My 2016 in Review, the Happy Times

What were the bright spots in 2016? It’s good to look back and recall them. Set aside the hard parts for a few moments to concentrate on the blessings. I challenge you to review your activities and the insights you gained in the process.

Probably the highlight of the year for me was my trip to Whidbey Island in Washington State. I got to visit with relatives, spend time with my son and tour his navy base, ride a ferry, join up with dear friends, visit my sister’s gravesite in Stayton, Oregon, eat wonderful foods wherever I traveled, and experience the restoration of a broken friendship that I had prayed for a long eight years (the sorrow I reference in my book). This brought peace and relief to a dark spot in my heart and now I am free from its burden. Along the way, through northern Cal, Oregon, and Washington, I saw beautiful countryside and had glorious thoughts. A lot was packed into a short period of time.

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Another highlight was a visit with my kids and grandchildren in Colorado. It was a lovely, relaxing time…and I learned something. I challenged myself to be ‘present’ rather than in my writer mode…and it worked! I set aside the busy thinking and just enjoyed my time by getting off the electronics, skipping the writing…and blogging, and focusing my energy on family. What joy! There, also, I enjoyed driving through the countryside with my kids on our way to and from a pumpkin patch an hour away, where my grand children had loads of fun and I noticed the differences between Coloradans and Californians. The countryside looked different than other parts I’ve seen before. Loved it!

Then there was experiencing downtown Colorado Springs after dusk as my third son and I enjoyed a break in the action at a delightful hole in the wall coffee shop with orthodox leanings and run by a monastery. It was unique, the decor, rustic and quaint, flavored with walls of books that compelled me in my pursuit of deepening faith. We drove past an ice skating rink and enjoyed the lights of the city as we talked about important matters and what is going on in our lives. I got to be a mom again, and it felt good.

Last but not least, 2016 ushered in a new way of caring for my folks as our roles and contact with each other has changed, with me becoming more of a support person in a caregiving role. I find that my joy is found in making them happy as best I can. A smile in greeting, a hug in passing, even a kiss on the forehead before I leave, come as a sign of warmth shared between us that springs forth from the love we share. I am needed in a different way than before and it has had a sharp learning curve. Helping my folks out has caused me to change in my thinking and perceptions…always a good thing to grow. Thursdays are the best. I cook a hot dish, go get my mother at assisted living, take her to the home place in the country, watch mom and dad visit together at the kitchen table while I put a lunch together. It is a happy time and feels like a party because it brings back old times. Routines have changed and my writing has taken a back seat.

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Contact with my siblings has benefitted from this for we have come together as often as the need presents itself. A year ago both our folks were in rehab facilities, which is where we as a family celebrated Christmas as an extended family. We’ve spent more time talking with each other on the phone and in each other’s presence than ever before in our adult years. My love, respect, and appreciation for them goes deep. They are the best and quick to state their appreciation for me and each other. They’ve come by airplane, train, and car, several times over in 2016. How their actions bless me and deeply meets a need in me, more than they will ever realize. We’re connected at the heart and that is a great gift.

In many respects, 2016 was one of the harder years to get through–which I’m choosing to ignore as I write this–but there were the joys, and I celebrate them.

God is good.