1st Chron. 16:8-11 Give thanks to the LORD, proclaim his greatness; tell the nations what he has done. Sing praise to the LORD; tell the wonderful things he has done. Be glad that we belong to him; let all who worship him rejoice! Go to the LORD for help, and worship him continually.
As I write this, it is just days before Christmas, and while there is every prospect of a white Christmas at home, there is none where we are in Santa Paula, California. It is now the fifth day of constant rain which has amounted to about 8 or 9 inches so far, but we are on high ground and I have not seen anyone building an ark yet.
This will mark the second Christmas in 36 years that we have not spent on the ranch with family, both times due to my health. It was not an easy decision to leave home two months earlier than normal, yet I knew that I would not be able to contend with the winter weather this year. And from the reports of friends at home I made the right choice. But with every choice there are consequences, some good, some bad.
The down side of this choice was not having Christmas with out kids and grandkids. I have long stressed the importance of family, and holidays have always been a great time of interaction and reconnection. Jeri and I will miss that this year.
Yet there is an up side of my choice in that we will be able to share Christmas with my sister and brother-in-law and their family for part of the day, and then we will spend the rest of it with our niece and her family along with Jeri’s sister and brother-in-law and her mother. This will be a special treat since it has been many years since we have been here at Christmas.
As the year comes to a close, it has been a year that in many ways I would like to forget. Health wise, it has definitely been the worst. But if I were to forget all of this year, then I would also be forgetting all the ways that God has blessed me and I would not want that to happen. How could I forget how so many friends and family prayed and ministered to me and Jeri. This has been a year of watching God meet our every need, of having friends and family give of their time to unpack our trailer when we arrived home in May, pruning our raspberries, weed whacking fence rows, fixing our built in vacuum, crawling under the house trying to find the shorted wire, cutting and splitting firewood, welding a gate, checking the flu on our wood stove, packing wood to the garage, winterizing the house and repacking the trailer so we could leave. How could I forget the four months that my daughter and her family put up with us parked in their driveway while I went through surgery and radiation. I will never be able to forget their worried looks and concern, will always remember their loving care and attention. Then there are the doctors and nurses at OHSU who have been fantastic. They have been so supportive, encouraging, yet brutally honest when we asked them to be. I can’t number the times that they saw me on short notice or took my calls when I know they were busy.
But most of all, there is Jeri, my life partner, the love of my life. She has been most supportive, ministered to my every need, put up with all the ugliness of post surgery and radiation, the many nights when I could not sleep, listening to all the unpleasant noises that come with not being able to breath through the nose, the flushing and blowing of the nose, etc., etc., etc. Long suffering does not even begin to describe it. There has to be saint hood in her future if there is any justice at all.
Yes, this has been a bad year in some ways, but a very good year in many ways. One always questions why something like this has to happen, yet God promises that there is a purpose for adversity. I am sure that there were lessons for Jeri and me to learn, and I am sure that others learned something from observing. But it also allowed others to use their spiritual gifts, and that is a good thing.
I am not sure what all I was expected to learn from this year, but I did realize how important family and friends are in a time of crisis. I came to a better understanding how to be a friend when someone is ill, how to minister to them, how important it is to just be there and maintain a continuity of friendship.
But more than anything, I learned first hand that even when bad things happen, there are good things happing at the same time and in the end they may out number the bad things. It just seems like at the time that the bad things are overwhelming and we fail to see the good that is happening.
As this year closes, I am looking forward to what God has in store for us this next year, as I hope you all are also. It may be a good year, it might not, but I know that there will be good things happening no matter what, and there will be blessings from God if we take the time to look for them.
As I go into the New Year, I am feeling better this month than any since February and that is encouraging. Besides, first time out playing 18 holes of golf in four months I shot 87. Jeri and I wish you all the best in 2011.