Saturday, December 31, 2011

The last one of 2011 . . .

For a minute there, I couldn't sign in. That's frustrating--not that I have that much to say, but still, it is Dec. 31 and I needed one "last hurrah."

2011 has been quite a year! It has been a year of profound loss, but also a year of profound blessing. We lost my beloved Tom and we all feel it: children, grandchildren, friends and most especially me. In spite of the loss I have had the time to reflect on the memories and to count my blessings. I was loved by an incredible man and for that I am incredibly grateful. I have returned to my adopted homeland of Mississippi. It has been bittersweet to be back in the state where Tom and I met, married and lived most of our life together. So many places remind me of him and they usually make me smile. I moved away from some good friends in Tennessee, but closer to my dear friends in Jackson, MS and I am making new friends where we are now. My health remains stable and my oncologist is optimistic that this nasty cancer can be held at bay. In comparison, other issues are inconsequential. The lingering question remains: why has God allowed me all these unexpected days? I know we are not to ask such things.

I know that tomorrow much be the Sunday after Christmas because I'm preaching. The "extra pastors" as some designated us at FOPC always get the Sundays after Christmas and Easter. But, hey, I'm not complaining. I'm more than happy to have the opportunity. I remember saying one year at Fair Oaks that I had preached every Sunday after Christmas since I began preaching my second year in seminary. One dear, prejudiced friend, sitting right down front started clapping. I'll never forget that Sunday--or the friend, for that matter.

We've had a quiet New Year's Eve--just like I like. Our friend John and his son came out to watch football and eat supper. We grilled steaks and ate dessert left over from earlier in the holidays. Afterwards, we went outside and legally shot fireworks, though I admit that I have never liked fireworks. In California they were everywhere!! I was always afraid that a spark would ignite the cedar shakes on our roof and we'd burn to the ground. They have been illegal within the city limits everywhere else we've lived, but now we're in the country. Tommy did the the actual lighting and the rest of us watched--except of the little ones, who ran in circles between displays. I still think I prefer watching the display on the 4th of July celebration on the Washington Mall. The colors are pretty and the noise isn't as great.

I leave you with a thought from Ezra for the New Year. In chapter seven it says that Ezra commited himself to studying the Revelation of God, to practicing its teaching and to teaching it to others. That, coupled with Ezra's belief that worship was central to being identified as people of God, combines to make a worthy resolution/commitment for the new year. It's a challenge for me and one I offer as a suggestion for you as well. I've never been a resolution maker, but Ezra inspired me. Will you join me? "I commit in 2012 to make worship central in my life; to study God's word; to practice what it teaches; and to teach it to others."

God bless you and Happy New Year!
Pastor Margaret

Friday, December 16, 2011

Catching up . . .

What a wonderful visit I had with Marty and her family over the Thanksgiving holidays!!! I arrived the evening of my birthday greeted by two precious little boys yelling "Nana," and running to give me hugs. Now that's a greeting not soon to be forgotten! We went straight home to find Mallory and Kevin's dad and to eat birthday dinner, complete with the best chocolate cake, selected by Christopher. We had thirteen for Thanksgiving dinner including neighbors and a Chinese family. I was proud of Marty's cooking and organizing skills. Other days were filled with playing, shopping, decorating, knitting, talking. All too soon it was time to come home.

I have loved going into my children's houses and seeing "our things" being used and loved as we loved them. Tommy has his dad's treasured stereo speakers, the grandfather clock the three Toms assembled and finished, an oak wardrobe Tom and I bought at an Illinois farm auction the summer he returned from Vietnam and a few other things. Marty has my mom's dining room table, my wedding china and a marble top table I also had gotten from my mother. Both have things from Tom's parents. Those "things" are like golden threads that weave the generations together and provide sparkling memories of times spent in their midst.

We have all had the respiratory crud, some worse than others. Elisa had a particularly hard time with it, but is all well now. The coughing made me more tired than usual, especially because it kept me awake at night. I saw the oncologist Tuesday of this week and had THE LONGEST DAY. The best part, however, was being declared "stable" once again. My red counts continue to be on the low side, so I've decided to give in to the tiredness and rest when I need to rest. Now, how long did it take me to learn that?

Last night Tommy, Sarah and I attended our choirs's offering of Rutter's Magnificat and it was magnificent. The soloist's voice was perfect for his work! Afterwards, the three of us went out to eat at a Hattiesburg favorite restaurant--a delicious way to end the evening.

Today I'm busy trying to shorten my list of things to do and in a bit will go to Drew's school for an author's tea. I have no idea what that is, but he invited me and I try not to turn down invitations from grandchildren. Sometime over the weekend I'm to take Drew and Jacob shopping for their parents. Ssh! It's a big secret.

It's difficult this time of year, with all the busyness, to focus on the reason we're celebrating. We are blessed to live where we are free to worship, sing and shout Merry Christmas. As I reflect on Christmases past, I have warmth in my heart and a smile on my face. God's grace has been abundant as is revealed in His greatest gift of all.

God bless you,
Pastor Margaret