“New”

I saw something the other day flash up on my facebook page.  It was a homemade meme sent because I follow a particular ministry (rethinking this one).  I don’t remember the exact words, but it said something like, that the new year wasn’t new and it was just another day…there was nothing new..you know the drill. It has spurred me on to take a look at the word “new” in the Word for 2017. My first thought was that God’s grace is new every morning. Praise Jesus!

I think in a way the “new” year gives us an opportunity to rethink the last year and go over the good, the bad and the ugly.  It gives us opportunity to also think ahead to the future and hope and dream and even make resolutions if that is what you like to do.

What I find each year is that the last year went faster than ever and often just carried me along with it.  You know what I’m saying, right?  Work, clean, sleep, eat, work, clean, eat sleep.  When I’m tired I’m not purposeful.  I think living a purposeful life is wonderful.  I haven’t felt like I could do that…ever really…as a young mom I was carried from one emergency to another as we dealt with situation after situation with child after child.  It sounds horrific when I put it like that but it was a blessed time for me.  There was much laughter and even though each child remembers their childhood differently so far as the good, the bad and the ugly…I will always cherish those years.  Now, as an almost empty nester…I find myself working a full-time job…and with my health struggles having very little time to be purposeful at all.It’s probably one of my most prevelant disappointments in myself is that I run out of umph before I should.

I digress.  “New” is something I have always looked forward to.  As the seventh child I had a lot of “old” new things.  But Christmas, Easter, birthday and the first day of school I could count on something new.  I remember picking out some pretty awful outfits for the first day of school (orange one year and hot pink another)…some day I’ll get brave enough to find the pictures and attach them for you. :/

I think each of us in our own way long for something new…not necessarily for material things, but a new love, a new relationship, a new true friend, a new page, a new chapter, something different from the humdrum of life that makes you want to scream running from it so often.

Genesis 27:28 seems to be a blessing…kind of like something you’d pull out of a Chinese proverb or something…only grander because it’s God’s wisdom and now ours. It’s part of Isaac’s blessing to Jacob (which he stole from Esau I may add) “May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness— an abundance of grain and new wine.”  I just looked up why “new wine” is so important here.  It speaks of wine that is from that year…sweet wine.  He’s saying may you always have enough so you don’t have to drink old wine and grain from years past.  I like that.  May we all have enough…he speaks of abundance here…maybe to share with others.  That’s a wonderful blessing and hope for your child…for everyone.  May you always have enough, son…daughter…and have enough to share with others in need.

What a wonderful “new” year that would be.  To not just have plenty to spend on me and mine…but to have enough and then share with others.  May that be your new “new” this year as well.

Happy 2017!

Merry Christmas Epistle 2016

christmas-nativity-background-images-simplechristmas17

Bacon Christmas Epistle

Christmas 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

Every year I sit down to write our Christmas letter and wonder where the year has gone.  It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in the New Year and wondering what 2016 would hold for us.

In January we were blessed with a visit up to VT to see Christine, Mark, Evelyn (6), Miles (4) and meet little Elyanah(1) who was just over a month old.  Mark still works for Cabot Cheese making yogurt; but has started back to college for his IT degree at the locelyanah1al community college.  Christine is still working part time for Union Baptist Church as a secretary and homeschools Evie (1st grade) and Miles (Preschool).  She also is a teacher for Classical Conversations… their home school group.  We had a wonderful visit from them this past week when they came down to NC.  It is much too far between visits for our druthers; but that is the hand life has given us for now.
russells  miles  evelyn

Carolyn, Cameron, Hayden(10) and Chloe (1) live about ten minutes or so down the road in Winston, NC. Carolyn has been working as a Customer Service Representative for Nederman; but just gave her notice in the last couple of weeks.  She has a new job with Dedon, a company in Greensboro where they make high end lawn furniture.  She is excited to be working for a company that is growing and healthy.  Cameron works at Green Resource still although the company has changed hands so it is no longer owned by his stepdad.  Hayden is in fourth grade.  He changed schools this year due to their move late last year; but he seems to be doing great despite the move.  Chloe is doing well after her rough start.  She’s a little behind physically (she can’t eat things most children her age can because of her having to learn how to swallow the food to make it go through the right tube).   She is very close to walking and is ahead verbally and with her fine motor skills.  It’s been fun to have a little one around again.

mackies  care-and-cam

chloe  hayden

Benjamin, Amanda, Noah (5) and Caleb (2) live in Oley, PA.  Ben changed jobs after he received his Board Certification as a Behavior Analyst and is now working for Hogan Learning Academy with autistic children and their families.  He loves his new position and it affords him opportunities for advancement and personal enrichment. Ben also preaches from time to time in his church and heads up the small group ministry there as well. He continues to train and run as many Spartan races as he can get to.  Amanda continues with her online business Measurements By Amanda and taking care of the home and the boys as a stay at home mom.  Noah is in his 2nd year of preschool and loves it.  Caleb is potty training and following brother around.  They just adopted a puppy named Chase (much to the chagrin of Zoe the cat) which makes this season extra special for two little boys.  We had the wonderful blessing of going to Disney with Ben’s family in September for three days.  We hadn’t been there since we sang in 1980 in the Collegians at the park.  I think we spent ½ a day back then so this was a special treat to share with them.

bens-family noah-and-calebchef-mickeys

noah-and-chase caleb-chase caleb noah

Daniel, Sonya, Arianna (almost 3) and our newest grandbaby, Maya (born July 12th) live in Armagh, Northern Ireland.  Dan is in his 2nd level of internship with The Cake Shop learning how to be a master baker.  We don’t get to Skype as much as we’d like to with Dan’s family; but they are never far from our minds.  We are hoping that someday we will be able to meet Arianna and Maya.

maya1 dans-family arianna

Candy and Joe also live about 10 or 15 minutes from us.  They moved into their home last year and have enjoyed having everyone over to entertain different times throughout the year.  Candy works from home selling used items on Ebay.  She makes a pretty good living going to all the Goodwills and thrift shops around to find what she can to make a profit on.  Joe helps her on the off season with the Ebay business and they both continue with their Landscaping business “The Yard Nerd” during Spring-Fall months.  They adopted two kitties this year, Pollyanna and Penny, which has been a joy to both of them.  Candy still sings at church and has also started singing with a rock band in the area.  She is active as a youth leader with her church as well.

joe-and-candy2 joe-and-candy polyanna

polly-and-penny candy-and-joe

 

Jon has had a rough year in that his college, ITT Tech, was closed down by the DOE just six months before he would have graduated.  He has taken some time off to regroup and has had a stellar attitude throughout it all considering most if not all of his credits he took while he was there will probably not transfer to his next school.  He is currently working for the County of Forsyth at the Parks Department.  He is working maintenance and hosting groups for the Union Cross Park just down the road from Carolyn’s home.  Jon continues to go to church with me (Darleen) which I am so thankful for.  We have a lot of discussions as a family as to what God has for him and how He is working in his life.  We are so thankful to have had this time with him on the other end of parenting since he often got the short end of the stick when we were so busy with the teenagers during his formative years.

kylo-ren-stare-down                                                   jon  best-wookie-mates

As for Allen, he had sinus surgery last spring and saw some improvement.  It’s been a rough fall, but so far no prednisone so that is definitely a plus.  He continues selling AFLAC and leading the choir at Rankin Baptist Church.  This fall he made a huge leap into the adventure of starting on his Master’s Degree in counseling online with Liberty University.  We truly wondered if he would get through his first semester which included 3 courses (one of which was statistics); but God was faithful and he finished with a wonderful GPA.  He is now just finishing up his second semester with Ethics in Counseling and has close to a perfect score.  I am so proud of him for going for something at this time in our lives.  We had talked about this when we were in VT…the possibility of him going back to school; but in the transition of the move and reinventing our lives we thought it was just a pipedream.  Now, God is bringing it into reality.

papa-and-chloe  grammy-chloe  castle-pic-with-mom-dad-and-jon

I still work at Texwipe as a CS Rep.  I attend church off and on with Allen at Rankin Baptist, but in order to continue to lay counsel I keep up my attendance at The Summit Church.  I have been so blessed to counsel many ladies this year in many different areas of struggle.

Allen and I celebrated our 35th anniversary in May and Carolyn threw us a surprise party bringing in Al’s folks, Allen’s sister Cindy and her husband, Brian, my sister and brother-in-law, Faith and Walt, and Allen’s cousin’s family who live in NC.  It was an 80’s theme which was fun and we truly enjoyed the surprise.  I didn’t know my children could lie to me so readily without remorse. Lol

For those of you who actually made it to the end of this letter, congratulations.  It is truly an epistle. Lol  We love you and think of all of you often.  We don’t see or hear from you enough…but you are in our hearts…especially during the holidays.  One thing I am continually being reminded of in my counseling is that there are so many hurting people out there.  Be a blessing.  If you are hurting, find someone to talk to…don’t try to go it alone.  People really do care and you really do have a purpose.  We all need each other.

May God bless you and yours with the holiest of Christmases and the brightest of New Years in 2017.

We love you all,

The Bacons

Allen, Darleen and Jon Bacon

1366 Claxton Ridge Drive

Kernersville, NC 27284

336-257-9384 (Al)

336-257-9136 (Dar)

Allen.dar@gmail.com

Allenbacon78@gmail.com

Dark Nights Of The Soul -Thomas Moore

“And so we are left with a great battle, not between good and evil, but between really living and just pretending.  Both the righteous and the evil avoid life.  They don’t have the subtlety to understand that good and evil are the yin and yang of existence. Anyone passionate about life is neither all good nor all evil.”

“Perhaps the dark night comes upon you from inside or outside to wake you up, to stir you and steer you toward a new life.  I believe this is the message of most religions, and certainly it is the gist of Christianity and Buddhism.  Your dark night may be a bardo, a period of apparent lifelessness that precedes a new birth of meaning.  Maybe your dark night is a gestation, a coming into being of a level of existence you have never dreamed of.  Maybe your dark night is one big ironical challenge, just the opposite of what it appears to be– not a dying, but a birthing.”

Footprints and Sand and Friendship and Restless Emptiness

Ever have those days (or nights) when your soul just seems to be crying out for more?  You aren’t exactly sure what is going on inside, but you know there’s something deeper going on…you pray, you dig, you try to wipe away the cobwebs of your mind and inner being…but you just know you can’t sleep…tears run freely and you are sad but you aren’t…you are happy but you aren’t…your soul is …searching.

Allen and I had the wonderful privilege of a few days off in Myrtle Beach this past weekend through Tuesday.  I think this may have started it.  I had the “week from hell” at work just before we went.  Things are extremely busy.  No one is happy in their job.  Everyone is finding fault and blaming and there are many smiles and surface conversations…but no true friendship…no meeting of the souls.

We met friends there.  In Myrtle Beach.  They are from Vermont.  We were from Vermont.  We used to call each other up, go to dinner, tour cheese factories, go sailing, go boondocking, share moments.  This past weekend was a re-entering into that friendship that seemed to be put on hold when we left Vermont for North Carolina to find work and be near children.  As we walked down the beach …step, slide, step, slide…our footprints left dents soon filled in by water and sand…we passed there, but only moments later you could not tell it.  In many ways I feel that way about life.  I am so grateful that I am on this side of the inner turmoil of even a year or two ago…but there are still many questions.  Life is so friend-less now.  We have people here who love us and enjoy time with us…but we have no one who seeks to be with us like Brett and Amy did.  In many of our new homes I would pray for friendship….should you have to do that?  Shouldn’t people want to be your friend?  Life is lonely on this side …

At work I watch as other ladies go to lunch together…or go shopping or antiquing…I’ve always been on this side of it…watching.  I always thought it was me.  There must be something wrong with me.  I’ve been to counseling this year…I’m learning that it’s not me.  I am a good person.  I love people.  I am pleasant and good company.  But I think sometimes people don’t know what to do with me.  I don’t crab a lot (just to Allen…poor man) so when they crab to me I am silent.  Not because I don’t expect them to crab…but because rarely does crabbing help and I often don’t know what to say.  I’m not a good empathizer, I think.  I need to say, “I’m sorry you are having a rough day.  I understand.  I’m here for you.”  But I don’t.  So maybe my silence is misconstrued as judgment…maybe I come off as too good to be true.

My friend crabbed to me this weekend and ended with “Okay, I’m done venting.”  I did tell her it was okay to vent to me.  Sometimes we just need to vent.  Often I don’t feel I have anyone to vent to…except Allen…again poor man.  I wonder sometimes if he thinks I don’t like any of life.  I do.  I loved loved loved this weekend.  I should have been rich.  We talked about that.  What happened?  (smile)  I love being busy at work when no one else is around.  I love doing a good job in my work even though I could care less if another cleanroom wiper were manufactured or sold when all is said and done for the day.

I love my garden.  I love my roses and flowers.  I love my children and grandchildren.  I love love my church at The Summit.  I love counseling.  I love Jesus…my Savior, my God, my best friend Who loves me in spite of me and because of Who He is.

So see, soul….we have a lot to be thankful for.  Don’t be in turmoil.  Even if your footprints on this earth never amount to much…Jesus’ footprints did and have meant everything in your life.  Friends like Brett and Amy have meant the world to you.  Your children and grandchildren continue to speak to you even though you desire for more of them.  You have had some wonderful times with each of them…they have given in to your growth and abundance over the years…the tender times…the hoopla times of rowdy abandon…the quiet times…the dancing in the kitchen times.  Even if you never have another time like those…you have had a lifetime of memories with each one to fill you in the dark recesses of you and get you through those nights of no sleep and restlessness.

Yes, that’s it…it is a restlessness of my soul tonight.  There must be more.  There must be friendships out there like we had this weekend…somewhere….someone to speak life into us…someone to speak life into.

Be still my soul and trust in God.The Lord is on our side.  He will prevail.  He will not let you be consumed with this life…but will fill you and give you purpose and strengthen and give you peace.

Hebrews 13:4-6

Hebrews 13:4-6 says “4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?”

The writer of Hebrews continues his letter to Hebrew Christians with last minute instructions.  These are bullet points he wants to leave with them kind of like the talk someone gives to their children and grandchildren when they are going to die soon.  Not that the writer was going to die, but Christ’s coming was imminent and he wanted to leave them in as good a position as he could.  He was probably uncertain as to when or if he would have the opportunity to exhort and encourage them in their walk so he was leaving the most important things to them as he wrapped up his letter.

Marriage should be honored by all – this is not something we see in our society much anymore.  People “test drive” their mates like buying used automobiles. Jokes and cutting remarks are everywhere.  When you meet someone who honors marriage you know it.  They are open and appreciative of those who have stuck with each other over the years.  Sometimes we skip over this part of the instruction to get to the next part that deals with sexual sin.  But marriage is more than sex.  It is a one-ness that should be honored and celebrated.

The Complete Jewish Bible says, “Marriage is honorable in every respect; and, in particular, sex within marriage is pure. But God will indeed punish fornicators and adulterers.”  There is the word “and” here…marriage is honorable in every respect … one thought….and in particular, sex within marriage is pure.  Or in the NIV “and the marriage bed kept pure, “…other translations say “undefiled.”

I looked up the word defile. It means to make foul, dirty, or unclean; pollute, taint, debase, violate the chastity of, desecrate, sully.” Think of all the ways this can be done.  Look around you.  Watch people.  This is done everyday…in work places, in churches, in groups and organizations, in friendships….if not physically acted out…it is done emotionally.  It’s so easy to allow ourselves friendships with the opposite sex which come pretty close to defiling our relationship with our spouse.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  The writer in Hebrews is concerned that in their weakened state of their spiritual hearts … in the persecution they are a part of that they will find solace in someone else’s arms….someone else besides their spouse.  

The next part of this is a warning. “for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”  Often we think these two things are one and the same.

An adulterer is someone who is married and involves themselves in extramarital affairs.

The sexually immoral are those who take part in sexual activity outside of marriage.  This includes pornography, homosexual relationships and a host of other sexual sins one can be a part of outside of marriage.

The writer is covering all bases…inside and outside of marriage…any sexual relationship not sanctioned by God…God will judge.

It was suggested in one website I read that the Hebrews were in a culture where there were two schools of thought.  One was that it was expected that a man have a mistress or two on the side because marriage was too restrictive. The other was that marriage was not restrictive enough…that you needed to deny yourself in order to be spiritual.  Both were wrong.  Our culture believes that you “can’t” be faithful and that “everyone” is either unfaithful or sexually active outside of marriage.  Thankfully, this isn’t true.

But let’s remember the warning God gives the Hebrews and us through these verses.  We must align ourselves with God’s thoughts on marriage and the marriage bed as being pure and holy.

Verse 5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

In trying to see this from the Hebrews point of view…I believe we need to go back to what they were dealing with in their world.  They were being persecuted for their faith…this included not being allowed to buy and sell like they used to when they were following Jewish Law.  Their income capacity had changed.  The writer is reminding them here that God will never leave nor forsake them.  He is their provider.  He is reminding them to be content with what God has provided.

I need this reminder often.  Our world values more and more things and bigger homes and more stuff and better things and better stuff.  Living simply in our day and age is not looked well upon.  I love my home.  It’s a two bedroom apartment that meets our needs.  Yes, it’s cluttered because there is very little closet space for the “things” we need, but it’s ours provided by a loving Heavenly Father for His children.  I can be content in that or I can kick at the goads.  It is my opinion, that some of the Hebrews were probably kicking at the goads.  I’m sure they had much less than any of us here have tonight, yet the writer believed they could be content and remember that God had their backs and that He was providing and He would never leave nor forsake them. Dr. Greer says the word never here means “Never, never, never, never, never, never.”  I need that.  When I go into work everyday and I feel like I am alone…that I am once again in Jr. High with everyone around me gossiping and making life unlivable….I need to hear that my God will never, never, never, never, never leave me.

Verse 6 says, “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?”

Again, another reminder to the Hebrews that what they are going through is temporary.  What is the worst the world can throw at them?  Death?  But that means Eternal Life.  So even in death…the world’s worst for us…God has our best waiting for us.  He is faithful.  The writer is reminding the Hebrews and through them us that God is faithful.  He will see us through.  We can be content…we can know that He will never leave us and we do not need to be afraid.  We can live confidently.  Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our Helper in John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,to be with you forever,”  And best of all our helper, the Holy Spirit, lives inside of us living out His life through us…we don’t have to do a thing…just let Him life through us.  

O Christmas Tree

Christmas 2015For some inexplicable reason I love my Christmas tree.  Every year we traipse out somewhat close to my birthday (December 9th) to find the perfect one.  We walk around dozens of trees coming back time after time to one or two that “might fit” wondering if it will look horrible once we get it inside….worrying all to no avail since every year it is “just right” and beautiful.

Some years I find myself twirling the lights around by myself or putting finishing touches by myself.  Other years I have more help that I can deal with graciously.  The standing back taking it all in squinting session is always fun …making sure there are no holes in the lighting and everything looks just right.  Each ornament has to hang just right…not lying on a branch so it can’t dangle amidst the glittering balsam.  Each year we buy or make one ornament for each of the children (and one for us as a couple).  Sometimes the ornament speaks back to the year before. An ornament in memory of a beloved pet, one made in Sunday School for mom with a child’s scratchy printing or funny picture of when they were younger, years and years of fun and sweet ornaments to put on the tree year after year.  Then one year several ornaments were missing…one child left and started their own tree with their ornaments.  Each year or so more and more ornaments were missing…it seemed like we still always had enough ornaments.  What memories each one holds.  Stockings each year with an ornament hanging out the top…little fingers hanging it awkwardly on our beautiful tree each Christmas morning.  Every year…every tree…listening as it were to the real story of Christmas.  Mom reading tear jerker stories of families celebrating Christmas, Dad reading Christmas morning before opening gifts from Luke 2 and thanking Jesus for coming and the Father for sending His Son for us.

As I take the tree down this year, well into the new year 2015, I am thinking back to the dozens of trees we have had…each one different and holey in its own way…imperfect yet perfect for us.  Never the same.  Hours of putting up, taking down, decorating, re-fixing…rehanging ornaments, placing presents just right under the tree each year, listening to squeals of laughter, wiping tears on soft little cheeks, sleeping under boughs once each year in order to enjoy the lights all night long and the love and companionship of loved ones and family….these are all reasons I love my Christmas tree.  O Christmas Tree.  I can’t wait for next December just to pick that next one.

I often wonder if Allen goes before I do how I’ll do it.  I never have wanted to have a fake one…an artificial one…there’s enough fake and artificial in the world.  Even when my allergies to pine acted up…I was more willing to get my sudafed out and enjoy.  Bringing a little bit of the forest inside for a month seems so silly…but it speaks to my soul.  It reminds me of other trees.  The one which made the cradle for a baby boy from Heaven, the one that became the cross where He died 33 years later…and many trees inbetween in my life.  One REAL tree growing up where it was potted and in the spring we planted it in the front yard…now 30+ feet tall in a small town in New York.  I love trees.  I had a Grandma and Grandpa tree in CT because I never had a Grandma and Grandpa.  A walk in the woods…in December….in my living room…for a month.

O Christmas tree…you are a bright spot in this life.  You give beauty in years when there is little or none.  You give hope when there is no hope.  You remind me of the real reason for Christmas when there is no reason to celebrate.  I love my Christmas Tree…see you again soon…in a different wood…with a different aroma…with different branches…and different wood…but the same joy and the same emotions…

So if Allen goes before me I will still get a real tree…for me…for the years of memories…for the tree.