His Garden of Grace
2017 Year in Review
In order to give you a summary of this year and since, as I look at the date of my last blog post, I am embarrassed that I haven't written anything since 2015, I think I better highlight several significant events that happened in 2016. Then, 2017 will make more sense- maybe. It is possible that none of this will make any sense. I am still trying to wrap my head around it all.
Sarah transitioned to Judah. This was a very difficult thing; probably it was the most difficult thing we have ever been through. But we all survived, with our relationships with each other in tact, and our relationship with God stronger and deeper than ever before.
Sam moved into a condo in Winter Park, Fl. It was a dump of a place, and we spent several months remodeling it with him/for him. Now it is beautiful and well worth all the effort, I think. At least we have a free place to stay when we want to visit Mickey.
Our first grandchild was born. Alicia gave birth to
Magnolia Frances on 8-8-16. Faith andI were in Canada with them for her birth, and shortly after Don and Josiah joined us. We stayed in a lovely Air-bnb right around the corner from them, which allowed us to host them every day for meals and family time. Maggie is such a delight and we are so grateful for her.
Judah married Kate. They were married in Salt Lake City in the fall. We all went, and had a great time. We were able to meet many of Kate’s family since we hosted a BBQ for everyone at the Air-bnb where we stayed. After the wedding, Don, Faith, Josiah and I traveled down to Moab and enjoyed some time in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and experienced some of God’s finest creation. Since we have already been to Bryce and Zion, we only have one more national park in Utah to check off the list of the “Big 5”. Maybe next year??
NOW on to 2017.
It seems like the year just flew by. Amazing how fast time goes when you don't want it to! I know everyone says this, but that doesn't make it any less true! I think the pace of our society makes time go by faster and faster. Either that, or I am just really getting old! Either way, or both- I just feel like 2017 just started and now it is over! Looking back, this year was full of God’s goodness, and He has drawn us closer this year than ever before. Here are some of the highlights:
Alicia, Christina and Maggie spent Christmas and New Year’s with us. It was hard to see them go home, but we knew they would be back soon, so that made it easier.
Faith had been suffering from dizzy spells for some time, so I finally got my act together and, after many Dr. appointments and tests, she was diagnosed with both ocular and vestibular migraines which they think may be a result of Meniere’s disease at some time in her early life. But the good news is that although the dizziness continues, she doesn't have to restrict activities unless she feels the need to.
I joined the Palm Beach Quilt Guild. I haven't quilted in quite some time, but succumbing to the urging of a friend, I went to the meeting, and I was hooked. I jumped in with both feet, (no surprise there!) and volunteered to be the boutique chairman.
Since we were STILL working in Sam’s condo, we took advantage of a few minutes of R&R and went to Universal Studios to see the new Harry Potter area. It was great.
Another highlight of this month was that both Josiah and Faith got their drivers licenses! Now, I don't ever have to run kids around again. But I still do. I like being with them, and I think they don't mind it too much either!
We started by painting Josiah’s room. Which turned into a full-scale redecorating of the entire living area of our home. We painted in a soft grey and I love it. Don eventually made a TV cabinet for us, and it is the icing on the cake. I am ever so grateful that I married a man who can do just about anything he sets his mind to!
March also took us to Atlanta for Advance Atlanta. It is a missions trip with the Family Church network (where we attend- gofamilychurch.org). The purpose of the trip is to go door to door and have gospel conversations with anyone who is interested. Faith went as a Point Leader, and Don, Josiah and I went to do laundry. Literally. We washed their tee shirts at night while they slept. We had some interesting gospel conversations at the laundromat and at some local restaurants. All in all, I think there were about 2000 gospel conversations, and 200 people who prayed to receive Christ. Wow! 2018 takes us to Charlotte, NC and we ask you to pray for Charlotte, and for us as we go. This will be Faith’s last trip as she is a senior this year, and graduates June 2018.
April brought us Alicia, Christina and Maggie. They were able to stay with us through early July as they were waiting for their beautiful historic home in downtown Toronto to be restored and remodeled. It was a project that took forever, but it is now lovely and perfect for them as it is close to everything they enjoy. Also, it is large enough for all of us to go visit and stay with them! Such a blessing!
Josiah turned 21! I can't believe he is now legally an adult. Where did the time go?
Also in May, Faith completed LAUNCH, a worship leadership training program that Family Church offers for those that want to be involved in the worship ministry. Soonafter completion, she began playing guitar on stage with the team, and has been playing almost every Sunday since. She loves it, and they love her. I am so thankful for the ministry of our worship team.
Seriously, I think we have the best worship team in South Florida. They are committed musicians, but better than the skills, they are committed to love and honor Christ with their lives and to love people like He does. And what more can you ask?
Sam graduated from Full Sail University. Again, where did the time go? He was honored to be the Salutatorian of his class, and graduated with a degree in Show Production.
Since Alicia and Christina were still with us, we were able to spend both their birthdays and the Fourth together. We haven't been together for that time in forever. It was great.
August took us to Ohio to see my sister, and then on to Canada for Maggie’s first birthday! We also celebrated Don’s birthday August 15. But I won’t tell you which birthday it was. Just suffice it to say that 2018 is “A Big One”. We no sooner got home from there, that we got back in the car and drove up to Charlotte, NC to visit the Coates and go to Greeneville, SC for the solar eclipse. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate, and clouds obscured our view of the sun. However, we did experience totality, and enjoyed the time together. On the way home, we hit a massive traffic jam which caused us to stop in St. Augustine, Fl at 3:00 am to sleep. Never ones to waste and opportunity, when we got up in the morning, we went to the Fort and walked around for a couple of hours before the heat set in. God’s plans are always better than ours!
September came in like a hurricane. Literally. By God’s grace, we had very little damage from Irma- just some tree limbs down- in the neighbors yard, of course! But we are so thankful since so many had it so much worse.
I also entered my first quilt block contest and won second place! My block was a Chinese Dragon because the theme was Magical Parades. The block, along with all the others chosen will be quilted into this year’s South Florida Fair quilt and displayed at the fair! I was very honored to win, especially after seeing all the other entries.
I went to my very first quilt retreat. It was so much fun. In fact, it was so much fun that I volunteered to help with next year’s event. And before I knew what was happening, I was made the Chairperson of the event. How do I get into these things??
Also in October, we (Don, Sam, Josiah, Faith and I) took a trip to Washington DC. We had a great time in all that history- not to mention the amazing food. I knew all the history was there, but had no idea that the city is a foodie paradise! Originally our plan was to stay a week, but we extended our stay for a few extra days. Too much food we hadn't tried!! We ate our way through the city and also saw the sites. Again, we stayed in an Airbnb and highly recommend it!
Thanksgiving was celebrated with friends Gayrene and Memphis. I made all the traditional favorites- and enough for an army. Always. Makes me so thankful I can still do it, when a few years ago my pain was so bad I wondered how long I would be able to. Thank God for LDN. It has helped so much that I almost feel like my old self again.
Sam was hired by Pierson Audio full time as an installer. Not his dream job, but a good one, and an entry into the audio world. It is hard work but not a difficult job. It is something different every day, so at least he is not bored! He likes it so far.
Faith celebrated her 17th birthday! (WHAT?? HOW IS SHE 17??) And two weeks later, I celebrated my birthday as well. (No, I am not going to tell you how young I am. Just remember I had her two weeks before my 40th. You do the math.) We both celebrated in our own style: Faith took us kayaking to Peanut Island and then out to dinner at the Japanese place where they cook at your table. I took us to see Star Wars and to Kapow! Noodle Bar.
And here we are. Another year coming to a close, another year about to begin. Alicia, Christina and Maggie are hitting the road to come down from Toronto for Christmas. Judah and Kate are in Arizona living with Kate’s mom and brother, but hoping to be in their own place very soon. (Thank you, Sandi for putting up with Judah! You have a special place in my heart!) Sam has moved back home temporarily until he can sell his condo in Orlando and find a place in Jupiter, close to his work. Josiah and Faith are both still at home, working through some college courses online through study.com. And that makes me happy. I like having them here where I know what they are up to. Faith is also playing guitar every week in our worship band at church. She loves it, and they love her. Seriously, I think we have the best team of musicians at Family Church- not because they are all great musicians, (although they are) but because they are great people who love and encourage each other- and in turn, the people- to grow in love and worship Jesus. I invite you to check us out at Family Church West. We meet at the Kings Academy on Belvedere Road Sundays at 10:30. And on Christmas Eve, I will be leading the Children’s Choir at the 4:30 pm. service. Join us!!
As I write this, I am sitting in my garden, with a heart full of gratefulness to God. That has been His theme in my life- where He has been trying to get me to live- for many years. I can’t say I’ve arrived and live in gratefulness all the time, but it is where I want to live. When I look back over the years and think of all we have been through, I can truly say He has been good. It may not have turned out how I had hoped or planned, but He has used every situation for my good- to develop my faith and trust in Him and His plan for me. And in the midst, He has brought me closer to Himself, and filled me with overflowing joy. I can’t explain it. I am just so grateful. I know whatever the New Year holds, He is already in it, aware of each challenge you and I will face. And He, maker of all, wants to walk through them with us. Will we let Him? That is my hope and prayer for all who read this. Let every heart prepare Him room.