Joy of the Month Club, 2013

When I was a little girl “________ of the month” clubs were popular presents that adults often gave to other adults.  It was billed as “the gift that keeps on giving.” There were flower-, fruit-, dessert- and, of course, book-of-the-month clubs.  I remember my mother’s receipt of a craft-of- the-month club subscription.  I loved it when those boxes came throughout the year and the pieces of the craft-to-be would spill out onto the diningroom table along with the complex instructions.  When my own children were young, George’s parents were given a dessert of the month club.  Several months those desserts came packed in dry ice and the kids had a ball finding interesting ways of using it to produce fun through fog.  _______-of-the-month clubs made good memories.

Two years ago I started writing an annual Joy of the Month Club post.  It’s my chance to look back at the year during this last week in December and count my blessings.  This is a look at 2013.

January–I approached January of 2013 with great trepidation.  My five-year cancer scans were scheduled for January 8.  I made it through the scans, but I could not bring myself to call for results.  I could NOT face the minutes of waiting on the phone while they checked for the information.  I know this sounds silly, but it’s true.  I waited a week without a peep from the doctor’s office.  During that week I stayed busy.  It was exam time and I had a former student serving as an intern.  The days were full and fun.  Still, in the quiet moments my mind went back and forth between telling me, “No news is good news,” and  “No news means they don’t want to break the bad news over the phone.”  It wasn’t fun.  At the end of a week I called and left a message.  They didn’t call back. I don’t think people who were around me really knew about the turmoil boiling in my soul.  On the last day of exams, almost two weeks after I had my scans, I was sitting at my desk talking to my intern.  We were chatting about teaching and grading exam papers when my phone rang.  I saw the number and my stomach did a double flip.  I answered and was told by a bright and happy nurse that my scans showed absolutely no signs of cancer.  I thanked her, put down my phone, and lost it.  My poor intern was the recipient of my complete emotional release.  It was especially ironic since she and my cancer share a name: Hodgkins.  She was great.  Kindred spirits always understand and never judge.  My cancer-cured life began in January.

February–One morning in February I bent over to put on my socks and something in my back popped.  It was sore, but the pain was not terrible and I finished getting ready for work.  I took the dog outside as usual, but when I leaned over to pick up her morning “deposit” I couldn’t stand back up.  It took me a while to get my hopelessly bent self back into the house. Being a stubborn idiot, I managed to get myself to work.  The good thing was that it didn’t hurt when I was sitting.  Walking was the trick.  My walk was sort of crooked and sidelong.  The pain lasted about a week.  I know this does not sound like something that belongs in a list of biggest joys of the year, but it was.  I was reading One Thousand Gifts at the time and I remember being crumpled in the frosty grass that morning and thanking God for the pain, being sure that He had a purpose, being joyful anyway.  For me, a natural Eeyore, this is a miracle of Grace.  I am grateful.

March–Evangeline Grace Marsh arrived on March 1.  She is our smiley doll-baby, third granddaughter, and ninth grandchild.

Eva Grace

I got to spend a week in Louisville,  Kentucky helping to care for the baby and her twin brothers.



It was a precious week of being “just” a grandma.  I loved every minute!

April–Spring break was welcome as always and later in the month we got to be in Atlanta for my father’s birthday.  We had a birthday dinner complete with ice-cream cake shaped like a golf bag.


I got to spend some time with my brother and three of his children, a not-so-common occurence.   I’ve had more time throughout this year with my folks than I usually do.  With my husband’s job change and  a car that runs reliably, we have been able to make more weekend trips.  I am very thankful.

May–Matt came home from school to be with us all summer.  He hadn’t been home longer than a couple of weeks in a year and a half, so this was a special blessing.  We drove with the windows down and the radio blasting, went to Yum Yum, and drank tall Arnold Palmers on the deck.  We also got to go with Amy to pick up the Boxer puppy she bought to surprise her kids.20130518-153630.jpg That was a truly golden day!

June–George got a full-time job teaching at Oak Ridge Military Academy.  He began in summer school.  It was tough, but we feel so blessed.  He loves the people he works with and enjoys working at a place with so much history.  For me June was a month of quiet days spent reading books and recovering from the school year.  I also spent a fun week in Atlanta with my folks relaxing on their new covered back patio.


July–July was bittersweet because it was the month in which we said goodbye to George’s mother.  George’s parents lived with or near us for fourteen years, a great blessing to our kids.  All of the North Carolina family traveled to Michigan in a big rented van.  We connected with Christy’s family along the way and David flew in from Texas.  We traveled to the funeral all together in the big van.  It was the first time in years all of us had been in the same vehicle at the same time.  All I will say about this is that some things never change. The entire extended family enjoyed a meal together after the funeral at a favorite restaurant in Frankenmuth, Michigan.  It was a blessing to be together–something that would have made my mother-in-law very happy. My favorite time was an evening we as a family spent in my sister-in-law’s basement eating sandwiches, remembering, laughing and praying together.

the kids

August–Seeing “Back to School” advertisements always brings a mixture of sadness and anticipation; my stomach does a flip and fills with butterflies.  Saying good-bye to summer is hard, but looking over rosters full of names of new students to love is exciting.  The part I despise is sitting through all the meetings.  Yep, that’s my Yankee honesty shining through.  This year, though, part of one of the meetings was a proposal that we all participate in a faculty fitness program using Fitbit.  There were incentives offered and there was going to be a contest between schools.  I have been wanting to do something about this area of my life for sometime, but I always feel guilty about taking time from my school work to do it.  Now I was being offered a chance to make it PART of my school work.  I signed up.  I’ve written several times already about this tiny piece of technology and how it has changed my life and I plan to write more during the next semester.  I am very glad that Fitbit came into my life.

September–No doubt about it, my favorite part of September was our beach trip.  I love the beach.  We went to Ocean Isle, rented a little house, and spent three days enjoying grandchildren, sand, and sun.







It was a blessing we really hope to repeat!

October–I love fall.  While the warm afternoons lingered, the mornings slowly became chillier.  We worked to get ready for David’s family to move in with us temporarily while they transitioned from Army life to teaching at an international school in China.  We made room in the attic, cleaned out closets, and moved furniture.



I basked in the knowledge that my son had completed his last deployment, but was a little sad, too, watching a video of the ceremony in which his command was turned over to another.  Turning pages can be emotional.  At the end of the month we celebrated Blythe by participating as a family in the Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome.





It was the first really cold day of the year but we were warmed by this loving community we feel so privileged to be a part of.  God is good all the time.

November–David, Laura and Brendan settled in and we found places for all the things that have to be stored.  We had a lovely Thanksgiving at Katie and Seth’s home at the end of the month, but first we traveled to Greenville, South Carolina to see Matt in his university production of Cyrano de Bergerac.  George was in the same play on the same stage during his college years, so this was really nostalgic for us.  Here’s George in 1975


and here’s Matt. (He’s the one leaning around Cyrano’s left shoulder.)

20131228-201138.jpgAfter the performance we got to spend some precious time with some dear friends.  It was one of my favorite evenings of the year.

December–This is a month full of tradition.  We decorated the house, baked cookies, and attended concerts.

Willa's concert


I feel especially blessed to have all three of my school age grandchildren at Caldwell this year.  On the last day before break we had a special Christmas Forum.  Forum is the classical word for assembly. 🙂  The third and forth graders came in to present for the highschool.  The third grade sang a lovely Christmas song and the fourth grade, my granddaughter among them quoted, from memory the entire Christmas story from Luke chapter 2.  That in itself would have been a moving experience, but the part that really got me was spontaneous.  As the fourth grade recited, our highschool students joined in.  Many, many of them remembered the passage from their own years in grammar school.  I stood there with tears rolling down my face thinking about all the students I have known in my fifteen school years at Caldwell.  I thought about my own children and my grandchildren, and my heart was full of gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of it all.  Glory to God in the Highest!  It has been wonderful to have everyone together for Christmas.  Since it will probably be a while before we are all together again, we took some pictures.  This is the one that turned out best.  Go figure.


May your New Year be filled with joy!


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