Goodbye 2014

Dear 2014, you were an enigma.

First, let me say I am sorry I didn’t write more.  As in, any.  Hard to believe this is my first post in 2014.  And I guess it’s my last one, too.

How to sum up the events of the past year?  I don’t know.  A lot of stuff has happened, a number of those things have touched us deeply.

The kids continue to grow (quite literally when we talk about Eric and the fact he is closing in on 6′ 6″).  Both kids have their driver’s licenses now.  Ally is in the middle of her senior year in high school.  We’re finding that choosing a college – and especially filling out all the financial forms – seemed FAR easier all those years ago.  Ally is a tremendous young lady and incredible student.  I am confident she will be a success wherever she goes, and I pray she finds her path soon.  Eric is a great young man with a tremendous heart.  He is becoming a better swimmer by the day.  Word of warning – teenage boys eat a lot.  Teenage boys who swim competitively eat an insane amount.  Your grocery bill has been warned.

Maggie remains amazing and is the light in every day.  The effort she puts into being a great wife, friend, mom, sister, and daughter inspires me.  I continue to try to be a better husband and friend to her, but I don’t think I can ever be as good as she deserves.  I can try harder, though.

We are in the middle of preparing for a move.  After over 6 and a half years in Cary, we’re moving back to Durham next month.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I have loved our location in Cary.  And I like our house a lot.  But we began talking several years ago about downsizing to have more financial flexibility.  We believe we have been blessed in order to be a blessing to others, and we want to be able to give more than we do.  We also want to be good stewards, saving and planning better for the future.  Plus, with college costs looming, we finally decided it was time to take the plunge.  God was gracious in the process; we are moving to a gorgeous home that is in many ways better than our current home – yet our mortgage will go down by about 30%.  Win-win.  The move will be good for us in other ways, too; it’ll be especially nice to be closer to Mom & Dad – and to the office.   But one of my (many) faults is that I get emotionally attached to things.  I get sad when I sell a car or a house – or even an old toy; hence the mixed feelings about selling the house.  OTOH, Maggie is happy to finally have an excuse to have me get rid of much of the junk I hold onto for no good reason.  See?  It all works out for the best.  One of the other neat things is that we can stay with our church, since the church has multiple campuses.  We’ll actually be just about 5 minutes from the main campus, so I’m looking forward to that.

Another cool thing is that my brother got a motorcycle this year, so we can finally ride together.  I love being out on the bike.  It is a personal cleansing time, just like hiking or skiing.  Work is wonderful, but we deal with so much tragedy on a daily basis that it helps to get away.  Riding does that for me.  Plus, it reminds me how vulnerable we all are, which makes me that much more determined to help those who have been hurt by others.

We have much to celebrate, but there have also been dark clouds and storms this year.

RIP, Uncle John. You are missed and loved.

I could rattle off the few little losses and bruises we had this year, but they all pale beside the thing that really broke my heart: the passing of my Uncle John last month.  John was only 55 and more like a close cousin than an uncle.  He was a great guy who would help anyone, and he was very active in his church and tried to live out his faith.  But somewhere, somehow, he was suddenly engulfed in a darkness he felt he could neither share nor bear on his own.  It’s still hard to comprehend.  I hate that he was in such a dark place that he felt suicide was his best – maybe only – option.  It happened too quickly.  The traditional warning signs weren’t there.  One day he was his normal self.  The next day, there was just a series of very hard phone calls – family telling family the horrible news and coming together to support one another as best we could – and the knowledge that we didn’t have a chance to help him.  He was gone, leaving a void we are still battling this holiday season.  I must admit, it’s been hard to hold onto a James 1:2 attitude in this one; but the prayers of friends and loved ones has been a huge blessing to all of us.  Thank you.

So, my two lessons from this year:

  1. Let go of stuff.  It’s easy to find yourself attached, even if you have a generous heart.  Store up treasures in Heaven, don’t hoard stuff here.  You can’t take it with you, anyway – even if you’re only moving 12 miles down the road (as I’ve found out).
  2. Hold onto those you love.  Do what you can to let them know you will love them no matter what.  Talk to them regularly about hopes, dreams, and failures.  Maybe they will turn to you before they are consumed by the same darkness that stole John from us.

That closes out 2014 for me.  I hope 2015 is an amazing year for you and those you love and that you feel the Spirit of God around you at all times.

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