Do you all eat anything 'lucky' on New Year’s Day? My mom used to serve us black-eyed peas. Ick! I ate them every year in the hopes that it would be my 'lucky' year. I recently saw a graphic in a magazine that listed "Nine Foods for a Lucky New Year”. Of course the nasty black-eyed peas were listed first, then some other gross things (in my opinion) like a whole roasted fish, cooked greens (collards, cabbage, chard), however, the one item that caught my eye was ring-shaped foods like bagels, donuts, and bundt cakes. NOW we are talkin’! I think I’ll be going with ring-shaped foods on New Year’s Day.
In this new beginning for us all, this clean slate, this fresh start, I want to talk about our endings. About ending well. I am a hospice volunteer and within this last week I said goodbye to a woman who ended well. It was an honor and a privilege to have met her and her family and to witness a woman who despite losing her sight from macular degeneration and not being able to walk in her later years bear such a strong, sweet faith. Her demeanor was warm, loving and welcoming, despite her condition. She even asked if she could pray for me at the end of one visit. She was selfless and she knew what her purpose was. She ended well. She ended well because she knew the Lord intimately and shared Him with whomever crossed her path. She ended well because she made wise use of her days despite being limited in her physical body. She ended well because when her life on earth was over, within that minute of her last breath on earth, her sight immediately returned and was face-to-face with her Creator God. She was face-to-face with Jesus Himself. She was finally home.
So, my challenge to you, as you anticipate this new beginning, this new year, is to please consider how your life will be ending. Not to sound morbid or anything, I think it’s good to think about why you are here, what your purpose is in this world, and what you want your obituary to say about you. If you can solidify that in your head and heart, then you can truly live for Christ and end your life well. If you have yet to surrender all to Jesus Christ and turn your life over to Him, then I pray that you will consider doing that in this new year. We are not promised another day here on earth, each day is a gift.
Another trip around the sun. A friend gifted me custom pints of ice cream and one of the labels displayed this saying: “Another year sweeter” Super cute, however I don’t know about that. 😉 As I look forward to my birthday each year, this one is hitting me a bit differently than previous years.
As I gazed over at the side table in our kitchen that holds several b-day cards received this week, some touching, some funny, all of them thoughtful, and looked at the material gifts that I had received each day this week as the Lord so graciously ordained. My thoughts turned to my dad (and the fact that he is now gone from this earth as of Jan 6th this year) and the thought that the absolute best gift I could receive (from the Lord) was seeing a bluebird on my birthday. I wept at the thought. As, I have yet to see one since dad’s death.
As I woke up this morning (quite melancholy, knowing that this day will not be unlike most others unfortunately) after a restless night of sleep and continued my day as always, feeding the pups, reading devotionals and praying, making coffee, walking the pups etc.…It does hit me that even though my dad, Lou did not recall that Oct 7th was my b-day for many years preceding his death, which was super hurtful the first year that happened, it hit me that no one loves you quite like your parents. And, when they are gone, nothing will ever be quite the same. There is a deep void in our heart and soul that realizes, no one will love you in the same way your parents did. That is my experience now (in this moment) and I realize that will not be everyone’s experience. I was blessed to have parents that loved me despite my flaws, which were truly my biggest cheerleaders in this temporary life on earth. And, when they are both gone from this earth, it changes things, and that truly did not hit me until this week leading up to my b-day.
We entered 2021 excited for what was to come. Things were looking up! We had a goal, a vision, and a purpose that gave us great joy. We had it all planned out. Our amazing graphic designer, Preston, had created the artwork. I had sourced just the right garments. Our trusty local printer printed onto the amazing garments. We had created giftable items for folks who might be looking for something more than apparel. We spent several months curating, sourcing, and working towards our goal of launching THE most amazing thing ever. We had a plan; (we have learned over 5 years to plan far ahead of the seasons.) We even had a pop-up planned at a trendy store. We were super excited to launch this powerful, hopefully life-giving movement. Everything was on target.
Then…during a benign Monday night in early January, we got a phone call. For anyone who has ever been a caregiver, you know that when you see the facility name and number pop up on your screen, your heart drops a little bit.
In mid-March, Kansas declared that schools would close for the rest of the school year. Other states soon made the same determination.
Very quickly we started hearing terms like “Shelter at Home” and “Social distancing.” “Quarantine” was a word seldom heard these days…until now when we hear it daily.
The words “Pandemic” and “Plague,” although foreign and strange to the younger generation, engender memories giving rise to fear in the minds and hearts of the oldest among us.
Businesses and churches closed,
The economy faltered,
Violence at home is increasing,
and Deaths from the virus are reported daily.
Many of us have only seen times like these in movies or read about them in books.
and Discouragement is on the rise, exacerbated by the news reports and accompanied by weather fluctuations from cold and wintry to mild and spring-like and back to wintry again.
And we are all wondering, "How long???"
Nothing is certain except that nothing is certain.
I always love it when I read those words “But God” in my Bible. Often they follow bad circumstances or evil, offering hope to a situation that would otherwise seem hopeless.