Christmas 2012

Seriously?!?!?! Yes, seriously!

The year flies by and we celebrate the coming of Jesus with fanfare and pageantry and joy and music and gift giving and family gatherings and food and drink. We seriously plan the events, the gifts, the food, the decorations, the music, the COOKIES. We take seriously the hallmarks of the first Christmas….the star, the angels, the manger, the wisemen, the shepherds. None of which Jesus took seriously at all! Jesus never referenced any of it. Why didn’t He? Humility? Mary never told Him of the miracles surrounding His birth? They were part of a Christian mythology added by later writers to buttress their arguments that Jesus was the Son of God? Who knows why? Maybe it was because it was not an important part of who He was and why He came. Maybe it was because He did not want to distract people from His message of justice for all, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned, healing the sick….. messages of compassion and grace for the poor, the orphaned, the widowed, minorities…..anyone who was oppressed by the Jewish and Roman power structures. That was what and who Jesus took seriously!

Jesus tells the story of the Samaritan who rescues an injured stranger, takes him to an inn and pays for his healing by taking a coin out of his own pocket! There was no discussion of tax implications, his residency or whether or not the man was worthy. The command was clearly…..take care of the sick and injured even if it is at your own expense. Seriously!!!! A baby in a manger marked by a star, angels, wisemen and gifts……trappings taken seriously today but which were irrelevant to Jesus. Lawsuits are filed over the placement of plastic babies in fake mangers on public property. Yet, when was the last time a group of people sued over whether or not real babies and children in their communities had a place to sleep? Seriously!

Our lives are a combination of serious and frivolous! Rebecca, Pedro and Alexandra (7) continue to live in Gaithersburg, Virginia with Rebecca commuting to Goddard Space Center, Pedro commuting to the White House and Alexandra commuting to a French academy. They are giving serious thought to downsizing and moving into a town home closer to where they spend their days.

Jonathan’s beloved Continental Airlines has been absorbed by United and he has switched to International routes. He and Guillermo have a cozy home near the Houston airport. Paul and I just returned from a visit where we attended an orchestra concert in which Jonathan played the flute.

Matthew and Becky have set a date for their wedding! Seriously!!!!! Sept 21 here in Summit County. Becky is a pharmacist and Matthew continues his dual roles as pilot and search and rescuer in high Rockies! He routinely climbs 14,000 foot peaks, in the dark, in the snow, to find those who have lost their way. Hopefully they are still alive, but seriously, sometimes the ending is more tragic.

Ruben and Cassie live nearby. He is still standing behind the grill at the Mountain Lyon Café, a favorite hot spot of locals. Cassie (8) is in a dual English/Spanish speaking school and is excelling academically as well as on the piano.

Rachel, Kellie, Derek (7) and Andrew (1 ½) still live in Las Vegas, about as far from the strip as is possible to get. Derek loves being home schooled and Rachel loves homeschooling….a match made in heaven!

Robert has found a stable home to live where he is surrounded by caring staff and middle aged men with similar needs. Where would we ALL be without his Social Security Disability support? Seriously!!!!!!! Jamie is almost done with his parole and is gainfully employed in a restaurant in Denver. His latest hobby is sewing and he has created a series of kilts, which he wears to and from work. Amber and Jesse are reportedly doing well. We are relieved they have developed family supports so our presence in their lives is not necessary. Brandon has returned to Illinois, where he was born and has reconnected with his birth mother and father. He is employed and has a loving partner, Amanda. We are pleased for him and proud of him.

Paul and I have had a most lovely year! While I was helping build homes in Peru in February he was laid off from his “retirement” job at the Ace Hardware Store. I was delighted! He spent a few months on unemployment but came to realize he liked not working and accepted his real retirement whole-heartedly. He promptly left for Peru to build homes. Since then we have traveled by train to DC to take care of Alexandra on her spring break, visited Rachel and kids in Las Vegas, went with my mother to Branson, went to a cousin’s reunion and the funeral for my mother’s sister Betty in Wisconsin, rode our bikes, hiked in Bryce Canyon, flew to Houston to hear Jonathan’s orchestra concert and took the motor home on a two week tour ending up in Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta. The fab trip of the year, however, was two weeks in Peru as a tourist!

Our goal was Kuelap, a remote fortress in northern Peru, far off the beaten path. It has bKulapeen called the unexcavated Machu Pichu. We hiked around ruins and canyons for 10 days, never seeing any other Americans and very few non Peruvians.

All this travel is compliments of flight benefits from having Matthew employed as a pilot and Jonathan employed as a flight attendant.

Home again Paul devotes himself to Optimists, our church call committee, and a few other volunteer boards and positions. He used to do all of this when he was working full time….staying up until 2 in the morning to complete all of his volunteer duties! Now he goes to bed at a decent hour and doesn’t see how he ever had time to work! Seriously!

Between us it is nice to still have a small extra income so I work 2 – 3 days a month as a trauma therapist but that is a sideline to my main event. It has now been almost 4 years since I got it in my craw that there was no excuse for hunger in Summit County and approached my Rotary club, church and Elks lodge to begin a free dinner once a week. This week we served 501 people a free meal of BBQ pork. With huge volunteer and donor support we have now served almost 60,000 meals, ¼ of them to children. We have expanded the program to include children whose main meal is the school hot lunch so were hungry over the weekend. We now send groceries home every weekend with 170 elementary students. Abundance abounds! Seriously!!

So it goes. Our lives are overflowing, so our task is to bend our will to assisting others live similar lives of abundance. That is our reason for being on this earth……. living this abundant life…..enjoying what we have….working to assist others in achieving the same. A Christlike purpose if ever there was one. Seriously!

Blessings for the New Year to You All!
Paul and Deborah