Thursday, December 27, 2012

Verne, Durrene, and their little band of Stricklands, worship Christ the Savior at enchanted family Christmas in NC mountains.

In our family at this time, we are so full of the thrilling Spirit of the Season -- the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is a dispatch from the idyllic little mountain village of Blowing Rock, where we were blessed to enjoy a visit with our family at this joyous Christmas!

By Verne Strickland, December 26, 2012

Hey, guys and gals, hope all of you had a Happy . . . no, wait a minute . . . we can't go there . . . I mean, a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

You know, we utilize newer and newer technology to reach out to others, and true friendships are made. We could almost call it . . . SOCIAL MEDIA? I think that works.

In my household, at this time of our lives, social media are really vital to staying in touch. A lot of formerly dependable physical and mental systems are also breaking down for me. I ration my driving, and can't drive at night, but the kids do let me practice some in our driveway, if I put on my seat belt and padded helmet. Durrene is also having some problems there.

So what happens? As we begin to age and fail, the Lord provides many of us with a wonderful son like our eldest, Martin, a talented residential contractor in our hometown of Wilmington, NC. He has taken over our agenda for two wonderful trips to the big hills. We couldn't travel otherwise. He loads and unloads the car, works out the route, does all the wheel time, keeps us laughing, and helps us get food to eat so we won't starve. Wouldn't that be a mess? You think I'm kidding? I'm not.

On this latest trip, I showed off my latest disease -- peripheral neuropathy, which I have added to my main disease -- bone cancer. The cancer is coming under control, but the neuropathy has gotten progressively worse. When I first was diagnosed with it, I thought it was a joke. Not no joke, folks. The nerves in my feet and ankles don't communicate with the rest of my body anymore, or with my brain.

I balance with all the grace of a bowling pin. Coming back today in the sleet and wind, we stopped by a piney thicket to give our two little doggies a rest break. I was able to attract considerable attention and pity, by falling off the shoulder of the road and rolling gracefully down the hill through the mountain flora, bashing my chin on a limb, cutting my hand, and making just a grand spectacle of myself. No major harm done, except to my pride.

Durrene says I am a good fall guy, bouncing gracefully over whatever is in my way, and partly surviving the whole thing. I don't know how many of these incidents of buffoonery I can survive. I should hasten to add that Durrene is my wife and sweetheart of 52 years, and loves and cheers me on. She's just great. She looks wonderful, too. Did I mention that?

Our middle son, Robinson, 46, has MS. He is a truly gifted musician. He proudly takes on many of the duties of Mr. Mom, and says this is why the Lord brought him home after his illness rendered him unable to continue work as Senior Audio Engineer at WNYC/PBS in New York.
His wife, Melissa, is one of Franklin Graham's top communications officials at Samaritan's Purse, and has an IQ greater than her weight, which I have told her is not normal. Their two children, Caleb and Mona, two and four respectively, are precious, lively kids, and it is a gift from God to see their innocence and personal warmth. They went to church with the adults on Christmas Eve, where a spirit-filled service filled our hearts with worship for Jesus Christ the Savior.

As we came out of the church, Mona, who knows her grandpa often needs help, took my hand, and said, "Come on, Verne." She guided me all the way to the car. I was touched and grateful. Every grandpa should be so lucky. Her brother Caleb is an energetic, inquisitive and loving youngster, and the two are total best buddies.

Our youngest son Britt is an English teacher in Oxford, England, and came back to North Carolina to celebrate Christmas with his little family of wonderfully blessed Stricklands. That's our bunch. We could have a family reunion in a broom closet. Britt is married to a raven-haired Scottish beauty who excels in her chosen profession as an orthopaedic nurse at a hospital in Oxford. We had to deny ourselves her company so she could remain on duty through the Christmas holidays.

There's so much more to tell, but it's been fun just sharing some of our Christmas adventures with you, our very special friends. God bless you all, praise to our newborn King, and have a Happy New Year! Your pal and fan, Grandpa Verne.
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