Presenting the top 11 (because we couldn't agree on just 10) highlight reel from 2014 from our family:
11. Community, growth and service
Derek and I opened our home again this year to two different small groups, one in the spring and a different one this past fall. We loved having all the couples over each Sunday night to discuss, pray and laugh together. With the other small groups from our church, we journeyed through two different books, Joseph by Charles Swindoll and Families Where Grace is in Place by Jeff Van Vonderen. Both were excellent and challenging reads. So grateful for the camaraderie we experienced both semesters.
|Tacky sweater Christmas party!|
In August, Derek and I began serving in Kids Crossing at our church each Sunday morning. We are the hosts for large group, which means we have scripts and scripture we have to memorize and teach each week. Though we're certainly not actors, the teachers in us sure have enjoyed working together and engaging with the kids in this way!
A few months ago, during the second service, Grace started helping in the kindergarten class, using her gifts of patience, teaching and love for children. Also, both girls have been a part of the Kids Worship Team this year. Each month they learn new songs and then lead worship in Kids Crossing on their designated Sunday. It has blessed our hearts watching them sing and dance for Jesus from backstage!
10. Technology conference at the University of Texas in Austin
While Derek attended classes and seminars during the mornings and afternoons, I spent three hot, July days resting, reading, working out and staying poolside. Yes, I was a lucky girl, indeed! In the evenings, we explored the eclectic city of Austin in our cute little rental car, enjoyed dinner out and even went shopping for boots. Because when in Rome...or Texas...
Our curriculum left us in Ancient Greece back in May and in August, we began our history lessons with Ancient Rome.
|Field trip to Rome, Georgia, to see Romulus and Remus, |
founders of Ancient Rome as legend tells it.
The girls are currently in 2nd and 5th grades this year and doing exceptionally well. Just like any other classroom, with any other teacher, and with any other students, we have great days and on occasion, we have a few not-so-great days. That's just life. (Especially life spent teaching your own flesh and blood, day in and day out. ;)) We've all learned so much, but I've most certainly learned the most. Very thankful for the second education I'm getting this go-around and very thankful for all the time I get to spend with my girls!
8. Field trip to Kentucky and Ohio
As an extension of having gone through the Old Testament last school year, we took a road trip to the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky over spring break in April. We also traveled to the Cincinnati Zoo and then into Indiana, just so the girls could color one more state on their map. :) On the way home, we made a quick stop in Louisville at Churchill Downs and let the girls see where the Kentucky Derby is run each spring.
7. Gymnastics & softball
In January of this year, both girls began going to gymnastics one hour, once a week at a local gymnastics center. During the summer, they became part of a team, the Gym Stars, and are now at the gym two hours a day, two days a week. They have had two mini/mock meets so far and also had the chance to march in the local Christmas parade with their gym. They will begin meets in March and are very excited to have a small taste of competition. We are shocked at how many skills both of them have gained this year, but mostly at how strong they both have become. And I have to say they probably spend more time on their hands than their feet nowadays!
Gloria played another season of 6U softball this past spring and Derek coached her team again. I sure hope we never stop loving being on the ballfield!
6. Beach trip to Destin, Florida
It had been five years, but in September all four of us were able to go to the beach together and we couldn't have asked for a better trip. Well...except for the last morning there. But since I wrote about that here in my last post, I'll move ahead to the next one...
5. Camping in our new tent
Never say never. Because I said I'd never sleep in a tent. I said I'd never go camping in a tent. But when you're family wants to try it, you give in or get left out. So...we bought a tent (and a whole bunch of other camping supplies) and went camping in October, tent style. And after three days snuggled up in sleeping bags, on cots, out in the great outdoors, it wasn't bad. As a matter of fact, I could even say, it was fun, because well...it was fun. So much so, that we just might pack up house and home and try it again in 2015. :)
4. Trip to New York
Anthony, my friend's husband, called in late September to let me know of his big birthday plans for his wife, Terri. She would be turning 40 in November and had always wanted to see the Broadway show, "Wicked". Terri's husband wanted to surprise her with a trip to NYC to see the show. Derek and Anthony started having conversations about the trip, how it would be even more fun if we were able to join them in the celebration, especially since the three of us had all just turned 40 within the last few months. The two of them began planning, scheduling, and making reservations for all of four of us to go. We were successfully able to keep the entire trip a complete secret for nearly six weeks! Terri was beyond surprised when they arrived in NYC and we were already at the hotel waiting for them. The four of us had an amazing time; it will definitely go down as one of the all-time, best vacations we've ever had!
|The suckers may say, "40 sucks", but our trip to NYC sure didn't!|
3. Derek's technology conference in Orlando...and Disney World!
During the last week in January, Derek had his first technology conference of the year in Orlando. We decided to take the whole family down earlier than his conference and enjoy a few days at Disney World. Derek and I managed to keep our plans a total surprise for the girls. They only thought we were going to hang out at a hotel for three days, doing school, swimming, etc. while Dad went to his sessions. They had no idea where we were headed and all the plans we'd made.
All of our secret planning paid off in a huge way when, shortly after 10:00pm, we approached the infamous "Welcome to Disney World" sign before entering the Disney resorts. The girls were shocked, totally and completely surprised. There were tears, and smiles, shrieks, and laughter. All the emotions we'd hope we'd see, we saw late that night in the car. When the week was over, we wound up having the most magical time (of course we did...it's Disney!), including meeting Elsa and Anna, which clinched the entire trip for them. Here's to hoping Derek goes back to another conference in Orlando very soon!
2. Our "over the hill" birthdays
Big year for us celebrating our big 4-0's!
1. My brother is cancer-free!
In mid-January of this past year, my younger brother called with devastating news. He had cancer, Hodgkin's Lymphoma. For six months, every other week, he received his prescribed dose of chemotherapy. He got sick. He lost some weight. He lost some hair. But never, not that I ever saw, did he lose his fighting spirit. Now, I'm sure he had some very difficult moments, like when he caught a stomach virus while his immune system was compromised which put him in the hospital because he was deathly ill. And I'm sure there were others behind closed doors, but even then, he always seemed to maintain hope, bravery and positivity in the midst of it all.
In June, when his last chemo session was all said and done, and his scans came back "normal", we celebrated. We celebrated because not only did God walk through those stressful, hard months with my brother, his wife and our family and friends, but He chose, in His sovereign kindness, to heal my brother. And for that reason alone, we celebrated. And we still celebrate. Without a doubt, the best thing that happened in our family during 2014 is that my brother is healthy and well.
|He's the man!|
For all our family has been extremely fortunate to do this year, we are grateful. We are grateful for the opportunities to travel and the experiences we've had together. As we look ahead, I thought this quote which one of my favorite comedians posted on Facebook sums up how I feel about the upcoming year:
"Hey 2015 - I see you waiting there.
I reach out confidently to shake your hand because
I know Who goes before me and
Who is for me
and Whose I am."
~ Anita Renfroe
Happy 2015 to you all!