Today is the last day of 2012. And quite a year it has been. A year of mixed blessings. Our family has struggled with health issues, an unfortunate divorce, a solid year in business and a host of other remarkable events that still have me wondering whether it was a thumbs up or thumbs down year in the scheme of things. One thing is for sure – our family once again was drawn closer, to each other and to God, as a result of all the things that we have collectively experienced during the 2012.
It’s only in the past several years that I have enough distance to objectively look at January 1st as an annual new beginning. That’s because, on January 1, 1978, Janet went into labor after we had spent New Year’s Eve with our neighbors. And at 6:32 am, in the year of our Lord, 1978, Jill LaRue Toussaint was born in Hinsdale, IL – the first baby born at that hospital that year. So since then, Janet and I have always thought of January 1 as Jill’s birthday, not the beginning of a New Year. The distinction may seem insignificant to most people, but to Jill it was everything.
After all, she had been due to arrive on Dec. 18th and so Jill was about 2 weeks late. And since she shared her birthday with a holiday, Janet and I always felt that she was a little shortchanged on the celebration front. Everybody has their January 1 customs and it just didn’t seem fair that Jill gave up her birthday so other things could occur.
However, as the years went on, Jill did have certain requirements for her special day. For example, when I grew up, all the Christmas decorations came down on January 1. Mom and Dad wanted to make sure that we were all ready for the next year. That’s how Janet and I did things also, until Jill was old enough to realize that her birthday wasn’t a day for any type of work. So, Christmas stayed up until the first week of January. And since her birthday always happened during school breaks, her parties weren’t as big as those kids who had their birthdays when school was in session.
Then, when Jill moved to Oklahoma, suddenly Janet and I found ourselves, for the first time since she was born, facing the question of what we would do on New Year’s Day. Sure, Jill comes back for Christmas, and sometimes stays though the 1st, but she now knows that Christmas comes down around the 28th, not after the 1st. That’s evidenced by the fact that we are sitting here tonight, with the holidays behind us, the house back to normal and ready to ring in the New Year – if we can stay awake that late.
But all in all, in this family, January 1st is really about Jill and not about the New Year. We have come to realize that birthdays are really important for most people; and Jill is no exception. Because if you think about it, each of us tends to re-evaluate our lives each year and that usually happens as we reflect on the past and ruminate about the future. Needless to say, birthdays are the time we are most likely to do this. It just happens that Jill doesn’t go through the exercise twice – it all happens on the same day for her.
As Janet and I sit here this evening, we can’t help but admire Jill’s tenacity and her determination to be all that she can be. She is smart, loyal, dedicated, a great Mom in her own rite and anxious to be a lifelong learner. She can be funny and witty, but if you cross her, watch out! She doesn’t deal well – at all – with anyone who doesn’t keep their word. One thing is for sure – Jill is fiercely protective of her family and I admire that trait in her. Nothing comes between her and the family… and I mean nothing,
Everyone in the family will tell you that our lives are made richer by Jill being a part of our nuclear group. Janet and I are blessed to have three children – each of whom is distinctly different from the others. Together, they make an awesome team. Because each of them sees things from a different perpective. Sometimes, I know Janet wishes that the kids were a little more laid back, like she is, but that’s not how Jill, or the others, roll. And that’s the beauty of each of God’s human creations. We are all different – how boring life would be if we were all the same.
The verse for tonight is from one of my favorite psalms and it fits Jill so well. From Psalm 139:13-14, the psalmist acknowledges to God, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” And certainly in Jill’s case, this is just so true.
My encouragement this evening is that God has created each of us with special and unique traits that are to be used to accomplish His purpose on earth. My prayer, for Jill and everyone else, is that you will use the gifts that God endowed you with for His glory. So on the eve of this most special day, New Year’s 2013, and more importantly, the eve of your birthday – Happy Birthday, Jill. We love you… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…