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'?