“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”
― William Shakespeare,
How do you feel about birthdays? Birthdays don’t bother me like they do some people. I see them as a time to reflect on the past year, to gain a perspective on where I’ve been so I know where I am going.
I just celebrated a birthday. I am now 78 years old, and as I look to the future, I thought I might first share some of my reflections on my 77th year, in no particular order. It was a good one!
One of the highlights was certainly visiting Turkey. My daughter, Heidi, and her husband, Anthony, are there, along with my grandson, Nathanial, learning the language and looking for ways to reach out to the local people.
In the early days of Christianity, the land we now call Turkey was a center of growth for the new religion. Places such as Antioch, Tarsus (the birthplace of Paul) and Ephesus (the subject of the Book of Ephesians) are located in what is now Turkey, but today most of that land is Muslim, and Christians are a tiny minority.
Heidi and Anthony showed me around where they live, and we spent several days taking in some of the amazing sights in Turkey, including an ancient underground city, and some amazing geological formations.
They also took me on a hot air balloon ride, something I had never done before. A hot air balloon ride may not seem very unusual, but this was quite a unique situation. You see, every morning as many as one hundred balloons all take off from the same location and at the same time, and the sight is breathtaking.
The second quilt I completed was for another grandson, Bishop. He graduated from high school in June, and I was able to present him with a When Bali Met Sochi design quilt. He had picked the colors for the quilt, and it turned out to be a very brightly colored piece.
The last quilt was made for still another grandson, Isaac and his new wife, Lauren, on the occasion of their wedding. Their quilt was a Double Wedding Ring design, and it was also beautiful, but in a very different way. I am very proud of those quilts, and I know they will be well loved and greatly appreciated.
Along with Isaac and Lauren’s wedding in the summer, I also enjoyed a visit from some of my husband’s family from Germany. Ulrich, a cousin to my children, and his daughter, Anna, were here for a couple of weeks. They saw some of the sights on their own, but I was also able to spend some time with them, along with my daughter Dietlinde and her husband, Matthew. It was a wonderful blessing to get to know them.
This past year my youngest son, Kurt, decided to start learning the piano again. He has always had a certain gift for music, and his progress so far has been impressive. I realized that, if I wasn’t careful, he might become better at the piano than I am. I have taken this as an opportunity to polish up my own skill with the piano. I have played piano most of my life, but not very much in the last few years. Kurt has challenged me, and I am happy to take up the challenge.
I often take part in speaking tours organized by Wycliffe Associates, a branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators, whose task it is to raise awareness of, and support for, Bible translation around the world. It is always a blessing to be able to speak about Bible translation. While on tour with Wycliffe Associates in Arizona, I was able to travel with an amazing and very talented couple, Niah and Allisha Merrill, for two weeks. They use music and drama to spread the Good News. Check out their website here It was great fun to get to know them.
Wherever I get to speak, whether it’s with Wycliffe Associates in Arizona, or at Stonecroft not far from my home, I am always thrilled to see how people respond to my Gospel presentation and my personal story. After one of the Stonecroft events I spoke at, a woman approached me. She had been moved by my presentation, and told me about a friend of hers. This friend had heard the Gospel, but she didn’t understand it. The two women had come to the Stonecroft event where I had just spoken, and this friend had heard me speak using an illustration of God’s love for us, and a dirty rag that separates us from Him. The friend had finally understood what the Gospel was all about, and I was blessed to have been a part of it. They were both so excited, and so was I of course. What more could I ask for? If only one person finds peace in Jesus through what I do, then it is worth the effort!
This past year has been a busy one, to be sure. I was offered more opportunities to speak and teach than I could accept. As it was, I still managed to teach in Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, New Jersey, Delaware, Florida and Massachusetts. The Lord has trusted me with these opportunities, and it is my honor to do His work.
Where will I end up in my 78th year? Stay tuned!