Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our Top, Best, & Most Memorable 10 in 2013

Because I love good summaries, closure, and wrapping things up in neat, little bows, I thought I'd present our family's highlight reel for the year 2013:

1. Mini-Vacations and Family Getaways: 
January - Invited by friends, we spent MLK, Jr. weekend in a gorgeous cabin in Blue Ridge, Georgia.  Rode four-wheelers, ice skated and enjoyed hanging out in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains.

June - Told the girls we were taking them on a mystery trip.  Packed their bags and surprised them with a quick weekend getaway to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  Attended the Dixie Stampede dinner show, went to the infamous Dollywood amusement park and stayed at the Wilderness at the Smokies lodge, where we rode the giant indoor water slides, surfed the waves, and swam in the pools.

September - Girls and I joined my parents on their vacation in Destin, Florida for a few days.  Prior to this beach trip, our toes had not touched the sand in four, very long years.  Nothing like a little beach therapy to make up for lost times!

October - Thanks to my aunt and uncle's extreme generosity in letting us borrow their camper, we got to spend a few days camping at a local state park.  Hiked, roasted marshmallows, rode our bikes on the trails, kayaked, and even hosted Grace's 10th birthday at the campsite. We decided camping (in a nice, clean camper) is definitely our thing.

2. Softball:
Two girls.  Two teams.  Bring on the spring...and fall.  Both girls signed up to play softball in the spring and in the fall of this past year.  Derek was the head coach for both of their teams, both seasons.  Made for some crazy-busy evenings, lots of "go, go, go", but also lots of great memories!

3. Adoption:
Whereas 2012 was filled with announcing our desire to adopt, filling out loads of paperwork, organizing fundraisers, and being matched with an orphanage in India, 2013 seemed to follow a much different pattern.

In the spring, we hit a wall with all the progress we'd made and since then, have been experiencing a long, dry season of nothingness.  This extended time of waiting has been difficult, but also beneficial.  We've learned to lean into God's promises even more, choosing to spend this season resting in His presence now as He continues to prepare us for what's ahead in the future.

But one exciting thing happened in November relating to adoption.  We got to hang out with hundreds of other adoptive families when we heard of an opportunity to participate in a music video shoot for Christian recording artist, John Waller. He'd recently written a new song entitled, "Orphan" and had asked families who'd adopted, who are in the process of adopting or who have a heart for adoption to come out and be a part of the video shoot. We didn't want to pass up the opportunity, so we drove over an hour away and stood out in the middle of a cow pasture in the rain for several hours just to be a part. So glad we took the time to go and make the memories that we did.  Priceless.

4. Secret Keeper Girl Dates:
After attending our first Secret Keeper Girl event in January, I bought the book, 8 Great Dates for Moms and Daughters to do with my oldest, Grace.  Starting in February, we went on one date a month, leading up to her tenth birthday.  Of all the experiences this year, Grace still speaks about these special times with me.  Whether we were having tea at a local cafe, getting our nails done, touring a museum, walking the local botanical gardens, shopping, stopping for hot chocolate at Starbucks, or listening to a former Victoria Secrets model's testimony, we both enjoyed these special moments together.

5. 20-Year High School Reunion
Spent the evening catching up with some of my fellow Bulldog classmates.  It was great to see so many faces I hadn't seen in a long time as well as seeing face-to-face others I only get to see on Facebook!  Loved my sweet friends then; still love them now.

6. New Position at Work
After spending the last 16 years teaching math to middle/high students (bless him), as well as working as the Instructional Technology Specialist at his school, Derek moved to the Central Office and into a new role as Lead Technology Specialist for the county in which he works.  Though it's been a transition for him filled with new growth opportunities, it's also been a welcomed change in the last few months. (The girls even like to visit Daddy's new office and write on his very clean dry erase board.)

7. Started 3rd Year of Homeschooling
Biggest accomplishment this school year has been not only our six year old, Gloria, learning to read, but absolutely exploding in reading.  Once she got it, she got it.  She's made such a huge leap into reading this year that we still can't believe all she's reading, including chapter books, her Jesus Calling devotional and even the Bible.  Big deal for our little girl!

8. Celebrated 15 Years of Marriage!
As a present for our fifteenth anniversary, we went to NYC over Labor Day weekend.  New York had been on our bucket list since we'd gotten married, and so we decided to bite the bullet and go.  Times Square, Broadway, Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Upper West Side of Manhattan, Brooklyn Tabernacle, Chinatown, carriage ride through Central Park, etc.  Great few days of sight seeing, eating and exploring the city that never sleeps!

9. Hosted a Small Group in our Home
One of our favorite happenings this year was deciding to be small group leaders at our church for the fall semester.  We opened the doors to our home and every Sunday in walked some amazing friends. Along with the rest of the small groups in our church body, we made our way through the book, Sun Stand Still.  We read, we discussed, we shared, we prayed and we were challenged to walk in and pray with audacious faith.  Daring to ask God, believing Him for the impossible.  We also had way too much fun if that's even possible on Sunday nights.

10.  Gloria's Baptism
By far, our most memorable event in 2013 happened in March.  Our youngest daughter, Gloria, decided she was ready to make public something that had happened privately in our home and in her heart.  She was ready to be baptized in front of both her immediate family and her church family, demonstrating her choice to follow Jesus and her spiritual adoption into His family forever.  It was definitely one of our best days ever, equal to the day our oldest made the same choice four years earlier.  Our hearts are beyond grateful.  And we have been richly blessed.

So, goodbye, 2013.  Hello, 2014.  Can't wait to see all that the new year brings! 

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