Saturday, January 23, 2016

Stages of Life

These first 3 weeks of January have been vivid pictures and reminders of the stages of life for our family.  Our youngest grandson celebrated his first birthday this month.  Daniel is experiencing many firsts and beginnings as he learns to walk, speak, try new foods, play, and share.  His future is bright, new, and fresh each day.  Along with Daniel, we have also celebrated the birthdays of the two youngest nephews on each side of the family and the birthday of my youngest sister, each in different stages of life.

January began with the retirement of two brothers-in-law from public education.  Mark taught 9th graders math at Deer Park High School for twenty-three years.  He also referees high school football games and will continue to do so.  Kirk retired after 30 years with Pasadena Independent School District, the last 10 years as Superintendent of Schools.  He has recently written and published two books, Put Away Childish Things and The Chase, with more to come.  He previously wrote A Century of Learning to celebrate the Pasadena School Districts 100th birthday.  With three grandchildren, he won’t have to be concerned about dull moments.  Both Mark and Kirk have made positive impacts as they have invested in the lives of students, faculty, and their community.  They are both active members of South Main Baptist Church, Pasadena.  It will be exciting to watch and see what the next stages hold for Kirk and Mark.

Larry’s oldest sister Pernella celebrated her 80th birthday this year.  She was 15 years old when he and Terry were born.  As a result of a high fever when she was less than a year old, she became deaf.  Although she could not hear, her other senses took over and allowed her to have a full life.  Pernella loved the Lord and fully trusted Him.  She was feisty, full of energy and always on the go.  She never wanted to miss out on an event or conversation, even though that was a challenge at times.  Pernella loved a good meal, especially when it was shared with family.  In October, family gathered and helped celebrate her 80th birthday at Chachi’s Mexican Restaurant in Kingwood.  I’m grateful that there were also great family times at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This past year has added additional challenges for Pernella with breathing, due to the deterioration of a heart valve, thus the need for oxygen.  She chose not to have surgery because she was more than ready to see Jesus, her husband, and parents.  She was still sharp as a tack and on the go.  Two weeks ago, Pernella had a heart episode.  In case anything happened, she made it a point to visit her friends that worked at Luby’s, the grocery store, and Walgreen’s and let them know of her condition and that she was ready to go when the time came.  The trips to those places were as much a social event as shopping adventures because she took the time to greet, speak to, and hug the store employees.  Last week, Pernella planned her own funeral service.  She wanted Terry to sing and read scripture, niece Christi to sing, Terry’s wife Debbie to play the piano, and for Larry to speak.  Two of her pastors at Woodhaven Deaf Church would sign so that her deaf friends would know what was being read, said, and sung.  She chose her nephews and great-nephews to be the pall bearers.  This past Sunday evening, Pernella took her last breath on earth and her first breath in heaven.  On Wednesday there was a sweet service of celebration as we thanked God for Pernella’s life and love through the years.

During “Amazing Grace” we sang:
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found.
Was DEAF but now I HEAR. 

 And in these days and upcoming years, we’ll continue to treasure the sweet times and memories with Pernella and thank God for the gift of her life to us.

These past few weeks have been wonderful reminders of the stages and blessings of life.  My prayer is that I will be intentional about making my days count as I invest in others, gain a heart of wisdom, and take every opportunity to let others know they are appreciated, loved and important to me.
There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

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