Sunday, December 31, 2023

a look back at 2023


Happy Sunday, friends, and happy new year's eve! I don't know about you, but I love a look back on the year each December. I've been stewing on this one for quite some time and want to reminisce on my favorite moments of 2023. It was a hard year for me personally, but it was also a good year, I can say that God's love and abundant grace overflowed into each and every area that I struggled in. He is so good to me! Here is a look back at the proof of His goodness and faithfulness. I hope you enjoy this!

January: God provided me with a job that I never knew I was looking for! For a short stint in 2023, I went back to working full time. I loved that job so much, and I loved working with kids again. It's fun to work in an elementary school, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the dress up and teacher treat days. Here's the short version of how and why I went to work there, and what I did: the main teacher in the reading intervention room was out on extended medical leave, so one assistant slid into her position, and another assistant was needed to fill in for her. Yes, we were one class with one teacher and two assistants, because the point of reading intervention is to work in small groups with close to one on one instruction. 

Had I known that I would actually be teaching each day, I'm not sure that I would have said yes so readily, but I'm thankful for the opportunity this gave me to try something new and outside of my comfort zone. I also had to pass a challenging test to be able to stay in this position, and it gave me confidence in remembering that I can do hard and challenging things. After I jumped through all the hoops and tests of going back to work in a school system, I started this job in late January, on a Thursday. 

Before I could start, I had to be fingerprinted, and this afforded my dad and me a fun Friday road trip to the nearby small town of Covington, Tennessee. We had so much fun together that day and ate at one of his favorite barbecue joints of all time.

The very next week, we had a massive ice storm in Memphis and I was off for three days in a row. Imagine my delight when I realized that they were paid days off! I love to see ice on tree branches!

February: In early February, I co-hosted a baby shower for my best friend's daughter-in-love with my friend Carol from church. It was fun and relaxed, which is how all showers should be in my opinion! Carol and I both hate shower games, so we nixed that early on in discussing how we wanted the time to unfold. (Baby Luna was born in March, on my dad's birthday!) We had delicious (and easy homemade) brunch food, and we opened up the gift giving with a friend of ours giving a blessing with gifts to go along with what she said to the mom. It was such a sweet and special day. 

I settled into the new normal of working full-time and loved my little jaunt into the school each day. I figured out that I liked to leave my house at 7:45 each morning, putting me inside planning the day by 8. It took me that long to get my days planned out! I eventually learned to do this ahead of time, but starting out was rough, since I had no background in teaching. My co-workers and friends Cheryl and Carrie were so great at helping me and letting me ask all the questions. 

I added learning a new computer system and how to work a Promethian smart board to the repertoire of information I learned in 2023.

I enjoyed a couple of days off with Mom, and introduced her to one of my favorite places to eat, Tacos 4 Life. 

March: March brought about birthday month for Graham, Jonah, and Noah, and prettier days for us here in the South.

And, Todd and I took a fun trip together to Louisville, Kentucky for my spring break! We met up with friends new and old, we toured a beautiful old mansion, we ate delicious food, and we loved sitting by the river between some bridges downtown. We also took some amazing distillery tours and learned a lot of Kentucky history, at least regarding bourbon. My favorite tour was the Maker's Mark distillery in the middle of nowhere!

March also brought my father-in-law's 80th birthday and surprise party, my sister Terri passed away on that same day, and a few days later my dad turned 92. It was a lot.

April brought Drew's birthday! And Resurrection Sunday, which followed one of the hardest weekends I've ever walked through in my entire life. We had a major family crisis that I had to handle with the help of my sister, and it was just a lot. This was me with the boys on the tail end of that weekend, and I was BEAT.

I was so ready for May to be here! By this time, and because of hard circumstances so far in the year, I was more than ready to be done with the school year and full time work. I decided that even though they offered me a permanent full time position in the school I was already in, that life was forcing me to be more available for family members. I declined their offer, enjoyed the last days of school with lots of treats, celebrations, and parties, and said see-you-later to some of the greatest people I've had to privilege of knowing. 

I also celebrated a wonderful Sunday for Mother's day with my favorite guys. 

I kicked off the month of summer and June with lots and lots of pool days and celebrating the dads in our life for Father's day.

I ended June and started July at the beach with my friend Dedee! I went alone for the first time, and thoroughly enjoyed doing a road trip solo. I listened to podcasts the entire way there and back and had lots of prayer time as well. It was an amazing way to spend a few days in the summer! We also ended June with adding a new member to our family, Chloe the adorable golden retriever that Jonah picked.

July brought fireworks, seeing these precious dear friends and former worship leader and his wife (Kent and Kathy surprised me by coming to our church one week), and the Lord protecting Noah in a terrible wreck that he had on the interstate while driving in Dallas. (His car was hit from behind by an 18 wheeler, and totaled. He is still working with an attorney over this, because the trucking company is saying that it was Noah's fault, even though nobody was ticketed and they have video footage that it was not his fault.) 

August brought a new job to me! I took over the managing our church's bookstore and enjoyed puppy cuddles with Chloe. We also did some deck and yard improvements in anticipation of fall. We helped Drew and his roommates move during this month, and spent a whole day moving and unpacking them in their new house. I even got to organize and decorate! This was a treat for me, not only for Drew, but because his friend Zach doesn't have his mom anymore. She died a few years ago, and it felt good to "mom" him a bit. Kari would have loved this! She was a dear friend of mine and we loved each other's kids so much.

September brought my favorite time of year! Todd bought his first Harley Davidson motorcycle, I loved having a decorated-for-fall house, and I soaked up all the cozy moments, even if it was way hotter than I'd have preferred. I also got to go on a trip during this month, to Colorado, and that went into the fourth of October. In October we celebrated 27 years of us! 

November and December brought about my favorite things and time of year: family time, all the Christmas things, fun traditions and quality time, parties, and Christmas lights date nights. 

It was quite the year, and I didn't even mention a good portion of all that took place. Not talked about were a couple of day trips to the Nashville area, plenty of hardships and trials, moments of unexpected grace, and lots of other humbling times. Through it all, God has been so good to us, and He is always faithful. There are so many things that transpired that I never even got into here because I don't like dwelling on them! None of the events in 2023 took Him by surprise, and I am here standing because He has carried us through. I have no idea what 2024 will hold, but I trust Him with every bit of all that comes. 

On a personal note, I am so thankful for all of you, my wonderful blog friends. I hope you keep coming back to visit each day in 2024, because I hope to keep writing and posting five days a week, with some bonus posts thrown in. I also have some ideas for what the blog will be like in the coming new year, and I plan on sharing some beautiful stories of faith with you, along with some thoughts on digging deeper in the Bible as I read. I'll still have some of the beloved "fluffy" posts as well, because I wouldn't be me if I didn't include lots of those as well. I pray that you and your family are blessed in the coming year! Thanks for reading, and love to all.

Friday Favorites, 7.12.2024.

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