Family photos by Rebekah J. Murray Photography - www.rebekahjmurray.com
Hello, Dear Friends in Christ!
As I was thinking about what to write for our Christmas letter this year, a theme seemed to come through. That theme is the idea of how the touch of a master can make anything beautiful. The verse that comes to mind is this (from Isaiah 61:3):
To give them beauty
Instead of ashes,
The oil of joy
Instead of mourning,
A covering of praise
Instead of a spirit of despair.
We encourage you to read the context passages for the scripture we chose this year as part of your Christmas reading. It gives the picture of the path to beauty, a path that starts with contrition and repentance, and leads us to the year of the Lord's favor (see Isaiah 61:2). May 2013 be the year of the Lord's favor as we seek Him with contrite and repentant hearts! It all starts with us as His bride, His church. May God so lead you this coming year in the path to His beauty, true beauty.
Context Scripture Passages for You to Read
Isaiah 57:14 - Comfort for the Contrite
Isaiah 58 - True Fasting
Isaiah 59 - Sin, Repentance, and Redemption
Isaiah 60 - The Glory of Zion
Isaiah 61 - The Year of the Lord's Favor
The Touch of a Master
This theme of the Master's touch first became an idea as I thought of the beauty that God, the Master of all, has brought to Aaron and Christina's lives. His touch brought them through their life's explorations, humbled them each at different points through different circumstances, and ultimately, as they lived their lives yielded to Him, in His perfect time, He brought them together. Since they haven't yet written out a public version of 'their story,' I have attempted to summarize from my perspective the Master's sovereign touch that has made beauty out of their lives, as they were patient with God. I have used simple phrases...could you call this a poem? I am not a poet!! But here is my attempt, shared with their permission. Most of the regular font represents Christina's life and thoughts, and the italics represents Aaron's.
The Master's Touch on Aaron and Christina, making something beautiful and new from two individual's lives.
"The Lord has been mindful of us; He will bless us;
He will bless the house of Israel; He will bless the house of Aaron."
~ Psalm 115:12
A 'chance' meeting at a conference.
The Lord says, "I created her for you."
Denial, "She seems nice enough, but she probably is just like all the other girls."
The admiration of a Dad.
The words of a Mother, doubted, but remembered in her heart.
A surprise birthday party missed.
Four years gone by....
"I will never get married, I blew it, I waited too long..."
Traveling, writing, exploring, inspiring and being inspired
A visit to a family web site.
A surprise birthday party not missed.
An invitation to a concert.
"She is amazing...not a flirt, waiting always on me to take initiative..."
A visit to our home.
The Guild...hikes, conversation, inspiration, photography, beauty
Don't want to defraud...what next?
Another conference, this time much more than a chance meeting...
more time spent together...
Another long silence...
A phone call...
Permission to pursue!
Calamari, dinners out, conversations, yes!
Daily exploring God's word together, concerts, ballets, bike hikes, time talking, exploring convictions together, long phone calls, skyping, high texting bills!, many weekend visits, a family trip to Williamsburg, holidays, tragedies times 2...questions...am I ready?
Learning new things about each other, learning each other's weaknesses...
A nervous evening...
Planning a wedding, so many decisions!
Searching for a house. Magnolia!!
So many details coming together,
A perfect day
A beautiful setting
The Lord's blessing
The long awaited first kiss!
Sent off for a new life together!
Indeed, "The Lord will bless the house of Aaron!"
The Master's Touch on My Heart
As Aaron has moved out and moved on, I did have a bit of sadness and a bunch of tears in the days following the wedding. I was not at all wishing he could have stayed here incomplete and lonely the rest of his life, my sorrow was just part of the process of change after a long season of life with him here. But I would certainly been much sadder if he stayed here! So please understand, this is not logical, really, it is just the emotions of a Mother's heart.
(Written 10/3/12, 4 days after Aaron and Christina's beautiful wedding. :)
The little things I miss...
No more sporty orange car parked in our driveway, no more found sleeping on the couch after being up late, no more pantry door left open in the morning with a bag of salt and pepper chips open on the counter, no more walking by his closed bedroom door in the morning knowing he must have gotten back late but was safely home. No more walking by his home office seeing him from the back, hard at some free lance work (mostly), no more finding him pacing around the house as he is brainstorming a design idea or a programming solution. No more master web developer and designer in our home (eek!) to quickly make changes and updates to our web site when needed. No more lawn being mowed in the most amazing and artistic manner, no more high end camera for Sarah to borrow. No more needing to get food for a family of five, now it is just four. Most of his games and puzzles, gone. Most of his artwork, no longer here. No more building little tykes or wooden 'tracks' with his nieces when they are here; I cleaned up the reminder of that, a track he had made with his nieces who had been fussing and fighting over it until he came down to supervise. Whenever he was working/playing with them, he seemed to be a peaceful and strong mediator and worked with them so well. He will be such a wonderful, creative, playful, strong and caring father.
The big things I miss...
I quite miss his quiet, calm, strong and generous presence in our home, but I know that he will fill that role even more in his brand new life with his brand new bride, and I really am so happy for him to be able to move out, move on and become truly complete in the biblical sense. It was a long hard wait, but he was hard working and patient with God in the process. And the waiting and working hard and saving, led to the most amazing and even redemptive story, bringing him and his soul mate, Christina, together. It also enabled him to purchase and move right into a lovely home, and even to take a romantic honeymoon to the most romantic cities I know of: a few days in Paris and a few in Venice! As they are hoping for children soon (Lord willing), now is the time for such an adventure! God's ways are mysterious and amazing, and so above what we can even imagine, if we wait on Him, even in loneliness and lack of understanding at times. God is always faithful to us, that is never in question. The question is, will we be faithful to him? Aaron is a son who has been faithful. I am so extremely proud of and grateful for him, and I pray he is blessed with children that are as honoring to him and Christina as he was to us and to God. May he be so blessed! He really is the kind of person you can't help but love and adore if you know him. May his family always feel that way towards him, and may he be equipped by God with the wisdom and strength for the huge task of being a husband, father and provider. May he hear from God and follow His ways as he leads his family with strength and love. May future generations be greatly blessed by this quiet loving and humble man of tremendous strength, this faithful man of God, my dear son.
A Master's Touch on Some Pieces of Furniture
One of the things I have been doing around here since Aaron has gone is finding a new purpose for Aaron's bedroom and his home office. Many furniture pieces have found a new home in Aaron and Christina's home, and a few other pieces have been sent to a friend who refinishes furniture. Again, the Master's touch!
This master furniture refinisher is in his 80s, yet he shames me with his speed, strength and skill. Such a beautiful transformation he brings to old pieces of furniture that seem, until he touches them, ready for the trash! I have included a picture of his most recent transformation, my desk, now located in Aaron's old home office. This desk was purchased, unfinished, when Bernie and I were first married. I attempted to finish it myself, but was never very happy with the job I did. The desk was first in our bedroom, next it was my 'teacher's desk' in our home school classroom in Northern Virginia; then eventually it was given to Sarah when my homeschooling was complete. Over the years, what was originally not a very good refinish job, only got worse with wear. And there were a few doodles on the side, where my Dan sat in the classroom when he was around two. I took a picture of his little drawing before sending my desk off for a facelift.
So now the desk is back. Newly stained with a cherry finish, new knobs and pulls, and it looks like a new desk! Kenny Angleberger has worked other near miraculous transformations for us. An old record player cabinet used for storage in Mom's basement, has become a showpiece in Bernie's office, and an old dresser, painted yellow and worn, revealed beautiful tiger wood when stripped and refinished by this master. I could go on, but do you see the beauty that can be brought by the touch of a master? I wish I had taken 'before' pictures, so you could see the contrast, before and after the touch of a master.
A Master's Touch on the Violin
Photo: Rosalie O'Conner
And I can't help but include the same idea, as it relates to the playing of an instrument. Augustin Hadelich, the inspiring young violinist our family admires and whose blossoming career we have been following the last four years, recently was interviewed by violinist.com. In this meaty interview, he talks about the two Stradavari violins he has been loaned and played. One might think playing a really good instrument like a Stradivari violin will always sound beautiful, but these very old instruments, although extremely valuable and beautiful, do not play themselves. And Augustin's first one needed some serious finesse to bring out its sound, as well as overcome its unique challenges. It took him some time to become familiar with its nuances, and bring out the beauty that was there. Again, it took the patient care and attention of a skilled master to transform this violin from a beautiful antique in a case into a tool to share beauty with all who listen. Augustin talks about the frequent adjustments needed to keep it playing its best. This was the violin he played when he won our hearts when we first heard him play in 2009. His care and investment into understanding and mastering the instrument, his masterful touch on that violin, has opened up a whole new world to us, as well as an ever growing group of fans and supporters!
So it is with God and us.
Will you let the Master of all of life, touch your life in 2013? Will you let his gentle care and attention have its work in your life? Will you let him make adjustments as needed in your life and attitude? Will you yield to Him and see the beauty He can make, even if you feel your life is a pile of old ashes? He makes all things new. Reach out to Him this Christmas, give your life over to His care, and watch and see the beauty He brings.
God bless you all this Christmas, and in the New Year of 2013, with the touch on your life, of The Master of all, our great and glorious Lord and Savior of the world, Jesus the Christ!
And please pray for the touch of God, our master, the master, on our nation and our world. Pray for 2013 to be a year of repentance as individuals and as a nation, and that it may also be a year of the Lord's favor!
Much, much love,
~ Linda for the Bealls