There is so much stuff I want to write about in today's blog, but I'm going to save it for another time....a wrap-up of our Christmas "vacation" (I never got as sick as the rest of my fam, but I definitely wasn't well towards the end...and poor Susi and a triple bout with that tummy monster!), the hilarious conversation between Luke and Susanna yesterday afternoon about the Christmas story, more Watkins news, etc., but that can wait a few days.
Yesterday's Voice of Christmas at church was one of the Magi. Ron Whiddon did a superb job telling of "his" travels and dispelling many of the myths (not being at the manger). I'm not sure what last Sunday's was about, since we were gone, but I'm guessing it was probably Joseph, since "Zecchariah," "Elisabeth," and "Mary" all had their turn. I was told that the shepherds added their voice at the Christmas Eve services. Although some may not agree, I've really enjoyed the dramatic edge to "hearing" the "first hand" experiences of some of the people involved in the Christmas story. Of course, it is nothing compared to what really happened over 2000 years ago.
Today is the end of yet another year. Since Tony and I have been married, each year that has passed seemed to bring so much new life to our extended families -- babies being born, weddings happening, eleven in our immediate families, even more if you include our cousins -- with an occasional time to say goodbye to a loved one as they went home to be with Jesus. A cousin, an aunt, the toddler-child of some friends.
This year, however, was different. There was only one birth that I'm aware of in our extended families. I was struck at how much "loss" there was. It seems so many of the Christmas letters and notes we received mentioned how one or more loved ones of all ages passed away during 2007. Friends losing parents, siblings, children sometimes to age, sometimes to disease, sometimes to an unbelievable event such as my former boss' teenage son collapsing and dying of heat stroke. They are missed in ways that cannot be explained; there is sorrow knowing they aren't here any more, but wow! They got to spend Christmas WITH the Christ-Child this year! Seeing Him not as that tiny little Baby, but as their personal Savior, their co-heir to God! The eyes filled with love, the scarred hands, feet, and side, the wonderful Lamb that was slain so that we -- I! -- could spend eternity with Triune God!
It doesn't take away the emptiness of not having these dear loved ones nearby, but it does help me rejoice in knowing they are no longer suffering from illness, missing other loved ones that had gone on before. They are no longer here in this fallen world; they are singing praises to Almighty God, circling His throne, and rejoicing as more and more sinners claim the shed blood of Jesus, as more and more believers join them as earthly bodies give way to inevitable death. One day, I'll be with them. I pray that you will, too.
I miss my grandparents; I miss the faces that are no longer worshipping at our church here in Park Rapids; I know many of you ache for loved ones that you can no longer talk to whenever you want to...and I pray that you will be comforted through your loss.
This year also brought continued change with the farm and market -- the responsibilities Tony and I have continue to grow as his parents are turning more and more things over completely to us. It is overwhelming at times, especially as we are raising two young and ACTIVE children during this time, but God gives us the strength and patience needed to get through each day...often only enough, other times even more.
Luke and Susanna continue to cause us both to laugh and me to scream at times, but it is overall such a delight to see them experience so many things first hand. I love especially just listening to their conversations or hearing them break into song. Yesterday they serenaded a full-house at West 40 (local restaurant) with "I'm so happy, so very happy! I have the love of Jesus in my heart!"
My love for my husband continues to grow -- his patience with me and the children amazes me. His love for us, the way he cares for each of us, the times he surprises me with cleaning the kitchen, the countless diapers he changes for Susanna (even the stinky ones!), running around chasing after Luke to help get rid of Luke's ever increasing energy -- even when he's so tired. The things he does to take care of our family. He's the second greatest gift God has given me!
Tonight (he doesn't know this yet), we're going to TRY and get the kids to bed early and have a mini-feast of fondue (beef & chicken, cheese & veggies, and CHOCOLATE with fruit), crab salad, and bubbly. Don't try to call. We won't answer the phone. Hopefully he'll stay awake past 10:00.... (we were up late last night watching "Amazing Grace"). If not, more chocolate for me, yippee!
Thank You, God, for another year of memories. Thank You for the hope of a future yet to come. Thank You for sending Christ. Thank You for a time to reflect on the past.
May each of you have a glorious and blessed new year.