The End of the Month Celebration!

Well…it’s the last day of November, and with it, the last day of my personal blog-every-day challenge. In some ways, the thirty days went by in a flash, but there were other days when I spent most of the day wondering what I was going to write about. Every day may be full, but every day isn’t always worth writing about, in my opinion. Sometimes life is more worthy of record, even if every day is a gift.

We spent the last day of our time in Michigan today just hanging out with Mom and Dad. We had a relaxed morning with nowhere to go, which extended into a lazy afternoon for the most part. A few kids took a walk with Mom and Dad in the late morning, we spent time looking over photo albums of my dad’s side of the family and the genealogy work that he’s done, watched some Michigan/Ohio State football, and then joined my brothers and sis-in-law for a belated birthday dinner in my honor (my birthday was in June; it was quite belated!). It has been a nice way to wrap up the visit.

Tomorrow we’ll set out for the trip back to Lexington and jump back into life as we know it at home. It will be a busy month of December: several commitments with CC, to start, and then all things Christmas. I had really hoped to have all the decorations put up before we left for Michigan, but with our Thanksgiving Feast and all the other things we did the weekend before leaving, it became painfully obvious that it wasn’t going to get done. Hopefully we can decorate the house soon after our return and enjoy our decorations without too much of the hectic-ness that is so prevalent in December. And isn’t it time to start making all the Christmas cookies that I look forward to every year?! I think so!

Thanks for following me throughout the month, either every day or here and there. I appreciate readership for my extremely small corner of the blogosphere tremendously!

Maybe I’ll find some time to write a few more entries before the end of 2013…That’s the goal, anyway.

Happy December!


Reunion Time

Today we had the opportunity to meet up with some “old” college friends–some we had seen a few months ago and others who we hadn’t seen in years. When the opportunity presents itself, it’s definitely best to take advantage of it, so we headed to Pontiac, Michigan to see some of our closest buddies.

It is so fabulous to have the chance to catch up with those we spent so much time with in those amazing four years at Hillsdale. One of my closest friends and her husband recently adopted two toddler girls from China and it was our first time to meet them. What a blessing to see them and spend a little time getting to know them! Such sweet girls who have already become part of a loving a wonderful family.

We shared lots of laughs and memories at the “big kids” table, but what was equally remarkable is how well out kids get along with each other. Hannah and Maddie are long distance friends, and even though they’ve never lived in the same town or spent more than a couple of days together, they share a special bond and a strong friendship. They made plans to extend the visit today into an overnight and counted the days until they saw each other. What we didn’t know, however, is how quickly Patrick and Ethan would hit it off, or that Brendan and Hayden would immediately become fast friends over Minecraft. It was incredible to see how the children of close friends can be close. Truly a blessing to us parents.

In a month-long celebration of thankfulness, I’m glad we had the chance to reconnect with our friends. Hopefully, our next reunion won’t be nearly as far off.

Is That All You’re Thankful For?

As I struggle to fight off the food coma that washed over us all as soon as the turkey dinner and sweet dessert was served and devoured, I’m feeling reflective on just how many things we have in our family to be thankful for this year. The everyday events and blessings are of course close to the mind these days, but this year, we have massive events to be mindful of and thankful for.

My older brother, the one who unfortunately walked through both an ugly divorce and the diagnosis of prostate cancer, finalized his divorce after almost the entire year and emerged victorious against cancer after surgery and radiation. At only 44, those two struggles taken by themselves would be enough, but to heap them together within the same time frame almost proved to be overwhelming. We are so thankful for his return to health and the fact that he’s on the road to healing, both physically and otherwise.

In early May, my Dad had another frightening stroke-like episode that landed him in the hospital. Although it happened much like the first time, with confusion and agitation, unlike the first time, my Mom recognized it more quickly and knew to call an ambulance. After a scary twenty-four hours that included the initial diagnosis of a 98% blockage on one side of his carotid artery, we thought it meant certain serious surgery. When he had a follow-up test, however, miraculously there was no measurable level of blockage and he was home within the next day instead of facing a surgical procedure. What an amazing change! The tests showed no damage to his brain and no real indication that he had had a stroke at all. The incident did reveal a hole in his heart, but the doctors all agreed that it was too small to even attempt to repair. We are so thankful to have him here with us and to be able to share Thanksgiving in his home.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, not even a month later, my mom suffered a fall at their house. I knew something bad had happened when my anti-technology Dad called me with their cell phone. He was on his way to the ER after the paramedics had taken my mom by ambulance to the hospital. At first, we thought she’d broken a hip, but it was quickly revealed that in actuality, she broke not one but both femurs. She had two surgeries in two days and began a long recovery that included a hospital and long rehabilitation center stay. It was a long and painful recovery, but the original prognosis was for her to be using a walker until Christmas. My mom is happily and efficiently getting around now with no help at all and even hosted Thanksgiving today. She still needs to rest often and has more recovery and rebuilding, but she exceeded all expectations for healing.

What can one say after walking through so many events this year? While some may curse that the stuff even happened and shake fists at the seeming unfairness of it all, I can only see the blessing in each of them. Through every trial and every struggle, I have seen the hand of God protecting every person every step of the way. It may have been difficult to see the end in the middle and definitely in the beginning, and hindsight is 20/20, but in looking back, it is obvious that every step was taken care of by a loving God who only has our best interest and His good purpose at heart. Never once was any of us abandoned or left to fend for ourselves. How can any of us do or say anything other than praise Him from whom all blessings flow? As Job once declared, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Tonight, as we sat around the table, all 14 of us, after watching my Dad choke up as he spoke about the things he’s thankful for, we know acutely well how blessed we are. And at least today, we are grateful to be able to accept the good from God.

We Made It!

We had a rough start to the morning (as in, the containers that I’d packed our clothes in did not fit in the trunk of the truck…a problem we did not realize until Todd tried to shut the door….oops!), so after packing and unpacking and repacking, we finally left town. Add two more slight snafus into the mix, and we finally got on the road shortly before 11. Not exactly how I planned it in my head, but we did ok. Traffic was worse than I expected, but not awful–mostly the slowdowns where nothing seems to be wrong once you get through it. That was good news today.

We made a quick stop for lunch and a bathroom break, and plowed on down the road, arriving just before six. Phew! Another safe and mostly uneventful trip.

Now that we’re here, it’s time to begin the Thanksgiving celebration. My brothers and sister-in-law will be coming over tomorrow, and there will be lots of food and fellowship. The parade begins around nine. Later, we shall watch the Lions play, and maybe this is their year to win on Thanksgiving! It should be a full day of eating and visiting.

May you be blessed at your Thanksgiving feast, no matter where you are and who you share it with!

Thinking of those who have an empty seat at the table…

We’ve had a busy day today getting prepared to travel for Thanksgiving. Amid the laundry, cleaning, food prep, and other errands of the day, it seemed for a while that I forgot why we were going through all the effort: so we can be with family. It’s never easy to travel with a young family, but somehow it always gets done. And even if we get to our destination and realize we forgot something important (one year, we arrived in Michigan and as I was unpacking I discovered that I hadn’t packed socks for any of the kids. We lived to tell about it!), we’ll still make it through the visit.

But then, as I was driving home from a late-night errand, I passed the house of our neighbors, who just lost their husband and father to a sudden heart attack less than three weeks ago, and a heaviness came over me. We aren’t close to the neighbors and barely even wave to each other if we pass on the street or happen to be retrieving our mail at the same time. That Friday three weeks ago, however, we were all home and in the schoolroom when the ambulance pulled up to their house. The kids have a habit of praying for whoever is in an ambulance when one screams by us on the road, so we stopped our afternoon schooling and did the same. It wasn’t until the next week that we learned he had passed away.

I don’t know what their Thanksgiving will be like, and it seems that they have been surrounded by family and friends since it happened (judging by the cars in their driveway), but I know that there will be an empty place at their Thanksgiving dinner this year. It got me to thinking about all the people who may be facing the same reality this Thursday: an empty place at the table. My heart goes out to anyone who has recently lost a loved one and will have to celebrate the holiday without the person they loved so much. Or maybe the lost person has been gone for many years, but the seat at the table remains open. There’s something about holidays that makes the loss more painful, and the hole remaining more wide. It certainly has to be a harsh reality to face.

For everyone who misses someone or is hurting this season, my heart goes out to you. I pray there will be a feeling of comfort and peace that surrounds you as you walk through the grief. For myself, I’m praying for real and meaningful ways that we can reach out to and help our neighbors who are surely grieving this week.

And as we prepare to travel, I’m even more thankful to be able to see my family and share time and a Thanksgiving meal with them. Even if we arrive without socks, it will be just fine, and we’ll have a wonderful time nevertheless.

Day 25

It’s getting to the end of the month, and I’m about out of news and exciting things to write about. Good thing there are just a few days left in November. Today I can be thankful that the month only has 30 days!

We had another full day at the Thanksgiving Feast with lots of laughs, food, and fun, and wrapped up the semester (for the younger kids) with style. It’s always a wonderful way to end the first twelve weeks, even though the day itself is quite chaotic.

And now….we look towards the rest of the week, which includes a trip to Michigan to visit my family and college friends, maybe a bit of shopping (AFTER THANKSGIVING), and if we’re lucky, even a bit of rest and relaxation.

But before then, it’s sleepy time.

Goodnight, WordPress world!

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving Feast

I’m completely and utterly exhausted after an incredibly full day of preparation and activity. While my last food item is just about to come out of the oven, I knew that if I didn’t sit down to write something now, I’d collapse before finishing.

Church this morning, then one kid to bible quiz after lunch, then home. Another teen back to church for dance auditions after dinner, then home. More activities at home while they’re gone.

Ten pounds of potatoes, mashed and in the crock pot for tomorrow. Mac and cheese ready to be rewarmed in the morning. Chicken and rice soup chilling in the fridge (in retrospect, making dinner for another family for tomorrow probably wasn’t my best idea, but I knew I could deliver it to them at CC, thus saving myself another trip. And it’s done now, so it worked out just fine). Biscuits are finishing up in the oven now.

We somehow managed to pull our costumes together, and while they aren’t the most creative ideas ever, it will be a clever play on words, and the kids are all excited about it. If nothing else, they certainly look hilarious. No pictures tonight, however, so we can keep it under wraps. I will give a big shout out to the dollar store, though, who helped us meet our costume goals while staying under budget.

The last day of our CC community semester is upon us, and like so many other people and their life events, I really do not know where the time went between the end of August and tomorrow. I know I was present for every day, and we hammered out the work every day, but looking back, it seemed to just fly by. Just about everything these days feels the same way: so very quickly. Why is that? Are we so busy that we don’t take the time to slow down and enjoy? I really don’t know the answer, but I do know that I’m close to pulling another month off my calendar and staring down the last month of 2013. Yikes!

But for now, I’m OK just to have today finished. Or mostly so. Tomorrow is shaping up to be another fun and full day and I’m excited to see it all play out. Hopefully, it will go slowly enough that we can truly enjoy and soak it all in.

If not, we can always drown ourselves in mashed potatoes and mac and cheese…twelve pounds should be enough to go around…

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