As usual during this time of year, my wife and I end up commenting on how quickly the holidays have come upon us again and try to remember what actually happened during the blur of time passed.

We always start with the big events. Memorable vacations. Personal milestones. Business successes. Changes in our daughter. Playing basketball again after breaking my ankle a year and half prior and completing my first 360 dunk (kidding…I can barely touch the rim).

Once we have exhausted this list (and paused to make sure our little one has not woken up and is coming to break up our reminiscing party), we dive deeper and start to discuss all the people we have been able to connect with this year.

We have met and grown closer with several people from our church, engaged with family members on a deeper level, and developed bonds with people who have been the targets of continuous prayers for salvation.

Of course, we have also had heartaches this year – highlighted by the death of my brother.

His passing, though, left a void in our hearts graciously filled by the Lord with scores of old friends and new reaching out and demonstrating the love of Christ in the midst of a storm.

And as we ventured farther into our memories, we started to realize the very things we were praying for and asking of the Lord this year – way back in January – had been happening without us even realizing it.

He had been placing us into situations where we connected with people outside of the occasional, casual conversation about life and work, and repeatedly given us opportunities to be an actual presence in the lives of others and vice versa.

I am fully aware of my natural instinct to cling to my wife and daughter and make them the center of all my actions. To provide, protect, support, encourage, inspire, serve and love them as a husband and father.

Sounds like a great mindset, right?

But even in my attempts to give them my all, I am failing them. Not so much in the sense of my responsibilities to them (although I definitely lack in this area as well), but more in my neglect to demonstrate Christ’s love for others.

My desire to keep them in a little bubble reserved for my own pleasure and satisfaction actually hinders them from experiencing a full life of connecting with others and sharing (and often experiencing at the same time) the love of Jesus.

So, what’s the lesson? What is the grand epiphany I can now take into the next year fully trusting God to provide more situations to live my faith out loud?

My family is more than a blessing meant for me to enjoy. Individually and as a whole, we are meant to impact the world around us through loving relationships beyond our walls.

I will always do everything I am able to give them all I can of me, but they are not a separate area of ministry…they are an extension of it.

I am blessed beyond words to have the two most beautiful, compassionate and loving girls in the world as my partners in Christ and thank God for allowing me to swim in His sea of second chances.

May the holidays be a time you and your family can shine His love on others and may this upcoming New Year be filled with thousands of opportunities to see your own prayers answered…even if you don’t recognize them until you take a breath next Christmas.

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