Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas 2016

Dear Hearts,

This is not the first time that I’ve been late with my Letter to you and I apologize for that, but this year is totally different.  Today is actually New Year’s Eve and I am sitting down to do a most difficult task.  How can I talk of happy times over this past year when my heart just hurts?  This year makes 20 years for my Christmas Letter and this year will always stand out in my memory.  For those of you who are my friends on FaceBook, you’ll know that I lost all of my addresses and the digital copies of my letters when my external hard drive crashed earlier this year, so some who have received the letter in the past probably won’t get it unless they contact me.  I’m relying on FaceBook to propagate it this year…..

I need to just start with the closest thing to me, and you all know that is the fact that I lost my dearest Friend, my greatest support, my biggest Fan:  my Mother.  Momma was known by many names by many people:  Mom, momma, sister, Aunt Lucy, Granny, Bicky, Sis Lucille, Sis Taylor, and so on.  Momma had not been well for many years because of her asthma which she had from childhood.  She had gotten to the point where we deemed it necessary for her to come and live with us a few years ago.  I felt guilty many times because we lead very busy lives and many times, Momma was not able to go when we went and do when we did but I know that just being around all the activity that goes on in this household with our business being in our backyard and in the house and the in and out of grandchildren did make a difference.  Momma was a very independent person who held her privacy paramount.  I know that it was an adjustment on her as much as it was on us, especially with her having to let go of many possessions that epitomized her independence.  She would make little comments about little things that she wished I hadn’t “put in the yard sale” (LOL), even if I hadn’t.  She was raised in her early years during part of the Great Depression and, as many who came thru that time, had a tendency to hold on to “things”.  In going thru her things since she passed (a very hard thing to do that will take me a long time to finish), I’m finding evidences of that tendency.  One thing that has made me realize that she did feel a part of things she actually didn’t get to participate in is looking thru her calendar that she kept of the year.  She noted everybody’s birthday that she knew:  including every person at Church.  She made sure she got the bulletin every week so she could write down those dates.  There were notations of weddings and funerals, all revivals, happenings and events in other people’s lives, weather changes, family doctor’s appointments, etc.  Traumatic happenings to folks around us, birthday parties whether she was able to go or not.  Births, such as the first one of 2016 was Baby Luke Thomas Erickson (only those in our Church Family will understand the importance of that one.)  I love this one:  April 4th:  “open pool, to ready for swimming.”  I don’t know if Momma was ever able to step foot inside the pool fence.  For sure not since she came to live with us.  And then on May 12th:  “Girls got to get into the pool.   Brrrr cold.”  Nothing is written, other than a few birthdays she wrote earlier in the year, for October or November.  On October 23rd, Momma went into the hospital thru the ER to never step foot outside of it again.  I stayed with her as much as possible, only leaving the few times someone else convinced me they would be there.  The last morning before she was finally admitted to Hospice, I spent by her side, holding her hand and praying.  Momma was ready to go but she didn’t want to die.  She loved life.  We talked about it a little:  enough to get a few details that she wanted for her funeral, but, like a lot of things, Momma didn’t really talk openly about it.  I probably would have felt better if she had.  I think she realized that it was her time but I’m not sure she wanted to admit it.  I am thankful that God was merciful and He didn’t let her suffer.  He confirmed that fact to me later.  He is ever Faithful and Loving and He answers prayer.  I miss my Momma and I think I always will.  It really “threw me for a loop” to use one of my phrases.  I know she’s happy, singing and dancing with the Angels around the Throne, breathing deep and singing those high notes that so many that loved her never got to hear, but we who did know the joy she must be feeling.  I don’t want to start naming people who did so much during this time because I surely would forget someone and that would truly be tragic.  I want to thank everyone who had a part for everything they did.  We truly felt the love of friends and family alike.  I know I’m not the only one who is hurting and missing her like crazy:  Her grandchildren (and mine), her siblings, her close friends, her church family.  I know she would want me to live my life and continue the work that God has for me.  Though she did think that I overloaded myself a bit.  I say every year, and it is true, each year my letter takes on a life of its own, a theme, and I feel this one is “Remembrance.”  Last year I wrote of the loss of Terry’s mother and this year mine.  With those last few thoughts in mind, here is my year……

This year had its share of gains and losses, births and deaths.  My BFF Barbara lost her husband in February and it has been a rough year for her.  I’m doing my best to hold her up in prayer and I know she’s going to pull through but things will never be the same.  I know it is TIME.  As we age, those around us do too.  We’re not ready . . . I’m not ready.  I don’t want to get old but I have to face it:  I’m there.  As Momma noted in her calendar “Shonda’s ‘lil angel was brought into the world” speaking of Joe and Shonda Coleman’s precious preemie Mary Anna.  I know she has obstacles to face but God is control of that situation as well.  It seems that we have so many who are working for the Church in that way (LOL), so many more babies:  little Reagen Dillon, Cason Kitchens, Wallace Johnson, (Lord, I hope I’m not forgetting anybody….), a miraculous adoption with little Gracelyn Faith Johnson,  and it seems we now have 3 babies more on the way.  But we lost a precious Lady, Sis Gay Nell Mask.  She was ready to go and her funeral was a celebration of her life.  And weddings:  Leah and Patton, our nephew, Justin Meskimen and Catie Price, and, ending the year with Taylor York and Beth Ann Frazier.  Looking forward with great anticipation to the upcoming wedding of our good friend, Carl Sheppard to his sweetheart Brandy Robbins.  Life does not stop.  In fact, the older I get, the faster it goes.

My children.  Del and Jen made another major transition this year.  They moved back to Pontotoc and Del went to work for us in the Lab.  We have high hopes in that regard.  At least it won’t die with us.  They began attending church with us at Cedar Grove and Del made application with the United Pentecostal Church for his General License which he received.  He has dreams of Pastoring a Church again, hopefully in the not too distant future.  Just waiting on God.  And in the meantime, he and his dad have made application for their Ordination with the UPCI which will happen (hopefully) this coming March.  Del and Jen are beginning to work in the Jail Ministry and were certified to participate in the Parchman Crusade, which they attended for the first time in August along with us.  Jen is working in Children’s Church and they are both heavily involved in the music at the Church.  Homeschooling continues with ABeka Academy and, in fact, several families in the Church have jumped on that wagon and so they have a group to do fun things with throughout the year.  Rachel and Jordan attended Youth Camp which was a life changing experience for them both.  The week after that the family went to the Memphis Zoo for Ellie’s 6th birthday.  Rachel is now in the Youth Group and singing in the Junior Praise Team.  Rachel and Jordan are participating in Bible Quizzing and doing rather well, I must say.  Ellie won’t be far behind on that when she is old enough because she always does so well with her Scripture memorization with her schooling.  Speaking of Ellie, she was baptized this year AND received the Holy Ghost!  She graduated from Kindergarten and is doing so well with 1st grade.  She reads so good.  They all three participated in the Christmas Drama with Rachel being the “leading lady” and Jordan the “Rock Star”.  Ellie was a star in her own mind and she always is in my book.  I’m kind of proud of my girls.

My Sister-in-law, Diane, finally landed a job with a hospice company in Union County.  I miss getting to see her as much as I did when she was job hunting on my wifi but I know her and Perry both are so relieved that she found work.  She has been a great comfort to him with the loss of Momma too. 

Back in January, my husband received a call from Pastor Robbins asking us to consider coming on board with the Staff at Cedar Grove as the Keenagers’ Leaders.  These are the 50 year olds and above.  We accepted and it’s been a fun year.  We feel inadequate but we are doing our best to be of service to these precious people.  So many of them are older and wiser than we are but they are so appreciative of any and everything you do for them.  They have become dear to us and we are looking forward to greater things.  Working with that group, leading an outreach team, working in the music, Terry working in Guest Services, the Jail and Prison ministry, Elder Care, and any other way we can serve keeps us pretty busy but our desire is to be used by God in any way He chooses.

I said earlier that Del came to work with us this year:  in February.  The Lab has grown and we’ve had the usual growing pains.  We were able to provide some training opportunities for our employees (Del and my brother Perry).  In fact we took the entire families to the Lab Association summer meeting in Biloxi where we rented a house and us girls explored the shores while the guys “went to school”.  We had two fairly significant Trade Shows that have reaped some business and hopefully will continue to do so. We’re looking forward to bigger and better things in the coming years should the Lord tarry His coming.  With some time and a lot of help, they built me a new office!  I’m loving it.  I have all my “stuff” out here.  I’m not totally settled in yet, but working out of it as far as the Lab is concerned.  Shipping and Receiving is moved to my office.  I am getting set up with my scrapbooking/cardmaking business as well.  The plan on that end is to begin making video tutorials on cardmaking and sharing them in a blog on the internet, connecting that to my Stampin’Up website in order to generate business there.  It’s been a long time coming but I am excited. 

So much has happened this year with the economy, on the political front, etc.  Uncertainty on every side.  More reasons to trust God because He is our only hope.  We feel and believe that God is giving America another chance to get things right and I pray with the coming year that she takes advantage of it.  I believe this is our window of opportunity to reach our families and friends for Christ.  I pray that I can use the experiences I have come through in this year as a springboard to work harder, love deeper, reach farther, and go higher in Him.  I want to seek His face more than His hand this year and I want to bring somebody with me.  My prayer for you is that you will feel His love and His peace in the coming year and that you will experience everything He has for you.  I love you all with all of my heart.  I am sure this letter does not cover the half of what I feel but it is all I can do.  I love you.


For The Tritsch Family

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas 2015                                                                      

My Dearly Beloved……

Why not?  All the Biblical writers started that way and, besides, I like it and it’s true.  What can I say about 2015?  WOW!  What a Ride!  I must admit, it bothers me when I hear people, especially kids, say, “I’m bored.”  I have to say there is nothing boring about my life!  Sometimes I think I would like a little boredom… I think.  Maybe a little less “stuff.”  As I look back over my calendar, review my posts and other’s on FaceBook, look through my “Box”, I’m overwhelmed.  I’m so thankful that I know Who holds my world because, if it were not for Him, I’m afraid I might shoot off into oblivion, my world seems to spin so fast!  Let me start over . . .

It’s that time of year again when I look back over my year and I attempt to put it all down on paper to share with all my Friends and Loved Ones.  Next year will be 20 years running.  Unbelievable!  Each year my letter seems to develop a theme and I’m sure this year will be no different.  Right now the word “Change” comes to mind.  I’ve probably used that one before and I will more than likely be able to use it again, but, to date, this year, I think, ‘takes the cake!’  A little disclaimer:  I said a couple years back that I was going to stop mailing out so many of these and, if you are my Friend on FaceBook, I will share a link and you can read it online.  I still mailed out a bunch and to some who were on the web.  This year I am holding to that.  You probably will appreciate that more anyways.  You won’t have to chunk it after you’re through reading.  So, grab a cup of your favorite and let’s visit.

The year started on a sad note.  Terry’s mother passed away on the 12th of January.  Her funeral was a very tender service on the 17th.  Our kids and I were so honored by Terry’s siblings and their spouses to be asked to provide the music for the service.  She had gone into the hospital on New Year’s Eve and Terry had the opportunity to go and see her before she passed.  I mentioned in my last year’s letter that we were in Arkansas with our girls for Thanksgiving and was able to spend time with her then as well.  It was bittersweet time before and after her Homegoing as we spent one last time at “the Farm” as we affectionately called their home place, and with family.  I was so touched when my sister, Becky Hill, surprised me by coming to the funeral.  I hadn’t seen her in many years and it meant so much to me to have her there.  I love you, Becky.

January also held the birth of my new nephew, Benjamin Asher Robertson, whom I have yet to meet.  Thank God for FaceBook!  We also began the process of completing one of my goals from last year of obtaining our Concealed Carry Permits.  We completed the class for our Enhanced Permits that month.    A lot more of January but too much for the space here.  February was also full to the brim with Revivals at Church, the passing of a dear Saint of God, Sis Mildred Carter, Limu convention in Memphis, SNOW!! and ice in the weather, and a fun-filled time at my annual Scrapbook Retreat I try to attend.  This time it was hosted by my God-daughter, Missy Reynolds, in Heber Springs, AR.  My cousin, Carla Martin, went too and we had a blast even though I was sick the whole time I was there!  This trip had been planned for a long time and because of that, and a date change, I missed the wedding of Joe and Shonda Coleman.  Shonda is my partner in Jail Ministry.  I don’t think they missed me.  Lol!  They were preoccupied… Lol!  I also had the distinctive delight to attend a concert with some of my Red Hat Sisters to hear the piano stylings of Jason Coleman who is the grandson of the inestimable Floyd Cramer!  What a treat! 

March brought more snow and ice but with that, the tragic accident of the Joey Mask family and death of a dear mother and wife.  I was with my brother when he had his pacemaker replaced that month and I ended the month helping my BFF with a project for the ALJC Spring Conference Women’s Esprit program and helped with the music for the Conference.  April brought Easter, Christian Prisoner Fellowship training in Grenada, NCTI Real Colors class, my son’s 35th birthday, and another funeral: this time for my cousin Mary Killough (known to us as Betsy)’ husband, Andy, who passed fairly unexpectedly.  Our Church, Cedar Grove UPC, was honored to host the Tupelo Tornado Memorial Service which was attended by many Dignitaries from the City and the State.  You will remember, I talked about the terrible tornado that tore through Tupelo, April 2014.  Perhaps the brightest spot in April is the night we took our girls, along with their Mom and Dad, to see Cinderella in the Russian Ballet at the Ford Center on the Ole Miss Campus.  It was definitely a night to remember!

In May we went to Little Rock to celebrate the 85th and 80th birthdays of my Uncle James and Aunt Jewel Chrestman.  So thankful that my mother still has all her brothers and sisters alive.  We finished the process for our CCP’s and just had to wait for them to come in.   Mother’s Day was very special, of course, and then our anniversary on Memorial Day weekend.  My cousin, Carla, and her family spent the weekend with us.  June brought graduations and my Ellie’s 5th birthday!  She wanted a pool party and that’s what she got!  “Not anything big!” was what her mother said, BUT!  The girls and I have always wanted a slide for them to have at the pool and I ‘happened upon’ a bouncy castle with a slide at Sam’s that was reasonably priced so I picked it up.  Papaw decided that we needed an extension on the deck to accommodate this item, so he and Uncle Perry promptly built one.  So we had a PARTY!  Invited lots of little (and big) girls to celebrate with her and she had a blast!  Father’s Day was special with my kids in Church with me that evening.  Rachel, my oldest, impressed me with her note-taking of Pastor Robbins’ sermon.  I still have the notes.

We celebrated my Aunt Jean’s 80th birthday with a surprise party put on by her daughter, Jamey, and my other Aunt, Emma.  It was sweet but another reminder of how short life is.  As I said, I’m thankful my mother has her siblings but I’m very aware of their ages and how time takes a toll.  Never take family for granted!  Love each and every member with all your heart and let them know every day!  My brother introduced us to a new friend of his that became my new Sister-in-law in October.  Linda Diane (now Taylor) is a sweet heart.  She’s pretty, funny, smart, very educated, and loves the Lord with all of her heart.  I say this and hope that no one takes this the wrong way:  I cannot make choices for other people and sometimes the choices they make affect others, including myself.  I love my Sister-in-heart, Mary and she will always be that to me.  But thank the Lord, my heart is big enough to welcome and love my new Sister! 

Speaking of family:  We made the difficult decision this year that my mother no longer needed to live alone.  She’s been with us since November of last year but nothing was ever spoken audibly about her future situation.  We probably worried about it more than necessary because when we finally broached the subject with her, it was relatively painless.  I know it is a mental adjustment for her and a definite physical adjustment for us but I think we’re gonna make it.  I had to empty her mobile home and attempt to assimilate her necessary and desired things into our home in order to make things more like her ‘place’.  This meant I had to get rid of some of my things as well.  Can you say, Yard Sale?  I’m talking huge!  And after I had it here and got rid of a bunch of ‘stuff’, I moved it to my daughter-in-law’s and she had several yard sales, too!  Then, in September, Terry went to his Mother’s place and met with his siblings to go through her things and brought a bunch more home with him.  Can you also say, Critical Mass?  That’s where my home is and I’m still working on that! 

In August we celebrated Pastor Robbins’ 15 year Pastoral Anniversary with a reception and awesome services!  We are so thankful for our Pastor!  There is a quality about him that is hard to describe but we appreciate his wisdom and his love for people.  His driving passion for lost souls is evidenced by the many Ministries he trains and equips the congregants of Cedar Grove and, indeed, the members of the entire State of Mississippi UPCI.  He is an inspiration to all who know him.  One of those ministries is North American Missions and an arm of that is Christian Prisoner Fellowship of which we are a part.  Through that Ministry, again, we had the immense privilege of participating in the Parchman Prison Crusade, also in August.  Miracles, baptisms, and souls saved was what it was about!  And it was a wonder to see!   We had the great privilege of attending a Ted Cruz rally in Tupelo in August that greatly helped cement in our hearts and minds who is our choice for President of these great United States of America.  I will say more about that later.  September brought Ladies’ Conference for me and Men’s Conference for Terry.  Both were awesome!  Another wedding, Katie Morgan married Cody Mullins Labor Day weekend and I was honored to provide a little music for the occasion. 

In addition to the afore mentioned wedding of Perry and Diane, in October we were privileged to have Mark Condon at our Church for his Power Worship Conference.  Many people from different churches and organizations were blessed to be able to attend.  My friend, our Music Director, Shelia Kitchens, did an awesome job of pulling this event together and I’d have to say it was a game changer in many ways!  We enjoyed a trip to Amish Country with our Church group that month as well.  In November we had a bang-up time celebrating Rachel and Jordan’s birthdays at Premiere Lanes in Oxford.  This is a very nice place and we will definitely be going back there again.

December.  Wow.  On the 5th my cousin, Cullen Chrestman, who has always called me ‘Aunt’ married Lindsey Bernard who is the daughter of Dr. David K. Bernard, who is the General Superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International.   And WE attended the wedding!  It was beautiful!  We took a few days to kind of take a break in the beautiful city of Austin, Texas.  While we were gone we received the sad news of the passing of my daughter-in-law’s Uncle Dennis York and then the next day on our way home we received the news of the tragic death of 19 year old Dallas Martin.  His parents have been friends of ours for several years.  We returned home to attend both funerals.  Dennis’ funeral was a testimony of his life of service to the Kingdom of God.   Dallas’ funeral was a testimony to the lives he had touched with over 4000 in attendance at his viewing and probably ¼ of that for his service.  He was named honorary General Superintendent of the Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ by the General Board and present by GS Kenny Carpenter.  It was awesome.  Friday, the 11th we took our girls and their Nana for a ride on The Polar Express!  It was so much fun!  Love making memories with my babies!  I discovered a new love this year.  It’s really an extension of one I already have:  Scrapbooking.  And that is Card Making.   I made all the cards for our Doctor’s this year for Christmas and I was pleased with the outcome.  I joined a company, Stampin’ Up, because of this new hobby and am looking forward to sharing this with anyone who is interested.

I have just given you the very tip of the tops of the events of my year!  Add to all of that working every day in our business which continues to grow exponentially, working in our Church in multiple ministries (music, jail, prison, ladies, etc.), taking care of my house and household, and trying to squeeze in a little time for me.  No, I’m not bored.  In all of that I have tried to make a focused effort to increase my prayer life and Bible study.  Even though I fail miserably so many times, I am more acutely aware of my need to be close to my Lord.  This world is changing so fast and the events that have transpired in our Country and are still happening makes me know that surely His return is soon.  I can only hope!  I’ve probably lost some “friends” this year because I’ve come to realize that I can’t be silent any longer.  I’ve got to be saved and I want to take as many with me as possible.  It is hard for me to fathom the things that people accept as normal and good when these things are so diametrically opposed to Godly values!  I want to stand for Truth.  I want to save my Family.  I want to protect my Family.  I want to change my World.  I mentioned before that I am a supporter of Ted Cruz.  I urge you to check his record.  The only hope this world has is Jesus Christ, but I believe Ted Cruz will, to the best of his ability, point our Nation in that direction.  I’m sorry if you feel like a Christmas Letter is not the place to ‘get political’ but, this is my letter.  Lol!  I believe if you want to know what a Man will be when he is in power, look at his life before he came to Power.  Know them by their fruits.  I challenge you!  I can’t help but put a plug in for Ted’s book ‘A Time For Truth’.  I never thought before that I could read and enjoy a political book but I did and it increased my respect for this man and I pray to God that He has mercy on this Country and gives us a Leader like this……… or that He just takes me home. 

I don’t know what this new year will hold but I trust Him!  More changes are surely coming as we endeavor to follow His leading.  I didn’t say a whole lot about my kids but God is working in their lives as well and I’m excited to see what God has in store.  My prayer for you for the coming year is that God will bless you abundantly and keep you in His Will.  I love every one of you and pray that you still love me!  Lol!

                                   Have a blessed Christmas and a Very Happy New Year
                                   Leslie (for the Tritsch family)


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014                                              

Dear Friends,

            Wow!  Here it is the end of another year.  And we’re still here.  Amazing.  I really mean that.  But I will say more about that later.  For some reason, it has been really hard getting started this year.  It’s almost like I’m afraid.  It’s similar to the feeling I have when I am going to start a sewing project.  I’m scared stiff to cut into that beautiful fabric.  I guess I’m afraid I will mess it up.  It’s not like cutting my husband’s hair because it will grow back, but not material!  I think it also has to do with age because the older I get, the more OCD I get about organization and not missing something I’m supposed to catch.  So, when I sat down with my Box of memories to relive the year, I also used my calendar (which those who know me well, know I’m stuck to), and FaceBook!  Ah, FaceBook!  I love how I can relive the year with pictures, posts, and videos.  They still bring a smile to my face.  Like the video I shared of my granddaughters, Rachel and Jordan, and their “news reporting” last summer!  By the way, for those new to this letter, this is my annual Christmas letter that I do every year since 1996 to bring family and friends up to date on my life.  If you’ve just become my FaceBook friend, you might want to look that video up….

            The thing that blows me away about this year is how much has happened.  How much Life has flowed under my “bridge”.  Things that seem like they happened two to three years ago actually occurred this year.  This year was filled to the brim with triumphs and tragedies.  I count at least 10 deaths that affected us in some way.  And then there were births as well.  New friends, new places, growth, and life-changing experiences.  Miracles and those in the making.  And so, endeavoring not to bore you, let me just dive into a few of these events.

            The year began with several deaths either in or closely connected to people in our church and for fear of missing a name, I won’t list them but our hearts were grieved for those affected.  I will mention Sis Beatrice Hutcheson, the mother of Glenda Putt.  This precious lady was loved by everyone at Cedar Grove.  I had the pleasure of hearing my son preach for our Church the first Sunday evening in January.  I know a lot of great preachers but he’s still my favorite!  

He and Jennifer and the girls were blessed with a new home in Oxford.  It was really a miraculous thing and we are thankful for God’s blessing in that.  They have become very involved with a program with their Church, NCTIS, which is a chemical abuse program with other aspects.  They were both certified later in the year and are very happy and excited about this work.  They work through the Drug Court to receive participants in the program.  The Church expanded their programs to include the ACTS program which is a more faith-based program of a similar nature.  It keeps them very busy but they are working together on something that they both are passionate about and this makes me very happy.  Terry and I were privileged to sit in on the ACTS training to become certified with that program.  We are still feeling our way as to how we can be used in this avenue.

            Terry and I attended the Christian Prisoner Fellowship conference in Atlanta in February and became certified as Volunteer Chaplains with CPF.  We have begun working in the county jail with our Church’s existing program and are learning to love that work.  My timeline will be off here just a little, but I cannot leave this subject without talking about our participation in the Annual Conference held at Parchman Maximum Security Prison in August.  Life-changing is an understatement.  Terry was privileged to go last year but I was unable to due to illness.  This being my first year will not be my last!  Watching those prisoners respond to the message and to the worship, seeing their lives changed forever, hearing the stories of those on Death Row being baptized in water and with the Spirit, working with the people from all over the state who came to help.  I’ll never be the same and I can’t wait till next year!

            March was filled with a Marriage Conference at Pickwick, Mom’s 85th birthday celebration and all that incurred, the beginning of our new Website for The Denture Lab ( , thanks to Arthur Dillon’s great efforts and a photo shoot for the Lab with Amelia Robbins.  We took our girls to Arkansas in April to see “Grandma Skimmens”, as they say.  Terry attempted to take care of some repairs that were needed on her home and the girls enjoyed the Lake and climbing on the rocks. 

Back at home, Easter was a blessed time.  I helped with our Easter Program doing the music and the song selections.  It was an awesome program by Lori Ann Dillon and I was honored to be a part.  Then I was able to go spend that afternoon with my babies being the first time to do so in almost 5 years! 

In an effort to get exercise and become more healthy, we purchased bicycles and tried out the Tanglefoot Trail with the girls.  This is a “Rails to Trails” project that runs from Houston, MS all the way to New Albany, MS:  some 50 miles more or less.  The first trip me and the girls made about 6 miles.  The second trip, Papaw joined us, and, along with a pull-behind trailer for Ellie, we made about 11 miles!  It was a blast but perhaps a little much for starting out.  We’re going to get back to it, I promise….!  It was rather cute, however, to see Jordan on the Trail with training wheels!  March was also sad because of the unexpected passing of our friend Susan Davis who was an integral part of Christ the Rock Church and also Bro Ellard who was the sweetest man you could ever meet and also Rev Clement who was a dear friend of our Son and his family.  Our long-time friend, Hank Hansbro, also went to be with the Lord to be liberated from a life of illness and confinement to be forever with the Lord.  Thankfully, all 4 of these were so very ready and we have a promise we will see them again!

            Normally the old saying says something about March winds and April showers but this year April brought a devastating wind when a bad tornado hit Tupelo.  The neighborhood around our Church was one of the worst hit but thankfully our Facility was spared.  Lots of tree damage and some vehicles but the structure was virtually untouched.  The Lord used this situation for us to be a blessing to our community by the people of our church stepping up to help those in need and our church becoming a Disaster Relief point: serving meals, distributing supplies and other support for workers and those affected by the storm.  Several in our Church received damage to their property but thankfully no lives were lost in the storm.  The only life lost during that time was due to a traffic accident involving the wife of a friend of ours.  God knows all things and we trust Him.

            May brought Mother’s Day with my own Mother being one of two Mothers of the Year crowned at Cedar Grove UPC and my children surprising me at Church that evening.  The girls’ school year ended and as a part of their awards program we had a music recital with the piano students and the Rhythm Band.  That was an experience!  I am learning a new measure of patience as I work with these littlest ones and again this school year.  The youngest this year is Ellie (4).  I will tell you now, I do not see a repeat of the recital performance for Rhythm Band this upcoming year!  LOL!.  It was cute, though, especially when Jordan broke the tambourine mid performance!  As far as piano is concerned, I am so very proud of Rachel and Jordan.  Rachel has such a natural talent and can hear anything and then play it….. with the harmonies.  She is becoming better at reigning herself in to read the music, which was a concern for me.  I think it has finally clicked with Jordan and, when I can keep her focused, she reads pretty good.  She keeps telling me that I’m supposed to call her to remind her to practice….  Then they and the Church welcomed little Adelyn Hill into the world and to their Church.

            Terry and I celebrated 35 years of wedded bliss this year and we took a trip of a lifetime!  I’ve always wanted to go to Niagara Falls so that’s what we did.  We got our passports and everything and went to Canada.  It was breathtaking!  There is no way that I could encapsulate the experience in mere words on this page but the beauty touched my very soul. 

            My desire was to fill my grandchildren’s summer with good things that would challenge them as well as entertain so I signed them up for the Pontotoc County Library’s Summer Reading Program.  Actually, their Mom had to take them to sign up day since I was in Canada at the time but thereafter we enjoyed learning about bats and bobcats, instruments and puppets, nutrition and book readings.  We even met an author and the Mad Scientist of the Mid South!  They checked out books and read those books to Mamoo and to each other.  I hope to do this with them next year and every year thereafter.  I want them to love books like their Mamoo does.  (Their Papa loves books, too…)  We also made a trip to the Blueberry farm where we picked blueberries.  This had nothing to do with the Library but had everything to do with summer fun.  They played in the dirt and played in the sand, snapped beans with Mamoo, had ice cream days, made play dough creations, drew pictures and colored and even made “books”.  They lost teeth (at least Jordan did) and went to Buffalo Park to see the buffalo and other animals with their cousins Max and Alex who came to visit with their Momma and Daddy and Layloo.  It was a full summer that I hope they will never forget.  Mamoo won’t, that’s for sure!

            My BFF, Barbara and I made another trek to Arkansas for a Scrapbook Retreat.  This time with my God-daughter’s group (Missy Reynolds).  Loads of fun and exposure to yet another form of this art:  Stamping.  I’m hooked.  Ellie had her 4th birthday at the Skating Rink, Frozen style.  We welcomed little Zoey Ashcraft into the world in June.  I was honored to be asked to play the piano for the funeral of my dear friend, Charlotte Weatherly’s husband, Jimmy.  Jimmy had told me years ago that he wanted me to play for his funeral and I am so happy I was able to do just that.  We also found out that Terry’s Mom had fallen and broken her back.  She was in the hospital for quite some time and then transferred to a Nursing Facility.  Her health has gone down and we worry about her.  We are thankful for Terry’s brothers that live near her, especially Kurt and his wife Carol.

            I don’t really know how to preface this next thing but to call it a near tragedy turned Miracle.  My sweet friend, Carolyn Fisher fell through a ceiling head-first to concrete and was unresponsive.  She was rushed to the hospital where she spent several days.  The family didn’t really know what hope there was but every day a new miracle was revealed.  Bleeding on the brain stopped.  No drilling of the skull required.  Broken collar bone, yes, but God took care of that in time.  It was a bonafide miracle for which I thank God!

            I had the pleasure of taking part in our friend, Amanda Permenter (now Foster)’s wedding with the music as well as the reception, providing an Ice Cream Bar.  It was a first and great fun!  Terry celebrated his 62nd birthday and we made the trip again to Biloxi to the Dental Lab Association’s summer meeting.  It was a very growing experience for the Lab which has done nothing but grow all year.  God has blessed abundantly and we are praying for His direction on how to handle all these blessings!  We sent my brother, Perry, to Sarasota, FL for training and he is growing in his knowledge and expertise.  I know God is going to provide the means and the direction to properly do this business.  He keeps sending new doctors our way.  We want to be a blessing to the Kingdom and to others through our business and I know He will help us to accomplish that!  Jennifer left the Lab because they needed the greater income that her nursing could provide and we have not made the decision to hire anyone at this point.  We are looking for God’s leading and provision in this area.  We are very happy that our former employee, Josie Pannell, is helping out a couple of evenings a week which is a tremendous blessing!

            My mother’s health continues to decline and she is now on oxygen 24/7.  She spent several days in the hospital at the end of the summer and then came home to spend a week or so with me.  She has her good days and her bad days but God has been good to her and to us that we have her.  This time of year is not kind to her.  She does not tolerate the cold well, or the damp.  We are thankful for every good day.

            School started and Ellie began 4 yr pre K, Jordan went into 2nd and Rachel moved into 4th grade!  Ellie has done really good which surprised me.  Not that she would do good but that her teacher and her class would survive her!  Lol!  She’s so cute.  I love to see her lead the Pledge!

            In September, I was privileged to attend Ladies Conference which was life-altering and Terry attended Men’s Conference.  Delbert got to go with Terry and my brother and they all really enjoyed it.  We made another trip to Arkansas.  Bro Carl Camden went home to heaven and in support of his daughter, Annette Parmley, we were able to make the trip.  Delbert and family went with us as well.  He was a precious man of God and he will be sorely missed.  We love that entire family and Church.  We were able to visit with Terry’s Mom.  She had been moved to another Home.  This one is absolutely beautiful and does not seem to be a Nursing Facility at all.  They give excellent care.  Mom gets confused but she knew us and the girls clearly.  Little Ellie can make anyone feel better.  She’s so solicitous.  She immediately goes to Grandma’s side and says things like, “Grandma, are you okay?  I love you!  I missted you!”  And just hugs and kisses and pats.  Back at Cedar Grove, Bro Odis Brown turned 90 years young and we helped celebrate that birthday.  We were honored to be able to oversee and prepare for the Pastor Appreciation Reception for Bro and Sis Robbins. 

            One point of prayer I would like to request is for Rev Travis Montgomery.  He was thrown from a horse in early October and is paralyzed from the waist down.  He is still in the Hospital at this writing but we are believing from his healing.  He is able to move his toes some and the Rehab people are optimistic.  He keeps having obstacles:  fever, pneumonia, etc., etc., but God is bringing him out!  His wife is very wore out, to say the least.  This is my best friend’s sister.  Please lift them up in your prayers!  This is the Miracle in the Making I mentioned earlier…..  And while you are praying, also pray for my friend, Dawn, her niece.  She has struggled with her health for quite some time and now has been diagnosed with lymphoma.  She is currently going through chemo which is devastating her.  God is going to bring her through, I know….

            We celebrated Rachel and Jordan’s birthdays at Rockin’ Hop Town in Ecru.  This is an awesome place that is full of all kinds of bouncy houses, slides, etc.  They treat you right and take care of your every need.  The girls had a blast as did everyone there.  We made one more trip to Arkansas with the girls to see Grandma for her birthday and to have Thanksgiving with Terry’s family.  It was a very sweet, much needed time together.  Then we had our Christmas play at Cedar Grove.  This is the children’s play but I got to play the Grandma and I loved it!  It was fun working with the kids and our music director, Shelia Kitchens….

            My friend Edie lost her sister very unexpectedly which was very hard on her and her other sisters but the Lord brought joy again with the birth of her new grandbaby, Ariana Rosalyn Cates!

            My Christmas letters always seem to have a theme and this year is no different.  With all the deaths and then births this year, I am more acutely aware of the ebb and flow of life.  But it also makes me more cognizant of how temporal this life is.  I was listening to a familiar Christmas song the other day:  I’ll Be Home For Christmas.  I thought back over my life and I don’t really have a place that I can call “Home” from my past.  I didn’t grow up in one place and all the friends I grew up with live in different places than they did.  Neighborhoods have changed and my family is scattered.  Where I live right now is the closest thing to Home as any place on earth.  But that’s the thing.  This is where I live but this is not my Home.  Right at the end of last year I had the privilege of meeting a new Author, Merle Temple.  He’s from Tupelo, MS and, at the time, he had written one book.  It is a fiction work based on his life as an undercover FBI agent during the drug war.  Woven throughout the book is the story of the main character, Michael Parker (Temple), and his struggle to find his way spiritually.  Temple has such a command of the English language that he almost weaves a spell to draw you in to his struggles.  He was working on his second book which he has now completed and I was at the book signing at the Pontotoc Library the day after he got them in.  It is titled, “A Rented World.”  It is a continuation of Michael’s story.  Compelling to say the least but the premise is:  this world is not our home.  It is only “rented”.  Now, I don’t want to die but I would love to be able to say, “Jesus, I’ll be home for Christmas.”  But I can truly say, “if only in my dreams.”  This is where I live but Heaven is my home.

            Here’s praying and hoping that you and yours have a blessed, happy Christmas and that Jesus is the center of your celebration.  I love each and every one of you.

Leslie   (for the Tritsch’s)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas 2013

Dear Friends,

Wow!  What a year!  At the risk of sounding cliché, I must say, ‘My, how this year has flown!’  And it really does seem that way!  I’m really not sure if it is my age, or if it is the ‘Times’.  I can’t believe that it’s only an age thing.  The world seems to be rushing toward a destination and sweeping all of us along with it.  I know what that destination…. Or destiny…. Is.  And I’m ready for it.  More than ever before.  Ever.  *Sigh*  *Pause*     Oh.  I didn’t see you there.  Hello.  My name is Leslie Tritsch.  And this is my Christmas Letter.  I forgot, for a moment, that I’ve got a lot of new readers this year who are not aware of what this is.  I’ve been doing this since 1996:  the year I moved to Mississippi.  I’ve got a lot of friends and family who live all over the country that I don’t get to see very often and who want to know what’s been going on in my life.  I take a little time each year to sit down and ‘visit’ with them and sort of ‘catch up.’  I’m going to try and keep my new readers in mind, however, and not bore them with too much useless information.  My letters are more than just newsy, though.  They seem to always take on a theme….. or, more like a feeling…. An emotion that is what my year has been.  And I’m trying not to assume too much.  I do hope you will read it.

I have a box that I put things in all year that I call my “Memory Box.”  As I sit down to write, I pull out this box and take a walk down ‘memory lane’ and re-live my year with you.  I’ve got a new box this year.  My other one finally wore out!  17 years!  My bff, Barbara, gave me a box last Christmas filled with Christmas goodies that she made and I immediately thought, “what a wonderful new box for my memories!”  It’s an elegant Victorian/vintage looking box with a flap-type lid and a Velcro closure (the only modern part of it).  It’s beautiful!  And it’s bigger.  I was always over-loading the other box as my years got fuller and fuller.  Don’t worry, I, very reverently, laid Memory Box 1 to rest:  thankful for it’s years of service.  It went on to it’s reward in the Pontotoc County Solid Waste Landfill….. *smile*   Anyway, when I sit down and start to try and remember my year, thinking that it has passed in such a flash that not much could have happened, my box of memories reminds me that, indeed, my year has been full.  Full of love, full of family, full of you, full of Life!  And, as you know, full of my grandbabies!  So…. Let’s turn this ‘pile’ of memories over so we can start at the beginning of the year……

We always begin with Christmas.  Last Christmas.  It was our first Christmas in our new Church home.  We were just beginning to become acquainted with people who have become very dear to us over this year’s passing.  We experienced our first Cedar Grove Children’s Musical and it was awesome.  We just witnessed this year’s musical and, I must say, they get better and better.  I’m thrilled to see children, growing up in the House of God, excited to worship!  And I see it in other Church settings as well, through FaceBook.  That gives me hope for the future.  I will say more about Cedar Grove later.  I am thankful for the new relationships that were begun and have grown this year.  And others that are beginning…..   Christmas with family was…. Well… eventful!  We always spend Christmas with all of our family that live around us.  That includes our grandbabies’ Nana and Papa:  trading off where we get together.  Their place…. Our place….  Last year we were set to celebrate at Nana and Papa’s but calamity hit!  Their home was flooded right before Christmas!  It was very stressful for them and took several months for things to get back to normal.  (I’m not sure, even now, if everything is taken care of.)  It was a reminder, at least to me, and I’m sure to them as well, that ‘things’ are just that:  things.  I know that we have precious things to us that are irreplaceable, but furniture, walls, floors… they can be repaired.  Family is what is important.  God is what is important.  We just moved the celebration to our place and tried to be a comfort and support.  That’s what families do.

Then January hit!  Full to the brim!  The Wedding of the Year was first on the agenda!  I got to try and repay just a little of my debt to my bff for her help with my son’s wedding as her one and only son, J.J. Winter was wed to his lovely bride Janae.  It was absolutely breathtaking and a lot of fun ….but a lot of work!  I even got the privilege of playing a little keyboard at the Reception.  Right after the wedding, Terry and I started our Daniel’s Fast that we do at least once a year.  We were put on the platform rotation at Cedar Grove, playing keyboard and singing in the Praise Team.  New little piano students began with me.  And the month ended with a weekend in Greenville with our children as our precious middle granddaughter, Jordan, was baptized in the precious name of Jesus Christ! 
Turned out to be my birthday celebration as well.  It just occurred to me that you can see pictures of my year, for the most part, on my facebook page…… (for those of you on facebook.)   My brother, Perry, was put in the ICU in Oxford for bleeding complications.  He’s a heart patient and on blood thinners so it was a concern.  Not a pleasant thing to end the month with, but he ‘recovered’ and seems to be doing fine, thank the Lord!  In February I took my mother and her sister to Arkansas to the funeral of their first cousin, Virginia Christmas.  I got to meet some extended family for the first time.  My babies spent Valentine’s with me and I took them to Doodlebugs Paint Party where they each painted a picture and decorated cupcakes!  We had a blast!  Barbara went with us, thankfully…. Three are quite a handful! 
Speaking of my grandbabies, my box is full of their artwork.  I think Rachel has really got a gift for it!  She can really portray ideas on paper.  She could use training, of course, but I don’t have any trouble recognizing what she is drawing!  I have to smile.  Some are pretty funny.  But sweet.  And her little notes….. I tell her, “we gotta work on your spelling!” and she says, “I know, I know!”  I really think she is just in a hurry because she does well on her spelling in her schoolwork.  Who knows?  She might be a writer one day, though.  She loves to make ‘books’!  I have several in my possession.  All three of them came and spent more time with me in March as their parents took a trip to celebrate their anniversary!  The bff and I went to our second Scrapbooking retreat in Arkansas and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!  Terry, I, my brother and my mother went to Arkansas to the funeral of a dear old friend, Rev John “Jay” Fuller.  It was sad but joyful at the same time.  It was so good to see friends I hadn’t seen in a very, very long time.   Easter at Cedar Grove was wonderful, although I missed being with my babies.  Pictures from Nana helped soothe my heart. 
My brother took, and passed, his GED.  He had taken classes here, which he did not need (and they told him that) but he wanted to get in all he could.  Very proud of him.   All of this is just the first quarter of my year!  And I didn’t nearly put everything! 

The second quarter was no less full but I don’t want to bore you.  I do definitely want to mention a few things, though.  I attended a Ladies Day in Greenville at our son’s church, which was very special.  I love all of those ladies at Greater Faith Tabernacle and count them as dear friends!  Then we had our Ladies Tea at Cedar Grove.  Be sure and check out my pictures on facebook of all the decorations: hats and all! 

May was graduations:  my brother graduated at ICC with his GED and my Jordan graduated kindergarten! 
I spent Mother’s Day with my children in Greenville and then my babies came and we went camping (RV) for our anniversary weekend (Memorial Day)!  We had so much fun!  Again.  Be sure and check out the pictures on facebook:  Rachel baiting her own hook for fishing, Jordan fishing, new friends, the campfire, Ellie’s marshmallow face!  Memories! 
April and May was the beginning of our garden.  Uncle Perry did most of the work in the garden and, as the harvest began to come in, I tried to keep up with the preserving of its fruits.  We spent Father’s Day in Greenville, where Papaw (Terry) and Papa (Glenn) preached at GFT.  Then my girls came home with me for two whole weeks plus!  Our pool certainly got a lot of use this summer!  Del and Jen came for the Fourth of July along with Nana and Papa.  We had a big cookout and then went to see the fireworks at the Park.  Memories!

August was life changing.  Terry and I attended the Mississippi Dental Lab Association weekend conference in Biloxi, Mississippi where he began the process of reinstating his certification.  He received a lot of valuable training and information.  We went deep sea fishing and I caught a big one!  It was so much fun!  (See my picture…..!) 
I also caught the smallest fish on our boat and won a prize for that!  The professionals we met helped convince Terry that facebook was a good thing, so…… the rest is history.  I don’t think they were talking about Candy Crush.  He completed the second portion of testing in September in Heber Springs, Arkansas and received his certification in late October.  Also in August, I was privileged to participate and help in the celebration of my bff’s 60th birthday with her new daughter-in-law.  I must say, we actually surprised her!  Then Terry had the awesome privilege to participate in the annual Parchman Prison Crusade with Christian Prison Fellowship.  This is a two day event where several churches work together and flood this maximum security facility with preaching, witnessing, worshipping and basically transforming the lives of those men incarcerated there.  I was supposed to go as well but got sick and was unable to.  There is no doubt that I will not miss it next year!  I wish I had time and room to tell of the miracles and conversions that occurred!  I am so thankful for the out-reach focus of our Pastor and our Church.  We are all about touching lives.  From jail and prison ministry, to ACTS classes (alcohol, drug, etc.), to daughter works and preaching points:  it’s all about souls!  Terry began to feel early on this year that he should pursue re-obtaining his ministerial license with the United Pentecostal Church, which was accomplished in September.  I am looking forward to all that God has in store for us in His Kingdom!  One of the more surprising joys that has come into my life began in August as well.  I began teaching music (piano and theory) at Oxford Christian Academy one day a week.  I love these kids!  Hopefully I am impacting their lives in at least a small way.  In September we had the joy to take part in the wedding of Brittany and Brad (now Cates).  Terry performed the ceremony and I played the piano.  Precious memories.  And remember, these are just the highlights of my year!  In October I created “Leslie’s Kitchen” as I began to get back in to making homemade whole wheat bread.  Our Ladies had a bazaar.  Now, I’ve never been to a bazaar, much less took part in one but it was an experience.  I baked and I baked and I baked!  And I sold out!  My machine broke a couple of times so I added a new one to my kitchen.  I’ve been baking pretty regularly ever since.  My family sure loves it….. and so do those who have partaken of my labors (or so they say).  I grind my own wheat.  It is awesome! 
Then I was asked by one of our Assistants to head up our Pastor Appreciation Reception which was a lot of fun… and a lot of work.  I think it turned out pretty good.  I couldn’t have done it without the help of Sis Ashley and all the Ladies.  Terry made what, I’m sure, is to become his famous Sausage, Chicken, and Shrimp Gumbo.  Maybe one quart of a 22 quart pot left! 

The next week I went to the Pumpkin Patch with my babies and the school….. busy making memories!  (See pictures!)  I attended a Mark Condon Power Worship Conference with our Music Director and really enjoyed myself.  We celebrated Rachel and Jordan’s birthdays in Oxford at the school with all the usual fanfare plus!  Even had a bouncy house!  Then Terry and I flew off to Sarasota, Florida for almost an entire week.  No.  We weren’t vacationing.  Well, I guess I was, kind of.  Terry was taking some training on a new system that we are adding to the Lab.  We’re very excited about the growth potential that it will bring.  And, speaking of the Lab, we have experienced some major growth in our business for which we are very thankful.  God has truly blessed us and we are trying to be a blessing to the Kingdom and to others through it.

I purposely left out something in October because I wanted to give it a little more attention.  As most of you know, our son has been pastoring Greater Faith Tabernacle in Greenville, Mississippi for the last two years.  They have worked hard and loved the people and really thought that they would be there for many years to come.  God had other plans.  God began dealing with their hearts months ago about leading them in a different direction.  In the beginning, I’m sure they were not even aware of exactly what they were feeling.  Finally in late September they made the decision to resign their Pastorate in Greenville and move to Oxford.  God had already prepared a door without their knowledge.  He was working on both ends of the situation.  It was very hard for them to leave the people.  They loved them.  They still do.  Their lives are forever meshed together.  And, just as God had another plan for my children, He has another plan for those precious people!  Delbert and Jennifer have taken the position of Youth Pastor and Assistant to the Pastor at Christ The Rock Apostolic Church in Oxford.  That’s a whole lot closer to Mamoo!  And the icing on the cake is that Jennifer has come to work for us in the Lab and she seems to be really enjoying herself!  The girls are in school at OCA and Ellie comes to Mamoo’s house every day and runs around with me!

And that brings us to the present.  I am overwhelmed at the blessings that God has poured out on us.  I am thankful for His pull in our lives for greater service for Him.  This Christmas I am more keenly aware that this Season is all about Him.  We have made the decision to scale back somewhat this Christmas on the gift buying because we want our focus to be on Him.  Now don’t worry, my babies will be taken of, trust me!  But I want to teach them what it really is all about.  We have determined to make a sizeable contribution to a program called Christmas For Christ
that helps fund new Churches in North America and helps them get on their feet until they are self-sustaining.  It also helps fund Christian Prison Fellowship and the ACTS program.  All of these programs are designed to change lives.  If we have bought you a gift in the past and we don’t this year, and for all of those that we would want to give a gift, know that we are giving to this cause in your names.  I truly believe that our time here is extremely short.  Things just cannot go on the way they are headed.  I want to make my time here matter.  Who knows what the future holds?  Only God.  And I put my trust in Him.  My wish for each of you is that you would know, experience and rejoice in the spirit of Christmas, which is peace, the miracle of Christmas, which is hope, and the heart of Christmas, which is love.

With all our love,                                                               

The Tritsch Family

Leslie, Terry, & Sarah                

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stepping Heavenward

When I was just a young girl, I read the book titled "Stepping Heavenward" by Elizabeth Prentiss.  Mrs. Prentiss lived from 1818 to 1878.  I can't seem to locate my book at this time:  I have a rather large library for a home library and I have books everywhere so it could be anywhere; so I'm not sure what printing my particular copy is.  It is quite old, however.  The book has been reprinted numerous times and, in my estimation, it is a classic.  I see in looking on the internet that you can even buy it as an e-book.  I'm not sure if my copy had the subtitle that is on the reprinted ones or not, but I like it and I think it sums up the book quite well:  One Woman's Journey to Godliness.  The way I have always described it is: it is about the struggles of a young woman as she strives to become what she should be in Christ and...step Heavenward.  I love the description that Amazon gives, and I quote it here:  ""How dreadfully old I am getting! Sixteen!"" So begins 'Stepping Heavenward' by Elizabeth Prentiss, the journal-like account of a nineteenth century girl who learns, on the path to womanhood, that true happiness can be found in giving oneself for others. ""This book is a treasure of both Godly and womanly wisdom told with disarming candor and humility, yet revealing a deep heart's desire to know God,"" says noted Christian speaker Elisabeth Elliot. ""I do not hesitate to recommend it to men, who need to understand the wives they live with, and to any woman who wants to walk with God.""      Stepping Heavenward: One Woman's Journey to Godliness by Elizabeth Prentiss

This book made quite an impression on me as a young girl and I have thought about it and it's concepts many times down through my life.  Stepping Heavenward is a process.  Paul talked about it a lot.  He had to "die daily."  He talked about the struggles of the spiritual man against the flesh and how he would end up doing the things he didn't want to do and the things he wanted to do, he didn't.  He vowed to bring his body under the control of the Spirit.  I could relate to Katherine, the "Woman" in the book, as she endeavored to pray and all kinds of distractions bombarded her.  Her thoughts would wander and she struggled with what words to say.  Stepping Heavenward is, indeed, a journey.  I speak as to what we are trying to do, not the title of the book.

That brings me to the particular point in "the journey" where I find myself today.  As some may know, we began yet another Daniel's Fast just over a week ago.  I have been blogging about our experience on a physical level in my health and wellness blog: Take Charge of Your Life.  I promised to blog on here about the other side of things.  Fasting is one of those spiritual disciplines that nobody likes to do.  It is easy to find an excuse to not do it.  But I am afraid that it is a necessary and vital part of our journey to Godliness.  Jesus said, in Matthew 6:16, "When ye fast...."  not "If".  This is right after He taught them how to pray and gave them the example of what we call "The Lord's Prayer."   Fasting definitely should be something that one does under the leadership of the Spirit and is coupled with much prayer.  In fact, as I have heard it said and read it several times:  Fasting without prayer is just a diet.  While it is physically extremely healthy and good for you, even that part has, or should have, a spiritual end or purpose.  When I start to think about what it does for the body, I always end up with spiritual results.  Fasting is physical.  Our bodies are the temples of God and we are to take care of our temples.  We are to deny our flesh; to "keep it under", to practice self-control, to diminish the physical so the spiritual can flourish.   Fasting effects a physical change that makes way for a spiritual change.  How?  The detoxification that occurs when you fast brings a clearing of the mind, improved health, more energy, keener senses, greater understanding, and a heightened spiritual sensitivity.  It helps us develop the fruit of the Spirit of Self-Control.  Of course, you must be searching for those things in order for you to find them.

Some things, as Jesus told His disciples, "come only through prayer and fasting."  This proves to me that Fasting should have a purpose.  That purpose could be simply to draw closer to God.  Daniel fasted in order to stay away from defiled things but also to stay true (come closer) to His God.  To separate himself from one thing and to cling to another.  To define a line over which he refused to cross.  A quote from the book I am using in this particular fasting time says:  "Sometimes you are so hungry, the only way to be fed it to fast."  I am seeing God move in our lives, my husband's and mine, in this Fast and before, as we contemplated beginning the Fast.  I am sure we have varying differences on what we feel as our individual purposes for Fasting, but we are unified in many of those goals.  We have joined with our family across miles as our Son and his family and church participate in a corporate, Called Fast.  Even though I am not there in the flesh, I can sense, through our phone conversations, a unity and a oneness in purpose in them as a family unit and I see God's Hand hovering over them and blessing them and drawing them to Himself.  An evidence of that very thing came in our phone conversation last night:  during their dinner conversation, our granddaughter's began to ask about Fasting and why Mommy and Daddy were fasting.  As a result of that questioning, our 8 year old declared that she wanted to fast with Mommy and Daddy and, when asked why, it was that her younger sister, 6-year-old Jordan, would receive the Holy Ghost.  Jordan agreed on both accounts and even included that she wanted to be baptized!  So they are Fasting today, at least for breakfast, and their purpose, and ours, as we continue our Fast, is for Jordan!  Fasting is a powerful tool in our Spiritual Arsenal if we will just use it and allow God to use us in it!  Our God is amazing!

My favorite scripture about Fasting is found in Isaiah 58:8, and I quoted it in my posts on Take Charge of Your Life:  "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily...."  That's where I stopped in my quoting, but I love the rest of it:  "And thy righteousness shall go before thee, the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.  Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer, thou shalt cry, and He shall say, 'Here I Am.'"  Such an awesome promise.  And, no, I didn't miss-spell that word.  It is "rereward."  I've wondered about that word and, in attempting to understand it in the Hebrew and Greek dictionaries, my understanding is that it means that the Lord is going to gather together everything that we need and He will destroy totally everything that is against us!  Wow!  I stand on that Promise and the knowledge that, when I call, He will answer and say "Here I Am!"  What else do we need as we continue to 'Step Heavenward'?