LOOKING BACK AND LOOKING FORWARD
Our celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas were joyous experiences—so good I clung to them over into the new year. This holiday season was doubtless the best and most spiritual I can recall. What made it so good was not elaborate decorations, gifts, food, or events, but the many special moments shared with Don, our family and friends, and the unhurried times spent with the Lord.
To me, the season of celebration begins with Thanksgiving, goes into Christmas, and culminates at the new year. Because we had new friends, old friends, and family with us, Thanksgiving was a very special time. When I removed the Thanksgiving centerpiece and tablecloth, I put on the Christmas cloth. A friend once said to me, "Christmas lasts so long at your house, Patsy." If she had been here this year, she would surely have repeated that thought.
I began Christmas preparation early so that as Christmas came near I could enjoy drop-in visits of friends, spontaneous and traditional outings and observances, and seasonal reading and prayer. When Christmas had passed, I had no regrets and looked forward to the new year.
As I began the new year, I considered my blank calendar, an unfilled diary, an opening door, and hills to climb and valleys to enjoy.
As I opened my new calendar, clean blank spaces and pages greeted me. I immediately set about transferring notations of birthdays and anniversaries from my 2000 calendar. [During the year as I buy birthday and Christmas gifts well in advance, I will make notes of where these are stored.] I made notes in appropriate places of when and where I have found certain wildflowers. I noted where I had put lists made in holiday preparation. I have saved my personal calendars for many years. Certainly those of years past reflect a more active lifestyle, but I am thankful for the present.
Every year my daughter Beth gives me a hardback diary at Christmas. Like my new calendar, it comes to me clean and clear. When the year ends, its pages will account for 365 days of my life. Occasionally there may be a blank day. When I look back and see one of these, I always wonder if I was just too busy to write or if I just slept or drifted through that one. Some of the days are almost do-nothing days. Some include encounters with others and/or family activities. I often make notes of world, national, or local news events and include my reactions to these. I record special events and our holiday activities. I like to think that perhaps someday my grandchildren will enjoy reading these records.
Each year new doors open. What we find behind these remains unknown. We can, however, determine what we will take with us through the new doors. Some things in our lives we need to leave behind, and some things we need to carry with us. It is one of God’s choice blessings that we cannot see beyond the doors of the years to come. Often what lies ahead would take joy from the present.
Each year has new hills (the high moments) and valleys (the down times). We will climb the difficult hills and then descend once again into the verdant valleys. If we never experienced difficulties, we could hardly appreciate the good times.
"The hills of difficulty drive us to the throne of grace and bring down the shower of blessings; the hills, the bleak hills of life that we wonder at and perhaps grumble at, bring down the showers. God’s hills are a protection for His people against their foes."
(from Streams in the Desert, a compilation by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman).
The feeling that a year has flown by and another new year is upon us is especially strong as we become older. Some of these years bring sadness, but thankfully happy times outnumber the sad. I read long ago in a now-forgotten source, "With God in the boat, I smile at the storm." I often wonder how those without God in their lives can face a day, much less a year. If we determine to have fellowship with God, we will be changed at the close of each of these 365 days.
Many people like to make resolutions as the new year begins, but personally I do not like making resolutions. Too often I have not kept these and have become depressed at failure. I tried referring to these as goals or commitments, but the end results were usually the same failure and frustration. I do often find the resolutions of others to be interesting and inspiring, and we have included some within this newsletter.
In my own life, I am seeking to follow Paul’s admonition in Philippians 3:13-14 (RSV), "Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." I regret that my nature is to dwell too much on that which lies behind over which I have no control.
I close with an adaptation of a prayer from June Master Bachman’s devotional book The Quiet Heart:
"Pick us up, Lord, when we falter. Give us faith and the strength to begin each day anew in service of our families, our friends, the ‘outsiders,’ and you. Let us so live that when this year is finished, we may say that..." it has been a good 365 days to have lived!
BOB ROSSON RECEIVES CFSP DESIGNATION
Bob Rosson (Robert Theron Rosson Jr., CFSP) has recently been awarded the designation of Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP), by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice (APFSP).
"CFSP" is funeral service’s national individual professional recognition. The Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice, since its 1976 founding, has had as its goals: (1) to recognize those practitioners who have voluntarily entered into a program of personal and professional growth, (2) to raise and improve the standards of funeral service, and (3) to encourage practitioners to make continuing education a life-long process in their own self-interest, the interest of the families they serve, and the community in which they serve.
To initially receive this award, the practitioner must complete a 180-hour program of continuing education activities and events. In addition, the practitioner is required to accumulate 20 hours per year to recertify. Credits are awarded by the Academy for work leading to personal and/or professional growth in four areas:
(1) academic activities
(2) professional activities
(3) career review [for retroactive credit]
(4) community and civic activities.
Certified practitioners may use the CFSP designation with their names for business letterheads, professional cards, and other appropriate uses.
RESOLUTIONS FROM AN ANN LANDERS COLUMN...
1. I will remember to say something kind to the cashier who is harried and tired, because it takes only a minute to bring a smile to the face of someone who is working hard.
2. I will stop for a moment to get items from the top shelf for the woman who is in a wheelchair or the older man with a cane.
3. I will pause in the aisle at the grocery store and wait until the elderly lady moves her cart past mine. I will do it with a smile on my face and will use the extra time to chat with her and make a new friend.
4. I will continue to call my mother to ask how her day is going and tell her about mine—not because she needs to know but because it is important to tell her how much I love her while I still can.
5. I will e-mail my friend who is feeling down to remind her what a talented, special person she is and that this low point in her life is merely a stop on the way to bigger and better things.
6. I will tell my husband how much I love and appreciate him for being a kind person, a good father, and a wonderful husband—not because he doesn’t know these things but because it is important that he hear it from my lips.
7. I will tell my daughter I love her and think she’s a cool kid when I drop her off at school. When she tells me, "I know, Mom, you tell me all the time I will smile because it means I am doing my job right.
LET’S MAKE THIS OLD WORLD SMILE!
This year is still in its infancy. There remains time for those resolutions we all dread so much. Pick up your pencil and jot down ideas with me. Think of it this way: Together we can make this old world smile!
This year I resolve to do my best:
To be so at peace with God, family, friends, and the world around me that nothing can shake my tranquillity Harmony!
To speak positively of my physical, spiritual, and material blessings.
To find something good in my friends and tell them, "You are special to me." Friendship!
To look on the bright side of every dark cloud. Philosophy!
To expect the best of every day, to work for it to happen, and to keep my thoughts lofty. High expectations!
To be excited about life and to be as happy about the successes of those around me as I am about my own. Excitement!
To put the past behind me—my mistakes and the mistakes of others— and make each stumbling block a stair. Forgiveness!
To put on a smile the first thing in the morning and leave it in place until I retire at night. Pleasantness!
To spend more time improving myself than criticizing others. Helpfulness!
To be too secure to worry, too patient to anger, too strong to fear, and too joy-filled to allow a troubled thought to cross my horizon. Prayerfulness (for I will need help with this one, Lord)!
— June Master Bachman
A NEW YEAR’S PRAYER
Another year is dawning, Dear Father, let it be, in working or in waiting another year with Thee another year of progress, another year of praise, another year of proving Thy presence all the days.
Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace; another year of gladness in shining of Thy face; another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast; another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.
Another year of service, of witness for Thy love; another year of training for holier work above. Another year of dawning, Dear Father, let it be, on earth, or else in heaven, another year for Thee. Amen.
—Frances Ridley Havengal
LANTERN IN YOUR HAND?
A Christian woman who had lost daughter, husband, and son in a quick succession of illness and accidental death, and who, herself, was so badly injured in the accident that months were required for the healing of her crushed body and broken spirit, wrote the account of her pilgrimage through the valley and shadow of death to eventual victory. She dedicated the book to her father-in-law, who had been an indispensable source of guidance and strength to her in the months of tragedy. The words of the dedication were essentially these:
"To my beloved father-in-law, who met me in the valley with a lantern in his hand."
There are many people in our day who are in their individual valleys of sickness, sorrow, defeat, hurt, disappointment, disillusionment, and confusion. Each one of them needs to meet someone "with a lantern in his/her hand," and every Christian could be that lantern-bearer. But we shall add darkness and confusion to their own situation if our lives are not luminous, confident, compassionate "lanterns of light." Here are some qualities which will make our lives luminous and, therefore, helpful:
1. CONFIDENT FAITH, which sees beyond the darkness into the dawn of hope, a faith based in our own experiences with God’s Word and God’s power, a radiant, triumphant faith which can re-light the burned-out candles of faith in other hearts.
2. COMPASSIONATE HEART, which understands the ache in the hearts of others, which yields the strength of sympathy to the wounded, which translate the sense of caring into words and actions which bind up wounds and bring songs in the night.
3. PATIENT GENTLENESS... Some of those who are groping in their valleys need time for healing, understanding, and renewal. We who are completely well need to remember our times of slow journey to wholeness and, therefore, to be patient, gentle, loving, and forgiving if those whom we seek to lead out of the valley sometimes crawl when we would like them to run. "Love suffereth long and is kind" (I Cor.13:4) will keep our lanterns burning longer!
Let’s aspire to be the sort of Christians who can meet life’s suffering ones in their valleys with light-giving, spirit-saving lanterns in our hands!
—Dr. Chester E. Swor from The Baptist Record date unknown
FUNERAL HOME UPDATE
A wide selection of pet caskets is now available at Waller Funeral Home for families who want a quality container in which to bury a beloved pet. These caskets suitable for cats and dogs, range in size from 18 to 52 inches long, are made of high impact polystyrene, and have cloth linings. A sealant is included with each casket. Prices begin at $144. [Merchandise only; no services provided (except shipping).]
In our continuing effort to make our services and facilities as efficient and user-friendly as possible, we have installed a Web site. We are still working on design and content; we will publicize the site as soon as it is ready.
Bobby Phelps is being missed at the Funeral Home, where he has been employed since our first day of operation. Bobby is recuperating at home from recent surgery, and we look forward to having him back with us soon.
QUOTES TO PONDER
Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and everyday. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
— Frances de Sales
Every tomorrow has two handles:
one faith and one anxiety.
— Henry Ware Beecher
Leave the past to the mercy of God; the present to the love of God, the future to the providence of God.
— source unknown
HELP ME TO UNCLUTTER MY LIFE
Help me to unclutter my life, Lord.
Rescue me from this eternal confusion of belongings (mine and other people’s) that just won’t stay orderly. This suffocation of phone calls, clubs and committees. ("No man can serve two masters," you said. A woman is lucky if she has only two!) This choke of bills and papers and magazines and junk mail. I buy too many things, subscribe to too many things, belong to too many things. The result is such confusion I can’t really enjoy or do justice to anything!
Deliver me from some of this, Lord. Help me to stop bewailing the clutter and work out some plan for cutting down. Give me the willpower to stop buying things we don’t need that only become a chore to take care of. Give me more sales resistance at antique stores and white elephant sales. And give, oh give me the willpower to get rid of a lot we already have—to unclutter my cupboards and closets and attic of things hung onto too long.
Oh, Lord, help me to unclutter my life of too many activities. Give me the self-discipline to stop joining things and to weed out the organizations I don’t really care about. (They’ll be better off without me.) Give me the strength to say "No" more often when the telephone rings.
Lord, show me a Way of uncluttering my life even of too many people without being unkind; a way to love and help people without letting them gobble me alive. There are so many dear wonderful friends I long to see and need to be with for my own soul’s growth. Yet we are lost to each other because of this profligate squandering of energy and time. Give me the determination to reclaim these truly life-strengthening friends, at whatever cost to other idle, meaningless relationships.
And while I’m at it, Lord, help me to unclutter my mind—of regrets and resentments and anxieties, of idiotic dialogues and foolish broodings. Sweep it clean and free. Make it calm and quiet. Make it orderly. Put me in control of my mind as well as my house.., and my calendar.., and my harried spirit. Thank you. With your help I know I can triumph. I can unclutter my life.
— Marjorie Holmes Mighell
A BOY’S FINEST MEMORY
I’ve always enjoyed the story the famous film producer Cecil B. DeMille told in Guideposts about a childhood experience.
"When I was a boy of ten, our community church, in order to stimulate interest among parishioners, decided to hold services every morning at eight o’clock for a week. Since we couldn’t afford a resident minister, one was acquired from the outside. I do not remember his name, but I shall never forget his strong, kindly face and his prominent red beard.
"My father, who was very active in the church, sent me off one cold and rainy morning. I walked alone to the small wooden sanctuary through a murky gloom. Upon arriving, I could see that no one was present but the red-bearded minister and me. I was the congregation.
"Embarrassed, I took a seat, wondering anxiously what he would do. The hour for the service arrived. Surely he would tell me politely to run along home.
"With calm and solemn dignity the minister walked into the pulpit. Then he looked down on me and smiled—a smile of great warmth and sincerity. In the congregation sat a solitary child, but the minister commenced the service as if the church were crowded to the walls.
"A ritual opened the service, followed by a reading lesson to which I gave the responses. Then the minister preached a short sermon. He talked earnestly to me—and to God. When it came time for the offering, he placed the collection plate on the altar railing. I walked up and dropped my nickel into the plate.
"Then he did a beautiful thing. He came down to the altar to receive my offering. As he did this, he placed his hand on my head. I can still feel the thrill and sensation of his gentle touch. It won my belief and strengthened my faith."
None of us can tell at what moment we step into a boy’s [or girl’s] life and by a demonstration of love and faith turn him in God’s direction.
—Norman Vincent Peale
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from November 10, 2000, through January 31,2001.
Mr. Richard Allen Moore November 10, 2000
Mrs. Ethel Mae Musick November 12, 2000
Mrs. Juanita Pipkin Coleman November 17, 2000
Mr. Jimmy Elwood Gay November 18, 2000
Mrs. Marybec Shaw November 27, 2000
Mr. Ernest M. DePriest November 29, 2000
Mr. Rutherford Benjamin Hogins November 30, 2000
Mr. James William Bishop December 4, 2000
Mr. Joel Dale "Dusty" Rhodes December 5, 2000
Mrs. Edith Tabor "Edie" Smith December 5, 2000
Mr. Thomas Ray "Tom" Hearn December 5, 2000
Mr. Jimmy Ray Brummett December 9, 2000
Mrs. Trula Handley Threlkeld December 9, 2000
Mr. Johnny Paul "John" Goff December 10, 2000
Mr. Billy L. "Buck" Drewery December 14, 2000
Mr. Clyde Eldridge Bonds December 15, 2000
Mrs. Margie Thursal Hamilton December 20, 2000
Mr. James A. Busby December 22, 2000
Mrs. Pauline Holcomb Moody December 23, 2000
Mrs. Elwanda Howell "Wanda" Brewer December 27, 2000
Mr. James Roland Tidwell December 29, 2000
Mr. Arthur Shirley Carpenter December 29, 2000
Mr. Louis Wayne Savage December 30, 2000
Mrs. Minnie Roach Combs January 1, 2001
Mr. Simon Philip McNeill, Jr January 1, 2001
Mr. Quinon Liddell Day January 2, 2001
Mr. Warren Wilkins Lesley January 7, 2001
Mrs. Zelma Voyles McCluskey January 12, 2001
Mr. William C. "Buddy" Wood January 16, 2001
Mrs. Gloria Rotenberry Plunk January 18, 2001
Mrs. Louise Ashford Harwell January 18, 2001
Mrs. Frances R. Harrison January 18, 2001
Mr. Ronald Edward Pierce January 22, 2001
Mrs. Syble Urene Ransom January 25, 2001
Mrs. Florine Borer Whitehead January 26, 2001
Mrs. Lena Morris White January 28, 2001
Mrs. lona Stewart Daniels January 29, 2001
Mrs. Sarah Auten "Sally" Vaughan January 31, 2001