Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 ~ A Year In Review

Here we are at the threshold of a new year, but I'm in no hurry for its arrival. My tree is still up. The lights are still twinkling, just the way I like it. 

There's something about the hush that falls over the house after Christmas that I cherish. I've always sensed there was peace on earth in the small window of time between Christmas and New Year's Day. I'm never in a rush to change the calendar.

But time waits for no one, so in keeping with my blogging tradition, I am taking a look back at 2013's images. I will share some rambling thoughts at the end of this post.


January arrived, cold, gray, and wet. The Man and I were into our second month as caregivers, helping my mom take care of my dad following his accident in November. The days were often long and hard, and the hardest part was watching my dad struggle. Still, the memories remain rich. I wouldn't trade this time for anything.


Our trips home were short, but sugar plum made them oh, so sweet.


February 14th found me celebrating Valentine's Day with two of my loves.


February also brought a long-awaited day, the day Daddy was allowed to put weight on his left foot for the first time since his accident. I believe the angels sang. I know the family surely did.


March was bittersweet. On a sunny Friday morning, after 3-1/2 months of being caregivers, Mom and Dad were ready to take the next phase of Dad's recovery alone. We hugged them tight and waved goodbye. The Man led the way in Cloud Nine, while I drove behind. For some reason, I cried all the way home.


April found us enjoying much-needed family time. Here we are with some of The Man's family at his nephew's high school choir performance.


In mid-April, we gathered the family members who could join us and took a day trip to Brenham to see the Texas bluebonnets. We weren't disappointed. Spring had sprung in full color.


As April wound down, twin sister and I treated ourselves to a couple of days at the wonderful San Luis Resort on Galveston Island. While meandering among the many antique shops on the island, we pigged out on chocolate and more chocolate. Sometimes, you just have to be good to yourself.


May found the road calling, so we answered with a month-long getaway. This trip included spending time in Charleston, South Carolina, a place I'd always wanted to visit. 


June brought a boatload of blessings. Early in the month, we drove sugar plum to visit with her Big Nana and Big Papa. Seeing my dad walking again, albeit unsteadily and with a cane, put a smile on my face and a praise of thanksgiving in my heart.


In June, another grandniece arrived, twin sister's first grandchild. Her name is Audrey Emeline, but I call her pie. She has brought great joy to my life already.


My daughter's June birthday is always a blessing. Here we are helping her celebrate the big day. I can't believe she is 27.


July arrived with its usual bang. The Man and I drove over and spent the 4th with the mama and the papa. A little shopping, a little riding around, a little sitting on the porch, followed by a great fireworks show after dark. What's not to love?


We don't generally travel in summer. Too hot and too many kiddos gone wild, but we bent the rules a little and took the daughter and her precious stepson to Galveston for a few days. Oh, what fun we had.



July also found us surrounded by sugar plum and pie. As you can imagine, there was no shortage on sighs and smiles.



August held countless special moments.


Some of the best memories of August occurred during a sister's only camping trip, no men allowed! The walls of Cloud Nine rang with boisterous laughter every evening. No matter the heartaches we each carry, whenever my sisters and I are together, laughing comes easy.


September ~ How do you pick one photo?

And then there was big sister's September birthday dinner.

Have you detected a theme with our family? Thanks to the suggestion of big sister's daughter, whenever adult family members have a birthday, we find a time during that month to have a birthday dinner, honoring them. It's a blessing that we all live close enough together to do this.


Last but not least, the first hint of autumn usually comes in September, when a few leaves can be found scattered across the ground. That's something worth celebrating right there.


October found me and The Man taking to the road again, chasing autumn. The Great Smoky Mountains is a favorite destination for us and what a blessing to be able to camp out and witness the magnificent beauty of God's handiwork. 


While we were away, twin sister celebrated her birthday without me, the first time in 10 years this has happened.


But The Man and I celebrated in our own way. A ride up a mountain, an extra large helping of sugar, and a campfire to end the day. Perfect.


No matter how far we go or how long we stay, home is still the best place on earth. Here's our precious Julian, trying out a souvenir from the Appalachian Mountains.


November found me working hard, transforming my 26-year-old dining hutch into something new and refreshing. I'm in love.



And what a beautiful Thanksgiving Day with those I love.


December is a month for miracles. What you're looking at is just another miracle of 2013. My dad was able to get out and string up Christmas lights again this year, at the age of 86. After his horrific accident in 2012, doctors weren't sure he would ever walk again, but God chose to grant us this unmerited favor and we are so grateful for it. 

***

The images of 2013 don't tell the whole story, of course. The casual observer might even be misled by them, but don't be. The year 2013 has been no different than others before. It’s challenged me in ways I didn’t want to be challenged. It’s taken me out of my comfort zone and cast me into uncharted waters. There have been starless nights, and days when darkness ruled. I've made mistakes and shown my humanity to the fullest. At times, I’ve wrung my hands and wept.

All of that is real and it's life and it's part of my life. If you follow my journey here, you already know that. While I don't share every struggle or heartache, I'm a believer in honest writing, and if you read my blog you know I have no problem doing that. 

But when all is said and done, I choose not to focus on the negative, for it will always be with us. There is no escaping life’s blows. There's also no need to let life beat you down. If you put two coins in front of your eyes, all you will see are two coins; the rest of the world is hidden. If we aren't careful, we can allow our problems to blind us. Blessings often go unnoticed.

One of the things that sustains me in hard times is my unbreakable faith in God. I find comfort in knowing that He is ever present, that I’m not alone, that the Holy Spirit resides in me. In the blackest night, God is the center of my joy. I know my redeemer lives and the story doesn't end here.

I don't know what 2014 holds. There may be rain and tears and hearts that break. But I have no doubt that, woven in and out of the coming months, there will also be sunshine and laughter, and more blessings  than I can count. 

Until next time, dear blogging friends, press on! 


Happy New Year to You and Yours!

Sharing at Little Red House


28 comments:

  1. What a wonderful recap of a truly blessed year for you Dayle! CHEERS to 2014!

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  2. Dayle,
    Looking at all your sweet family times warms my heart. I love the honesty in your writing...and about the struggles...you are right, we all have them. The line about the two coins just really stood out...this is so true. I am guilty sometimes of dwelling on the negative but thanks to the Holy Spirit...He stops me in my tracks after I have my little fit and paves the way for that wonderful peace that passes understanding. I have been so blessed by your posts since I have been following you this year and will be looking forward to your posts in the coming year! May your 2014 be blessed beyond measure!

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    1. Debby, you're so kind, always. May your New Year be blessed as well, above and beyond.

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  3. What beautiful year. God is so very good!!
    Dottie

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  4. I'm working on my year-end review. Not sure how I'll fit it all in one blog. :-) Praying each day of the coming year is filled with peace for you.

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    1. Thanks for your prayers, as always.

      I understand about not fitting the year into one blog post. I had to do some major editing and left out a lot of wonderful stuff. Life is full.

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  5. You will never know how much I enjoy your blogs. You are very inspirational and it is always a joy to read your blogs and look at you family photos. God has been good to all of us, and we do need to concentrate on the positive. The negative will consume you if you allow it to. Thanks again for sharing with us. Love you and your sweet man.

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  6. You have such a beautiful and close knit family. You are truly blessed.

    Sometimes I wonder why God challenges us so much? Is it so we lean on him more? I've been doing a lot of leaning the last 2 years. I'm praying for a more peaceful 2014 for both of us. Happy New Year!

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    1. I know what you mean, Kim. I don't begin to know how God works, or why He allows us to go through certain things, but He promised to always be with us, and that's what gets me through the rough places.

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  7. I don't know how I would get through many situations without the Truth you share here. I heard, again today, the song with the words, 'take this world and give me Jesus, this is not where I belong,' by Building 429. Love it. And also the lovely photos in your recap. Happy New Year, sweet Friend!

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    1. Beautiful lyrics, Lorraine. So fitting for how I'm feeling these days.

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  8. *tears*

    *huge lump in throat*

    I LOVED this look back with grateful heart. God is soooooo good!

    A very Happy New Year to you, Dayle.

    Joy on the journey,
    Kelley~

    P.S. Please send to me an E-mailed photo of the entry-side view of Cloud Nine. I have something up my sleeve. :o)

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    1. Sweet Kelley, you're a gem.

      I will make myself a note about the photo and get it to you soon. You've got me wondering ....

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  9. Dayle, I loved reviewing the year with you and remembered so many things that I vicariously experienced through you, from praying for your father to celebrating births and birthdays. My favorite part was getting to the commentary at the end and nodding (nodding nodding) at your very wise words.

    I hope you have a very blessed 2014. I'm old enough to know that there will be twists and turns that we don't like, but I hope the ride for you is more adventure and less challenge.

    Happy New Year to one of my very favorite blog friends.

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    1. Same to you, dear Debbie ... a blessed New Year to you and yours.

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  10. Your post has blessed me this morning soooo much... Thank you for your encouraging words and what an amazing year you have had!!!! Thank you for sharing the "Real" even though it's not always pretty.....:).. we all have the "Real" times....but our good loving Father has seen us through!!! Happy and Blessed New year

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    1. Happy New Year to you and yours, Terri. Looking forward to it and whatever it may hold.

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  11. A beautiful look back, Dayle. I have only recently *discovered* you in Blog Land, but I look forward to sharing our journeys in 2014!

    Yes, there will be ups and downs, but through it all, the sure Presence of the Lord will hold strong.

    GOD BLESS!

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    1. Thank you, Sharon, and thank you for always blogging such encouraging posts.

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  12. Well said Dayle - thanks for the reminder to hold our blessings close . . .

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  13. Lots of love reflected in these precious images, Dayle.
    Heartfelt thanks for sharing your gift of perspective and encouragement with us each week!

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  14. Dayle- I looked at every picture and read every word. You and I have both had quite a year of it- and as much as I do not like how fast time moves me along I am glad that 2013 is behind me and I am looking forward to a wonderful, blessed 2014. I wish the same for you, beautiful lady. Your inner spirit just shines through and you are as beautiful inside as you are outside. Happy New Year- xo Diana

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  15. I like your review. I relived some of those moments with you. Those babies are growing so quickly. Your sweet parents make me smile. Stan's nephew looks a lot like Jacob's friend. I had to look twice. I hope the new year holds blessing beyond your imagination.

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Dear Readers, I adore your company and your comments. If you ask questions here, I respond to them here, so please check back when you have a chance. Kind regards, Dayle