|My modest snowman collection, which I'm leaving up through the end of February|
This precipitated lots of driving on my part, but as long as the drives are primarily rural, I don't mind. It actually is stress-relieving to be in the car and at the games, because there is nothing else you can do but BE there, all the other pressures and responsibilities of life temporarily melt away. (As an aside, I took one of those little personality quizzes on Facebook, and one thing that rang true about myself that I hadn't previously thought of is that I am a very in-the-moment kind of person. I'm not looking to move on to the next thing; I'm just happy being in the moment I'm in. Which has its pros and cons.......).
There were so many things I wish I could have taken a photo of to show rural Texas to you: oil pumps bobbing their heads up and down like some kind of dinosaur relics; wind farms; LOTS of cattle, longhorn and otherwise; LOTS of horses, too. The trees are much less in number here than in the east of the U.S., but the ones we have tend to be low and spreading, majestic in their own way. Rolling countryside, and of course, the big sky. Also, the little towns, often with a traditional square. I enjoyed it all so much, which confirmed that I am definitely a small-town girl at heart.
I live NEAR rural Texas, but not really in it. I personally live too close to what I call "subdivision hell", where huge look-alike houses completely cover their lots and are built so close together you could hop from roof to roof, and highways look like mazes and traffic jams are all too daily. There is beauty to be found there too, but getting out and away from all that was a balm to my senses.
Unfortunately for the blog, I had to enjoy all this rural beauty without any photos, as I was the driver and I was speeding down the highways (one nice thing about Texas is that you can drive fast, speed limits are sometimes 75mph!), and while the stress was less, there was still a volleyball player pushing me to get to our destination on time: no dilly-dallying!!
The volleyball season ended at the end of October in a national tournament in Springfield, Missouri. My daughter, my two youngest sons and I went for a long weekend. Her team won the title for their division in the tournament, which was very exciting and a great ending to the season.
I assumed things were about to slow down, but when we returned to Texas, life took another turn. First of all, we had a very disruptive bug infestation, which was a major deal and I will talk about that at some later point. Then, my husband needed surgery, which he had right before Thanksgiving. He is doing fine now, but it was two months before he could eat normally. The first couple of weeks everything had to be liquified, and I was glad I had the Ninja blender! Then, right after his surgery, his dad's health, which has been precarious for several years, started plummeting. My husband did have good talks with him on the phone, but he couldn't go see his dad because he was still unable to travel. Hospice was called in, but less than a week later his dad just went to sleep for a couple of days and then went on home to heaven. This is actually what we were praying would happen. We didn't want his dad to have to suffer in pain, and he was ready to go.
However, the memorial service had to be postponed until we were able to travel to Tennessee (and my sister-in-law who lives in Florida could travel), and my other sister-in-law who lives in Tennessee had a son who was getting married right before Christmas, so they rolled the wedding and the memorial service into one long weekend, the weekend before Christmas. Like I've said before, these major life events are spread far enough apart that my two younger sons had grown again and therefore had no appropriate clothes to wear, so they got new suits out of the deal. My daughter made herself a dress for the wedding, which will eventually get blogged, and I wore a lace dress I made a couple of years ago.
There were many misadventures along the way and while we were there, which probably best remain unblogged (sometimes family stories need to stay in the family, at least for a few years;). The two-day drive was grueling, and it was also sad because now there is only one grandparent left. But it was good to see family - however briefly - and it was good to hear from so many people who had loved my father-in-law.
We wanted to be back home in time for Christmas, so we pushed through and pulled back into town about 2:30 p.m. Christmas Eve. I didn't even go to the house. I had them drop me off at the grocery store and then my husband came back and got me. I rushed around Kroger (along with everybody else in town!) and grabbed stuff to festive up the holiday. I went home and in about an hour made sugared pecans, peppermint bark, sausage balls, fudge, and some other stuff I can't even remember now. Suffice it to say that I amazed myself, even though my family took it in stride!
Christmas came and went. Uncharacteristically, we had wrapped most of the gifts before our trip East, we actually had outside lights up and our tree had been up since the weekend after Thanksgiving. All that helped since we had so few hours to get ready to celebrate. I was also uncharacteristically efficient after Christmas: all the decorations were taken down and put away by New Year's. I left the snowmen up through
I do think we should consider hibernating during the winter. Everything feels like a slog. Too much death in 2014 for me; too much grief. It is still a bit difficult to look at 2015 with hopeful eyes, instead of wondering what unhappy events lie in wait around the corner. Which is not a good attitude on my part, and not one I want to have! This year I will reach the half-century mark, which is also daunting, mostly because I don't feel like I 'have arrived' or 'have it all together' or anything like that.
Thankfully, my hope is not in myself and my coping abilities or accomplishments, but in God who holds all things in His hands. My desire for 2015 (and following) is to find joy in the midst of the uncertainty and the messes and the bumbling along of me in my life. I want to enjoy my family, my home, cooking, making things, working here and there, gardening, friends, church, nature, etc. All these and more are good gifts, and "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above" - James 1:17." There are good gifts every single day. I want to have eyes to see the gifts and the Giver, and to let my heart be glad.
"This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." - Psalm 118:24
"Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice." - Philippians 4:4 KJV