Christmas 2020, capping off a year of crisis and courage, somehow by a strange inexplicable miracle we end the year buying a new house, 256 Farrelly, here in San Leandro, in the Bay, where we couldn’t be sure we could ever afford.

Until I started creating this page, I hadn’t thought about he “twenty-four seven” on our anniversary, the fact that we were married July 24, through sixteen years of marriage, and now we were living at “twenty five six“ on Farrelly. One more than 24 and one less than 7 makes me think about adjusting our life together at the margins, but the margins that make all the difference.

Instead of all of life lived together twenty-four seven, what if each day gave us the gift of an extra hour? And what if we could labor in love for six days a week, but find rest always on that seventh day? 

What I mean is, maybe, the gift of what COVID has given us. By “25 hours” a day, I mean that when we are together, cooking in the kitchen together, or doing writer’s time side-by-side, or taking dance classes together, or taking time to listen and repeat and forgive, we somehow make the hours mean more than they would have counted previously. We find in being together that God provides more in the day than we could have experienced alone. 

But we also consider sacred his rhythms of rest and trust, and sometimes silence and distance. We take the breaks that we need to. When we are overwhelmed. When we need solitude and solace from the Spirit. 

I envision life at Farrelly become a place, not of “twenty-four seven” life together, but of “twenty-five six” life together. Abundantly overfilled each day. But honoring the rhythms of sabbath that let us make the most of what God gives us. 

To you and Eden: 

I’m eager to garden with you. To rest with you. To read next to you and dance with you.  To cook and eat and clean up with you. To make our home together. 

So here’s the first day’s gift this Christmas, a gift of making our “twenty-five six” home.

FOR ELAINE: My first Christmas gift to you is the pledge of “The Happy Giver.“ I have been accounting for my spending and what can change, and my hope is that every month, I can shift this way:

Avg extra spending $1000/month —> added to former rent to pay mortgage, insurance, property tax, subscriptions, and utilities, totaling $4000-$4200/month

Avg Amazon spending $750/month —> used instead for home projects (fixes, kitchen and bathroom remodel, other repairs)

Avg Costco spending $750/month —> $200-300 used for Costco and $400-500 for tithing and giving

Remaining from monthly salary ($6800 – $4000 -$750 – $750) —> $1000 savings and Scholarshare every month (with some savings available for home projects over time)

This shift will entail a lifestyle shift from spending (a lot of) extra on books, comics, electronics, media, etc. to making use of what we have, taking advantage of what I already subscribe to or can borrow from libraries.

In that effort, my focus will be on building up the resources for us to be able to keep maintaining and upgrading our home in these next few years. I know the amount I’m putting into home projects and savings isn’t a lot, but I’m hoping that covering mortgage and utilities, continuing our lifestyle changes, and making sure your salary/credit card is free and available for saving up for remodeling can get us toward our goals. And I’ll seek summer work that can build up more income for us.

Those goals are important to me because I want you both to feel fulfillment in our home and our life together.

The symbolic gift for you, Elaine, today is a few pieces of clothing from The Happy Givers that bear witness to what our lives are about (acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly; loving our neighbors, whomever they are). It also represents ways I hope we can live: creatively bearing witness with love and boldness, generously giving and caring for children and youth, and all in the name of Jesus. That’s the life I hope we’ll live in 256 Farrelly.

(I also have a $50 Happy Givers store credit for you to look for other things you might want to buy there.)

And for Eden, the gift is to just keep sharing the joy of creativity and imagination together…

Eden, your first Christmas gift is a Story Pirates Creator Club Premium Membership, which I’ve already signed you up for. That means even though they’re on break, we can listen to Story Pirates special episodes and get discounts and join live radio broadcasts and stuff like that. Let’s keep being Creators together!

(Here’s the Creator Club stuff you might want to check out, and our log in information should be saved on our iPads.)

You two are God’s greatest gift to me. I want to chase after the joy that God has given us together. I’m so thankful to be moving into this new home with you, and for the next steps for our family. I can’t wait to be living “twentyfive-six” in the joy of our next stage together.

Merry Christmas!