"Goodbye" never gets easy.I don't even want to go to work today. Yes, I know. It's Friday. There are fun things planned to do. And on any other Friday I would be happy about going in. But today is different. Today I don't want to go. Because today I'll have to say "Goodbye" to someone, and I don't want to do it. One month ago, D gave her 30-day-notice. Today she is moving into her daughter's home. It really will be a good thing for her. D adores her daughter, and as she has become more and more forgetful and confused she has also become more needy for her daughter's presence. And, while her daughter is happy to come to Edgewood on an almost daily basis to visit D, they believe D will be happier if she is with her daughter full-time. So, D is moving. And I have to say, "Goodbye." Goodbye to this dear woman who has lived almost right across the hall from the Activity Room for about a year and a half. (So I am used to seeing her all.the.time.) Goodbye to this dear woman who makes me smile every time I see her. This woman who loves coming to my Bible studies, who teases me about getting to work too late or leaving too early, who sometimes "races" me down the hallway and also tells me I need to slow down. D is a bright spot in my days at Edgewood, and I am sure going to miss her. Over the past three-plus years I've been at Edgewood, I have said "Goodbye" to a lot of people. You'd think I would be used to it by now. But I'm not. "Goodbye" never gets easy. Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.
Friday, January 31, 2014
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Some moms look at the crazy goings-on in their homes and wearily say to guests, "Welcome to my zoo."Are you one of them? I have certainly had the occasion to feel like my house was more of a zoo than a home. I recently came to the realization, however, that this house may be better defined as an alphabet. I've shared stories here about my boys and their ADD/ADHD antics. Well, the other day Matthew (my ADHD guy) was doing his chores - vacuuming the living room carpet. All was well until I heard the vacuum stop moving. For quite a while. And I wondered, What is he doing now? The boy gets so easily distracted. I could just imagine him gathering up air soft pellets from the floor and running to his room to put them back in his gun. While leaving the vacuum running. Or forgetting what he was doing altogether and leaving the vacuum behind to carry on with a completely different activity. I rounded the corner to confirm my suspicions, only to find Matthew kneeling on the floor - vacuum tube in hand - sucking up every individual air soft pellet and speck of dirt. He was intent on getting it all.Seeing him there reminded me of the time I asked him to wipe the door of a cabinet in the kitchen. He ended up spending a good hour cleaning up so much more than I asked of him.And there was the time I walked into the eating nook and found him with a toothpick digging out stuck-in dirt from the seams in the table. Oh, and that other time he cleaned out my computer keyboard in a similar manner. Have I ever mentioned that I think the boy has a touch of OCD? *wink* My GAD and MDD can make the ADD/ADHD/OCD tricky to handle at times. Add to that an occasional bout of IBS, some PMS every now and then, and regular fits of RLS - and you've got quite a mix of letters, moods and issues.Yes, friends, welcome to my alphabet. I'm just glad we're missing BBS, SFS, and EGD.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly. Isaiah 60:22bDoes anybody else see the contradiction in this verse? Look again. Because it's there. I'm sure of it. Or, at least I thought I was. Does "in its time" sound slow to anyone else? Or is it just me? To me, "in its time" sounds like the kind of answer you give to an anxious kid who's asking when her tooth is going to finally fall out. Or the way you'd respond to an athlete who wants to know when his knee will be well enough for him to play sports again. It surely doesn't sound like the kind of thing you'd say to indicate something which was about to happen at any given moment. Definitely sounds like w-a-i-t-i-n-g to me. So where, I ask you, does "swiftly" fit into this equation? Swiftly, which may be defined as: 1. moving or capable of moving with great speed or velocity; fleet; rapid: a swift ship. 2. coming, happening, or performed quickly or without delay: a swift decision. 3. quick or prompt to act or respond: swift to jump to conclusions. How can the two terms be used congruously? I sat with God and pondered that question. I wondered what He meant when He spoke those words through Isaiah. And, by His grace, I came to understand there was no contradiction. God's timing is perfect, and when He chooses to act nothing can stop Him. When God acts, He moves swiftly. He does not delay, rather moves with all His capability. Promptly and completely. The thing I came to understand from this verse is God moves in this way - swiftly - when it is the right time. In this case, Isaiah was talking about God's redemption of His people, Israel. But I believe the same is true of us today. Though there may be times when we feel like our waiting is endless, when it feels like God is not moving in our circumstance - and we may begin to question His ability to move, I believe we can still trust Him to act swiftly. When the time is right. When He can say of our situation, It is time. HE did it for Israel. HE'll do it for you. What are you waiting for today? I would be pleased to pray for you!
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Did you ever go to a Sadies Hawkins dance when you were in high school?You know, where the girls ask the guys? Sadies is coming up at Elizabeth's school, and who else would she ask but Nick? (There will likely be another edition of Beauty and the Beau after that dance.) And - as with anything my girl does - Elizabeth went overboard when it came to asking Nick to attend the dance with her. She cut up cereal boxes and glued them together to form the letters S-A-D-I-E-S, and a question mark. She covered them with fabric and put them on the wall. Then she blew up a gazillon balloons (with the help of Josh and an air pump) and filled Nick's room with them. (His room at our house, that is.) She hid under them and waited for Nick to arrive. Brian had gone to pick Nick up at the bus station so Elizabeth could finish preparations for the big ask. And when he walked into the room she popped out from under the balloons and asked Nick to be her date for Sadies.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Friday, January 24, 2014
Life and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are better when they're shared.Tuesday we took our monthly trip to Walmart. Once a month I load up the shuttle with everyone who wants to go to Walmart, and we get some shopping done. And this week on Tuesday as we were getting ready to head out the door, S decided she wanted to go, too. The two of us went up to her apartment to get her coat and search for her dollar (She wanted to buy a candy bar.) and then we were all on our way. It will help you better understand this story if I give you a little background on S. She is a very sweet woman. And very forgetful. Very. As in, she often needs to be reminded to do such simple things as step out of the elevator when the doors open, sit down when she gets to a chair, and put her glasses on her head when you put them in her hand. Needless to say, I did not want S to wander around Walmart by herself. So I became her shopping buddy. We started off looking for prizes for a game we're playing today, and as we walked the aisles S began talking about life. "I don't know if you know this," she said, "but E and I are on the outs." She explained that he isn't committed in his faith and we agreed that can cause problems in a relationship. Then we talked about how much we need to rely on God, and she showed me a hand motion she does (pointing to the sky) when she is reminded of her need for Him. I told her about Brian introducing me to Jesus and helping me understand what it means to have a personal relationship with Him. She thought that was so neat.We talked about her growing up years as an only child, and how that affected her parenting habits. I'm still not sure if she had four boys and one daughter, four boys and two daughters, or three boys and two daughters - because she told me all three of those combinations at some point in our shopping trip. But I do know she loves her children, and she was a strict mother. Very strict, she said. *wink* As we walked around the store, filling my shopping list for our Pizza Night needs, we continued to talk and laugh and enjoy one another. I was so happy she'd decided to join us on our trip. Then it was time to check out, and S selected her candy bar. A King Size Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. When we reached the bench where we wait for everyone to gather, I told her the good news that there were FOUR peanut butter cups in her package. She smiled and offered one to me. (I told you she was sweet!) We both savored the peanut-chocolaty goodness and agreed that we deserved it after all the walking we'd just done.I looked at S with delight as I reviewed in my mind the last 40 minutes we'd spent together. And I smiled as I considered the lesson I'd just learned: Life and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are better when they're shared. Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Brian: Ha! I have done everything! Me: Everything? Yeah. (doubtful) Really? Yep. (put-off) Don't you believe me? Well, you haven't made dinner tonight. (justified) Ah, but that wasn't on my list. Oooooh. You mean you've done everything on your list. (playfully arrogant) Yes. That is exactly what I mean. (with a touch of sarcasm) I'm so sorry. I should have listened more clearly. (after a moment of silence) That was a good come-back.I love that we can have fun, even as we work on our communication skills. *wink*
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Saturday Brian and I flew home from our cruise vacation. We started in New Orleans - flew to Charlotte, NC - and were to connect there with a flight to Detroit. Easy enough, you'd think.Uh, sometimes you just shouldn't think. Goodness knows we weren't! See, we were hungry when we landed in Charlotte, so we got something to eat. Then, as we were making our way to our gate, we saw a shop which sold smoothies and decided to stop for one. Soooo yummy! But, while we were thinking about how good a smoothie would taste, we were NOT thinking about what time our flight was leaving. And when we got to our gate, we discovered - the plane was gone. Ooops! Brian talked to the gate agent and we got stand-by tickets for the next flight to Detroit. Fortunately, after all passengers had boarded that next flight, there were two seats left. 17B for Brian. And 1A for me. Yes, we had to be split up. Yes, Brian was in the last row of the plane. And, yes...I was seated in First Class.After I got over the giddiness of my surprise upgrade, I began to feel a little awkward. The flight attendant started taking drink orders from all the First Class passengers. When she got to me, I kind of expected her to pass right by. I mean, I hadn't purchased a First Class ticket. I really wasn't supposed to be there. But she stopped, and asked me what I would like to have. I opted for water. Once we were in the air, the flight attendant came around with more drinks. And snacks. And each time she came by she offered me choices just like she did to all the other First Class passengers. She treated me the same way she was treating everyone else. Yet I kept thinking, But I shouldn't be here. I don't deserve this treatment. I didn't buy a First Class ticket!None of my thinking seemed to matter to her. She just kept on treating me like a First Class passenger. (I finally bucked up and played along. *wink*) Then Sunday morning came along and, as I sat in church listening to the sermon, I began to see the picture God had started painting for me the night before. Our pastor spoke of God choosing us - not because of anything we have done, but because of His grace and love toward us. Indeed, we do not deserve God's grace. We have not "bought the ticket". There is no way we could! God's love and grace given to us through Jesus is a gift, pure and simple. And because of that gift, God treats us like First Class saints. Not like the sinners we are. HE sees us as righteous because of the purifying blood of Jesus which covers us. In that moment, I realized my experience the night before - sitting in seat 1A, being treated like all the other First Class passengers (undeserving, though I was!) - was a picture of God's grace. When I get to heaven one day, and God welcomes me Home, I might stand in awe and think, But I shouldn't be here! Yet, I know my Father will assure me, My Son purchased your ticket, daughter. This is right where I want you to be.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Ahhhhhh! The cruise Brian and I took last week was uh-may-zing! If you have ever considered a cruise before, I highly recommend taking it. I.can.not.wait.to.do.it.again! Not only was it beautiful (see the picture below) but it was completely relaxing, and loads of fun.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Friday, January 17, 2014
Several years ago I used to do a Friday post which I called, This Week's WORD. Typically, I shared a verse which I'd encountered that week in my Bible reading and my corresponding thoughts. Since I recently read the following verses again, I decided to re-post this entry from November 20, 2009.This Week's WORD
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.
2 Chronicles 32:7-8
Are you facing a king and his vast army today? Fear not, my friend. For the King is on your side, and His power is greater!
May you rest in the assurance that the King will fight your battles.
******************************************************************************** If God says the same, Brian and I will be finishing our cruise and returning home tomorrow. I'll tell you all about it next week!
Thursday, January 16, 2014
From February 18, 2010. Enjoy!Knock, Knock!
Orange you glad I didn't say 'Banana' again?
Do you remember this annoying little joke from childhood? I used to say 'Banana' at least five times whenever I told this joke to someone.
I can't believe anyone ever listened to me when I said, "Knock, knock!" They all knew what was coming. So why didn't they put an end to the "joke" sooner? Good sports, I guess!
So what has me thinking about annoying, repetitive things today? Uh, that would be some self-examination and a dose of conviction from the Holy Spirit.
My kids just had a five-day weekend, spent most of it inside (Since when did they start caring about it being 'too cold' outside???) and I had a hard time dealing with the noise and profuse bickering. And the dirty dishes they left sitting around. Banana.
And the trash.
Did I mention the bickering?
I love my children. I do! But, honestly, there were several moments during their hiatus from school and responsibility (Cuz if they aren't going to school, why should they have to do anything?) when I just wanted to run away. Far, far away!
It was like that annoying joke kept following me around and wouldn't let go.
But then, God called out, Knock, knock!
And He offered me an orange.
He reminded me these days won't last forever.
And I thanked Him!
Then the words of those who have gone before me came back to my mind. You know the words. "There will come a time when you'll miss these days."
Still not sure I believe them. Nonetheless, God used it all to remind me of the commitment I made long ago. The commitment to love my children. No matter what. Oh, I am NOT committed to loving every moment, but by the grace of God, I am determined to love my children in every moment.
It was like He was saying, Karen, I know the noise is getting to you. Believe Me. I hear them, too! But stop for a moment. Stop looking at the bananas. There's a lovely orange over here. Your commitment to love your children. Focus on that for a while, dear one. Peace and quiet will come eventually. Right now, just trust Me to give you the grace to love them in the noise.
And as I was writing this, do you know what I remembered? The ONLY craving I had for anything when I was pregnant with my kiddos?
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
From March 2, 2011I Wasn't Expecting That I love, absolutely LOVE, when God works outside my expectations.
I teach Sunday school during the first service at my church. And sometimes I find myself in another classroom between services - standing in as the 'adult in charge' until another adult can be found to serve during the second service.
Recently when this happened I was standing in the doorway, where I could see a video monitor of what was happening in the auditorium. Singing had begun and - while I couldn't hear it - I could read the words on the screen, and I longed to be in the auditorium. I wanted to be in there with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I wanted to be singing with them.
And for a moment, I began to get irritated.
I know. Nice attitude for a Sunday morning.
I started to wonder why more people don't volunteer to help with the kids. I had already spent the first service , well - serving. Now I just wanted to be in the auditorium participating in worship.
That's when it started.
When God started speaking to my heart.
HE reminded me that worship is about so much more than singing. I remembered everything can be worship when I do it for HIM - the serving I do during the first service, and even the 'standing in' I do between services.
OK, God, I get that. I will worship You as I serve, and as I stand in. But, (as I continued to watch the TV monitor) I really want to be in THERE. I want to raise my hands and sing Your praise! I don't want to miss this opportunity to worship You with my voice.
At that moment, in spite of how noisy the kids in the room were being, I couldn't deny the way I heard God speaking to my heart. My dear Karen. I love this longing in your heart. I love that you want to get in there and lift your voice to Me. I love it. I do.
Now I'll let you in on a little secret.
I knew this delay was going to happen today. I knew you would be 'stuck' in this classroom past the start time for the second service. I knew you would want desperately to get into the auditorium so you could sing, too. I knew you would feel like crying at the thought of missing it.
I knew all this was going to happen.
And I allowed it to happen.
Because I love it when there is a longing in your heart to worship Me. I love it when you are desperate to get into My presence. And I want to develop that longing in you. It makes you even more beautiful to Me.
Fear not, dear one. Here comes your replacement.
And, sure enough, in that moment someone came and shooed me off to the auditorium.
I was not expecting God to speak to me during my delay, and in spite of my little attitude issue. But HE is not limited to what we expect, is HE!
How has God worked in your unexpected moments?
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
From June 23, 2010 - as good of a reminder for me now as it was then...Are YOU Talking to Me? On Sunday Brian and I took the kids to a county park (sort of) near our house. They wanted to play with Mindy in the dog park, and Brian and I wanted to nap in the sun. (We settled for a 'nap' in the clouds. *sigh*)
As I was laying there, I couldn't help over-hearing an interaction between a woman and child which must have been occurring only 10 feet away from me. It was time for this family to leave the park, and the child did not want to go. I resisted the urge to open my eyes, roll over, and watch the scene. But - based upon what I could hear - I'm guessing the child was less than two years old. As the child protested, the mother said, "C'mon, now. You're trying to embarrass me. Stop it. Let's go."
And that statement she made, "You're trying to embarrass me," hung in the air like a bad stench.
Everything in me wanted to get up and go say to her, "Your child is not trying to embarrass you. She has simply had fun here at the beach and she wants to stay longer. She isn't being vindictive. She's being a toddler."
But I know better than to get in the way of an Irritable Mother (LOL!) so I kept my eyes and my mouth shut.
However, the little conversation I had in my head with the irritable mother? God brought it back to me later that evening.
Joshua wanted to play with some friends and was eager for me to get dinner ready (earlier than usual). When we got home, I changed my clothes and started preparing dinner. Then Joshua came into the kitchen to ask how long until dinner was going to be ready. I told him, "About half an hour," hoping that would be quick enough to satisfy his urge to play.
I absolutely did not expect the response he gave me.
Rather than being upset that I was taking too long, he protested that I was not giving him enough time to do the things he wanted to do before dinner.
I responded with something along the lines of, "I thought you wanted to have dinner early so you could play with your friends afterwards. Now you're mad because I'm making it too soon? I can't win with you!"
He got sassy back, and I got more irritable.
Joshua stormed off in a huff and I stood in the kitchen. Baffled by my son, frustrated with his attitude, and wondering why he so frequently takes me to this place of angst.
And right about then, God brought back the words I had wanted to say at the park. I thought of how - as an outsider - I could see the woman's child wasn't really trying to upset her. Because I wasn't in the midst of her circumstance, because I wasn't frustrated with her child, I was able to view things from the child's vantage point. I was able to remember the child was, well, a child!
Looking in on her moment, I was filled with compassion and wanted to say, "Dear Mother, she's just being a toddler. Won't you extend her some grace?"
That's when I could almost hear the words in my own heart.
Karen, he's just being an adolescent. Won't you extend him some grace?
I had to pause and look heavenward, asking, "Are YOU talking to me???"
Monday, January 13, 2014
Did I mention that Brian and I are away on a cruise? *grin* Since I am clearly NOT at home blogging this week, I went through my archives and selected a few of my favorites for you to enjoy. So here you go - from July 27, 2011.Proof that Jesus Lives If anyone ever asks me how I know FOR SURE that Jesus lives, I'm simply going to tell them, "Because I prayed for my husband."
See, he came home one evening and made a comment which seemed - well - a little rude to me. It wasn't THAT bad. It just seemed a little off.
And I began to feel defensive.
Which made another of his comments seem abrupt.
So I got a little more irritated.
I started making a list in my head of all the things I do for Brian, and picking him apart for not doing more things for me. I was pouting around the house - grabbing misplaced items and putting them away. I went downstairs and saw the ironing board. On it sat a pair of my husband's slacks, which needed to be ironed.
I let out a hefty sigh and walked over to them. I better iron these. He'll need them for work. Just one more thing for me to do for him.
Part of the dress-code for his new job.
Suddenly it occured to me that I may be on the verge of understanding him.
Brian's new job is great. But there's a steep learning curve. He's been very stressed lately. And I realized a few things:
*Maybe the reason he seemed short to me lately is because his own fuse has been so short.
*Perhaps his level of sensitivity seemed so low because he has been focusing so much energy on finding his way in this new job.
*Maybe he came home and crashed every night because he has no energy left at the end of the day.
And I began praying for Brian - asking God to give him strength, and courage, and faith in what HE can do.
Just two minutes prior to that moment I had been feeling bitter toward my husband. But in an instant God spoke to my heart and transformed me into a praying wife.
Only the power of Jesus could make that kind of change.
I prayed for my husband, and THAT is proof that JESUS LIVES! How have you seen proof of Jesus in your life?
Friday, January 10, 2014
I totally forgot to write "Lessons From the Edge" yesterday.But I have a very good reason, and I'm just sure you'll give me a pass. *wink* You see, yesterday I was very busy getting ready for something which begins tomorrow. That is, Brian and I are going on a cruise to the Bahamas! Been waiting over 20 years for this. *great big smile* And, just so you don't miss me too much, I've scheduled next week full of some of my favorite posts from yesteryear. I hope you enjoy them. If God says the same, tomorrow at this time we'll be in the air. Can't wait! Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go do our online flight check-in.
Posted by Karen Hossink at 7:09 AM
Thursday, January 09, 2014
I have a really easy recipe for chili.Like, super easy. As in, the only "cooking" required is the browning of the ground beef. (Or ground venison, as the case may be in a home where two boys each got a deer this season. *smile*) Everything else is just opening cans and dumping the contents into the Crock Pot. Oh, and one envelope. You have to open one envelope of chili seasoning and add that to the mix. Which should really just go without saying, because if you're making chili - of course you're going to add chili seasoning. I'm just sayin'. So, one day over Christmas vacation I asked Joshua to put the chili together in the Crock Pot for dinner that night. He is beginning to get comfortable in the kitchen and I really had no doubts he could handle this assignment. I put all the cans and the seasoning on the counter and pointed out the location of the venison in the fridge. Figured he was good to go. And I confidently walked out the door to go to work. When I walked back in the door late that afternoon, I was pleased to see the Crock Pot full and turned on. But then I saw something else which didn't please me. The envelope of chili seasoning was still sitting on the counter. And I thought, Josh, seriously? You didn't put the seasoning in the chili? I added it myself. And planned to point out the oversight to my son when he got home. It would be important for him to realize the need to pay attention to detail, don't you think? I mean, imagine what would have happened if I hadn't rescued the recipe! We would have suffered though eating a bland meal, and Joshua would have been so embarrassed at his cooking flop. Clearly, I needed to point out the error of his ways. Right? Because HE is so gracious, God worked it out that Joshua was delayed in getting home. And that gave me time to think about what I was going to say. The more I considered my words, the more I realized something I hadn't thought of before. There really was no good reason for me to point out to Joshua that he'd forgotten to add the seasoning. He had done so many things right: browning the meat; rinsing the kidney beans; adding all the other ingredients; plugging in the Crock Pot; cleaning up the kitchen. Forgetting the seasoning really wasn't a catastrophe. It was an easy fix. Sooooooo, when I considered those thoughts - coupled with the recollection of how I feel when a certain someone in my life points out the things I forget - I concluded there was no value in me telling Joshua about his oversight. I would thank him for what he did. But when it came to the forgotten seasoning? I decided, I'm just NOT sayin'!
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
I love my girl. Elizabeth is a delight to my heart. Her love for God and her desire to live a life pleasing to Him brings me joy which words simply cannot capture.But when it comes to shopping? She can pretty much drive me nuts. The girl is picky. With a capital P-I-C-K-Y. Over Christmas vacation I
Tuesday, January 07, 2014
Soooooo, mid-Michigan had a little "excitement" over Christmas vacation. A great big ice storm came through on December 21/22 and left lots (and I mean LOTS) of people without power. Fortunately for us, my family and I were at my mom and dad's house in northern Michigan until the 23rd, so we didn't even know we had lost power until that evening when we got home. (To a 46 degree house.) We tried to make an adventure of the entire thing. Lighting candles, moving everything from the refrigerator into the garage, imagining what it would have been like to live in the pre-electricity era. I slept with a hat on, and usually with the covers over my face because my poor nose was getting too cold. What a treat it was to go to work - where there was heat! On Christmas Eve we decided to go to the movies, because it gave us something to do (It gets kinda boring around the house when everything is pretty much DARK by 5:00...) - AND we knew it would be warm there.Our power came back on late in the evening Christmas day. We'd only been "without" for 48 hours, but it was such a relief to have it back. (I know. Our First World problems...) Through the whole thing I have come to one certain conclusion: If I had to choose between having heat, light, or the ability to cook? I would choose HEAT without a doubt. This girl does not do well in the cold. *brrrr!* Did you have any adventures in the past couple of weeks?
Monday, January 06, 2014
Welcome back to the blog! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas celebration - and that 2014 is off to a good start.My favorite thing about a new year is the time we take to remember and wonder. Remember what the previous year held, and wonder at all that is to come. And since elderly folks seem to enjoy reminiscing, I decided to do a little "Looking Back" as an activity at Edgewood. We sat in a circle and each person drew a question out of a bowl. Individuals read and answered their own question, and then anyone else who wanted to chime in on the same question did so. In all honesty, I didn't expect the activity to be for my benefit (I'm an introvert, remember. I prefer to do the reflecting alone...) but I absolutely loved it. So much so that I'm going to share my answers here with you. And even encourage you to answer them yourselves! What was your favorite memory in 2013? Without question, my favorite memory came from last March when I got to sing with Kathy Troccoli at the Among Friends conference which was hosted by my church. If you didn't have the chance to watch the video when it first happened, here's the link. *grin* What was the single best thing that happened in 2013? Another no-brainer for me. The marriage retreat Brian and I attended in October was the best thing that happened this past year. Perhaps the best thing for our marriage in the entire two decades we've been husband and wife. Which reminds me, Go the Distance is having another marriage retreat March 21-23. If you're the married type, and you live in Michigan, I would emphatically encourage you to check the information at this link. What was the best lesson you learned over the past year? Wait patiently. For both the situations around me which I'd like to rush in and "fix", and the situations in my own life which I need God to orchestrate. God has shown me over and over in 2013 how important it is for me to wait on HIS timing. And I have learned I can wait without worry because HE is perfectly faithful. Every time. How did you grow personally? I'm not going to name names *ahem* but God gave me many "opportunities" to deal with difficult people last year. My personal insecurities and battle with depression make it that much more difficult for me to interact with people who I perceive as critical of me, so these "opportunities" are never pleasant. However, by the grace of God, I am able to look at those interactions as areas of personal growth. I am growing in confidence in who I am in Christ (so "their" evaluation of me doesn't hurt as much) and I am growing in my ability to think and hear realistically. That is, I am getting better at discerning what matters and what I can let roll off my back. Thank You, JESUS! What was your greatest challenge in 2013? Dealing with teenage angst. I'll leave it at that. *wink* What was one unexpected joy you experienced in 2013? Ahhhhh. Definitely it was an unexpected joy to see Joshua take an interest in his grades at school. Homework and "caring" about school have been a long-standing struggle with him. But starting this past fall, Joshua really seems to care. He checks his grades regularly and is proud of his achievements. After so much