While the nation had no lack of national chaos and scandal in 2017, we plunged and plodded through our ordinary lives in this high mountain valley. We had some extraordinary moments of our own, even a few scandalous ones if not in the grand scheme of things, at least in our world (a few murders and other unmentionable crimes, for example.)
For me, the year seemed to be a blur from beginning to end with the brightest spots being times with family and the hardest times being losses of those I cared for. When Ken Heide died in January, for example, this world lost a great and genuinely good man, one of the best. Maybe few knew him outside of this little valley of ours, but anyone who did, was better for it.
Some of those we lost, like Jerry Reed, lived large and affected many lives. Others like Charlotte Orth lived a quiet life but touched with gentleness each of us who knew her.
My favorite stories of the year are always the ones that blessed my soul. Two of them stand out for me.
Frank “Frankie” Mestas, who grew up here but now lives in Washington, gave a teenage girl he didn’t know one of his kidneys because he was touched by her need, and he was motivated by his faith. God told him he could make a difference for this young woman whose mom worked with Frankie’s wife.
Maddie was 18 years old and suffering from a disease she inherited from her dad, which took him out as a match. Her mom had already donated a kidney to her dad, and her brother was too young, so Maddie was facing dialysis, which didn’t mean the end of her life but did mean the end of some of her dreams. Frankie was compelled by his faith to donate a kidney to Maddie, and their lives were both changed because of it.
Frankie called it a journey of faith.
Also pretty amazing was the testimony of Pastor Martin Montoya whose daughter Anisa was killed by a drunk driver five years ago, and the families of his daughter and two other precious teens who died that night commemorated the fifth anniversary of their deaths.
Pastor Montoya was right behind Anisa when a drunk driver sped through an intersection in Pueblo near a church where the Montoyas and others from their congregation had just attended a special event.
It was at that horrible scene that this pastor’s faith became extraordinarily real. Even while facing the loss of his daughter — who was so beautiful inside and out — Pastor Montoya began to minister to others who were suffering at the scene of the crash. God used the most horrible night of his life to change lives.
There are those who have the hope of eternity, just like Anisa, Serina and Selena had, because of what happened at the intersection that night.
Some folks touch our lives for a moment, and others have an ongoing influence. My days are brighter by Harold hugs and visits from my 90-plus-year-old friends Mac and Dorothy. The thread of their friendship weaves through my year to make it a more beautiful tapestry in the end.
I am blessed to know so many wonderful people, from those in my own family to those who have allowed me to share their amazing stories and faith-filled journeys.
More stories are waiting to be told in the new year ahead.
I am ready.