Archives For Life

Christmas. A time to gather with friends and family to celebrate the joys of the season. Of a year ending, and a new one to come. A time to celebrate the birth of Christ, a Savior born (like we all are) in blood and pain. Unlike, His tiny body was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a feeding trough hewn from cold, hard stone.

They didn’t have Apgar scores, or incubators, in His day. No one was standing by with a nasal aspirator to suction the mucus from His nose and throat. What a risk! Eternal God to come and be made man! Think of all He forswore to be contracted into such a span!

The minds reels at the thought of the incarnation. That the God Who made it all could limit Himself to such a lowly estate, and not only, but to be born amongst stinking animals, too.

I don’t think we spend nearly enough time thinking about what Christ lost coming into our world. What He laid down for our sakes.

As such, as someone who knows sorrow (“a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief”), Jesus is very tender towards those know loss this season. Maybe this is your first Christmas without that special someone. Jesus knows. Or maybe tour loved one died on (or around) Christmas.

Jesus knows.

And He loves you. He knows your loss, and grieves with you. As I know He is grieving with my family now, having lost a cousin just before Thanksgiving, and a great aunt on Christmas Eve. Forever will the holidays be associated with these events.

There is sorrow, yes. But there is also the  joy of hoped for reunions one day, and the happiness of being able to hold our living loved ones near.

Christmas: A Season of Hope and Loss.

“He shall wipe away every tear.”

How are your holidays? Do think of those who have gone on before, and hold you family tight?

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    James Thomas Harthan, age 75 of Geneva, PA passed away on Monday, November 24, 2014 at his residence.
    James was born April 6, 1939 in Sharon, Pennsylvania, the son of the late Thomas and Elsie Eldridge Harthan.
    He had a long career in retail automobile sales, working for several car dealerships in Mercer, Erie and Crawford counties. Later in life he established his own auto sales business.  He enjoyed buying and selling cars.  He also enjoyed watching old movies.
    James is survived by his son Bradley Harthan and his wife Audrey, several cousins, nieces and nephews, and a close friend Jenny Palmer of Emlenton, PA.
    In addition to his parents, James was preceded in death by his younger brother Edward Harthan and his significant other Verla Shaw of Emlenton, PA
     Services will be private and at the convenience of the family.
     Memorials can be made to the Northwestern Community Educational Foundation, Harthan Character
Award, 100 Harthan Way, Albion, Pa. 16401.
Please sign the online guestbook at hatheway-tedesco.com
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Dickson Funeral Home & Crematory, Rocco R. Tedesco III, Supervisor, 130 N Second Street, Conneaut Lake, PA 16316

I have hypothyroidism, or underperforming thyroid. Of indeterminate origin, there’s nothing for it other than supplementation. This means when I get up in the morning, I take a pill. It also means, because I’ve taken that pill (with a little water), no food for an hour, no coffee for two hours, and no vitamins until four hours after I’ve taken my thyroid medicine.

Having thyroid disease, and the fatigue which accompanies it, is not a blessing. But the time it gives me is. Having to take a pill in the morning essentially means I have to wait to start my day. It forces me, instead of rushing into the day, to slow down.

So I read my Bible and pray. It gives me time to draw nigh to the Lord. (Now, don’t get me wrong: I’d love a cup of joe to go with my study time, but it’s not to be. At least not first thing).

I didn’t always think of my thyroid problem as blessing, decrying it as unfair. And there are still times when I wish I could get out the door to the gym sooner. But the only thing I can control is my attitude. As the cliché goes: attitude determines altitude. So I choose to see the time I’m given as a blessing–and not a hindrance.

What about you? Is there something in your life that was at first an annoyance, but which now you count as a blessing? Share in the comments.

The other morning I was downstairs making breakfast for my daughter. Now, on account of being banned from all things cooking due to a slight pizza mishap (who burns take-and-bake pizza? this guy), making might just be a slight exaggeration. Let’s put it this way: I make a mighty mean microwave scrambled egg.

So there I am cracking the eggs into a microwave-safe soup cup, pouring a little heavy cream adding a dash of salt, and whipping it all into a fluffy froth when my daughter puts on Toy Story 3. Not the beginning; no–it was the end. You know the part, right? Where Andy is ceremonially handing over his beloved toys to Bonnie.

As I stood there watching from the kitchen, it just struck me all at once:

Bonnie could be my little girl, and Andy my son, who’s sixteen and will only be with us a few scant more years. And then my daughter will shortly thereafter follow. All it took were those few scant moments, and although I knew my kids wouldn’t always be around, I felt it.

I was unmanned as stood there stirring eggs. Mouth agape, I felt my chest constrict, and suddenly my eyes blurred. I felt gut-punched right in the feels. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m a man of great feeling, but I usually keep it all tightly under wraps, beneath a veneer of cynicism.

But that moment, infinitesimal in a lifetime made up of moments, wormed its way past my watchful dragons, and right into my heart. My daughter was going to grow up, my son would soon be leaving home, and I wouldn’t always have the opportunity to microwave eggs, play with them, hang out with them, watch the same movies time and time again…

“Bella,” I said, voice quavering. “I’ll be right back.”

“What about my eggs?”

“They’re almost ready. Daddy needs to go see mommy.” And so I did the only thing I could think to do: I went upstairs, eyes moist with tears, crawled into bed with my wife, told her the tale of moment I had whilst making eggs, and let her hold me. Afterwards, I felt like Buddy the Elf: a cotton-headed ninny-muggins. A goof.

But I wouldn’t change a thing.

God, help me to cherish such moments as long as they last. Thank You for each and every one.

How about you, dear reader, have you had any such moments? Ones that hit you right in the feels? The comments are open below.

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Have you ever been there? You know, just chilling? Kicking back, watching a show–and God just kind of gobsmacks you?

No?

Is it just me then?

I was watching this week’s mid-season finale of The Flash, and this bit of dialogue hit me like a bolt out of the blue:

The man in the yellow suit “has taken enough from us.” Beyond it’s literal meaning within the context of the show (a man in a yellow suit–the Reverse-Flash), I was struck by what an apt metaphor it was for anything we let rob us of our joy.

It could be fear. It could be getting passed over for a promotion. It could be a slight, real or imagined. It could be we feel like we aren’t getting , or didn’t get, the love we felt we deserved.

It could be any decision we make from that place of trying, at all costs, to avoid getting hurt again. Or letting hatred take us down a road that Jesus can’t follow.

The man in the yellow suit is anything which keeps us shackled to the hurts, slights, fears, pains… which in turn keep us from being all that Jesus says we are in Him.

For myself, I’ve spent an inordinate number of years trying to make up for something that I can never get back. Like Barry’s father says to him in the show:

It’s time to let go.

It’s time to live.

Is there anything keeping you from really living into all that you should be? Is it time, and are you ready, to let it go?

I’m not usually one to weigh in on current events. It’s not my forte. But this is too important to stand silent. It’s too important to not at least try. To try to say something.

And what I want to say is this:

The facts are in, eyewitness testimony has been carefully considered, and no indictment was handed down. The fact is that this country has an ugly history of racism, and we are still dealing with that sordid reality everyday. The fact is that people, people God made, have been (and are) treated as less than. And into this very charged environment a police officer, just doing his job, ignited a powder keg. The area was going to go off sooner or later.

The fact is this: a whole swath of the populace feels disenfranchised, not taken care of by the system. Can’t you see how they would be prejudiced against those who are supposed to serve and protect? That said, there is no justification for the ongoing violence and rioting. That’s not justice, and it won’t bring Michael Brown back. What I’m saying is that while I can understand the reaction, at the same time I can’t condone it. I would go so far as to say that if Darren Wilson had been a Black officer this would not have been news. But because he’s white, and shot a young black man, it is. It’s the world we’ve inherited. An almost too-connected world, where news travels nearly at the speed of light.

I blame the media for whipping this thing into a frenzy. If we want to level a charge of race baiting, we need look no further than the news. And we gobble it up. Be that as it may, the simple fact is this:

The facts in Ferguson don’t matter. Or rather they don’t matter as much as the people do. Because, and forgive the cliché, people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.

We could all do a lot better job of that, of caring for one another.

What do you think?