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The Michael L. White Family
Newsletter for 2009
By Rev. Michael L. White
I celebrated the 2009 New Year's Day quite differently. I spent it completely alone, except for God, of course, and, yes, He and I did have a good time together. Ellen and I left Josh to visit with grandparents for a month when we visited for Christmas, and then Ellen returned to Dothan the week after Christmas in order to accompany her Aunt Carolyn (who also lives in Mobile). They stayed about a week and returned to Mobile after New Year's Day. We are following the same plan this year.
I managed to remember the time difference between Eastern and Central time zones this time, so I watched the ball drop on TV in New York City at 11:00 p.m. CST on December 31, 2008. Then I watched on local TV as the new "Moon Pie Over Mobile" dropped when midnight, January 1, 2009, in the Central Time Zone arrived. The giant moon pie is supposed to represent the annual Mardi Gras festivities with which Mobile is believed to be best known, because scores of moon pies are tossed from parading floats during the two or three weeks leading up to Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, thus beginning the Christian season of Lent). The Moon Pie drop was a bit of a let-down, however, considering the giant moon pie was located across the Mobile Bay from the attendees, and even the TV camera couldn't zoom in close enough to get a good look. I can only imagine how disappointing it must have been for those present on the scene! Though many considered the event a disaster, the organizers promised to move the moon pie closer for the 2010 Moon Pie drop, so maybe it will look better this year. They have even commissioned an original theme song to go along with it! It's a real toe-tapper. Read all about it on our local channel 15 NBC affiliate's Web site.
What a thing for a city to be known for!
As it turned out on New Year's Day 2009, my pastoral care was much-needed when one of the dear ladies in my church called about mid-morning to tell me that her husband had just passed away a few minutes earlier. She said their hospice care-giver was on the way, but I advised her to call 911 to report it to the local authorities and then call their funeral director and let them know, too. I rushed to her home and prayed with them and tried to offer comfort until the funeral director's staff came to remove her husband's body from their home. Because they cremated his remains, I conducted a private memorial service just for family in their home a little over a week later. This New Year's Day will prove to be especially difficult for her and her family, but she will spend the weekend with her sister, so she won't be alone.
We also said goodbye to one of our other dear ladies in the church in a memorial service not quite a week ago, on Sunday, December 27, 2009. She, too, was cremated. Remembering how dear she was to me choked me up so that I could hardly get through a part of my memorial message for her.
Despite the decline of both the U. S.'s economy and its former prestige, respect, and authority in the world in 2009, it has been a good year for us. I truly believe the time of the Lord's return for His Church can't be far away. God has certainly watched over us as a family and as a congregation this year, though He always
takes care of those who love Him and obey His Word. While other congregations were cutting back on their giving, etc., Rosinton United Methodist actually increased
their giving and exceeded their budget goal for 2009, raised our youth pastor's salary for 2010, and upgraded our Music Director's salary so he could quit his other full-time job in September 2009 and devote more of his time to both the music and outreach ministries of our church! God has truly blessed us!
Our congregation at Rosinton United Methodist also went forward with the building expansion to our Family Life Center and added 80 feet onto the north end of the existing structure. Due to the tough economy, we found some really great bargains on practically everything we needed. Though it looked unlikely, we finished the stage part of the construction well enough to be used in our annual Christmas musical program just over a day before the program was to commence. The new stage made such a difference in the sound of the performance! Everyone who attended said they thought the Christmas musical program for 2009 was the best of any they could remember. We still have to finish the rest of the flooring on the stage, as well as finishing the classrooms, restrooms, choir room, etc. on both the first and second floor levels, but we hope to accomplish this before much longer. All the framing is done, and most of the electrical work. Now we have to finish the plumbing, installation of the elevator, cooling and heating duct-work, sheet rock and painting of the walls, the flooring, fixtures and furnishings, etc. There is still lots of work to be done, but, God willing, and with His help, we will complete it.
Celebrating all the Christian holy days this past year was once more very special for me. I conducted an Ash Wednesday Service in February, taught a Lenten Bible Study and used the lectionary readings for Advent as the foundation for an Advent Bible Study, conducted a Good Friday Tenebrae Service, an Easter Sunrise Service, and, of course, the annual Easter Sunday Service. We comemmorated several of the other holidays, too, such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, Independence Day, and Homecoming Sunday.
The next Christian holy day service we observed was Thanksgiving, and for the third year in a row, Rosinton joined other churches in the area at Loxley United Methodist Church for the annual Community Thanksgiving Service at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 22nd. Both the preaching and the music were truly inspiring for all. Maybe Rosinton can host it for 2010. We shall see.
Later that week, we shared the Thanksgiving Day meal with Ellen's family at the local Holiday Inn of Dothan. I must say it left a lot to be desired with regard to family atmosphere, though the food was truly delicious, but we all gathered for Ellen's Uncle Buddy's sake, who appears to be losing his hard-fought battle with cancer. We joined my parents in Taylor, AL (just west of Dothan) later that afternoon and spent the night with them. We returned home on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
The final special service of this year was the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. The weather was horrific, with a terrible thunderstorm blowing in and tornado warnings just before we were to begin, but I was amazed at how many people still chose to attend. As usual, Ellen, Josh, and I lit the Advent Wreath with the Christ Candle as part of the special observance. This is always a deeply touching occasion for us to celebrate our love for and faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Leading and participating in all the holy day services throughout the year always
gives me great joy and pleasure.
We had intended to drive to Dothan and spend the night with Ellen's parents following the Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve, but we decided to wait until morning instead, due to the bad weather. We opened our gifts to each other after we returned home from the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, and we took everyone else's gifts up to Dothan or mailed them monetary gifts or gift cards in their Christmas cards. As usual, I took Josh with me to shop for Ellen, and she shopped for everyone else, though I did buy one or two gifts for a few of our kin.
My grand-daughter, Makenzie, began kindergarten this year, and she appears to be loving it. My daughter, Amy, also enrolled her in a competitive cheerleading club, of sorts, and they took second place in a recent competition. Amy emailed me a picture of Makenzie holding the coveted trophy
. Since I'm writing this year in review late on New Year's Eve, I don't have enough time to add more photos, but maybe I can add some more throughout the year in 2010. If you subscribe to my RSS feed for Parson Place, you'll always know when I make updates to the site. Look for the RSS icon at the top of the righthand column of every page.
Ellen and Josh are both doing well. As I wrote above, we left Josh in Dothan to visit with grandparents for a few weeks. Ellen has returned to Dothan with her Aunt Carolyn for about a week, and I expect they will return to Mobile on the day after New Year's Day. For the second year in row, I will spend New Year's Day alone. Nevertheless, I'm certain I will find something
to occupy myself. Like last New Year's, I have some more reading and writing projects I need to do.
Speaking of writing projects, I'm still having fun publishing Christian books through my own publishing business, Parson Place Press
. It will be four
years old in April 2010! I've published only two titles in 2009, however, partly because I haven't found anymore titles I want to publish, and partly because I've been trying to update my own book, Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too!
, which I hope to release in April 2010, in time for the annual Internet Evangelism Day
on the last Sunday of that month, though I may have to post-pone it until later in the year if I don't finish it in time.
I'm still not raking in the big bucks, but I'm slowly gaining momentum. Maybe 2010 will be the year everything takes off. In the meantime, I have at least two or three titles in mind for publication in 2010, Lord willing. You can browse all of my published titles online as they are published in the Parson Place Press Bookstore
. If you happen to read this newsletter before the end of the day on Friday, January 8, 2010, you can still take advantage of my annual Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Sale and get a whopping 33% off all titles. Furthermore, if you subscribe to the Parson Place Email List
, you can stay up-to-date on all the latest news related to Parson Place and Parson Place Press. Although I discontinued the monthly Parson Place Newsletter
with the May 2007 issue, I still send out occasional notices to my list. Furthermore, because this newsletter takes so much time to write each year, and because so few people actually read it, I'm considering discontinuing it with this 2009 issue, unless I change my mind by this time next year. I'd like to hear what you think of that. Email me
to cast your vote.
Well, that wraps up another year in the life of the White Family. I hope your year in 2009 has been at least as happy as ours, and I wish you all a most Blessed and Prosperous New Year in 2010. Until next New Year's, and if the Lord tarries (though I don't think He will tarry much longer), I close with my usual favorite Christmas quote by Dickins' Tiny Tim: "God bless us everyone!"