisa’s children and my children to get to know each other on a deeper level. I am thankful that God continues the work of bringing our families together. Any of the potential “rough areas” of our relationship, He seems to be making smooth.

One of the parties we attended on Christmas day was at my Mom’s house. It was basically my Mom, my sisters and their families and Lisa and her children, and the five of us. We had a great time and, of course, more fantastic food than we could consume in a week. We greeted each other. We exchanged some gifts. We played some games and had a great time. At one point during the day I was struck by the realization that nearly everyone there, if not everyone, had suffered through a loss, to death, of a very dear loved one. My Mom has lost all of her siblings and her husband, my Dad. My older sister’s husband has lost a wife to cancer. My younger sister has lost a daughter (18) to a heart defect. Lisa and her children have lost a husband and father, and the kids and I have lost a very dear mom and wife. Despite all of that, despite all the pain, the sadness, the fear, the questions, the loneliness we’ve experienced, we celebrated. We were able to celebrate what God has done through His Son, Jesus, entering this world.

I guess, through healing, I’ve come to believe life is for living, life is for the living. A year ago, I know I dwelt, almost continually, on what I had lost and knew I could no longer have. This year God has shown me that my life is still overflowing with blessings, I just needed to notice them and name them.

As we were “partying” on Christmas day, I could not help but think that our deceased loved ones, Julie, Phil, Dad, and Carol, were in Heaven above smiling as we celebrate with laughter and fun. This time of year must be a thrilling time in Heaven when our loved ones, who are truly now living, see us celebrating Christ’s earthly birth and know better than any of us what that birth truly means for humankind.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Once again I have failed to send out a single Christmas card (yet). But if I had, the following would be my info letter.....

Christmas 2007

Dear Friends and Family

It is my prayer that this letter finds you well and enjoying this advent season. This time of year is always exciting as we again focus on God coming down to humankind in the form of His Son.

With nearly all of 2007 now in the rear view mirror, I can look back and say that God is good. For me, 2007 was a ton better that 2006 turned out to be. As I look back I can see the hand of God working at putting my life and the lives of my children back on a positive path. Thank you for the ways that you have supported the kids and me in the last several months.

Following is a little recap of our year:
In April/May I had the opportunity to serve God in Liberia, West Africa. I traveled there with a group of men to work on a new building for the Kingdom Foundation Institute. It was an amazing experience that really softened my heart to the struggles of the good people of Liberia. Shortly after returning from that trip God blessed me with the gift of a relationship with Lisa Van Harn. We had met sometime earlier at a widowed person support group and over the summer our relationship grew into something very special. In late November I asked her if she would become my wife and amazingly enough she said yes! We are both very thankful for the opportunity to love, and be loved, again in our lives. Our wedding is planned for February of 2008.

After moving back home and living with Dad for a time, Amy bought a house this past summer. She received possession of it in late August. After that she and I and a host of kind volunteers completely renovated it. She was able to move into it in November. Amy is still working fulltime for Hillside Community Church as the Children’s Ministry Director. Her gifts of music and creativity continue to amaze me.

Love is truly in the air. My middle daughter, Sara, is also engaged. She and her fiancé, Josh Campbell, are planning a June wedding. Sara is in her final year of nursing school and is looking forward to being finished with that phase of her life. She continues to have a gentle nature and a heart for missions. Sara works for Spectrum hospitals and continues to work at the A/V dept. at Calvin College.

Matt is a film nut, (or pretty much just a nut). He is attending Compass Film Academy. Compass is a film trade school where students learn all aspects of making films, story telling, direction, and etc., all from a Christian perspective. He is enjoying it very much and is working very hard at it. In his “spare time” he is working at three part time jobs to try to keep up with his expenses.

We all wish you, our friends, a very special holiday season. Remember to let your loved ones know how special they are to you.

Best wishes for a GREAT 2008!

Fred Vail