christmas bells of remembrance

(I wrote this story at Christmas, 2004, as I reflected on my family and marriage. I’ll post the conclusion tomorrow. Christmas blessings to you this day with hope and new beginnings and Christ Himself.)

As I polished the silver bells to hang from the garland, it occurred to me how profound it was that the 1986 bell was missing. From the time Mike and I had met, we had purchased a silver ball-shaped bell for each of the years that we were together. Each silver ball had etched on its side the collector year that it represented. As I held each one up for inspection, I thought that it rang with a clanging sound, however loud. Well, if the bell represented a year of our life together, it would certainly have to be loud, but I thought it should ring more beautifully. We had all the other years hanging in order, each one from a red satin ribbon, 1979 straight through 2004, with the exception of one bell. Indeed, the absence of that 1986 bell represented more than if we had a perfect succession. Each year, as I got them all out, I remembered that was the year that almost wasn’t. That was the year that nobody bought a bell because we weren’t sure there would be another year in the history of us. It was the most blessed of years as well as the most difficult. The same year had brought to us our third child, our beautiful daughter, and that was much cause to celebrate. It also had brought more pain than all of the other years combined because of our own stupidity and loss of relationship. Yes, the absence of the 1986 bell forever would prompt me to pause and recall all that it stood for.

This year was different, though. As I took each bell in my hand and removed the tarnish, I would hold that year in my heart. Some years had more tarnish than others. 1979–That was the year God gave me Mike… 1982—The year our firstborn, a son, made us a family… 1984—Our second child, a precious daughter we almost lost in her first few days of life, then by God’s Grace, made perfectly healthy. 1994—The year the suffering ended for my mother when she lost her battle with cancer and went Home to be with the Lord. And each year forward, through a quarter century of memories, I smiled and I cried, and thought how quickly it had gone. Our three children now grown, our pets now old—through it all we had made it, with the help of a loving God who saw us through. As I looked at the bells, I thought how each bell was a stone of remembrance, like Samuel named his Ebenezer, his memorial stone, for, “Thus far has the Lord helped us.” (I Samuel 7:12)

Throughout this Christmas, I have thought steadily at how those bells are indeed our Ebenezer, each representing how far we have come with the help of God. I had often wondered what the words in the song, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” meant when it said in the second verse, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I’ve come…” The meaning of those words was never clearer as I hung each bell this year. What a lesson in His grace. Suddenly, I felt a need for the 1986 bell. Surely, there was no greater year of His mercy and help. (to be continued)

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4 thoughts on “christmas bells of remembrance

  1. Annie,
    You are a great writer. I can’t wait to read the conclusion to this post.

    What a blessing you are to me.

    Blessings in Christ–

  2. I love this story! I love the silver bells and what they mean to you! Each are a memory that you and Mike share together. I love how you write. I want everyone to hear what is in your heart! Thank you for blessing me…AGAIN!

    2007–the year I met my new sweet sister!

    Love you,
    Angie xoxo

  3. Annie, you know I love the bell story! I’m looking forward to Part 2/Conclusion.

    You have the most beautiful blog, my dear friend. Everything you do with it is classy, elegant (right down to feeding the donkey!) and most importantly honoring and glorifying to the Lord. I love the pictures you put with each post and I don’t know why, but I really like the simplicity of the silver bell with this story.

    You’re the best, I love you dearly.

    Love, JeanM

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