Merry Christmas!!

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Dear family and friends!

Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday, Jesus!!

I pray that you are well, that your day has been wonderful & meaningful, and that God is blessing you in every way possible!! I pray that the busyness that can come with this time of year hasn’t squeezed out the innocence & purity of this season, and that your life is overflowing with the peace and joy that God intends for your life! I pray that you are caught up in the wonder and anticipation of a little child as we celebrate the birthday of our wonderful Lord and Saviour, Jesus!

Wow! It really is a wonderful time of the year! I LOVE it! I love that it’s a time for family and friends! I love that it’s a time that people are thinking & dreaming about peace & goodwill, and ways to make others lives better! I love that people are open to loving others and serving! I love that people’s hearts are open in very unique ways to receiving love and service! And I love that it’s Jesus’ birthday!! May we never forget that it’s HIS birthday, and not ours! May we remember that what whatever we do to the least of these we do to Him! Whatever we give to the least of these, we give to Him!

I’d love to say that I have had the privilege of carrying the cross a lot this year; unfortunately, I wasn’t able to walk as much as I’d like. In March, we received some bad news about my daughter, Hannah. Eleven years ago she received a kidney transplant. Thankfully, God has blessed her with good health since that transplant. During a routine check up, in March however, we were told that her body had started rejecting the kidney on two levels. Since that time, she has been in and out of the hospital. She has been stuck, poked, and pushed almost non-stop. She has had two minor surgeries, numerous blood transfusions, chemo and other treatments. She only has the one kidney and that kidney is functioning at only about 20%. The doctors have now put her on the transplant list. They are telling us that her kidney is good – her body just doesn’t think so. Soooo …. we’re praying that her body and kidney decide to speak the same language. We are asking God for mercy and a miracle!! We are praying that God will either (a) turn this thing around, or (b) help us find a donor. I don’t think that’s too difficult for the One who knows the stars by name and Who knit her innermost parts together while she was in her mother’s womb!! We’ve got our eyes on Jesus; our life in His hands; one day; one step at a time!! : )

I have never felt that I was to react to circumstances, but only to respond to God’s Spirit! That way, situations don’t control my life – only Jesus!! Soooo … since I wasn’t able to travel as much and be away from Hannah, I carried the cross a whole lot more here in the United States! The response was so beautiful and powerful! In many ways it rivaled what God has allowed me to see in other nations these past 27 years!

I did have the privilege of carrying the cross early in the year in Uruguay! It was truly awesome and glorious!! The trip began with one challenge after another! I had flight delays and cancellations. As I was told that another flight was cancelled, the gate agent suggested that I talk with my Boss and tell him that I wasn’t happy with what He had given me to work with. I smiled and reminded her that I work for Him; He doesn’t work for me! Then, she asked how I could still be so happy and she wanted to talk more! Since I now had plenty of time, we sat there and talked for nearly an hour as she poured out her heart and then we prayed together as she met my Boss!

When I arrived in Uruguay and opened the bag for the cross, I saw that the cross had been badly broken, again! It was in the same place it had been broken last year! Last year, someone had taken an axe to the cross and had splintered it. Because it had been so badly damaged at that time, the wood had been significantly weakened. I quickly made some friends who wanted to help me with my repairs, however, because of last year’s repairs we weren’t able to use nails or screws! We spent most of that 1st day finding materials (quite an experience in another language!) – wood glue, chewing gum, duct tape, cardboard! I think it was actually held together by prayer! At the end of that day, I was able to share with my new friends about the One who was broken for us on a cross so that our broken lives could be forgiven and made whole again! What an honor to pray with them and see God repair their lives! God truly redeems our situations!

While there, it rained … a LOT!! However, the rain didn’t seem to stop people from coming to the cross! In fact, one day the harder the rain poured down, it seemed that the more God’s glory poured down!! I took only 1 step that day and there was an unbelievable outpouring of God’s love, beauty & glory! I wasn’t able to walk, at all, because of the people!! They actually stood there and listened, or waited as the rain poured down!! It was the first time in 27 years of walking with the cross that I wasn’t able to walk! I was in the same place with people coming for over 10 hours that day – all in the rain! Jesus was touching and saving so many in such a precious way!! What an honor!!

One day, as I walked down the road, a van full of police officers stopped & wanted to carry the cross! Before they got back into their van, all of them wanted to say yes to Jesus! As I walked past a bar, I was invited to bring the cross in and they had me preach! At the end of that time many prayed! Another day, as I walked by a tall building that was under construction, the workers burst into a standing ovation for the cross!

As I write this, I have recently returned from New Zealand. Honestly, I think there was more openness and one of the most wonderful responses to the cross that I have ever seen in a western nation!! It truly has been an awesome and beautiful year!!

If God puts us on your hearts, we really need your prayers! We are facing some very significant challenges — in many ways. God knows. We trust Him!! Jesus said we can do nothing apart from Him. I know that so, so well! But I also know that we are truly dependent on your prayers in this time. Thank you so much!

May Jesus increase and we decrease; may He be glorified in every way! May He be our focus! May He be the One who is seen in all things!! May every person who comes to the cross know that they are precious and loved!! It’s not just me with the cross … it’s you; it’s all of us together seeking to hear God’s heart and wanting to put a smile on His face! As Jesus leads, we will walk on with the cross and the wonderful, but simple message of God’s love for all people to the nations. Thank you for joining us on this beautiful journey!!

We pray that God meets you and blesses you in a very fresh, real and special way during this wonderful season of celebrating Jesus’ birth!!! May you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with the wonders of God’s mighty power and blessings! May we never forget that this is Jesus’ birthday! And may we remember that God wants others to experience the joy and peace of His presence, also. May we all be a living reflection of Jesus and His love and compassion and may we care for those who are lost, hurting and suffering around the world.

Love, mercy and grace from Jesus Christ our Lord!!

May you have a blessed Christmas and wonderful New Year!!

God bless you!!
The Wheelers
Pilgrim followers of Jesus
Philippians 3:10

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”  Luke 2:14 NKJV