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2009: A Year That Was!

Heart Of My Heart is the end-of-year-recap letter writer in our household. I offer ideas for content, but she composes. What follows is the latest composition which includes many different "slices of life", probably documented to some degree between each of our blogs. Since we're at the end of January already, this is our Epiphany letter. Enjoy!

What a year we had, clothed in stepping out in faith, and lit by our own insecurities overcome by trust.

Seriously, it’s been a wild ride.

My Beloved is a “junior” (aka, first year) seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary (aka, Holy Hill). He began in August. But, as many of you might remember, we’ve been in this process for much longer than just since August.

We attended the Conference on Ministry in February. This is a two day event designed to “tell you what you need to know about coming to study at VTS.” They say. And they try, really they do. It’s just that there are so many more questions than you can think of during two days. But it was fun and encouraging and just the first time that My Beloved heard, when talking about the work load: “It’s only a lot of reading if you do it all.”

His interview with the school followed that weekend, and at some point we realized, this all really was happening.

Meanwhile, we were living our lives, you know, the ones we’ve adjusted to over the past two/three years. My Beloved took some more courses at the community college to keep refining his student skills. I kept working because, well, we had a new government and it was all so new and fresh and exciting at the beginning.

At the end of 2008, we actually took a vacation together to travel to Massachusetts to see friends and then went to New York City for a few days to play. Both trips were extremely successful—the first one even resulted in our friends moving back to Northern Virginia, which is a plus we had not anticipated!

Anyway, the year progressed from there. We missed the Inauguration (I had a miserable cold and My Beloved wouldn’t go without me because I was sicksicksick) but our California Niece wore my coat and took my camera and she was on the Mall at 4 AM. I was so proud. And felt so old. But it was so cold that I am glad I did not try to go downtown. Well, and there was the problem that my warmest coat was on California Niece! I have funny and fun photos of her friends entertaining themselves during the long LONG hours of waiting.

My work was directly affected by the changeover. Still is being directly affected --we don’t have all of our senior leadership in place yet. And don’t know when it will happen. Blame the Hill, not the White House. It’s been an interesting transition, and I do like to get new people and “train them up in the way they should go.” At least in the way I want them to go! It’s not all bad, at all.

In May we journeyed out to Phoenix when my best friend from college threw a party for her two daughters who were graduating college and high school. Since the elder, PhotoShop S, is a godchild and we hadn’t seen her in a few years, we thought this was called for. We had a lovely visit to a lovely place with wonderful friends. Better yet, PhotoShop S is spending a year in Italy, so I plan (I hope) to go visit her again this year.

In July I flew to Milan to spend time with our Amazing Niece, who was taking a month of classes there. My primary purpose was to take her to Rome for the weekend. (I’m pretty picky about my family going to Rome for the first time without me…) I had wonderful times learning about Milan, and we had a wonderful trip to Rome. Stayed in a great B&B right in the heart of the Centro, a short block from the Pantheon. For less money than the youth hostels! With free wi-fi. Contact me if you need more info! Any year is good if I get to go to Italy!!!

We thought we’d get away for another vacation together, but that didn’t happen. So we did a staycation. Very, very popular these days, have you noticed? Only ours turned into a workcation. At the end of the week, we had a cleaned out and newly painted study for My Beloved. It’s a soothing place in blue and white and has a floor to ceiling bookcase on one wall (already fairly filled!) and more space for the books he’ll be accumulating. We felt terrifically accomplished after all that work. (Cleaning out was more challenging than painting, truth be told. We’ve lived here for twenty years and that room was the “spare closet.”)

And then, August came. And he became a seminary student officially, as in, getting up and going to classes. And studying. August term was Greek and “Read and Bleed” (Reading Scripture). My Beloved says he doesn’t like studying languages and Greek didn’t do much to convince him otherwise. Howsomever, he did manage to do the work and I had blast helping him study. (But then, I like languages…)

In the spirit of starting things off correctly, we threw a party at the end of Greek class. For the juniors who all survived Biblical Languages and Read and Bleed.

It was a toga party. They all wore togas.

Sometimes, life needs to be taken lightly.

Now, My Beloved is officially one sixth of the way through his seminary “career” (training?).

The year has also been marked by amazing experiences of family and friendship. My sister remarried the day after Thanksgiving (a very cool time to get married) and it was an intimate celebration of joy and love. My parents stayed through the next week because my father’s sister celebrated her 80th birthday. That also was a joyful time of being together, even though it was ALSO the FIRST major snowstorm to hit the East Coast. We have more weddings coming up in 2010, so we know that these opportunities to rejoice will be with us.

Our families remain important to us, whether we see them as regularly as we like, or not.

The puppies continued to provide us with love and joy and the best on-earth examples of unconditional love. Our heartbreak was that Gibbs’s valiant life with only a partial kidney came to an end early this year. He stayed with us as long as he could and we loved him as much as we could. Mulligan is now an only dog, and, so far, not complaining.

The harder side of life also hit us this past year with friends having major traumas. One of My Beloved’s lifelong good friends was in a motorcycle accident in February. He was blinded by the physical trauma he suffered, but his spirit and his health are good now, following many surgeries! He was so good that My Beloved took him and his youngest son on a boys’ road trip to try to see the shuttle launch in June, but, like so many good intentions, the plans went somewhat astray. That shuttle didn’t get off the ground for well over another month! Still, the boys had a good time traveling and being at the beach. B’s courage in facing life with new challenges is inspiring to us.

In June, another friend was diagnosed with advanced gastric cancer and his treatment and the care and feeding of his family occupied us all over the next several months. When the disease finally took his life--way too soon-- in November, we witnessed such an incredible outpouring of love for him and for the exuberance with which he lived his life. God gives us such gifts in knowing such people. Being with J and his family through the illness and knowing how connected we are to each other was a privilege. I will always remember how one night he looked at me and said, “I never knew I could love so many people all at once. My heart is full.”

And what more needs to be said about who we are and how we should be living?

May 2010 (the rest of it!) bring all of you the knowledge that you are loved.

And may your hearts all be full.