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The Michael L. White Family
Newsletter for 2006
By Rev. Michael L. White
Having just left the active duty Army chaplaincy on December 31, 2005, my family and I spent the 2006 New Year with my in-laws, and since New Year's Day was on Sunday, we attended worship at our "home church", Tabernacle United Methodist in Dothan, AL. What better way to start the New Year than worshiping God?
This year has been one of the best ever for me, because on January 15th, I began serving as a civilian pastor once again. I hadn't realized just how much I missed the civilian pastorate until I returned to it. What great joy I have felt in serving the very loving people of Tanner Williams United Methodist Church (TWUMC) in Mobile, AL! They welcomed us with open arms and showed us a hospitatility equaled only by the wonderful folks I once pastored at Skipperville UMC in Skipperville, AL.
Speaking of which, the people of Skipperville UMC also invited me back to preach their Homcecoming Service on Sunday, November 5, 2006. Hosting an annual Homecoming Service is actually a tradition I started for them while I pastored there 1989-1992. How good it was to see them again, though some have gone on to their glorious reward since I last visited with them in August 2000, when I preached a four-night series of revival services for them. I long for that Glad Reunion Day when Jesus will gather us all unto Himself for all eternity. In fact, that was the topic I chose to preach on, too, since it was also All Saints Sunday.
All of this showering with love and encouragement has been a blessed "balm of Gilead" to me. My stress level has dropped significantly since I left the active Army, and if the Army Chief of Chaplains himself were to contact me today and tell me a terrible mistake had been made and that I could return to active duty as a Major tomorrow, I'd turn him down flat. I can't remember when I've been happier serving my Lord.
While being passed over for promotion on active duty for the last two years was discouraging enough, the discouragement has continued for me in the reserve components, because I haven't been promoted in either the U. S. Army Reserve (USAR), where I spent the first six and one-half months of this year or
in the Alabama Army National Guard (AL-ARNG), where I've been serving since July of this year. The Department of the Army Promotion Board will consider my records again in February 2007, but I'm afraid to hope anymore. I've all but given up on ever
being promoted. However, I refuse to have my newfound joy dampened by any of this, so I will simply take whatever result comes to me and move on with serving my Lord with all my heart where I am now. I'll let you know the result in next year's family newsletter.
Celebrating all the Christian holy days this past year has taken on a lot more specialness for me, because I was able to plan and conduct them with my beloved congregation at TWUMC. I conducted an Ash Wednesday Service in March, taught a Lenten Bible Study about Jesus' final week before His crucifixion and resurrection, conducted a Good Friday Tenebrae Service, an Easter Sunrise Service, and, of course, the annual Easter Sunday Service. Although our church comemmorated several of the other holidays, such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Independence Day, the next Christian holy day service we observed was Thanksgiving, and we joined other churches in our community for the annual Tanner Williams Community Thanksgiving Service. Being the newest pastor in the community won me the honor of preaching for the service at the Solid Rock Church of God at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 19th. It was a truly powerful experience for us all. The final two special services of this year were the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service and the New Year's Eve Wesleyan Covenant Renewal Service. As usual, they were deeply touching occasions to celebrate our love for and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Leading and participating in all these services was a major part of that soothing, spiritual balm I mentioned earlier.
Christmas was quieter for us this year, because we stayed home in Mobile, rather than traveling to Dothan again, as we usually do. However, we did enjoy lunch on Christmas Day with Ellen's Aunt Carolyn and her family, who have also lived here in Mobile for many years.
We also enjoyed exchanging gifts, of course. We left our gifts for extended family when we went to Dothan for Thanksgiving. I guess we'll receive their gifts eventually. Once again, I shopped for Ellen, and she shopped for everyone else, although I did take Josh to do his shopping for Ellen. That's just the way we all like it though.
Ellen and Josh are both doing well. They love living in our new home in Mobile, as do I. It is an old wooden house with alluminum siding built, perhaps, in the 1950s with a dilapidated barn built, perhaps, in the 1930s or 1940s, and sitting on a total of three acres. It takes me a little more than three hours to mow the entire property, so I call it mowing my pasture, instead of mowing my lawn, and that's even with the benefit of a magnificent new zero-turn-radius riding mower, too!
I'll tell you, that zero-turn-radius mower takes some getting used to. For the first little while, I thought "zero-turn" meant that was the only way it would turn -- in a zero! Nevertheless, I have finally gotten the hang of it now, so you'd better stay out of my way!
In addition to all of these other wonderful celebrations and observances this past year, Ellen and I also celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. I gave her a pretty, sterling silver necklace with a beautiful red rose attachment to comemmorate the occasion. There's a touching story I'd like to tell you sometime about red roses that goes all the way back to our first Valentine's Day together when we were dating in 1980, but I'll save that for another time. I've also written a poem about it. Maybe I'll share both in the February 2007, issue of my monthly Parson Place Newsletter
. (You'll need to subscribe
to read it.) I can hardly believe it has been 25 years. As the line from the movie "Meet Joe Black" says, "And don't they go by in a blink?" In a blink, indeed -- just like this past year!
Well, that wraps up another year in the life of the White Family. I hope your year in 2006 has been at least as happy as ours, and I wish you all a very Blessed New Year in 2007. Until next year, I close with my favorite Christmas quote by Dickins' Tiny Tim: "God bless us everyone!"