Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Highlights

When I started writing this post, it was the last day of 2015, the first full year spent in England.  At the end of this year there is nothing to say to all of the people who have loved us, encouraged us, and supported us but a big THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts.  I'm reminded of the words from Psalm 116:12-13:

"How can I repay the LORD for all His goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD."

Because the truth is that I can never repay the Lord for all of His goodness toward me.  I can only keep calling on His name and asking for more help and more grace and the ability to know more of Him.  Because all of the things written at the beginning of Psalm 116 have been true for me in the past, and they will be true moving into a new year.  I will have trouble, I will feel overwhelmed, I will be frustrated with all my failures.  But isn't it good that we celebrate Christmas at the very end of a year?  It gives great hope right before the beginning of a new one that Jesus has come!  He comes to rescue us from all of our sin and all of our trouble.

"I love the LORD, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.
Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live...
The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul,  for the LORD has been good to you."
vs. 1-2, 5-7

He's been so good to us in so many ways this year, restoring our souls daily.  KJ asked me what my favorite memory of 2015 was on Christmas Eve, and since I have never been able to pick a favorite anything in my life (except for those years when Gone with the Wind was unquestionably my favorite book) I instead rehearsed with him all of the best things that happened in each month, which now may find its way here to be remembered.

Last January I went on a birthday book tour around Ripon.  KJ printed out a map for me, and as we left so many books behind when we moved I was on a mission to fill up some of our empty shelves with secondhand finds.  I just love bookstores.  

KJ would say without a shadow of a doubt that the snowy morning we spent at Fountains Abbey is his favorite memory of the year.  It was absolute perfection, completely quiet except for the squeals of a group of girls taking a picture with our snowman, bringing it to the ground.  The snow fell almost the entire time we were there.  It was a really magical day.

In February the kids had a week off of school, and we visited Beningbrough Hall for the first time.  We were introduced to snowdrops.  KJ traveled to Italy to visit and encourage churches there, so I had my first experience of solo parenting in England.

The month of March brought us our first visitors from home, Matt and Seth.  We enjoyed every minute.

April was an amazing month for sunshine.  And it was the month of hundreds of lamb photos.  A major highlight was visiting a farm with a friend and getting to see twin lambs born in the field!  Ella says this was gross, but it was pretty amazing.  We also had a visit from our great friend, Parker Windle.

We celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary in May with our first trip to the movies and dinner date in a French restaurant in York.  I ate cheese for dinner, and it was amazing.  Ella participated in her first Maypole dancing. There was a half term break from school, and KJ's parents came for their first visit.  Apart from my catching a virus from James it was a really fun week.

Highlights for June were visiting Harlow Carr Gardens with Sue and traveling down to London in the heat to see the Kizziah family.  Traveling in the heat wasn't a completely great memory, but those 80+ degree temps without air conditioning certainly made the days memorable.

We loved so much the few hours we had with the Kizziahs on the 2nd of July.  School finally let out for the summer, and we spent some lovely days in Keswick with our church family.  We also had a few days with Billy Jones at the end of the month.  It just occurred to me that we had visitors from home to stay with us 7 out of 12 months.  The Lord was so kind to encourage our hearts in this way.

In August we enjoyed the slow days of summer, which were much appreciated.  One close-to-home outing we went to was Medieval Day in Knaresborough.  We also had Elizabeth visit for a week to help with passing out leaflets about the church in the surrounding villages, and we hosted a barbecue on a local estate.  It was a lovely week.

September was kind of crazy town as we hurried to finish painting jobs before moving and then started back to school the very day after the move.  Highlights were Ella turning 9 and having sweet friends from school come to her party.  We also had a really lovely Sunday afternoon at nearby Ripley Castle where the deer in the park kept looping around us, and I took lots of pictures.

Ooohh, October... October brought gorgeous leaves, James turning 6 and a much more fun than expected LEGO Ninjago birthday party.  It went out with a bang with our half-term holiday in Gloucestershire.

November was pretty routine.  Thanksgiving celebrations were a definite highlight, as was having Matthew Richardson come visit again.  We also got two painting projects checked off the list so that felt good.

December's highlights are obvious:  Grandparents, Scotland, Grandparents.  Add in lots of time with friends and church family, carols, and goodies.  It was a perfect end to the year.

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