Merry Christmas 2017

December, 2017

Dear friends and family,

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! This past year has certainly been an eventful one. Like any year it has had its high and low moments, but we are confident that in all of these things God is at work. I am reminded of the words of Hebrew 13: 5 which 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.” I can say honestly that I had expected to be part of a growing church as a staff member by this stage of life but apparently that was not part of God’s design for us. Instead, I am being repurposed. At this writing, I am about a third of the way through a master’s degree that will allow me to become a licensed professional counselor. I am on target to graduate from Liberty University in the spring of 2019. In the meantime, I am counseling and performing assessments one day a week for The Summit Church in Kernersville as well as maintaining my position at Aflac and working ten hours a week at the Rankin Baptist church in Greensboro as their music director. The work feels rather scattered, but I am grateful for it.

Al and Darleen

Darleen, my rock, and faithful sweetheart continues to work as a customer service representative for Texwipe in Kernersville. As most of you know, her sacrifice and willingness to work full time are what have made my return to school possible. In the midst of her busy work life, she finds time to make hats for everyone and his brother’s cousin. In addition, she also finds crafty ways to bless our grandchildren and various other friends who make requests for quality homemade gifts. Darleen has continued her work as a lay counselor at The Summit Church. She has, in the opinion of the counseling pastor, become one of the most effective counselors in the lay counseling program. Needless to say, I am very proud of her and her accomplishments.

JON

Jonathan continues to make his way through the educational landscape of college. He is doing well as a Computer science major at UNCG in Greensboro. Like me, his graduation will take place in the spring of 2019. Needless to say, we are already planning a huge celebration. He currently works at the Union Cross Park for the Forsythe County Parks and Recreation Department. However, his desire is to find interim work in a company that will allow him to gain experience as an IT professional.

Candace

Candace is living near Ben and Amanda in Reading, Pennsylvania. She is working for Target as a beauty consultant. The position was created especially for her. She is told that the sales in that department have increased a great deal since she took over. That isn’t surprising since she is knowledgeable regarding beauty products and adept at sales. This weekend she took a step towards autonomy by moving to her own apartment.

 

Daniel and Sonya live in Northern Ireland with two of our beautiful granddaughters. Dan is close to completing his internship as a baker. Please pray that God will open the opportunity for him to be full time at the bakery where he works. Pray also that God would provide opportunities for ministry for he and Sonya. In the meantime, God has blessed Sonya with work in the medical community. Arianna is four and Maya is 1 ½.  They both keep their parents on their toes.  From time to time we are blessed to be able to send packages to them through Darleen’s boss who goes to Ireland twice a year.  That has been such a blessing.

Noah and Caleb

Ben and Amanda are preparing to add grandchild number ten to the growing ranks of the Bacon Nation. Aaron is due to be born sometime between now and January 8th. Noah has begun Kindergarten and loves it. Caleb began preschool this year as well. Both boys are flourishing in their new educational environments. Ben is continuing his work as a behavioral analyst for a school that serves high functioning autistic children. As of this fall, he is also being loaned out by his school to other schools who have autistic children and are in need of training. The ever-industrious Amanda has started a company of her own called “Fairytale Journeys.” She is, in effect, a travel agent for Disney. So, if you are planning a trip to the Magic Kingdom, be sure to drop her a line.

Mackie family

Carolyn and Cameron are busy working and raising two children of their own. Carolyn works as a customer service representative for Dedon, a high-end furniture company. Recently she has been promoted and is periodically traveling for the company. Cameron, the ever steady, continues to work in the seed company that was started by his stepfather. The company has sold, but Cam still supervises and is in charge of ordering and all sorts of other things. Hayden has grown so much that he is no longer the little boy that we once knew. He is in the 5th grade and doing well in school. Chloe, our little spark plug continues to entertain us with her toddler sense of humor and antics. There is never a dull moment with her around. Grammy and I enjoy the weekly visits from Hayden and the occasional opportunities to watch them both overnight.

Russell family

Mark and Christie are doing well in the frozen tundra of Vermont. They moved into a house of their own this last year. Mark has been busy fixing and learning the fine art of being a homeowner. He is now firmly entrenched at Cabot creamery as the guy who makes the yogurt. So, support the family and buy a little Cabot Cheese. Mark has also gone back to school to finish his bachelors degree. Christie is going 100 miles an hour as usual. I think she may be like her mother in this way. She works in the office for Union Baptist Church. I am told that she is an integral part of the office staff. She also still homeschools her children which is a full-time job all on its own.  Evelyn is in 2nd grade, Miles in Kindergarten and Elyanah keeps mom busy on the side.

We hope your festivities this Christmas are memorable and sweet and your New Year is filled with much more good than bad in 2018.  We wish we could spend the holidays with each one of you!

God Bless,

Allen, Darleen and Jonathan

Bacon

 

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.