A Lit Flare Light On Hand

Full Circles and Answered Prayers

Oh, what a difference a year makes!

The conclusion of this week will launch us into a new year. 2023! Many of us will spend time reflecting, reminiscing and even comparing the past to the present in hopes for a better future.

This is where I am today as I REFLECT on this holiday season. Three major chapters in our life began to unfold during the end of 2021 and each of them brought challenges for us to overcome.

Within the events surrounding last Christmas I was triggered. The struggles we experienced, changes we would encounter, and a great loss, was just the beginning as we have  been navigating the repercussions all year long.

The first happened last Christmas when our celebration was met with family drama, angry words, and hurt feelings stemming from mental health challenges.

This is nothing new to our family although it escalated throughout the year as we worked through some severe struggles. This challenge was given much time and effort along with countless prayers as we sought God for solutions and resolutions. Just in the last few weeks we have seen some encouraging progress bringing the hope of healing to our family.

From the disruption and chaos of last Christmas we have been blessed to watch the Holtz siblings work toward mental health and wholeness within the family, even when it looks hopeless.

This has led to answered prayers in the healing of relationships within the family.  In turn, this Christmas was altogether different. We had the most delightful time as a family, and I’m still in awe of God’s grace.

Our second challenge came within the church as we were just beginning to move towards the merger process. It would be a year that brought late night meetings, difficult conversations, and the uniting of two congregations into one.

As Ross preached on Christmas morning the merger is complete and we are moving into a new season of ministry.

I am excited to see where God is going to lead us, not only with our Word of the Year, but also with Ross’s three months of sabbatical starting now.

After 36 years as founding and senior pastor, shepherding the flock at The Summit, he will be serving in a new role at Plateau Community Church. The grieving process is real as Ross takes a new place with the people He once led. Yet, within these shifts we trust God’s faithfulness and His love for us.  More than ever, we are committed to His plan and purpose for us as a couple!

The third challenge came on December 27, 2021 as I began the search for my big brother because our texts and phone calls remained unanswered.

The concern overwhelmed my soul as we found a private detective. We worked through all the possibilities and finally requested a well check from the local police. They found him and once again the grieving began as the reality of his depression and despair moved him to take his own life.

Just a few days ago my only remaining sibling and extended family met on Zoom to honor Jim. Our conversation allowed me to connect the dots about the family. It was eye opening to recognize that our family had some of the same mental health struggles I’ve seen in the Holtz clan, but we did a very poor job of addressing it and seeking help for those trying to cope.

This conversation brought the reminder once again of how crucial it is to discover and deal with issues of mental health. I’m so thankful that is happening in our family today.

And so, this Christmas as prayers were answered I saw another Full Circle in my life.

Christmas Day was just fun!

Wrapping paper flying as gifts were exchanged

Outdoors a football game ensued as the meal was prepped

Holding back the tears as 18 of us sang the doxology before the meal.

Brothers embracing and forgiving.

Laughter and conversations around the table.

Kids in the kitchen cleaning up the dishes

Games played and encouragement given.

Hope and dreams for the future.

And in the middle of it all Ross and I have a future, too!

The first stop is San Diego to record our audio book for Together for a Purpose!

And then, rather than taking a trip across the country in our motor home as originally planned, we determined it would make more sense to stay on the west coast and minimize spending an arm and a leg on diesel fuel.

We will continue to serve as God allows through the next three months of sabbatical. We have a family to love, a business to run, a book to promote, and so much more.  Through it all we ask God to use us in this next season of our lives.

There are many more prayers to pray and answers to come but we know that through it all God is always faithful!

So how are you seeing from last year to this? Where do you find His faithfulness in your full circles and answered prayers?

I’d love to hear how I can pray for you!

Thanks for spending some time with me today,


Athena Dean Holtz
Welcome, I'm Athena!

I start each day by tithing the first hour to the Lord in prayer, reading the word, doing word studies of the Text, and asking God how I can live out what I am reading. This time is usually met with meditation on devotionals that are usually written by dead guys like Oswald Chambers, CS Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, AW Tozer, and Andrew Murray.

Right now, I’m reading a daily devotional with a friend called Tozer on the Almighty God for my focus for the day. It's fun to see individually what pulls us in to spur one another on to good deeds!

The Bible is filled with action steps to walk out in practical and intentional ways. This sets my day in motion to walk it out! I hope this is your heart, too.

Consider this a personal invitation to join me in this journey!

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