Friday, December 15, 2017

Our 2017 Christmas Card

Every year for the past many years, we have put together a fun, animated Christmas card that we fill with photos from the past year, descriptive captions, and holiday greetings from me, Lynda, Sarah, Grace, and Hannah.

But, unfortunately, we won't be putting that together this year. Lynda--who usually spends the time selecting, editing, and uploading the photos just doesn't have the time and energy to devote to it for 2017. So, we ask for your apologies as I substitute this post that I will repurpose as an email and send out to people instead.

How was 2017 for us? It has been a year of many firsts--good and bad.

Of course, the biggest change of this year was the struggle and loss of Lynda's dad a few months ago. We are still getting used to this new reality for us--and especially for Lynda, Lynda's mom Cheri, and her brother Matt. Our Christmas experience is going to be entirely new because of this and I pray that it is a peaceful time that also provides healing. But we look forward to family time together in Georgia in just a few more days. I'm sure happy memories will be shared and the future will be discussed. Lynda is helping Cheri take over the details of things that Bill was so familiar with and so far everything is going well. There is much to discuss and plan about the future and you'll certainly be seeing those changes in future posts that I write about. So, it is a bittersweet time. But our faith supports us through our sadness and I am confident of a happy future to come. More on that as it happens!

In more "normal" news, our kids have had many eventful months since the end of last year. And there are many firsts being achieved for each of them as well.

 Sarah achieved a first--finally completing all of her extensive driving training and tests to qualify for her auto license. She drives to work, to school, to run occasional errands for us, and sometimes to even has fun (I promise). She is also achieving several new firsts as she completes her senior year of high school and is very busily finishing up her art school applications--creating piece after piece for her college art portfolios. If you have been following Lynda and I on the Internet in the last many years, you know how her art skills have advanced and how talented we think she is. As I said in a recent blog post, I fully believe that she is going to get into one of her schools and then we'll see what sort of scholarship money she can collect on top of that. She has been working to create new pieces for submission, with lots of help and advice from her art teacher. It's happening--and then . . . well, the future is not written. But she is working on some endings and planning for new beginnings. I'm excited about where she goes next.

Grace is neck deep in work as a busy highs school freshman. All of her summer and fall were dedicated to marching band. And once that ended, she jumped right into the theater production crew team. In addition, Grace has new expectations in her high school level classes. But she is handling it well so far and taps into her long-standing reserve of inner confidence that I love so much about her. Her social life and roster of friends has grown a lot in the last many months as well. Give her some more time to grow up and widen her horizons a bit and we'll all be working for her. And I promise you that we will be so much the better for that.

Hannah remains our little girl--but she's trying to grow up as fast as she can. Hannah's after-school and weekend social calendar is almost as busy as Grace. Which is probably a good thing, because without Hannah pushing us around, we'd never do anything at all. She happily reminds us that there are lots of people and things to do.She is doing well in fourth grade and is involved in Mark Twain elementary's service club. Plus her Reflections project animation was recognized at the city competition and is going to move on to the regional judging level next.

As for Lynda and I? We still work at McGraw-Hill Education. (See the photo from our company Christmas party, up above.) Lynda's work in the Digital Strategies group keeps her connected with content groups all across our office. She is always busy, but she is doing good work and keeps being challenged. I'm finishing up Phase 1 and 2 of my latest Social Studies project that has been my focus throughout this calendar year. I still like work and my coworkers, so I have no big complaints on that front.

As always, I must acknowledge how stupidly lucky we are. 2017 has been a challenging year for many people who have faced so many disappointments. But those sorts of setbacks can be dealt with when we have each other, when we have good jobs, and when we are surrounded with great friends and family (who demonstrated that so, so strongly while Lynda was so busy with her dad). Lynda, I, and our girls have all of those important things--which makes it possible for us to overcome anything.

And it obligates us to reach out to help others. I have been inspired this past year to witness people fighting hard for things they care deeply about and taking on new responsibilities to work for those goals. I hope that 2018 is a good year for you and the people you care about. If I can be some help to you . . . please do not hesitate to let me know.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year.

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