Joy of the Month Club, 2016

Here I am on New Year’s Eve baby sitting three of my grandchildren.  The kids are all in bed and we have cheese, crackers and shrimp set up on the ottoman.  The sparkling grape juice is in the fridge and I think we brought a couple of pieces of pumpkin pie.  Go big or go home.

For the last several years I have written an end-of-the-year post about the high spots, the happy, adventurous, and memorable moments of my year.  I think of them as monthly surprise gifts from the Father and I am grateful. Looking back is important.  It helps me to plan and think through what is ahead.  So, here goes.

January:  In January I went on a Saturday field trip with a colleague, a couple of parents, and a bunch of students.  We went to Staunton, Virginia to watch Shakespeare (The Tempest).  It was awesome.  Taking a Saturday to do something other than chores is very unusual for me and that whole day inspired me to add a line to my personal goals for the year.  I tried to “Do Something Different” once a month.  It didn’t turn out exactly as I envisioned, but I did say yes to more things more often.  That January Saturday was a lot of fun.  It lives in my memory as a special day of exploring and strolling, window shopping and talking.  It’s also the day I was introduced to Hamilton by a couple of seniors on the rainy ride home.  “O brave new world that has such [adventures] in it!”


February:  The first weekend in February we took my newly acquired “Finn” for another drive north to Virginia.  This time we went to a new home a couple in our small group had recently completed at Smith Mountain Lake.  It was really meant to be a Superbowl party, but we only stayed for Saturday afternoon.  It was lovely and we were sorry that we hadn’t planned to stay.  We talked and ate and laughed and went for a lovely walk.  Virginia has-or had–I’m not sure which, very different burial rules.  There are family graveyards dotted all over the countryside.  As we walked along a country lane we came upon a family burial plot containing six or seven graves. We walked among them wondering, speculating, and imagining, making a kind of etherial contact with humans who lived and loved, struggled and persevered before any of us were born.  It was good.  It was, in a way, holy.  That day was another pearl on the necklace of my year.


March:  March was for grandchildren.  My three oldest stayed with us for a weekend while their mother was away for a weekend with her bestie from college.  It was fun to have kids in the house again.  Not so fun, but still special, were the days in March I spent in Boone caring for my youngest daughter and her three littles because she had the flu and strep throat at the same time.  My favorite memory from those days was dancing with my three year old granddaughter to the music sung by a little stuffed pink pig she got for Valentines Day.  “To the left, to the left…”  We were silly and it was fun.  I also got to see my oldest granddaughter as a scary, scary life-size puppet in her school play and throw our annual grandchild Easter Egg hunt.  March was full of grandkids.



April:  I don’t even want to write this one.  April was for living through and trying to move on from THE LOSS.  Yep.  That’s it.  My heart is still a little fragile.



May:  In May I ran my first half-marathon.  It was awesome.  I beat my goal time by five minutes and sprinted the last few yards.  May was also when she said “yes” to my baby boy.  It was a pretty special month.  “He has turned for me my mourning into dancing…”  Isn’t that just like the Father?





June:  School was out, our oldest son came home for two weeks and then took me back to China with him.  It was quite the adventure.  I ate lychees for the first time,


stared shrimp in the eye before eating them,


experienced REALLY SERIOUS kabobs,


and enjoyed Chinese Tex-Mex.


I went for a walk in the pouring rain, saw some beautiful sights and met some really great people.



I made some wonderful memories with my family and got to know my newest grandson.  I got to see where they live and work and experience the way they live.   I even ran on my own around their apartment complex.  This was definitely my adventure of the year!

July:  Our youngest daughter and her husband came to town and we spent a good bit of time painting before they moved into their new home.  We also enjoyed cooking together spending quality time.




August:  School begins in August and I am blessed to have six of our eleven grandchildren at school with me this year.  Seeing these guys together in their uniforms was a highlight of the year for me.

We also had an afternoon with the bride and groom to be and so we practiced doing a low-country boil in order to be ready for the rehearsal dinner.



September:  Italia!  Pictures are better than words in this case.






October:  The Wedding!  Sweetest overall memory of the year goes to the wedding weekend.  I got to go down early and spend time with both of my boys.  We ran errands, baked cookies, shopped, chopped, boiled and decorated.  We also spent a lot of time laughing and dancing and praising God for all He has done.  It was awesome.





I wish I had a picture of Blythe dancing.  It was absolutely adorable.  When we get more pictures, I’ll write another post.  Thanks to all of the many of our family and friends who traveled to be a part of this special day.  God is so incredibly good!

November:  November was for family.  When I started to think about doing this post I found the last two months of the year slightly daunting.  They haven’t been easy.  In the end, though, I decided that they have been a tremendous blessing because through all the tough times, through the struggles and the pain and the hurt and the fear, we’ve got each other, and that’s the very best gift of all.






December:  This month has been a month for thinking, praying, planning, imagining, evaluating and preparing.  I have absolutely NO IDEA where 2017 will take us.  we might move and we might not.  Many things are currently “up in the air,” but my feet are rooted firmly on the Rock, so I’m good.  One thing I do know that’s coming up is my half-marathon in Myrtle Beach in March.  I’ve begun training for it, putting in the miles and doing the tempo workouts.  Running gives me time for thinking, praying, and planning.  I’ve come to love those quiet hours on the road.  The old year is running out.  The fireworks have started in the neighborhood (If they wake up the kids I am going to be furious.), I’ve had my glass of sparkling grape juice and I’m sure somewhere the ball is descending.  I may have no idea where this year is going to take me, but I know where I want to be looking.  “…let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us, looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down on the right hand of the throne of God.”  Bring in on, 2017, BRING IT ON!





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