by Pastor Linda Skinner
I don’t know about you, but 2017 was an up and down year at the Skinner household. Last New Year’s Rich and I were down with the terrible flu bug that was going around our area. On January 2, I sat at Urgent Care with about 150 other people waiting for hours to get in to see a doctor to be told my bug had turned into Bronchitis. Rich fared a little better than I did so he waited in the downstairs lobby so as not to get a worse bug than he already had. Not a fun way to begin 2017.
By February we were both feeling much better and then our Vinnie Dog got very sick and by March we had to let him go. That was one of the hardest times in our life. He had been with us for 15 ½ years. For weeks, we cried every time we went for a walk and Vinnie wasn’t with us. Even Panther cat mourned the loss of the little guy (and they were not the best of friends). You have to be an animal lover to understand the deep connection a family gets to their pets.
Easter was fantastic. The services at Washington Cathedral were so uplifting. How can you not be excited to celebrate the gift of eternal life and to see Jesus coming out of the tomb, always sends chills down my spine? Then following Easter was our Festival of Miracles Auction, and we had one of our best ever results – raising money for children in Kenya, Africa and La Paz, Honduras.
Early July, Pastors Tim and Jackie headed up a medical mission’s team to Kenya. They did amazing things for the kids in that terrible slum of Nairobi. All of us back here, prayed and followed all of their activities with posts on Facebook, excited for the work that they were doing.
Then in late July I had the opportunity to join the Youth team on their Mission’s Trip to La Paz, Honduras. It was hotter than “blue blazes”, but it was so worth it to work with the children in the San Jose Orphanage and the NICO tutoring center. Our hearts were filled with love for those kids and the wonderful workers and volunteers who serve them every day. Our whole team gained so much more than we gave.
When I returned from that trip, I received a call that sometime in November there would be a puppy ready for us to adopt. On November 10th, we drove to Port Angeles to pick up our 7 week old Cairn Terrier that we named Barclay Bear. What joy and challenge that little guy has brought into our lives. But God could not have given us a more perfect little dog. This little guy loves people like you would not believe. He was even part of the greeting team at our Christmas Services. Not many puppies at 12 weeks old can handle all of that commotion. He only escaped once from his kennel during the service on Friday night. But thanks to Jana Goad we got him back quickly and without too much difficulty.
And speaking of Christmas Eve! What an amazing weekend that was. Right to the final service at 11:00 pm on a snowy Christmas Eve, we had one of the greatest celebrations I can remember. The music was fantastic, the kids were the cutest ever, the set and lighting was special. On Christmas Eve in the falling snow, the manger took on a magical appearance. It looked like something from a Disney production.
What have I learned from 2017? I’ve learned that life has it “icky, bad and fantastic” moments, but in the end when you walk with Jesus, there will always be joy and peace. I think it was what the Apostle Paul was telling us in Philippians:
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice. Let everyone see that you are considerate in all that you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything: instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and that him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
I’m making this my verse for 2018. How about joining me?