Our best Christmas present in 1978 was our daughter, Bethany. She was only 7 pounds, 11 ounces, but our sweet newborn filled our home that year with immeasurable joy.
There was little else to celebrate that winter. Times were tough in the Cooper household and our personal economy had sunk deeper than the snowdrifts outside our door. Because of scarce resources, we had little in the way of gifts. But where the coins were limited, the creativity was limitless as our little tree took on festive yet simple decorations.
My mom visited and crocheted an ornament with the date spelled out in yarn. My husband, Steve, spent hours crafting a wooden truck for our two-year-old son. My creative spouse spent more hours designing a wooden ornament that I still treasure to this day. It was a memorable year in so many ways, with treasures abounding that money could not buy.
As I look back on that Christmas 36 years ago, I don’t regret the paucity of money nor the struggles we endured that taught us to be more compassionate Christians. What I do regret is that our sweet Bethany is no longer with us.
Her life was a testimony of living life well, even when the years are few. In her twenty-four years, her life seemed to impact so many others who still can recall her smile, her laugh, her intelligence, and her compassion. Mostly, her legacy is one of faith fulfilled in living a Christian life that made a positive difference in the lives of others.
It was a life of joy despite circumstances that seemed to whisk her away to heaven far sooner than any of us wanted. The joy in remembering Bethany reminds me that joy is not about the ever-changing circumstances that make us happy or sad. It is the realization that there is a promise for life eternal with God’s Son, whose birth we celebrate each Christmas.
That is truly the Joy of the season.
Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 2 Corinthians 8:2 NIV
Janet Grunst says
And what a joy that soon so many more people will become acquainted with Bethany through Bethany’s Calendar. What a lasting legacy!
It is an honor and a privilege that I share her story. Thank you, Janet!
Lisa Norato says
Elaine, I so admire your strength in sharing Bethany’s story. Your faith is an encouragement to me and is sure to be also to the many who read Bethany’s Calendar. May it touch and bless them!
Thank you, dear Lisa.But I must say, it was the Lord’s strength that carried me through. “In my weakness, HE is made strong.” And yes, I pray that “Bethany’s Calendar” blesses many. ((HUGS))
Your description of Bethany is exactly how I remember her from high school. I always admired her for her confidence and how she seemed to have figured out a lot of things that most teenagers weren’t ready to figure out, some of which have taken me years to get straight even now. As I read your book, the quotes from her diary stood out to me the most because they were written during that time that I knew her and it is clear, looking back, why I had every reason to admire her. Her focus on and love for God is astounding and inspirational. I very much wish more of her could have rubbed off on me at that younger age. 🙂 Blessings to you and your family this season. Thank you for writing her story — while I am not in a place of working through grief, I felt like God used her story to remind me of what’s important and to align my priorities accordingly. Thank you.
Dear Amanda, thank you for sharing your sweet memories of Bethany! You confirm what so many others have shared with me and I treasure your words. May the Lord bless you with great faith and hope, and JOY this Christmas season! ((HUGS))
Diane Dean White says
As a mother I can only imagine the pain to learn about this
horrible disease that took Bethany in her prime, and I admire
the way you’re able to tell her story. She sounds like a beautiful
person, and she would be so pleased to know how you continue
to love and honor her, Elaine. How wonderful the Lord gave
you this journey to share with others, especially those who are
dealing with similar circumstances. I pray they too turn to Him.