Lemons to Lemonade – 2018 Reflections
I am not sure when or how, but yet another year has passed in the blink of an eye! Despite how much I enjoy writing, my entire adult life has been a challenge to write Christmas letters/cards, and it continues to prove a difficult hurdle, even if I do buy a huge stash of cards the day after Christmas for ½ off (hey – don’t judge … some people do Black Friday, I like to squirrel away all the Christmas stuff dirt cheap!). 2018 proved both rewarding and challenging, and really brought me to lean into my faith that “God’s got this”. Each and every challenge the year presented also gave an opportunity to grow, to reflect on our path and choose to trust there was a plan for our lives “… to prosper, and not harm us, plans to give us hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
LEMON: The challenges began right out of the gate – starting in January. The company that Mackdaddy was with began downsizing, and we learned that his position would be dissolved at the end of March 2018. Since he was doing coursework as a fringe benefit and the company’s education reimbursement policy, he couldn’t look for a new job until this position ended or we would have been further financially compromised.
LEMONADE: Being graced with the three-month notice, we were able to scale back BIG TIME and prepare for the tightening of our financial belt. His time off was short lived – from the end of March to the end of May, and SO many blessings followed: for the first time in our 25 years together he is now working closer to home than I do – AND LOVING IT! He also made the decision this late fall that it made sense for him to go ABD. We now have him back from all his study time; he no longer travels 3 hours a day to and from work (it’s now more like 10 minutes if traffic is heavy in Farm Vegas), nor is he filling his gas tank three times a week or putting over 800 miles a week on his car! LESSON LEARNED – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” *Proverbs 3:5-6)
LEMON: Our eldest had to move out of the apartment she secured shortly after starting to unpack due to a family emergency of her landlord. It was fully furnished, close to us, and she absolutely ADORED the place … and finding a decent affordable rental anymore is nearly impossible, even in our small town.
LEMONADE: Since she was now here and teaching high school English nearby, she moved in with us to regroup. She called a friend of ours with rental properties, and he just so happened to have a place STILL close by that would be coming available! She is now back in her own place, and figuring out how she wants to furnish her new digs. I am amazed at how she is soaring in her unexpected career in education – really putting 110% into helping her students learn and feel supported – education runs in her blood! She is helping coach the Drama Team, the Swim Team, and has oversight of a German Student Exchange program that will have her traveling to Germany in the late spring 2019 (yes – I am jealous!) LESSON LEARNED – “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is … teaching, then teach.” (Romans 12:6-7)
LEMON: Daughter #2 decided to move to North Carolina with her daughter, MiniMe, who will be two in March, — about two hours away, leaving her job working for the state. Fearful of what lay ahead for her — she still had a house payment due each month and with a sluggish/nonexistent housing market AND unsure employment AND her MiniMe depending on her, I really had lean lean in and let go.
LEMONADE: #2 met a really nice young man that is in law enforcement that treats MiniMe as his own. She is happier than we have seen her in a long time. They just gave birth to a second daughter in early December – and they named her after my Mom – Leona Christine! She still owns her home and has turned it into income, renting it out while she decides whether to hold onto it or sell it. LESSON LEARNED – “Children are a inheritance from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.”(Psalm 127:3)
LEMON: The Grinch fell in love with bassoons in November 2017, so we figured we would just change his oboe rental to a bassoon rental … until we found out that is NONEXISTENT since bassoons start around $8,000!!!! (Yeah – I would have put more !!! but I figure you got my shock there…). They are such an unusual instrument there are NO rental programs -you basically put TONS of money down and do an 18 month car loan… ☹… It has been an absolute bummer as his ability to pick up instruments is absolutely astounding! Even though his oboe is still his main instrument, during marching band season he has played marimba, or trombone, or mellophone… or whatever else the band director puts in his hands. He has taught himself guitar and piano as well – and is dabbling in writing songs (which make the ones I made in my youth sound like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”). It is heartbreaking as a Mom to not feed his talent further…
LEMONADE: Running into an old work colleague who knew me when I was pregnant with the Grinch, she put me in contact with a friend of a friend of a friend. Our catching up conversation led to the Grinch and I driving two days before Christmas to Charlottesville area for him to have a bassoon lesson with a Bassoonist, who has graciously agreed to “rent to own” him a used student bassoon!!! My Grinch, who never wakes up before noon on a weekend, was up by 9AM!!! His excitement shone from his eyes like I have not seen in my teenage son, and after the lesson he talked (not teenage male grunts) the ENTIRE hour and a half drive home (did I mention she let him try her contrabassoon as well?!?!)! His face Christmas morning when he opened the instrument of his dreams was the best Christmas gift I could have received. AND … amidst our bassoon search his oboe has been paid off! LESSON LEARNED – Maintaining good relationships is important — “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” (Ecclesiates 4:9)
LEMON: Littlest Man is getting ready to head into the last semester of elementary school! He is SO tall – towering over most of his fourth-grade peers even though he is THE youngest in his grade. He is such a kind and gentle soul, still wading through hearing and sensory challenges, and is SO bright – he sees the world in a different way than most of us. Every now and again you can see that the world around him nicks his little armour. I worry that middle school will chew him up and spit him out.
LEMONADE: Little Man is still the most loving little guy a Mom could ask for, and demonstrates a strength and faith far beyond most. He loves to tell jokes and puns, attend his Royal Rangers at church, and is a movie buff and 80’s music fan with Mackdaddy – quoting movie and music lines like nobody’s business. Despite my worries, he can’t wait to get to middle school next year, following in his big brother’s footsteps and try out band (he keeps going back and forth between french horn or tuba (because he likes the young lady that plays tuba…) LESSON LEARNED – “… Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. “ (Mark 10:14)
LEMONS: I finally faced some facts that I have been pretending didn’t exist for YEARS – it hasn’t been pretty and as you may know – makes you feel totally defeated and as if you have no control over your life. And, I had given up on finding a church family here in FarmVegas as we just could not seem to get an Orthodox church to take root here and going to a church an hour and a half away in the surrounding cities would not give me the relationships and support I yearned for my family.
LEMONADE: I DON’T have control over my life – God does — I DO have choices I can make. In facing these skeletons and things I didn’t want to see, I have found:
- peace, strength, and faith I did not know could exist within me;
- a church family filled with the most supportive and uplifting individuals that I have ever met in all my travels and relocating;
- a path to learning to love myself NOW, not only if I meet some sort of preconceived ideal … I am ENOUGH just the way I am, and in doing so embraced all the parts of me;
- gratitude and acceptance in being given up as a newborn for adoption – in knowing I am meant to be, and was deeply loved even before I came into existence;
- an appreciation of everything that has brought me right here right now. I am done searching for … something. (Mom – you will be happy to know I think I have finally taken off my wanderlust shoes ….) LESSONS LEARNED – God doesn’t make mistakes and wants a relationship with us. “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’” (Isaiah 41:13).
In retrospect, one cannot help but reflect on how truly blessed we are, and how thankful we are to have YOU as a part of my life tapestry! May you and yours be filled with the joys of the holiday season, and may 2019 hold wondrous and blessed surprises for you!
Happy New Year ~
Christine (AKA Chris, Chrissy)