Christmas greetings and New Year blessings!
DH and I have been married three and a half years now and we’re starting to get the hang of some things together. This year: Newsy Holiday Letters! 2013 has been filled with blessings – twists and turns in the plot line that keep you wondering “What’s going to happen next?” – and lots of opportunities to make memories.
In January I started a three-month gig as interim Music Director at a church in St. Paul (where I’ve been since 2006.) It was an opportunity to help out my friends there and also reminded me that my call was fuller than my “official” job there. DH began his trial retirement, having served his last day at the AF store at the school on December 31.
By February, he had had all the sitting around in the La-Z-Boy I could stand and began his job search in earnest. I continued on as interim music director and began to keep watch for a music director position of my own.
In March, I started teaching an online certification course for the American Society of Training and Development and had a wonderful time through Lent and on to Easter Sunday with the choir at the church. DH was having some marvelous interviews, which led to an actual job offer! Also during this month, a friend of mine who had been caught in the foreclosure situation moved into the house.
On April 1, the day after Easter, DH started a new job as Community Resource Consultant with CB. CB is the Methodist version of AF. They had also closed all their brick-and-mortar stores but they chose to hire 50 people who would be the face of CB in their larger markets. DH’s job is to call on churches and institutions and basically do the same kind of relational recommendation of resources that he did from the bookstore. The tricky part is that his market is Des Moines, IA. For the first couple of months, he was flying to Nashville for training and helping staff their big regional events (like synod assemblies but they call them Annual Conferences). Of course, he had a great time meeting all these new people and always came home with stories of not only new friends but of all the people he already knew. I started a “short” “easy” instructional design contract in April and also began to provide interim communications support to the Deaconess Community.
In May, DS2 finished his first year at University of Wisconsin, Stout (in Menomonie, WI) and moved home for the summer. He worked for Cub all summer, stocking dairy. DS1 finished his fourth year at Iowa State (in Ames, IA) but stayed on campus for the summer because his job there. DS2 and I built and filled four new 4×4 raised garden beds and I planted way too many tomatoes, along with beans, carrots, cabbage, herbs and all sorts of things that sounded good.
June saw my last day at the St. Paul church as I accepted a ¼ time call to a smaller church in South Minneapolis to be their music director. DH continued to criss-cross the country working Annual Conferences (New Jersey, Iowa, and Oregon/Idaho) for Cokesbury and by the end of the month he was beginning his regular routine of driving down to Des Moines on Monday and back to Minneapolis on Fridays. We found him an apartment down there because Cokesbury wasn’t going to pay for a hotel for much longer.
In July, I started at the Minneapolis church and DH moved in to his apartment in Urbandale, IA, a suburb of Des Moines. The rest of the month is a blur as that “short” “easy” instructional design project was turning into neither of those things. Between that contract, the communications work and starting at Bethel I was working way too many hours and the garden really suffered. Sometime in here my friend found a more permanent housing solution and moved out of our house.
August brought a reunion in Chicago with some of DH’s college friends whom he had not seen in maybe 20 years. I met the other 3 couples and we all had a wonderful time reliving the “old” days. Hey, we graduated in 1972 for gosh sakes! And how about those Northern Illinois Huskies! Another wonderful season of football. That same weekend we also attended a wedding of the daughter of one of DH’s friends from our Lutheran Church in Berwyn. So I was introduced quite a bit that weekend to friends of DH.
Later in that month DS1 moved in with DH for a couple of weeks between housing contracts. All reports are that it was “fine” and they enjoyed ordering pizzas and drinking a couple of beers together at the end of their long work days. DS2 returned to Stout in the middle of August.
September saw the beginning of choir practices for me as well as a trip to Techny, IL for the Deaconess Assembly. DH continued getting to know the people in his market and collecting lots of great stories. Around this time we knew that this commuter marriage thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and I started looking again for a call that would be much closer to full-time and include benefits, with the idea that DH could retire or do something else while avoiding those long drives twice a week.
In early October, DH hurt his back and came home on Thursday to go to the doctor. After an ER visit, an MRI and another doctor visit, we knew that he had a pinched nerve, a bulging disc and another broken disc. He went on short-term disability and I added caretaker and transportation coordinator to my duties. This was complicated by the amount of travel I was doing for the communications work, but we were blessed with friends and other family that stepped in to sub for me.
Early November brought the passing of DH’s former MIL in Indiana. She had led a full life passing at age 97. Seeing that side of the family was especially important for DSS1 and DSS2 as all of the 7 cousins on that side of the family were able to attend the services. DH made the drive along with DSS2 and DDIL2. On the way back to MN the 3 of us even drove through the hometown of LaGrange Park so that DDIL2 could see where DSS2 had grown up.
Also later that month was an opportunity for me to plan, lead and host an ecumenical Thanksgiving Eve worship service. 55 people came for the mass choir – what a wonderful sound we made together even with only a few minutes of rehearsal together. By this time, DH was feeling well enough to come to worship. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner on Friday and DSS2 and DDIL2, DS1, DS2, Mom and Sis joined us around the table.
After Thanksgiving, DH resumed working in Des Moines. He still has some numbness in his leg, but we’re hoping the steroid injection he had in mid December will really kick in soon. DS1 graduated from Iowa State with a Bachelors in Computer Science. He has moved home for the time being while he looks for a job. DS2 is home for Christmas break and is going to Germany leaving January 3 for a 2-week course on injection molding for his product engineering major. He and a friend plan to take an additional week and go to London for some sight-seeing before coming home and heading back to “regular” classes.
After much prayer and conversation, I gave my notice at the Minneapolis church in early December. My last day was December 31 and hope to be approved for “on leave from call” status while I really play the “persistent widow” with synod offices and churches in search of a full-time call that needs both someone care for the worship life of the congregation and general ministry and administration.
DSS1, DIL1, and The Grandson made a move to the Detroit area just after Thanksgiving. DSS1 is now a manager for that area. DIL1 is able to continue with some consulting work as she had been doing research with a team of doctors in Minneapolis. The Grandson turned two December 18 and has all of the energy and more of a busy 2-year-old and keeps Mommy and Daddy on their toes all of the time.
DSS2athan and DDIL2 are in the Twin Cities area. DDIL2 is the youth director at a Methodist church and DSS2 is busy teaching in a charter school with his 30 kindergartners as he has them all day! As they both work with kids of different ages we marvel at their patience!
In March I’ll be joining a delegation of Lutherans from all over the world in a visit to Lutheran World Federation Ministry sites in Nepal. We start in Kathmandu on March 8 and finish on the 21. Getting to and from Nepal takes about 30 hours (about the same as to Holden Village) so the whole trip will be about 3 weeks. During that time we will be trekking between ministry sites that are between Pokhara and Jomsom – a fairly well-known and not difficult nor technical trek. Basically it sounds like 6 days in a row of hiking the harder Holden trails but about 5,000 feet higher (we’ll be between 4,600 and 11,000 feet elevation depending on the day.) And yes, I’ve already started training!!
As we said at the beginning, we are positive that more twists and turns and wonderful memories will be in store for us in 2014 just like they most certainly are for your family.
With gratitude to God for all of our family and friends as well as those people who we will meet this year, we pray for good health and blessings to you and yours knowing that God is walking along with us every day. Make the most of the opportunities you have to make memories in 2014.