The older I get, the more I like surprises. Maybe it’s because life can get a little mundane once you’re sliding toward retirement years. Or maybe it’s just because as you mature in age, you’ve witnessed enough that few things surprise you anymore.
Whatever the reason, I want life to still hold plenty of surprises.
Just yesterday a surprise came in the mail. And as I happily picked up that package – the one sent air mail all the way from Australia – I truly was astonished. Tucked inside the bubble envelope was a sweet gift from our Australian friends, Susannah and Mat. Surprise! Packages of sprinkles to make fairy bread – one of their delectable treats they told us about – and an Australian cookbook that I couldn’t wait to read through.
Surprises. I love them. That’s why as we prepared for Christmas I informed our grown children and spouses that this year would be different. This year Papa and I weren’t buying gifts off the lists. This year we were going to surprise them by thinking outside the list box and gifting them with items we thought they would enjoy – gifts they didn’t expect. And I think we succeeded by the look on their faces as they opened their gifts not knowing what was inside. It was so much more fun that way.
The unexpected gift from Australia prompted me to remember the joy we shared hosting that lovely couple in our home earlier this month. Getting that opportunity had been a welcome surprise.
And that caused me to think back over this past year (after all, it is coming to a close). 2014 has been one surprising year.
The year began with me still feeling deeply wounded and saddened over losing my job, yet by year’s end, healing from that is definitely taking place. Surprise!
Our grown children amazed us with plenty of wonder in 2014. Middle daughter and husband moved back to the home state and bought a house, then gave us the biggest surprise this year – the announcement that Papa and I would become grandparents in 2015!
Son and wife also moved (a little bit closer) from New Jersey to the state on the other side and also bought a house. Surprise! Job changes for one son-in-law and our son were also unexpected and good surprises.
Of course, oldest daughter and hubby amazed us with their plans for the grand adventure they currently are on – a trip of a lifetime – climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Surprise!
Other wonderful surprises included a trip to New York City with son and daughter-in-law as well as a restful vacation in the Blue Mountains of North Carolina with just Papa and me. Trips to visit our grown children have been welcome joys this year. And daughters blessed me with a home visit for my 60th birthday when we spent an amazing fun-filled family day in the city.
And even though it wasn’t a happy surprise, I was shocked and astonished to lose our beloved calico cat, Callie, this year. The sadness that enveloped me while losing our furry little friend stunned me and sometimes still does.
But surprise! Son and daughter-in-law adopted a sweet Springer puppy named Barley and our house fills with laughter and puppy love when they visit.
Astonishingly, my life this year has been full of wonder. I’ve enjoyed working part-part-time as a substitute teacher at a nearby Christian school. Not working as many hours gives me more time to write and God has graciously provided our needs even without my former salary. Surprise!
But some of the most amazing events have transpired this year with my Mama’s Empty Nest blog. First, a blogging friend asked me to write an article for TRC (The Relevant Christian), an e-magazine. Then something else astonishing happened; I became an online co-leader (with two lovely ladies who have turned into friends) for a Christian women’s empty nest community group with (in)courage. The friendships made there have become priceless. One of my blog posts, Life on Purpose, was featured on the (in)courage Facebook page on November 1 and I gained new readers from that. Surprise!
I surprised even myself by completing a goal of posting every day for an entire month when I tackled my 30 days of Thanksgiving last month. The revelations and words that God gave me during that time astounded me causing me to be even more thankful, especially for the One who guides my life.
So as 2014 comes to a close, I have to say it’s been an astonishing, surprising year. Some surprises were wonderful, some not so much. But that is life. And life is the best surprise of all.
“Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.” ~ Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)