We're sitting in the United Lounge at Dulles Airport, 4 hours shy of 35 hours in transit from Uganda to Boston on this 17th day of January. We've been on the road since Dec. 17, on a journey which has taken us through Christmas, my father's death and funeral, and 19 days ministering in Uganda. It seems like a lifetime has happened since this trip commenced!
I had intended to blog about the first couple of weeks of December prior to my dad's unexpected-but-not-surprising death, but didn't get to it before he passed. It feels incomplete to not mention our wonderful annual visit to St. Louis the first weekend in December to hang out with the precious Williams family. Oh my!! It's hard to believe that these little girls, who were 2 and under (and Baby was non-existent) when we met in 1998, are all hovering around 6' tall and are beautiful young teen-age women. We baked, ate, toured a local village to see gingerbread creations, and caught up with one another in our brief 3-day visit. Though time is never enough, we are so thankful for this continuing tradition and more thankful to see this family growing in Christlikeness and making a difference all around them for Him.
|Celebrating with Grant and Emily Williams, and daughters Meegan, Madeline, and Sarah Elizabeth.|
The following week we wrapped up our Patriot studies. We had a truly sweet time of closure with the women on Wednesday morning and we all agreed that doing What's It Like Being Married to Me by Linda Dillow had been very impacting. I love these women. It was such a delight to meet with them all season. On Thursday night we wrapped up the couples' study and celebrating seeing growth in a number of couples' this fall. Nothing about the evening went exactly as planned: terrible traffic delayed our arrival (and with us, several side dishes for dinner) by almost an hour, and we realized only as we assembled the gift bags for each couple once down there that we had forgotten the jars of homemade raspberry jam at our house—but the party went on. We got out of the "jam" the next day when Paul drove south to visit Thora Eames and I suppose "all's well that ends well" applies here.
|The Patriots women's study on a baking workshop day.|
|Our final night of the couples' study, missing a few of the "regulars." Great group!!|
We were gifted with a huge snow storm that weekend, which made staying home PERFECT as I sewed, baked, wrapped, and mailed in preparation for Christmas. It stopped early enough on Sunday so we could join the Armenian community at the Belmont church honor and send off Greg and Sossi Haroutunian to their new church assignment in Fresno. We adore this family and will miss them in New England, but bless their westward migration as they return to Greg's roots and family.
|True conversation: Virginia: "What's not to love about snow?" Paul: "Shoveling, maybe?" :)|
It was a mad scramble to the last minute to get off on the 17th as we were preparing for Christmas in California followed by 2.5 weeks in Uganda. What we didn't know then was that we would also be preparing for my father's death and funeral in that time period. It's always good to be reminded that God wasn't taken by surprise, and we were so very aware that His grace was very apparent in how everything unfolded.
Our days in California up until the 23rd were delightful in every way as we hung with Gabe, Kari, Brandon, Ana, and Lisa. No big "to do" lists which had driven the days at home. No overly ambitious plans. Just a lot of enjoying being together, playing, baking, a bit of shopping, and lots of being. Having children both slows things down and speeds things up in a funny mix. And our two-day celebration of Christmas at Garcias' house on the 24th and 25th were full of joy. Nothing like Christmas with a 3-year-old. I'll treasure the look on Brandon's face when he discovered Baby Jesus in the manger Christmas morn. It was also priceless to hear him exclaim, "This is just what I wanted!" upon opening most every one of his gifts. :) Very sweet.
|Brandon finding Baby Jesus in the manger Christmas morning.|
|So fun being together in our matching jammies.|
This puts a wrap on 2013. It was a year in which a lot of family and ministry history was made. Garcias relocated to Santa Clarita. Lisa moved to California. Derek and Julie had their first child. Gabe and Kari had their second. My father passed away. The Marriage App was birthed. Several of our books became ebooks. We were on the road four times as much as we were home.
As we look ahead, we wonder what God has in store. Much of what happened last year was unknown when 2013 turned its first page. The "what" will happen is still hidden, but thankfully, the "Who's got it under control" isn't. We enter 2014 with confidence that He goes before us and that His mercies will be new every morning.
How good to rest in His faithfulness.