Although it is not good to dwell on our pasts, New Year's Eve seems a time of remembering the year that was and anticipating the year that is to be.
Last year brought some special memories - going to Frankenmuth, A's birth, helping at VBS in Nebraska, the train trip to Chicago to get the Bitty Babies at American Girl, fellowship at church, numerous birthday celebrations.
It also brought some challenges - so many health issues at work - Darlene, Mike, Evelyn, Richard. Then in October came Bob's heart attack. We saw God's faithfulness and His mercy and His goodness to us. We saw Him in the good times and in the bad as well.
Tonight we will go to church and reflect even more on God's blessings. I go with a heavy heart as my mom is struggling physically. She refuses to seek the help she needs and I feel guilty.
On the way home from Wakarusa today, I heard a radio speaker allude to the 'dashes' in our lives. You know. On a cemetery marker there is a birthdate and a date of death. There is a dash between them.
It is no secret that I like to hang out in cemeteries. Just ask my kids. They hated having to stop on our vacations so I could wander through a cemetery.
Often I would stop and wonder about the 'dashes' in that person's life. Did they have a family? What did they enjoy doing? Did they know the Lord? Did they die loosing the battle but winning the victory?
We all have 'dashes' in our lives. I can go back quite a long way and fill in those dashes. My first memories of horses. Moving to Puerto Rico. School. Family. Church. Vacations. Jobs. Friends. Hobbies. Possessions. How many of those 'dashes' will amount to anything in eternity? Those are the 'dashes' that count. For Him.
Sometimes I think that I put so much into Christmas with the food, decoration, and gifts - that I loose my focus on how simple that first Christmas really was. You gotta be kidding! Ruger is always so patient when I take our traditional 'antler' picture.
Oh Christmas Tree! It reminds me of another tree - one on which my Saviour died.
Patrick - A very special gift - also his birthday!
It was not a 'silent night'. Look at all those Christmas Blessings!
We spend Christmas Eve with Mom and Brad. This year, since it was on a Wednesday we also had a Christmas Eve service. There could have not been a better beginning. The church was lit with candles and we sang a lot of hymns. Patrick closed the service with 'I Am'. Afterwards everyone came over for appetizers. Something the kids have always enjoyed. We had a new face amongst us this year. A new blessing. The reminder of Christ's humble birth is very poignant. After everyone left, Bob and I watched Miracle at Moreaux, a reminder that He came to save all people.
Today was our store luncheon. I made sure Darlene knew about it although when she called me earlier in the week, she had been struggling with the new chemo.
When she walked into my office, I was shocked at how much weight she had lost. I started this blog to journal her battle with the big 'C'. Also, to reaffirm my goal to make sure she knew another bigger 'C'. She gave me a card and the last portion of it talked about me reflecting the love of the Lord to her. That's really all want to do. Reflect Him.
When she left, Jimmy walked her out to her car because it was so ugly and slippery out. I watched my frail friend and when he came in he said, 'That's your buddy isn't it?' I told him that she was and that I missed her very much. Kind of a sobering end to my day at work. I reflect on last year when she was in full swing and consider next year - will she be here at all?
I love early, Winter mornings. There is a crispness to the air and the words to the song, '"Was it a Morning Like this?" float through my mind. Sometimes I even look to the Heavens and think I will see Him any moment.
One of the places I most enjoy going is to a cemetery. There is a peace, a solitude. There is the presence of God and each marker tells the story of a life. A life that is now in eternity. It is sobering at times. Life is surely a vapor. When Dad was dying I told him that he could loose the battle but still win the victory. He did.
For months I have been trying to add pictures to this blog and wouldn't you know - the first one I add is of a cat? This is Mia. She is my nosy meezer whom was rescued from the humane shelter. I love my pets. Yes I do. I know the way we treat our four footed friends tell a lot about us. Now I better figure out how to add grandchildren!
Yesterday we had our children's program at church. Aside from the fact that our grandchildren were the cutest ones on stage...... The theme was the different names of Jesus. At the end of the progra, Patrick sang the Aaron-Jeffrey song 'He Is.' It was wonderful. It sequed perfectly into pastor's message. As Patrick sang, the power point flashed up the books of the Bible and a reference from each supporting exactly who God is in each of them. It was simpy a wonderful program to help me remember that He is my Father, Good Shepherd, Alpha and Omega, Great Physician, Teacher - and that is just the beginning. Ultimately, he is my Savior.
My favorite part of the Christmas story is Mary, pondering these things in her heart. Mary was young when she gave birth to Jesus. To have the maturity at that age to 'ponder' is rather remarkable. Most young women that age are very reactionary. She had much to ponder. She had never been intimate - maybe didn't know much at all about intimacy, yet she gave birth to a child. She was away from home. In a stable. The Bible didn't say a midwife delivered Jesus, so perhaps Joseph did. The shepherds came, seemingly recognizing this special birth. How tired she must have been. How confused. Uncertain. She had much to ponder. As I have matured, I too have become a ponderer. Sometimes I pick up a simple passage and think upon it. Wonder about it. I have become less reactionary. I remember the birth of my first child. Wondering what kind of a person he would grow into. Wondering if I could care for him properly. Michael Card has an amazing song, 'Mary's Song'. In it he talks about Jesus as a baby and having a certain cry that was different from that of being hungry. A deep, empty cry. As a baby, could Jesus sense that this was not His home? A cry so deep, so hard to understand. I do not worship Mary, but she had to be an unusual young woman. A ponderer.
One of the traditions I have begun with Jocelyn is watching Miracle at Moreau. The story takes place in France during WWII. A runner is attempting to get 3 Jewish children across the border and he finds a chateau where the nun and children are snowed in over the Holiday. The gestapo kills him as he attempts to steal food for the children. The Sister sees one of the disoriented children and rescues her and eventually the gestapo realizes that the three children are at the chateau. It is a story of hatred. It is a story of fear. It is a story of misunderstanding. It is ultimately a story of learning about another person as the previously fearful and mistrusting French children learn that these Jewish children have lost a lot in their lives but ultimately, they are alike. In the end, they ingeniously help the Jewish children escape and learn a lesson - The Holy Family was also Jewish. Many of my childhood friends were Jewish. One thing I am thankful for is that living in Puerto Rico has taught me to respect diversity. I will always realize that a person must be saved to enjoy eternal life, but I try to value that person for someone whom God has created. Sin will always be sin, but I too am a sinner - saved by Grace. God's cross is wide enough to cover the sins of all people. Not just 'small' sins, but also 'big' sins. Jocelyn is a year older and will understand more of the movie this year. One thing I attempt to instill in her is to love each person that comes into her life. To be kind to them. To show them her God. Her faith. The gift of a baby is actually what Christmas is all about. The gift was to everyone - Jew and Gentile.
I am one of those people who strives for 'the perfect Christmas'. Maybe because I am a dreamer. What has amazed me this year is that what seemed so important before, is not. One of the kids asked us to cut back on the gifts. I love giving gifts. I have cut back and am amazed at how much easier things have gone. I had a perfect menu. Bob can't eat all that fat so once again, I have 'tweaked' the menu to better accomodate him. Again, there really isn't that much that I will miss. Normally I stress about when we can get together. This year, with Christmas Eve being on Wednesday and with two different churches involved, we might not be able to get together on Christmas Eve. Last weekend was our traditional 'cut our tree' weekend. We cut ours fresh from the Lowe's parking lot! One thing is constant. One thing has not changed. We are celebrating the birth of a Savior. My Savior. Working retail takes so much joy out of Christmas but this year, things have been less stressful there. Rather than missing 3 church services in December, it looks like I won't miss any. Normally I miss singing Christmas carols but this year, I won't. Normally I have to tweak my hours so I can go to programs. This year I won't. My mind floats back to when we did 'The Best Christmas Pageant Ever'. Maybe this will be true of my Christmas this year.
I am a wife, mom, sister, grandma, friend, and human resource specialist who happens to love reading, animals,Diet Coke, simple pleasures, being outside, changing seasons, my family, my Lord. I am a private person. A passionate person. A person who sometimes struggles with being still and knowing that He is God. Sometimes I think God looks down at me and says, 'Becky, Becky, Becky'. I then remind Him that He created me totally unique and thank him that He knows my name!