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My memories have moved from Miami, FL  and here, to the Peoria, IL area and now to Tyler, TX.  If you don’t know where that is, it is just south of I-20 about midway between Dallas, TX and Shreveport, LA.  It is deep in East TX.  This is the part of TX that doesn’t look like what people expect Texas to!  It is called the Piney Woods section of TX.  We have lots of pine trees (that give us nice acid soil).  It is a gradener’s paradise!

It is perfect for growing roses and azaleas, among other things.  Our roses and azaleas bring tourists to our area twice a year for the Rose Festival (October) and the Azalea Trail (March).  We have hills and lakes and a decent amount of rain.  There is nothing desert looking about this part of TX…at all!  It looks like many parts of the South.  But once again, I digress!


When we moved here in January of 1988, we were a long way from all the people we had ever known!  We had never lived in the Central Time Zone as a family.  All of my family were in the Northeast or out of the country.  All of Ron’s family were in Wisconsin or California.  Most of our friends were in south FL or Jamaica.  We were a long way from anything familiar.

By December we still didn’t feel much more comfortable even though we had made a few new friends.  One of the men in our church gave us a gift he had made: a wooden heart for each member of the family with their name on the front and “Christmas 1989”  written on the back.  His name was Gordon Roberts. At his funeral last year, there were many people who spoke of the heart ornaments he had given them over the years.

I am a huge sucker for starting new traditions.  That new date was a reminder to me that we were starting some new Christmas traditions and living in TX was part of it.  Now here it is 2010.  We have hung those hearts on the tree each year since then during good times and bad, with children at home and with our empty nest.  Even during our four years in Hanna City, we hung our Tyler hearts on the tree!  They reminded us of Gordon…and Anna Jo.  For that matter, they reminded us of Robbie and Rose (their son and family who are missionaries) and their family in Italy as well and we prayed for them too.

Gordon’s health declined quite a bit those last few years.  His Parkinson’s worsened.  The last month or two of his life, he was in a nursing home and passed away suddenly and mercifully.  We know he is delighted to be in God’s presence and be relieved of the many weaknesses of his failing body.  Anna Jo is probably reading this.  Yes, she is well into her 80’s and on the internet!  She communicates with friends and family from  all over the world!  It has been a joy to know Gordon and Anna Jo these many years!


Do you know any older people in your church or neighborhood?  Do you look at them as non-persons and just move on?  (I’m sure you wouldn’t say it that way!)  How often do you stop and ask how they are…and actually want an answer?

Have you ever visited with them to learn their hobbies, what they did before they retired?  Where they were when they were age 12?  What the world was like when they were married?  When their children were born?  These are questions you could ask an older person and get a first person view of history at a time when you probably weren’t even living…or aware enough to know what was happening in the world.

Invite a few older people into your home some Sunday after church…or during the week.  Plan the questions you will ask them…if your conversation lulls.  Give them time to process your questions as you ask.  I’m sure it won’t take you long to find common ground.

Many of the younger families in our church have found great joy in these friendships.  You can often be a help to them in small ways–changing light bulbs, cleaning out gutters, getting up on ladders to help with things that are fairly minor but can be dangerous for them.  Think of the thoughtfulness this can develop in your children!  But once again, I’m rambling *smile*


For us, Anna Jo was the Teacher of Crochet!  Yes, one of my daughters wanted to learn to crochet.  We found out that Anna Jo could crochet so Dawn made a point of getting together with her to learn to make baby blankets.  Make use of a great resource in your church: older people.  Many have walked with God a long time.  They certainly have a different perspective on life from yours.  They can be an encouragement to you in many ways.

The wisest ones have learned not to give advice unless it is wanted.  Make use of this incredible resource!  You may learn some things that will prepare you for the aging process (which is happening now if you are alive!) and give you hope as you look toward old age itself.

**sorry I went long today.  I got on a topic I rarely do.  Feel free to break up your reading into two sittings.  This will continue to be here.  Just think of it as two posts in one!

**As you can see, this was originally written December 10, 2010.