My second traditional end-of-the-year post is a look back at blessings. Being an Eeyore, an INFJ, a glass-half-empty kind of personality, I need to do this. Purposefully looking back at my blessings helps me not just to remember them, but to cement them into my heart allowing much-needed sunshine to battle my natural gloom. I want to have a grateful heart.
January–I began the year knowing that I was in need of inspiration. I had agreed to speak at graduation in May and was terrified. My number one author/teacher inspiration is C.S. Lewis, so I began the year by going back to basics. I read once more through The Chronicles of Narnia. As I read, I copied long passages into my Commonplace Book using a different color pen for each of the seven books. January is a time for new beginnings, but I learned that it is also a good time to look back, to remember foundations and foundational principles, to sink our roots into the soil even deeper so that we can face whatever storms the year might bring.
It’s amazing how many times during the year the lessons of the Chronicles have come back to me. (It ended up being such a blessing that I decided to do it again this year. I’m currently re-reading The Lord of the Rings.) While I was reading I wrote a post about some of the things I was learning. My mother read it and told me she would like to read the books, so when we were there towards the end of the month I got to go with her to Barnes and Noble to find a copy. She ended up getting the whole seven books in one paperback and she read them all. That makes me very happy!
February-My primary goal for the year was to get into shape, but I started out the year with a couple of nasty colds. My fitbit, my treadmill, and God’s grace kept me going in spite of the difficulties and by the end of February I could run a mile and a half without stopping. We had a lot of cold weather and snow. Several mornings I walked and ran on the treadmill and watched the snow accumulating on the cedar trees outside the window.
I do not do very well without sunshine. I’m like a little kid when it comes to snow, but it’s a good thing I live in the South because I only like it in small and very controlled doses. Getting through the emotional low I experienced in February while continuing to exercise was essential. The last song on my running play list is “Never Once” by Matt Redman. Every time I allow myself to really listen to the words as I run, I tear up and sometimes I outright sob. Every step I was breathing in His grace!
March-In March the weather continued to be unusually cold, but there were some days of sunshine and I was beginning to feel good. March was a month full of grandchildren. Having three of my grands at school is a blessing. When they are in programs or have presentations I can usually arrange to be there. In March I got to see my granddaughter perform in her first musical and present herself as Lady Jane Grey. At other times during the year I got to help do a dissection, watch recitations, and visit special classroom events. March is also when we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day with our Blythe-girl.
She’s a little bundle of inspiration that keeps us motivated all year long. When she started walking later in the year there wasn’t a dry eye in the family.
April-Spring Break came late in 2014 and with it came road trips. I made two trips with Katie, first south to Atlanta where it was sunny and warm and then north to Kentucky. In West Virginia we traveled for several hours through snow. Snow in April does not excite me, but it is good to be reminded of what traveling with toddlers is like. Appropriately, this trip was when I memorized the sound track of Frozen. Spring Break week was also when I began my transition to running outside. That was another hump to get over, but again God’s grace saw me through. We had a blast with Christy and Josh and all the littles. We had an Easter Egg hunt and we went to the zoo.
It was fun to stop and just be a grandma in the middle of the school year–especially since MAY was coming.
May-There’s only one word for May and that is BUSY! We began with Amy’s graduation from Liberty University. There is no way for me to express how proud I am of my eldest. Through difficulties that no woman should have to experience, she persevered, completing a four year degree exactly as scheduled while working full time and parenting three kids alone. She’s my hero.
Graduation at Liberty is INSANE. We drove up that morning and my parents came along. We ate one of the worst lunches I have ever had because they ran out of Chick-fil-a, got caught in a rain storm complete with tornado siren, and had to park seemingly in Siberia, but it was worth every minute. May is also my busiest month at school. Thesis presentations, graduation and other senior activities, concerts, exams and awards programs fill the month with stress, joy, tears and craziness at ridiculous levels, but before you know it, it’s over and so comes the calm of June.
June-Except this year I was scheduled to run my first 5K at the beginning of the month. Looking back I realize that though I had made A LOT of progress with my fitness since January, I was not really ready for that race. This is where is helps to just be plain old stubborn. I was determined to run it without stopping and so I did. It wasn’t pretty; it was slow, and it was painful, but I made it with Amy by my side worrying that I might drop dead at any moment.
That’s love. I’ve learned a lot since then. I can still run three miles without stopping, but I’ve learned that I can do it a lot faster if I take walking breaks. If I run 2 minutes and walk 1 minute, I can keep an easy 12 minute pace. If I push it, I can do even better. I’m thinking about doing a 10K this year. We’ll see. In any case, the race was behind me and it was time to enjoy the peace and freedom of summer.
July-In July I made a solo road trip to Atlanta. I drove my little Honda and sang along to old CD’s I found when I was cleaning. I had a blast. I went to help her put together a bridal shower for my niece. Amy and George came down later in the week. Amy is our chief baker. On the way home we stopped at the outlets in Commerce and I enjoyed buying new clothes for the first time in years. The running was working and I was smaller than I thought. Later in the month I went for a hike with Amy and the kids.
We had a picnic, climbed Hanging Rock, and waded in a lovely pool at the bottom of a water fall.
It was so great to have the energy to do things like that! I want to go on more outdoor adventures this year.
August-August is my birthday month and it’s also back to school time. It’s a time for new beginnings and professional goal setting. It’s also a time when last year’s seniors are heading off to college, new teachers are starting, and fresh policies are put into place, so there are lots of transitions to deal with. Though I was feeling physically strong this year, I was professionally a bit tentative. There seemed to be lots of unknowns. This August I learned more about walking by faith. Sometimes things aren’t very clear. You have to set out in the fog and trust that God will lead the way. That’s sort of how I felt in August. I can’t say that the fog has completely cleared yet, but I’m thankful for what I’m learning as I feel my way forward. God is in control. That’s all I have to know.
September-Italia! I was thrilled to pieces to be heading back to Italy in September. I was excited to see what the trip would be like when I actually had the physical strength to enjoy it.
It was wonderful–great students, great colleagues, wonderful food, and awesome lessons came together to make it a trip to remember, but our early morning run through Florence is my favorite memory. Thanks to Rachel and Becca!
October-I enjoyed fall this year more than ever. I loved watching the leaves change and feeling the briskness of the air when I got the chance to run outside. George and I established a Saturday routine of going to the Farmer’s Market and stopping for a country ham biscuit at Bojangles.
I love buying and fixing fresh local veggies and the sight of mums and pumpkins on my front steps. We visited my parents at the beginning of the month and went with them to a local orchard. We bought apples and strolled through aisles of every kind of pumpkin imaginable, and then went home to eat chili and play Mexican Train.
During October I made apple sauce and baked bread, ate pumpkin pie and took pictures of pretty leaves. Fall for me is usually a time to get through between summer and Christmas break. This year I learned to savor it. I’m thankful.
November-The weather changed early in the month. It got cold, all of the leaves fell down at once, and I zipped the fleece liner into my all-weather coat. The time changed and the dark came earlier. We got some disturbing family news. The best word I can think of to describe my journey through November this year is “endurance.” I stepped up my mileage on the treadmill to make up for not being able to run outside. We joined a new small group at church and started lighting the fireplace most evenings. I completed a Bible study about Gideon. Each of these brought a different kind of strength, courage, or light to our lives. We celebrated Thanksgiving with just my folks and Matt. It was quiet and peaceful. Christmas was coming.
December-The fog that seemed to settle in my life in August obscured my view of Christmas a bit. I couldn’t really see what was coming and that is an unsettling feeling for a person who LOVES a plan. We did our decorating, just George and I, listening to Christmas music, trying to set the mood. It was the combination of the music and the ornaments that did it for me–I still couldn’t SEE Christmas, but I could feel it getting closer.
It’s been a quiet season. We’ve had a nice time with family. We’ve laughed and eaten, watched movies and worshipped together. I think I’m settling into age. It feels like time passes much faster these days. The news seems worse, but my hope is greater. I said at the start of this post that I am beginning the year with Tolkien and I want to finish with a quote from The Fellowship of The Ring. I came upon it the other night and I read it over and over. It sums up so much that I have felt this year, that I am feeling now as one year closes and another is born. “The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” Greater love in 2015–I’m for that!