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A fresh year

“I have forgotten the books I have read and the dinners I have eaten, but both helped to make me.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s the best kind of weather for writing today. It’s dreary and raining. What should be daylight is dark and the sound of the rain tapping on the house is right up there with a slow fire crackling. I just finished two books from Scandinavian authors about hygge in relation to happiness (The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking) and the value of outside play for kids (There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather by Linda Akeson McGurk). So, naturally I’m channeling my inner Dane with cozy candlelight, a warm cup of coffee and a sleeping cat on my foot to boot — all very hyggeligt. 

I will be 39 in a few days.

In a very un-hyggeligt manner, I started the new year off with a root canal. It was one of those frigid mornings that makes your nostrils balk at the cold air forcing admittance. I barely made it to my appointment on time, with so little gas I sat in the waiting room contemplating my strategy post root canal when my car wouldn’t start and the lower right side of my mouth was all pins and needles. Luckily, it was a strategy I did not need to employ.

Maybe this is why I wrote down the wrong age on my patient intake form. Thirty-seven I wrote down, after which I jotted my birthdate, only to recognize my math didn’t make any sense.

The fullness of December leaves January longing for empty space. Perhaps this is why snow is such a welcome addition to the month. A blanket of white offering us a blank slate. The snow providing the same visual relief one gets from a clean, organized desk.

I cherish the slow of January now. I’ve stopped taking cues from retailers and programmers and social media nuts who push the insanity of Santa Claus chasing down the goblins of Halloween. I’ve also stopped mourning the end of Christmas on December 26th. Each year I linger a little bit longer in savoring Advent’s crescendo. I let the Christmas season unfold into the Epiphany as it should. Why all the rushing? Somehow Advent’s message of patient preparation gets hijacked by a frenetic dance of Amazon prime, elf on the shelf and the desire to be on the big guy’s “Nice List.” So, even when my own frenetic jig starts taking on a life of its own, I will not be rushed in the days that follow.

And, for the record you’ll still find many signs of winter and Christmas around our home. Little by little, I have taken things down, but only when it feels like we’ve enjoyed them to the full.

I’m grateful for the slowed pace of 2017. I’m appreciative of the projects at the house that came together a little bit at a time in the thick of homework, actual work and all the love that is work in between. I finished Jonah’s stocking … the 3rd and final one and even had time to make him a little blue truck cross stitch for Christmas. Jason ticks off projects whenever he can squeeze them in and the boys are settled, free and home.

The year’s end brought our extended family the birth of a much prayed for baby girl, followed by the final goodbye of another dear loved one, only weeks apart. Each of these things pressing many moments to hold as much as possible, requiring one’s heart to reconcile the joy of birth and the reality of death in a proximity we all would rather not.

Although I do not write here as often as I would like, the reason I keep at it is to cure the everyday ails which sometimes leave me feeling busy, but unproductive – social, but isolated – grateful, but amnesic. Ann Voskamp calls this chronic soul amnesia – the constant forgetting of who we are and who we belong to. Our need to keep re-remembering the only One who truly fills us up. If I have learned anything in my almost 39 years on the planet it’s that there’s a reason why people call it practicing gratitude and practicing faith. Every day I stumble at both of these disciplines, but every day God gifts me new grace.

And, then there is this: A letter from St. Paul to Timothy. “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.” (2 Timothy 1:6-8)

So, without further ado, I give you my annual year in review (in pictures) to properly cap off my gratitude for 2017.

Also, a short disclaimer…

There’s this scene in the movie Wonder Boys (2000) in which Hannah, the student (Katie Holmes) and Grady, her professor (Michael Douglas) are having the following dialogue about his work in progress book.

Hannah: Grady, you know how in class you’re always telling us that writers make choices?

Grady: Yeah.

Hannah: And even though your book is really beautiful, I mean, amazingly beautiful, it’s… it’s at times… it’s… very detailed. You know, with the genealogies of everyone’s horses, and the dental records, and so on. And… I could be wrong, but it sort of reads in places like you didn’t make any choices. At all.

This is sort of how I feel about the pictures below. I couldn’t decide which to include and which not to. So, this is me saying sorry, not sorry for not make any choices.

2017 – A year in review – In Pictures:

Cheers to a happy and healthy 2018 friends!