Wow, 2020 has had highs, lows, and everything in-between. I've had this post rolling around in my head for days. As usual, I'm not sure where we're headed, but in a couple hours, we will be in a new year. That makes me smile. *grin*
2020 started in a typical fashion for me. I was in the GPR with hundreds of people very similarly to the previous 17 years. I remember praying for my former pastor in hope of a full recovery. He passed on January 2. My heart sank and not a day has gone by that I haven't thought of him. At the same time, I think he went home at just the right time. Let me explain....
Pastor Daryl (P.D.) was known as Papa Daryl to SO MANY of God's kids. I was able to watch his celebration of life online and it was very, very clear he impacted MANY lives this side of Heaven. I was able to reach out to his daughter and have developed a friendship with her. She also sent me one of her Dad's pieces of art and it's hanging in my living room. Not a day has gone by that I haven't looked at it, thought of him, and prayed for his wife that's this side of Heaven. Hang with me here, I'm headed somewhere with all of this. *grin*
I will never forget how much I loved seeing his posts in his Papa Bear shirt when he was with us this side of Heaven. It was so very fitting for him. *grin* Any time I see that shirt on someone else, I smile at the memory of P.D.
Throughout 2020 I have lost SEVERAL friends. I can't remember attending so many services for people in one calendar year. Honestly, all of them were virtual too. Only one of the people passed from COVID-19, but I think the Pandemic made all of the other losses more intense because we couldn't go celebrate each other's lives in person. Hang with me, here, there's a reason for me sharing so much about the loss of human life this year in my little corner of the world.
January 2 will always be a day when I think of PD going home. I also think he went home just in time. I mean, I can't say what the next life is like for sure, but I'd like to think that there's someone waiting for us as we cross over into Eternity. I have also had a thought this year, that PD was waiting for all of the new arrivals in Heaven. I can see him being a Papa to so many there. I can see him welcoming all of my friends into the new world there.
Sure, we're in a pandemic and we've lost hundreds of thousands of lives to COVID, I don't think PD is just waiting for my friends to enter Heaven. I see PD welcoming everyone there. *grin* PD knew how to help people without having to ask. He and his wife are still champions in my heart because of how well they loved those around them. *grin*
I realize I could be way off in my thinking, and I think that's fine. Loss of life this side of Heaven is the most difficult thing we live through. I truly believe that. I also have simply found comfort in having PD in Heaven as I have received word of others going Home.
Tonight I sit here (New Year's Eve 2020) in the shirt that honors Emily Hightower. I wasn't able to put it on until today. Emily was a favorite camper out at Barnabas, and everyone who knew her loved her. I have pondered her A LOT since she went home. Emily had Spina Bifida this side of Heaven, but I imagine her dancing in Heaven with PD cheering her on. I think that's beautiful.
2020 has had it's fair share of challenges. I'm not going to dwell on the challenges. I learned a lot that I couldn't have learned otherwise and think it was life changing. Overall, I learned:
1. Relationships mean more to me than I previously thought. I like that. People need people. I am blessed with amazing people. During the pandemic I invited people at my previous job to join me for virtual lunch daily at noon. It wound up being four of us almost everyday. I've moved from that job but those four gals (one joined our text thread and is part of our group now. *grin*) are now closer to me than I ever thought possible. Technology helped our friendships begin and continue to grow even during a time when physical distancing is needed to make sure everyone is safe. *grin* Although I can't wait to hug Paxton again. *giggle*
2. Technology can be good and bad. 2020 will be the year I learned how to teach online to my special education students at the elementary level. I also learned you can honor a life through a webcam. I also learned that I didn't talk to my parents as much as I should have previously. *grin* THANK YOU, GOD!
3. I learned that it's a gift to be able to disagree with someone but still love them. I learned (deeply in some cases) that my relationships mean more to me than any social issue or political candidate. We are blessed to live in a nation where we're allowed to disagree. I've also learned that I'm blessed to have friends who agree that we can disagree and still get along. *grin*
4. This is the longest I've been away from church due to the pandemic. I miss the people, but I've learned a depth to my relationship with God that I have never known. It's been good. Sure, I look forward to returning, but I'm not miserable right now. I now understand in a deep way when people say Christianity is not about a building. *grin* It's about people.
5. Exercise outdoors helps my mental health more than I previously thought. Walking Jay has always been good for me, but, I've enjoyed walking Jay in a good way this year. There's something about being outside that makes me smile. *grin*
I could go on and on but would like to stop there.
Years from now I imagine the phrase "2020" will bring sadness to a lot of people. For me, it will also make me smile. I learned a lot, loved others via technology, and gained a new job that I love.
I had to lose people this side of Heaven, but gosh, PD is up there. And that makes me smile.
It's going to snow all day on January 1, 2021 here. I believe that will be a gift from God too. There's something peaceful in the white snow as it falls to the ground. I plan to watch it fall and smile. New beginnings are a gift from God and that's what we're about to have here.
New beginnings are beautiful.
LIFE. IS. GOOD.