I was first in my extended family to write articles for magazines, books, and newspapers. I was first in my Carrie and Ben Hollenbach family to go to college for extended degrees after high school. There followed quite a number of cousins who attended college and/or trade schools.

My Uncle Glenn was next to youngest in his birth family, and the first and only one of 12 to complete high school.

My brother, Jerry is the first born in my family, I came in second! Sister, Anne is the youngest.

I was first of the three to get married, and the first to have a child, making my parents grandparents. In Paul’s family, his sister, Lois and I were due with our first babies on the same day. She won the “race” 25 hours before Renee came second in Paul’s family.

For great-grandparents, once again, Lois beat me by a month for Paul’s family. Lois’s daughter had the first great grandchild, followed by her own sixth baby a month later. One more month, and our daughter Renee had the second great-grandchild in that family.

Paul and I were first to have a grandchild born out of country. Granddaughter Vivian was born in Germany.

A distinction I have as a first is not so pleasant. Paul was the first “child” to go “home” to Heaven in his family. On my side, we lost my sister-in-law, Sandy, and brother-in-law, Larry.

I was first (and maybe only) in my family to fall down the “hay hole” from the upper level to the ground level in the barn. Only my pride was hurt, but I was alone, so I don’t think anyone ever knew about it.

Was I first to wear glasses? I can’t remember, but all three of us eventually did. I may have been first to wear hearing aids, I’m not sure. We all share in that genetic malady.

I was probably the first to whine about a Christmas gift. We only got one gift, and this certain year I asked for a Roy Rogers toy pistol. Instead I received a doll. I didn’t like dolls then, and I never got into that groove. Don’t feel sorry for my girls, along with trucks and building blocks, they did receive dolls. They loved them, and I made them a “ton” of doll clothes.

I don’t remember ever getting them paper dolls though. I thought they were absolutely absurd, and I never got into cutting dresses out of the Sears Catalogs either. Ugh. When we visited at one uncle’s home, my cousins got out paper dolls. I wanted to go outside and jump off the embankment by their house or slide in the snow. I forced myself not to show that emotion during their excitement.

Because of high school field trips, I was the first to go to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. Before that, my largest city was Sunbury, and a field trip to Harrisburg. Being in a real city, scared me. (I’ve gotten way over that!)

My first Broadway show was “42nd Street” in 1986. I was hooked, and have seen quite a few since then. I also love Sight and Sound in Lancaster, as well as other musical venues and concerts galore.

My firsts and lasts are insignificant when seen in the light of the authentic First and Last, Jesus Christ. Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” and again in Revelation 22:13, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word (a name of Jesus) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”

Jesus always existed and always will exist. As God incarnate, he has no beginning, nor will he ever end, being from everlasting to everlasting. Christ, as the Alpha and Omega, is the first and last in so many ways. He is the “author and finisher” of our faith, signifying that he begins it and carries it through to completion.

He is the totality, the sum and substance of the Scriptures, both the old and new testament. He is the first and last, the all in all of salvation, from the justification before God to the final “Welcome Home,” of his people.

Betty Blyler lives in New Berlin. For comments, questions or speaking engagements, e-mail: blyler@dejazzd.com.

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