Reflections at year’s end

Fast away the old year passes…for many it hasn’t gone by fast enough and we’re hopeful it takes its hardships and upheavals with it. We better not hold our breath waiting for that to take place, but we can’t surrender to gloom and despair either. Instead we pray for the strength to endure.

Hail the new, ye lads and lasses…at 12:01 we greet 2021, a brand new year, but we wonder with trepidation what it will bring. We must trust in God to provide and to always help us persevere, no matter what transpires.

On the cusp of a new year dawning, on this last day of 2020, I revisit this past year with all of its ups and downs. And I remind myself to be thankful, to express gratitude to my God, who holds this world and all within it in the palm of His strong, capable, and mighty hands.

Sing we joyous all together…for so many of my fellow human beings, it’s been difficult to find reasons to be joyful this past year. But we can find joy when we look for it. Often, photos say more than words, so please join me below in a slideshow as I revisit this old, tired year 2020 with joy and gratitude as it fades into my memory bank and I feel at peace. I encourage you to remember the instances that gave you joy this year.

Heedless of the wind and weather…we will get through this difficult time with God’s help regardless if the winds of change come and the ‘weather’ turns foul.

May 2021 bring us all reasons to rejoice, no matter what.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie

© 2020

So long, 2015

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Best of 2015 – our first grandchild’s birth

New Year’s Eve.  For most people, it’s a time to look back over the departing year and look forward to the year arriving in a few hours.

Kind of like taking stock of your situation.  What were the high points of the year that you will never forget?  And if you’re like most of the human race, there were also low points that made an impact on your life too.

Looking back over 2015, I can honestly say it was one of the most wonderful years of my life and yet at the same time, it was the most difficult one as well.

The high point?  Oh, no question about that one.  It was the birth of our first grandchild.  She is our shining jewel, our delight, and she brings such joy, happiness, and laughter into this empty nest of ours.  Every time I look at her, overwhelming love swells up in my heart and overflows in a kind of bliss that I’d almost forgotten – that kind of love I felt when I held my own babies in my arms.

But in addition to the elation of becoming grandparents, this year brought great sorrow. A crisis affected us dramatically causing my emotions to fly all over the map from anger and hurt to disappointment and disgust and everywhere in between. 

The turmoil and pain caused by it affected our entire family.  Months later, Papa and I still don’t understand the person who caused it or why it happened and perhaps we never will. We simply are supporting and helping the wounded one recover and move on with life.

So 2015 proved to have a split personality – one ever so amazing and one so very dreadful – and will go down in the books as one of the best and worst years of my life.  I can’t say that I’m sorry to see it end and be banished to the history pages of existence.

Today I scanned over this year’s blog posts in order to find what I thought was perhaps my best post to re-share it with you.  In doing so, I realized that out of the 365 days of this year, I only published 83 posts (counting this one today) and many of those were just photographs. 

This year stole much from me – time, emotion, and even my writing – and I allowed it to do so.  Re-reading the posts I did write, I realized something profound. When I did write, the crisis we encountered proved to outweigh my joy.  No more.  With the Lord’s help, I am putting a stop to that. I intend to focus on what my Bible tells me – the joy of the Lord is my strength.

I am anticipating this New Year with hopeful outlook, with healing for my loved ones and myself, with joyful expectation.

I trust you are doing the same.  

“What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.” — Vern McLellan



Surprise, surprise!

Surprise from Australia

Surprise from Australia

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)