By Doug Harrell
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 KJV
We have just finished most of our Christmas Celebrations and just a couple of more days until the New Year rolls in. Most of our family has rotated through rather than being here all at one time. Those days when we had the large crowds are probable gone for good, with the family expanding, new brides, new grooms and new great grandchildren here and probably more in the near future. As the seasons of life change, the ebb and flow of families also changes. At times, I really miss the days when all the children, then the children and their mates were here on the holidays. I have watched what happened with Mother and Dad as we children grew up, married and had our own children; we started creating our own family traditions and occasions, and Mother and Dad were not as big a part as they once were.
As we move through life and the changes come we can either embrace the changes or be bitter and resentful. I am still learning to make the embrace much more powerful than the resentment, learning to love the new rather be mad at the change. Life is truly too short to be sad and down trodden when things don’t go as we might like.
Christmas Day was a time for reflection here on Harrell Hill, we had our granddaughter Geneva, who is four, and my mother Geneva, who is ninety-two, with us. About 5:30 AM little Geneva woke up and we let her open her stocking and gifts and about 6:30 mother Geneva woke and we did the same for her. The joy that both of them exhibited was truly refreshing as they expressed glee over the new found treasures that had been provided. Over that hours’ time I had flashbacks of the mornings around the fireplace at Mother and Dad’s as we four children were so excited about Santa Claus and what he had brought us. It usually was not a lot in today’s terms, but we were certainly blessed with the love and caring that was provided. I tried again to look at Christmas morning through the eyes of the four year old, and the eyes of the seventy three year old, and the eyes of the ninety two year old. As a seventy three year old the true meaning of Christmas was more on my mind than the presents under the tree or in the stocking. Even little Geneva made several comments about it being Jesus birthday and that she was glad she was a Christian. At her age I have to compliment her parents for teaching her those things because I am not really sure that she has reached enough maturity to really understand, but what do I know! I am not sure what it looked like from the eyes of a ninety two year old but I could see signs of joy and also signs of sadness and loneliness in Mother’s eyes. She made the statement several times that it was hard and I can only imagine what life would be like to have lost your mate of almost seventy years, to feel like you were no longer an integral part of the activity that was taking place around you. To not really be able to maintain a conversation thread for more than a few moments, to really not know what was taking place with children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.
As I look forward to the New Year, I hope I am able to place myself in the shoes of the four year old and the ninety two year old and show love and compassion for all those of all ages around me. It is so easy to get angry and frustrated with both ends of the spectrum, and also the middle at times. I look at how children are being treated today, sometimes with no love, no discipline and no teachings of the real meaning of life is so many cases. As I write this there are approximately eighty-five foster children in just this one county that I live in. The drug and alcohol addiction that is taking place is destroying the lives of all ages. My prayer for the New Year is that this country return to the Christian values that have made it such a great nation and a wonderful place to grow up, marry and start a family. Just this past weekend, Christmas weekend, forty people were shot in just Chicago alone, a dozen died. The Center for Disease Control reported 52,404 deaths due to drug overdose in 2015 and the rates have increased again this year. At least 64 law enforcement personnel have been killed in the line of duty this year, part of them by ambush. One ray of hope is that abortions have been declining in the past few years but the numbers are still staggering. The best hope for a renewal of our basic way of life is through the power of the blood of Jesus Christ. Remember, a revival starts in the hearts of each of us as individuals. Please be in prayer every day for our mothers, our fathers, our children, our families and our leaders as we look forward to a revival of the Holy Spirit of the Lord to be accepted by each of us. I know the Lord is willing and knocking, are we listening and opening our hearts to him? I wish each of you a blessed and prosperous New Year. May God Bless each and everyone.