Nancy Howard, who passed away Monday, Oct 24, provided a glimpse into her big heart with three Advent Meditations copied below:
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Curly and Ruth Howard
Of course, we did not know that Christmas 1958 was Dad's last. "We" were Mike, Pat, Nancy, and Jane, the stair-step children of Curly and Ruth Howard, young adults home for Christmas. We sensed each of us had come home from having gone on a search for autonomy, and that our search had brought a mature sense of love for and connectedness to family, a desire to be back with our parents in that funny stucco house in Hollywood, Florida: Home.
This new sense of connectedness brought a special appreciation of each other. We rejoiced in the recognition of what family meant to us, what we had to give each other. There were lots of funny (and sad) stories, lots of laughter as we shared this new love that connected us all.
Come February, we would scatter Dad's ashes in the Gulf Stream of the Atlantic Ocean, his second home. This burly, caring man, who led us on our exciting journey from the Midwest to booming, post-World War II Florida, was unexpectedly gone from our lives. Looking back from February to that Christmas, we knew it had been the best Christmas we had had, an enchanting time made more special by Dad's premature death.
Forty-two years later, Curly and Ruth's children gathered in Florida to celebrate the life of Ruth Ward Howard. With families and extended families, we once again told our stories -- some the same as before, many new. The next generations witnessed and became part of these stories that bind our loving Christian family together. Though linked with the loss of Ruth (Mother/ Grandmother/Great Grandmother/ Mother-in-Law), we find our lives together are meaningful because of her life and witness.
How graced we were to have had such loving, faith-filled parents.
Prayer: Thank you for loving parents who model your love to us. Amen.
Friday, December 2, 2005
Scripture: Then Samuel took a stone, set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and said: “The Lord has helped us all the way”—and he named it Ebenezer “Stone of Help . . .” I Samuel 7:12
Some years ago I read an article about the history and symbolism associated with the Christmas tree. One writer suggested naming your tree “an Ebenezer” to symbolize how the Lord has helped you/us. The Ebenezer described in I Samuel was established to remind the Israelites that God had helped them defeat the Philistines. The second verse of the great hymn: “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” reads “Here I raise my Ebenezer hither by thy help I come”--a reference to Ebenezer in I Samuel. So each year, when I erect my Christmas tree, I place a sign on its branches that reads: “Here I raise my Ebenezer: God with us.”
Across the years I’ve had all manner of Christmas trees. I remember the year Mother sent my color-blind brother to buy a tree. He brought home a beautiful tree; however, it was mostly brown. We couldn’t afford another tree so we sprayed it with green paint and still enjoyed it. My first tree in my first apartment after college was a real trip. I thought it likewise lovely but by Christmas all the needles had fallen off. It looked like something out of the Adams family—bare branches with lights and ornaments hanging down. Big or little, real or artificial, cheap or expensive—each time, no matter its state, on goes the sign. It reminds me over and over of how God, through his son, has established the ultimate Ebenezer.
Dear Lord, help us to remember that through the tinsel, trees, lights and festivities of Christmas that the real gift is your beloved Son.
“And We Shall Live Forevermore Because of Christmas Day” ["Mary's Boy Child"]
In 1957 a lovely Christmas song was introduced by Harry Belafonte. Each Christmas I hope and long to hear this meaningful song. Here are the words that were sung with a bit of a Jamaican-Calypso sound:
Long time ago in Bethlehem, so the Holy Bible say,
Mary’s boy child Jesus Christ was born on Christmas day.
Hark now hear the angels sing, a new king born today
And we shall live forevermore, because of Christmas day
Trumpets sound and angels sing, listen what they say
That we shall live forevermore, because of Christmas Day
While shepherds watched their flocks by night
Them see a bright new shining star
Them hear a choir sing, the music seemed to come from afar.
Now Joseph and his wife Mary, they come to Bethlehem that night,
Them find no place to born the child, not a single room in sight.
By and by them found a little nook in a stable all forlorn
And in a manger cold and dark, Mary’s little boy was born.
Of course I love the song for its message. I have also always appreciated the contributions of Harry Belafonte – an African American man who grew up in a time when he was not always welcome. We appreciate him in many ways today. We celebrate his lovely song with its special message to each of us – “we shall live for ever more because of Christmas Day.”
photo taken Oct 8, 2011 -- 1st prayer retreat at Hieb's farm
Nancy's obituary in Courier-Journal. She was 76yo.