Christmas Letter – 2014
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
As we reflect on 2014, we realize that we have been truly blessed ~ family, health, travels, education, and employment.
People continue to recognize me that I have no idea who they are. One lady I hadn’t seen since I was fifteen. We took a Water Safety Instructor Class together in the evening when I was in high school. I asked her how she recognized me, thinking that it was my same feathered back hairstyle. To my surprise she responded it was my eyes. Whew! It’s a good thing that our eyes stay the same color. I’m so glad that they don’t turn gray, or sag, or bag, as we get older. But maybe she was insinuating that the crow’s feet and dark circles under my eyes look the same today that they did 36 years ago. Maybe I should have asked her to clarify.
This year I have had numerous requests to make my molasses cookies and banana bread. The ‘best baked goods’ people have ever had. Darell has attempted countless recipes trying to duplicate a cinnamon bread recipe that we had at the Grist Mill in Dollywood. He dreams of owning his own food truck. Sarah continues to bake trying out new Pinterest recipes such as stuffed cupcakes. She would like to own a bakery someday.
Darell is employed at Bloomer Plastics and has a forty minute drive to work. In his spare time he continues to repair our old jalopies, cut, split, and stack wood, and watch educational TV shows. Thank goodness he hasn’t added any new shows to his repertoire this year.
Rebecca just finished up her last semester of classes. In January she will be teaching in Costa Rica for 9 weeks and then in Green Bay for 11 weeks. In May she will be graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education and two teaching certificates, one in Early Childhood Education and another in Elementary Education with an emphasis in English as a Second Language. Again, this year she was Co-President for Dance Marathon. They raised $34,645.02, which was $12,000 more than the year before. In 2014, St. Norbert became the biggest fundraising Dance Marathon in the state. She continues to work at Festival Foods, as a student alumni ambassador, and tutor as an academic coach. She thinks that she has found her true dragon slayer, his name is Nic. One day Nana couldn’t remember his name so she referred to him as ‘dude’. When Nic was here for Thanksgiving he put on an apron and pitched in making the green bean casserole and squash bake. He also helped Darell split wood when he would have rather been watching the Badger game. He has passed the test and fits in well with the family.
Rachel is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota ~ Twin Cities majoring in Bioproducts Engineering with minors in Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biochemistry. She has made the Dean’s List every semester which is not an easy feat with classes such as Organic Chemistry and Calculus 4. This summer she worked in the maintenance department at the school district and at Target and worked out at Gold’s Gym. She got her motorcycle license and hotrods on Grandpa Bob’s Suzuki GZ250. She wasn’t home much this semester. I called her one weekend and left her a voicemail. When she didn’t call me back I texted her and she told me that she didn’t return my call because she had phonaphobia, claiming that it was self-diagnosed. I told her that she shouldn’t forget to call those that butter her bread. That‘s when she commented that she doesn’t like butter. Aiy yai yai, it’s a little tough to keep in touch with someone who isn’t on social media and doesn’t like to talk on the phone. I guess old fashioned letters, emails, and texts work best for Rachel. Bec assured me that the girls are keeping in touch with one another via their group chats on FaceTime and iMessage.
Sarah is a junior at Regis High School. She continues to be involved in Volleyball and Softball. She has a boyfriend named Andrew. I like it when he comes over for dinner as Sarah’s makes the meal and they are much tastier than my one dish wonders. She has made stuffed shells, stuffed chicken breasts, and lasagna roll ups Her love language of ‘little deeds’ has gotten a little more creative in her requests ~ Can you please bring me up some water to moisten my pallet? Who could resist running her up some water with a request like that? Rachel claims that Sarah is like the mouse in ‘If you give a mouse a cookie…’ She has a creative gene and has been busy decorating the halls for homecoming, making signs for the home football games to cheer Andrew on, and decorating the homeroom door for Christmas. She works part time at a restaurant called Yankee Jacks, helping with catering, setting up and serving weddings and parties.
In July we spent a week in Gatlinburg with Mom, Dad & our nephew Solomon. The drive through the Smoky Mountains was just gorgeous. We played Hillbilly Golf. We went Zip Lining at CLIMB Works. I thought their mission statement was worth sharing.
Our goal and mission is to change lives. How you ask? By creating environments where people can safely push themselves farther, than they thought. For some, zip lining is a challenge to overcome. By challenging ourselves we step out of our comport zones & learn new things – sometimes about ourselves. We are then inspired to keep going and pushing and trying until we master whatever it is in our lives that may be holding us back. We then believe. In ourselves. In others. In something. CLIMB is a cycle that can help us overcome a fear on a zip line or a bigger challenge in any aspect in our lives.
We went White Water Rafting. We had a picnic at Collins Creek. We enjoyed dinner and insults at Dick’s Last Resort and sampling and purchasing Moonshine at the signature distilleries. We enjoyed the rides and shows at Dollywood. Rebecca & Rachel and Nana & Papa replicated a picture that they had taken on the log flume 18 years ago. We hiked to Grotto Falls and Rainbow Falls. At Rainbow Falls we saw a bear, a great big bear away up there, he looked at us, we looked at him, he sized up us, and we sized up him. He said to us, “Why don’t you run? I see you don’t have any gun.” And so we ran away from there … thankfully right behind us was no bear. When we got home from our vacation we needed a vacation from our vacation.
We were fortunate that Darell’s family was able to join us for Thanksgiving. We are also thankful that they left the kitten at home. I got an email from Aimee that went like this … “So, I got this message from Sarah yesterday … asking me to bring one of Grandpa Bob’s kittens to her. I asked her if it was OK with you guys and she said that you didn’t need to know it could be a surprise! It could be her Christmas present! I told her you guys would kick me out of the family and she said you wouldn’t, lol. She told me I needed to help her convince them that she needs a kitty to keep her company because her sisters are in college and she is all alone. I told her it was terrible that she was so lonely and sad”… I replied to Aimee, assuring her that even though Rebecca and Rachel haven’t been home much this semester she isn’t that lonely! We spent Thanksgiving Day at Lisa & John’s house eating pizza, baking sunbakkles, Russian tea cakes, peppermint cookies, and rosettes, and crafting cards. On Friday when Jake & Kim and Rebecca & Nic could join us we had Thanksgiving at our house. We all ate upstairs. Bec informed us that it wasn’t the 1960’s and there would be no segregation. The basement was reserved for the cribbage tournament after dinner.
I’m involved with Women of the Valley, Polka Dot Powerhouse, Western Wisconsin Christian Writers Guild, and the Regis Catholic Schools Charity Auction. This year I was published in the May edition of Queen of the Castle with an article that I wrote on Passing on Your Legacy. Please find Lessons for Tomorrow on Facebook and like my page. I’ve had some good thought provoking posts. Here’s something that Rachel wrote for me describing Lessons for Tomorrow. She is becoming quite the writer.
Life That Shapes the Stories
Words are just a string of letters, unless there is a story that lies beneath. We are all writing a story called life. But where is it written down, stored for future generations to read? When our lives end, so do our stories. We decide if they live on. So many people only know the dates that are carved into the gravestone. What about the dash? The dash holds everything else: the joy, the pain, the triumphs, the struggles, the loneliness, and the love. The life that we made on this earth. Is your dash worth recording? The answer is always, yes. Every story should be told. Everyone should be remembered. Will your story be forgotten?
As we continue our journey here on earth, let us share our talents and blessing, and continue to build His kingdom. Let us feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the lonely, and welcome the stranger.