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)