Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It Is Christmas Week!

Wow.  How did that happen?  Somewhere, somehow as I was mixing, pouring, labeling, delivering thousands of candles the days, weeks and months slipped by and here we are.  I'm delighted!  This is such a blessed time of the year here at our place.  Understand that there is always some grumbling and complaining about the commercialism and expectations that we place upon ourselves.  There is also the pain of missing our loved ones who have already graduated to their Heavenly home.  But there is also that underlying peace and joy that comes with the knowledge that we are going to celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord.  It is because of this baby and infant King that we can mourn without despair.

Even now there are people close to me who are losing family members.  Each day takes them a bit farther away.  My heart is broken for them.  Especially so because at this point these family members are not known to be Believers.  However, who knows what God is doing in their hearts in these final days and hours.  There are signs in both cases that He is at work.  I'm just going to keep on praying!

Saturday evening found Warren, Georgia and Myself in Lititz at the Moravian Christmas Vigil Service.  Back in York we called this the Love Feast.  It is a treasure of a service filled with amazing music, the sharing of bread and coffee/milk, and candle lighting.  Warren's mother was raised in the Moravian Church and so it was tradition to attend this service on Christmas Eve.  She has missed it dreadfully and so we, with some difficulty, got tickets for Saturday night's service. They were already completely full for Christmas Eve.
The church as it looked Friday when we went to get tickets for the service.

The church as it looked Saturday evening.

 It amused me that when we got there before 7pm for the 7:30 service it was almost completely full already and we headed to the balcony.  The seats available there were in the back row and you couldn't see a thing.  So looking down and across we spotted seats in the very, very front that we figured were probably reserved but Georgia went down to find out.  Pretty soon she was looking up in the balcony and motioning for us to join her.  So, to the very front row we marched.  How cool it was to see everything from such great seats.  There was an embarrassing moment when I almost dropped the offering plate.  Hey!  It was surprisingly heavy.  They don't have no cheesy fake metal plates at that church!  My eyes got huge and as the usher caught the plate on the way down I looked at him and whispered, "Oh!  That's heavy!".  He laughed with me.  Bless his heart.  I like him, whoever he is.

Sunday was our Christmas service at church.  We always enjoy tons of music and special performances by our young people and some adults who like to write or sing.  This year Kelly wrote a beautiful piece called "Love Came Down".  It was from the perspective of a shepherd boy named Caleb.  I told her she must have written well because it didn't take long for me to get over the shock that "She" was a a boy named "Caleb".   Yes, it was well written and we enjoyed it so much.
All of our little musicians have grown up and are playing so well.  It is amazing to hear the growth in them from year to year.  We have a lot of stringed instruments in our church.  Large ones mostly.  Cello's and a Bass.  Although we still enjoy Ben's violin, which is a manageable size.

We had a vocal ensemble headed up by Susanna and Joe Musser this year.  They did a fantastic job of keeping us on pitch as we sang acapella.  It was amusing when we met for our final rehearsal to discover that we hadn't remembered a pitch pipe.  But we decided to see if there was "an app for that".  And indeed, there was.  So it was downloaded, our starting pitch was found and off we were.  But the silly app must automatically repeat the pitch every ten seconds or so because soon after we started singing there it was again.  It happened both in the rehearsal and again in the performance.  It was all we could do not to break into giggles...but it did put a big smile on our faces, which is never a bad thing for pitch control and a pleasing view for the audience.

I have been getting to dust off my singing voice this year.  It had been way too long since I was able to really cut loose.  I do sing from the piano at church sometimes but it is just in congregational singing, I'm leaning into the mic and it just isn't the same as opening up the diaphragm and letting her rip.  This year I found a friend who's voice is strong and clear.  She is an amazing vocalist.  I've been blessed to sing with the ladies at our Change of Pace Bible Study where she, Jana, is the lead singer.  We got to lead worship at a local Mennonite church that another friend attends one week and sang the song Hallelujah with fabulous Christmas words.  It was amazing.  So, when Chelsea got a cold and wasn't able to sing with me in our service as we had planned I contacted Jana.  I figured that it was too late and she would have other plans but asked anyway if she would want to come and sing that song with me.  She was free!  She came!  We sang.  Oh, my goodness.  It was so amazing to be able to open up and let it out.  Not since my Dad was alive have I been able to really be free like that.  It was the best Christmas gift ever.  I'm good.  Done.  Don't need a thing.  Well, maybe some really absorbent kitchen towels, but that's it.  Really.  :-).

Warren and I are enjoying each other's friendship so much these days.  Our kids are grown and need us less and less.....until grandchildren start coming at least.  Michael and Emily have a lovely home and are so happy together.  It is such a blessing to see them together.  She hosted Mom, Georgia and I to dinner one night this past week.  We feasted on chicken with roasted veggies and asparagus and then watched an old movie, Holiday Inn, while enjoying hot chocolate, chips and cookies.  A real girls night out.  We are so blessed to have this lovely addition to our family.

Chelsea is dating a nice young man that she met at work.  She continues to learn Thai and work on her music.  She is still in contact with her friends in Thailand and is thrilled to see what God is doing in that mission field.   She is torn about wanting to go back.  We'll see what God has in store for her where that is concerned.  And Jonathan continues to work as a security guard.  His hours are a bit funky so there are some days that things need to be kept on the quiet side around here.  But we are so thankful for his faithfulness to his job and for opportunities that are opening up for him because of it.

So....Warren and I have lots more time just to pal around and chatter together.  We like it and are so thankful to have come through the parenting years still as best friends.  It isn't something that should be taken for granted.  It is a gift.  That gift is hopefully going to get us through some remodeling that needs to happen around here.  I'm thinking that could be potentially stressful but it is how we began...in a little crooked house in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania so it will be interesting all of these years later to see if we still have the ability to hang drywall, paint and install plumbing.  We have two bathrooms to overhaul and a work studio to build for me.  I'm finally going to get to hang the paintings I've purchased from my friend Niki over the past few years. Woo-hoo!

These last few months were absolutely crazy when it came to candle making and sales.  Two animal rescues added to the usual rush in very positive ways.  I am so pleasantly surprised at how well the local group did with selling candles.  I don't know about the Chicago group....but I'm hoping they were able to sell what they purchased.  The shows and fundraisers alike were all very successful.  I love helping groups raise money to do good things.  I was invited, kind of last minute, to a local show that is known to be "big" around here.  It ate up a lot of my inventory and made for a lot of extra candle pouring but that also means it was a huge success.  If I'm invited back next year I will prepare in advance for it and it won't be so stressful.  I'm so thankful for the opportunity and the people I met there were just delightful.

Well, this novel of a post is much longer than I had intended.  But I enjoyed writing it out and reliving the experiences, so to speak, as I did so.

We will have a rather quiet Christmas Day with just a few of us and then we will have another round of festivities on New Year's Eve when Allan and Bev arrive to celebrate with us.  That's when we will open our Christmas stockings...always a highlight....because we look for "fun" things to put in there and make quite an event our of the opening of them.  I'm glad to have an extra week to find those things.  I'm kind of running behind.  Thank goodness for Amazon and their ability to get things here quickly.  Yes, it has come to that.  :-)

O.k.  Catch you all later.  Have a very, very Merry Christmas.  Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends.  I know it is a very warm and special time for most of us.  To those who are struggling with loneliness or grief...you are on my mind.  I am praying for you, if I know about it.  Hugs!


Carol Z said...

Thank you for your post. It was wonderful to catch up on all that you, Warren and family are doing. One of the high points and special memories of 2014 was the day we spent together. So grateful for bloggers who truly become friends. Wishes for a very blessed Christmas.

Vee said...

Oh I'd have loved to have heard you sing! What joy for you to be able to minister again in that capacity for His glory! This was such a lovely chatty post. I'm so glad you wrote it!