2013 was a year of change, transitions and lots of "new" in our life.
One of the biggest changes was the purchase of our new home at the end of June. We have been blessed beyond our expectations and dreams with this new home. Lawrence and I still recall some of the 40 homes we considered and even put offers on and pinch ourselves that God made a way for us to buy the one we did.
Along with the joys of our new home has come more responsibility and a lot to learn. We are still figuring out how to take care of our property and our home's interior needs. We are super grateful for friends and family who are more knowledgeable and skillful than we are and are willing to offer that to us as we need it.
Purchasing our new home led to new routines, including my exercise regimen. It may sound trivial, but our membership to the Y was crucial for my overall well being for the last 4+ years. Having to drop that membership, I had to figure out how and what to do in order to keep my mind and body in shape.
I have long loved to run, but with my chronic back issues, I gave it up for good, or so I thought, six years ago. In God's kindness, I have been under the care of a chiropractor for the last three years who has brought significant improvement and relief in my back. I have been pain free for the majority of the time I have been treated by him. So, I thought I would give running a try again. Lo and behold, in the last six months, I have surprised myself by reaching 5 mile runs with comfort.
Running has opened the door for relationship with one of our neighbors, Kim, and I have enjoyed taking several runs with her in the last several months. She has three boys: a set of twins who are my boys' age and her oldest who is 11. Soon after we moved into our home, Kim and I enjoyed several afternoons talking while our kids played well together.
Once settled a bit, we began to reach out to other neighbors and discovered several, wonderfully friendly families in our neighborhood who appear to want to build community with each other. Lawrence and I are very excited about the potential opportunities for this.
New relationships abounded in 2013 for us. After 13 years at our church, we left for a variety of reasons. Though not an easy decision, it was necessary and has proven to be beneficial for us in many ways. While we have not yet settled into a new church "home", we have been attending a church about 20 minutes from our home that has been a good fit for us in this season.
We have remained a family on the 'fringes' so to speak, but have still been able to get to know a few individuals and families. We are encouraged and challenged by the lead pastor's messages each Sunday morning and greatly appreciate his heart for God's mission of advancing His Kingdom in the local region and the world.
Leaving our old church initiated conversations afresh between Lawrence and me and among others on how to "do church". While we pray and read God's Word, talk with each other and trusted friends on this topic, we are also asking questions anew on how to do marriage and parenting as well in a way that honors God and reflects His image.
To help us navigate through these conversations, Lawrence and I began marriage counseling this past fall with a most excellent counselor, Eliza Huie. We are grateful for her grace-filled, biblical insights and input into our relationship. Though it be slow and small and so very inconsistent, we have seen change, maturity, and most of all a more loving and gentle handling of one another as we work through conflict and learn how to communicate with one another. Yes, even after 11 years of married life, three babies and two moves, we are still and just (?) learning how to communicate with one another.
New ways, new patterns are needed. This is evident to us both. Leaving the old ways is oh so hard, and we are still blowing it most of the time. Ask my family who observed such old ways between Lawrence and me over Christmas vacation. Yuck. But, we are committed to growth, to change, to learning how to love like Christ. I think this is going to be the longest and possibly most painful journey of our lives, but one worth taking.
In addition to a new home, new church, new relationships, I took on a new role as 'tutor' at the homeschool co op with which the kids and I participate, Classical Conversations. While the role of a CC tutor is not the same as that of a typical classroom teacher, it has scratched the "itch" I have to instruct a crowd of more than my own three monkeys. It has required sacrifice on my part to plan for and execute each Monday's classroom time, but one I have gladly embraced (most of the time).
The last bit of "new" for our year was by far the most exciting and worthy of celebration. Lawrence's brother, Sam, married a wonderful, godly woman, Carrie, in September, adding another Tia for our kiddos and sister in law for LA and me. To boot, they announced at Christmas that they are expecting their first baby in July, 2014. We are all thrilled for another Almengor grandchild/cousin/niece or nephew!!
On my side of the family, there will be another set of twins born in March, 2014 to my brother, Garrett, and his wife, Kristin, who have two boys already. Who would have guessed two sets of twin grandkids for my parents?! And, my youngest brother, Brandon, proposed to his girlfriend, Brooke, and they are planning a wedding for May, 2014.
So much new! So much change to adjust to. Most of it is welcomed though some of it came via the path of grief and loss. The dust is still settling, but it will settle. We will adjust. We will embrace it all eventually. We will learn and grow through all these transitions.
I trust 2014 will be a year of laying down tracks that we will be able to run in for years to come. As you think of our family, will you pray for us as we adjust to all the new in our lives? Will you pray that we will be thoughtful, purposeful, and most of all, make much of God in the new patterns, relationships, roles and responsibilities He has brought into our life?
We would love to hear from you, too, on how we can pray for you in 2014. Leave a comment here or email us directly and stay in touch!