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Firsts and Lasts

It’s funny how time is measured and how we perceive its passing. “Just the other day” my 10th grandchild was born, but “it seems so long ago” since my father-in-law died.  In truth, both of these events happened during the same week just 4 years ago. The measurement of time is made according to the way we view the event. Beginnings and endings, hellos and goodbyes, sunrises and sunsets – measurements of time.

Firsts and Lasts

On June 19, 2013 my husband and I rushed to Knoxville, Tennessee to welcome and celebrate the arrival of our tenth, and probably our last grandchild.  What a joyous occasion as we “oohed and ahhed” over this little fresh bundle.

Very Proud Nonna and Papa holding our tenth grandchild, Benjamin

 On September 18, 1996, we celebrated the birth of our first grandchild, Brandon Tyler.

Though Brandon’s arrival seems only yesterday, he is now a wonderful Christian young man who has already celebrated his 2oth birthday.

Spending a weekend with Brandon, our first grandchild, brought much nostalgia and reflections upon the day of his birth, and then the subsequent births of the next nine “grands.”  Brandon was our first, and Benjamin would probably be our last.

There is was again – those words that I had pondered on the day Benjamin was born – firsts and lasts.  Just moments before I held Ben, he was safely inside his mother’s womb, unaware of the journey that awaited him.  And then, there he was, taking that first breath of air – the air which will sustain him until the day he takes his last breath of air.

On that wonderful day in 2013 while celebrating this marvel of new life, my husband and I knew that in just a few hours we would be returning to the bedside of his terminally ill Dad.  Dad was  already experiencing difficulty getting enough air to sustain him, and beginning the journey toward what would be his last breath of air.

As we made our journey back toward his bedside, memories of the past presented themselves in rapid succession – sweet memories, yes, precious memories.

Father and son spending the day together at Ft Meyers Beach

Dad visiting us in our camper home, playing Rook, and holding a definite winning hand

Dad celebrating his 94th birthday, and still enjoying good health

Birthdays are cause for celebration whether it is a first, or a last.  Just as big brother Jack had long anticipated the arrival of his newest baby brother Benjamin, and was overjoyed and in awe to meet him and celebrate his arrival, I believe there will be that same anticipation in heaven when one of God’s children arrive Home at last.

It will be a time of celebration with God the Father just as Jack celebrated the arrival of his baby brother with his own father.

Today as I celebrate that day four years ago when Benjamin took his very first breath, I also remember Pop who just three days later took his last breath.

Measurements of time – beginnings, endings, firsts, lasts, sunrises and sunsets – This is my prayer for all those who are facing sunset times of life.

I pray you will have peace, confidence, hope, and security.  I pray you will be confident – not fearful, because your hope is placed not in some fantasy, or anything other than the solid promise of God that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”  Confident – not fearful, because those who you have loved and who will be left behind for a season, will be okay according to God’s Word, they will have sorrow and “weeping for a night, but joy will come in the morning.”

Perhaps in those quiet moments when you are awake and alone upon your bed, you have become fearful about what lies ahead.  Death is an uncharted personal experience only because we haven’t done it before, but God gives us His Word to help us navigate this part of the journey. He says, “fear not, I will never leave you nor forsake you”, He says, “Peace I give you, not as the world gives…let not your heart be troubled, I go to prepare a place for you that where I am there you will be also.  He promises that “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

I pray you will realize that you will not take this journey alone because those who have loved you during this time on earth will be here with you until you take your last breath.  We cannot make the journey with you right now, but God who was with you when you took your first breath, even knew you in your mother’s womb and formed you in secret,…He will be with you when you take your last breath and He will carry you immediately into the beautiful city called heaven which He has prepared for you. Go with confidence that we’ll be along shortly.

Fear not, because “The Lord is your Shepherd” and He is with you all the way.
May the quiet assurance of Gods presence be felt as you face your last breath because God Himself says He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the End, the first and the last. Thank you Lord, that you gave us our very first breath, and you will carry us Home when we take our last.

(On this Father’s Day weekend we celebrate the life of our tenth grandchild who arrived  June 19, 2013, and we pause to remember Sheldon’s Dad  (my father-in-law) who arrived Home in heaven on June 22, 2013 – both are cause for celebration.) 

*A portion of this post was previously posted June 20, 2013                                                                   

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About Ritchie


Ritchie Hale is an inspirational travel blogger. With camera, notepad, and maps, she is always ready for the next adventure. Pastors wife for the past 46 years, and retired from teaching elementary children, she continues to enjoy traveling, and spending time with her 3 grown children 10 Grands.

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