Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top Ten Photos of the Year

Happy New Year's Eve! We wandered around Times Square yesterday and I can say with assurance I will be happy to be home tonight!

My top ten photos this year all hold so much meaning and emotion. To be sure, there is beauty in hard, beauty in broken and beauty in every day moments.

The Top Ten Photos of 2015, in the order they occurred....

#1 My sister put a ton of work into throwing me a 40th birthday party. People closest to me got up and shared what my life meant to them and the room was filled with friends who had pressed in close to us and had willingly stepped into our mess. I felt so much undeserved love, a theme that would be carried throughout the entire year.

#2 Last day of radiation. These people came out on a beautiful April morning to celebrate this mark in time, the end of a grueling six weeks. This is a small representation of Team Lisa, people who stood by us, supported us, prayed for us and didn't back away from our hard.

#3 This was my last year having a little at home, and Aiden and I treasured the time we had, both of us recognizing how special it was. This photo is symbolic of the hours he spends playing...with trucks and shovels and legos and swords and acorns. His mind is always going.

Sometimes I feel bad about how strict I am with screen time for the kids, but then I catch this frequent imaginary outdoor play and work and my resolve to be counter-cultural is renewed.

#4 Our annual trip to visit Nana in Florida was booked before I'd gotten diagnosed. As the date approached we were still unsure if I'd be able to join the family because of appointments and side effects, etc. In the end, the timing could not have been more perfect.

After months of doctors and chemo and radiation we had finally come to a resting place where I could heal up a bit and take a breather. It was also just a few weeks after tax season had ended. Only God could have arranged it so perfectly and we were incredibly grateful for the respite the week provided.

#5 Love this rag-tag crew and everyday moments. For much of the year my activity was greatly limited, so it was always a special treat when I was able to be out with them.

Shaun had to force Aiden (over and over) to learn how to ride a bike but Aiden learned a couple valuable lessons...riding a bike is fun and Dad knows what's best for him and he's usually right.

#6 I'm sure there are some great quotes about how the greatest rewards come from the biggest challenges. Only Shaun and I (and Melody to a degree, since she lived with us for three weeks) will ever know the amount of work and diligence and frustration and sacrifice it took to get R to this point. Great relief was felt this day as a high school diploma was placed in his hands!

#7 Our family reunion in Outerbanks, NC. Again, this was a trip booked well in advance. My surgeon agreed to put off surgery so we could make it. It was an incredible week of beach and pool and family, even knowing when we returned home we'd be facing surgery. The most poignant memory from the week is everyone gathering in tight around our family...praying over us and weeping with us, together trusting God.

#8 Shaun took this the morning after surgery. Though it was some of the hardest hard I've ever had to do, I was thankful to be alive.

#9 The three kids did town sports year round, including T-ball, soccer and basketball. They are growing in ability and character and relationships. I delight in seeing them active and healthy and stretching their comfort zones.

#10 I witnesses many sunrises this year, this one taken from my front porch. When so many things were unsure, I took great comfort in the sun rising each and every day, a reminder that God's promises are true, that He is unchanging.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22, 23

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas III

Christmas Day started with Uncle Lee and I sharing the better part of a pot of coffee. He and I have spent nearly all of my 40 early-morning Christmases together. It used to be so hard for me to sleep on Christmas Eve for all the excitement and I'd get up throughout the night and check the clock. At about 5 AM I'd tiptoe out and find Uncle Lee. He would tell us kids stories and quietly entertain us until the other adults were ready to roll. Somehow I didn't pass that early morning thing onto my kids, but I still get up early and so does Uncle Lee, so we sip coffee together and tell each other stories of the real-life variety. 

Once everyone is up and/or has arrived we open stockings, something that is taken seriously around here. After stockings we break for brunch then get into the presents.

It was a small group this year. We lost my mom, brother and sister to in-laws so we "only" had twenty-one. It was so incredible to be feeling well enough to be a proper hostess. Funny...most of my family commented on how nice it was to see me working in the kitchen. :) Of course, I knew what they meant. Having my walls full of people and serving them is one of the things I most love to do and it feels so wonderful to be back at it. Naturally, everyone helped and contributed a ton also, so it made for a lovely time.

There were so many overwhelming blessings this Christmas, it was hard to take it all in. I'm just so very grateful to have been given another year to celebrate.

Amanda and my cousin Johnny (who lives in Southern CA) were longing for snow but it was dry and in the 60s so they got "snow" in their stockings. :)

These two opted to eat brunch on the front step.

After presents the new nerf football was put to good use in the yard. It was so fun to watch them having so much fun. And the weather! I would like to have it like this every year...I don't dream of white Christmases.

Appetizers are always a big hit and Aunt Bonnie knows how to pretty up just about anything.

I can't even take these two in their new pjs that they wore all day.

I've been living proof for the last 20 years that things don't have to be perfect to open your home. Our homes have been in a constant state of remodeling. This year we formally dined in a room with sheetrock mud patches on the walls and a filthy, fraying carpet. Perfect is so out and imperfect is the new black. :)

After dinner we did the adult gift swap, which is always good for some laughs.

The full talent show didn't come together this year but the two 9-year olds put on a mini show. Trevor danced and Amanda read a book she just wrote.

Matchy. :)

Happy Birthday, Jesus.