Friday, February 6, 2015

The Latter Half of 2014

My modest snowman collection, which I'm leaving up through the end of February
The last few months my life got caught up in a whirlwind.  Some of it was good.  My daughter played volleyball for a small team, and we spent August through October going to practices and games all over rural north Texas.  They mostly played small public schools, a few privates and a few homeschool teams.  One school was so small it wasn't even located in a town - just a building in the middle of some fields.

This precipitated lots of driving on my part, but as long as the drives are primarily rural, I don't mind. It actually is stress-relieving to be in the car and at the games, because there is nothing else you can do but BE there, all the other pressures and responsibilities of life temporarily melt away.  (As an aside, I took one of those little personality quizzes on Facebook, and one thing that rang true about myself that I hadn't previously thought of is that I am a very in-the-moment kind of person.  I'm not looking to move on to the next thing; I'm just happy being in the moment I'm in.  Which has its pros and cons.......).

There were so many things I wish I could have taken a photo of to show rural Texas to you:  oil pumps bobbing their heads up and down like some kind of dinosaur relics; wind farms; LOTS of cattle, longhorn and otherwise; LOTS of horses, too.  The trees are much less in number here than in the east of the U.S., but the ones we have tend to be low and spreading, majestic in their own way.  Rolling countryside, and of course, the big sky. Also, the little towns, often with a traditional square.  I enjoyed it all so much, which confirmed that I am definitely a small-town girl at heart.

I live NEAR rural Texas, but not really in it.  I personally live too close to what I call "subdivision hell", where huge look-alike houses completely cover their lots and are built so close together you could hop from roof to roof, and highways look like mazes and traffic jams are all too daily. There is beauty to be found there too, but getting out and away from all that was a balm to my senses.

Unfortunately for the blog, I had to enjoy all this rural beauty without any photos, as I was the driver and I was speeding down the highways (one nice thing about Texas is that you can drive fast, speed limits are sometimes 75mph!), and while the stress was less, there was still a volleyball player pushing me to get to our destination on time: no dilly-dallying!!

The volleyball season ended at the end of October in a national tournament in Springfield, Missouri.  My daughter, my two youngest sons and I went for a long weekend.  Her team won the title for their division in the tournament, which was very exciting and a great ending to the season.

I assumed things were about to slow down, but when we returned to Texas, life took another turn.  First of all, we had a very disruptive bug infestation, which was a major deal and I will talk about that at some later point.  Then, my husband needed surgery, which he had right before Thanksgiving.  He is doing fine now, but it was two months before he could eat normally.  The first couple of weeks everything had to be liquified, and I was glad I had the Ninja blender!  Then, right after his surgery, his dad's health, which has been precarious for several years, started plummeting. My husband did have good talks with him on the phone, but he couldn't go see his dad because he was still unable to travel.  Hospice was called in, but less than a week later his dad just went to sleep for a couple of days and then went on home to heaven.  This is actually what we were praying would happen.  We didn't want his dad to have to suffer in pain, and he was ready to go.

However, the memorial service had to be postponed until we were able to travel to Tennessee (and my sister-in-law who lives in Florida could travel), and my other sister-in-law who lives in Tennessee had a son who was getting married right before Christmas, so they rolled the wedding and the memorial service into one long weekend, the weekend before Christmas.  Like I've said before, these major life events are spread far enough apart that my two younger sons had grown again and therefore had no appropriate clothes to wear, so they got new suits out of the deal.  My daughter made herself a dress for the wedding, which will eventually get blogged, and I wore a lace dress  I made a couple of years ago.

There were many misadventures along the way and while we were there, which probably best remain unblogged (sometimes family stories need to stay in the family, at least for a few years;).  The two-day drive was grueling, and it was also sad because now there is only one grandparent left.  But it was good to see family - however briefly - and it was good to hear from so many people who had loved my father-in-law.

We wanted to be back home in time for Christmas, so we pushed through and pulled back into town about 2:30 p.m. Christmas Eve.  I didn't even go to the house.  I had them drop me off at the grocery store and then my husband came back and got me.  I rushed around Kroger (along with everybody else in town!) and grabbed stuff to festive up the holiday.  I went home and in about an hour made sugared pecans, peppermint bark, sausage balls, fudge, and some other stuff I can't even remember now.  Suffice it to say that I amazed myself, even though my family took it in stride!

Christmas came and went.  Uncharacteristically, we had wrapped most of the gifts before our trip East, we actually had outside lights up and our tree had been up since the weekend after Thanksgiving.  All that helped since we had so few hours to get ready to celebrate. I was also uncharacteristically efficient after Christmas: all the decorations were taken down and put away by New Year's.  I left the snowmen up through January February because they are cheerful and can be considered 'winter decorating'.  So far though this winter has been very cloudy and gloomy but snow-less.........

I do think we should consider hibernating during the winter.  Everything feels like a slog. Too much death in 2014 for me; too much grief. It is still a bit difficult to look at 2015 with hopeful eyes, instead of wondering what unhappy events lie in wait around the corner. Which is not a good attitude on my part, and not one I want to have!  This year I will reach the half-century mark, which is also daunting, mostly because I don't feel like I 'have arrived' or 'have it all together' or anything like that.

Thankfully, my hope is not in myself and my coping abilities or accomplishments, but in God who holds all things in His hands.  My desire for 2015 (and following) is to find joy in the midst of the uncertainty and the messes and the bumbling along of me in my life.  I want to enjoy my family, my home, cooking, making things, working here and there, gardening, friends, church, nature, etc. All these and more are good gifts, and "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above" - James 1:17."  There are good gifts every single day.  I want to have eyes to see the gifts and the Giver, and to let my heart be glad.

 "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." - Psalm 118:24
"Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice." - Philippians 4:4 KJV


  1. Oh if I could give you a hug... Yes, I have been where you are when life just doesn't feel good or right. Wish that everyone had the faith that you share and could read the words you've written. He is The One Who does the work and we are only responsible to do what He says. Your emotions will heal and you will be stronger than ever. God bless you and your family.

  2. Dear Angela I'm so sorry things have been so difficult in the latter part of the year. Letting go of our parents is one of the hardest things and you've had such a tough year. I don't know what it is - the news, the time of year, the cold but things just feel quite bleak at the minute for lots of people. Not that this is much consolation but it's nice to feel one is not alone. Congratulations to your daughter on her volleyball prowess - good for her! Hoping that 2015 will indeed be an easier year and one with serenity and blessings for you and your family. Sending you a hug. E xx

  3. Ps love the snowmen! they're very cheery! E x

  4. Oh, Angela, this post tugs at the heartstrings, friend. I am so sorry about your husband's father. Your family has had so much loss in a short time. That is hard to bear. And then the other challenges of your husband's surgery (glad to know that he is okay now!) and a bug infestation (oh my) to complicate matters...

    Do you think that the Lord gave you a gift in those times of volleyball games and time to travel? It seems to me that He was providing some down time for you, in preparation for the hard things to come.

    Your last paragraph is so encouraging!! Those are words of faith. Not the kind of faith that glibly says "everything will be okay" but the deeper, truer faith that says that He is to be trusted in every circumstance and He is working for the good of His children.

    Hugs to you across these many miles...

  5. Faith really is the only thing that gets us through so many things. I am so glad you have that faith because we know that the end of the story is glorious, there are hard times between the covers but I pray you have a more upbeat year in 2015!

  6. Wow -- what a fall/winter! Your last 2 paragraphs really resonate with me. I also feel like winter (esp. this one) is such a "slog." I want to hibernate in my house-cave, but church things esp. force me out and among others. My brain feels foggy. I don't feel like I'm DOING anything significant. I know we are getting lots of school work done, but it slips out of my mind. I feel like sitting, watching movies, knitting a little. Spring is coming! May we both perk up then.


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