Merry Christmas!

merry-christmas-2016So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
…”—John Lennon

I don’t often quote John Lennon in a positive way, but as I prepare this “Christmas Letter” it seemed appropriate. This is the second year in a row in which we didn’t send Christmas cards out, but as the Facebook relationship status sometimes says, “It’s complicated.” We do the best we can, and learn to appreciate God’s grace at work during the complicated times.

It is Clifton’s first full calendar of retirement. The year has been a challenging one, but Dixie and I have both said again and again throughout 2016 that the decision for me to retire was the right one. I miss preaching and teaching, but I am needed here with my family, at least for the immediate future. Sunday in and Sunday out we are reminded by people that they are praying for us, and that is what the Body of Christ is all about. You may think that saying, “I am praying for you” is trite, but it means the world to us and helps keep us on our feet. I am probably experiencing the best physical health that I have experienced since high school, so I count my blessings and keep riding the “stupidbicycle.”

Dixie’s year has had its physical challenges with her battles against cholesterol, TMJ, all the other ailments that often test a woman who is entering her fifties, but I think that she has liked having me around after years of sharing me with the rest of the congregation. We manage to get out together most Thursdays to spend some time alone, and that has been a wonderful blessing for us.

In August Reed began his second year of working at Dairy Queen. While it probably is not necessarily good for someone with Type 2 Diabetes to work at a fast food establishment (temptation everywhere), he works for good bosses, with good co-workers, and is learning how to deal with a public that is not always at the apogee of good behavior. He has also enjoyed his weekly time at Tyrrell Park Stables learning from Deanne about the care of horses, and spending some time on horseback.

Caleb has spent the year working at Sonic (we Rankins have the fast food establishments in Sour Lake covered), and going to the Lamar Institute of Technology. He is sorting through what he wants to do with his life, and hopes to come up with some answers in the coming year.

Josh and Kristi are still in Texarkana, Texas, where he coaches football and track at Texas High and she works at the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons of Northeast Texas. Yesterday (Dec. 21) their youngest, Delani, celebrated her first birthday. Kesh is now fifteen, Koen is thirteen, and Kya eleven. The “times, they are a changin’.”

Life in a fallen world is not easy, but it is precious. We don’t know what the Lord has in store for this next year, but we pray that He will be glorified in all that we do, say, and think.

May the Lord bless you this Christmas and all through the New Year.



  1. Sandy Steiner said,

    December 22, 2016 at 10:50 AM

    Merry Christmas to You and Your Family!

    • cliftonr said,

      December 22, 2016 at 12:39 PM

      Thanks, Sandy! Same to you and yours.

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