Friday, January 1, 2016

A New Year - A Year in Review

We have reached a new year again. . .

Looking back, this past year was very busy - so much so that I only posted twice.  Sometimes, life is that way.

The busyness of this past year included helping my parents sell their home and move into a senior-living facility.  It is amazing the amount of stuff that can be accumulated in 50 years!  (A good reminder to choose carefully what I save.)  There were many trips to Des Moines this past year, but the job did get done (much more so by my sister who lives local).  The process included a lot of decisions - some of them were not easy.  My dad, who was especially limited in what he could do, had a hard time with some of it.  At one point, I had to ask Dad to just trust me that I would do the best I could, even if it wasn't ideal.  It wasn't an easy road even after they moved.  There have been some unforeseen bumps in the road; but I still believe this was the right decision for them to make.  They are in a place where there is help available when they need it.  They are closer to my sister now.  They no longer have the burden of upkeep on their home.  These are all good things, even if there are difficult things that come along with it.

There has been much busyness here on the home front, too.  School is a factor during those months.  Sports add to the busyness during their respective seasons.  Currently, I have a 9th grader, a 6th grader, and a 4th grader.  They are all doing well in school.

My oldest is in his 3rd year playing basketball at school; and this summer, he added in playing for the men's softball league at church.  I think it was a good experience for him. (Definitely provided opportunities to discuss examples of good - and Christian - sportsmanship - and not-so-good sportsmanship.)

This year for basketball, he is playing on the JV team.  New year, new coach, new opportunities.  His team this year plays well together.  They communicate.  They pass.  This is no one-man show.  Everyone has the opportunity to dribble, pass, and shoot.  I enjoy seeing that kind of teamwork.

My daughter is old enough to play sports at school this year, too.  She played volleyball at the beginning of the school year, and I think she enjoyed that.  I know she enjoyed her coach -- a big thanks to her for all her work with the team!

Now the season is basketball.  The junior-high coach gave all the girls a challenge to spend a certain amount of time dribbling and to shoot a certain number of baskets over the summer.  The prize for doing so was to get to go shopping for a new basketball and $50 toward a new pair of shoes for basketball.  She worked hard and met the goals, and she is very proud of what she earned.  She is enjoying basketball, and that is good.

My youngest is not in sports yet, but wishes he was.  His time will come.  That youngest-child slot is sometimes a very difficult thing when trying to find a 'place' in life.  He is as creative and inquisitive as ever.  Today, he brought me breakfast in bed - his idea, and he did a great job.

There have been a few people who have gone out of their way to help fill voids for my children.  I never take those encounters for granted.  People who invest in my children are one of the greatest blessings.  Their efforts make a difference.

There have been some challenges this year, too, of course; but there are always challenges in life, no matter your circumstances.  God is always faithful, and He guides us through those challenges.  I was reminded during one of those challenges to seek what God has for me in them -- Is there a lesson I need to learn, or an area where I need to grow?  That's not always an easy perspective to take.

This past month, I was able to attend the wedding of someone very dear to me.  She was one of the flower girls in my wedding.  She was a beautiful bride.  Making that trip was a bit of a 'splurge', but I felt so blessed to be able to go.  I was able to see several friends who live far away.  It was a lovely time.

This has been my second year as a widow.  I've heard many times that the second year is harder than the first.  I wouldn't say it was harder - just different.  In general, people do react differently after that first year has passed.  I don't know that it is much different than any other thing in life (it just feels magnified sometimes).  Time moves forward.  Life has a definite rhythm.  I actually don't think a lot about the fact that I'm a widow.  I am where God has placed me in life, and I just keep walking.

Looking back, I am always in awe of God's grace and the fact that He cares for me.  I spent some time reading through old blog posts and my old pen-and-paper journal; and all I could think was, "Wow!  God has been so good to us through all these tough events."  At thanksgiving time, I talked to the girls in my Sunday School class about being most thankful for the things that can never change -- God never changes.  He will always love us.  He is always faithful.  He always keeps His promises.  Those are what I'm most thankful for!

Today is the beginning of a new calendar year.  I look forward to seeing what God has for us in the days to come, and I know He will be walking with us as long as we are following Him.

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