It’s the last day of 2016, say what?!
It’s hard to believe that it’s about to be a brand new year. For me, the Lord certainly taught me a lot in 2015, but the bulk of 2016 was characterized by the return to a new sense of normalcy and reflecting on how to love and live well in the aftermath of a tumultuous season of loss. It’s “easy” to turn to God when you’ve been broken and He’s your only source of strength, but to keep turning to Him when things improve? That’s harder than one might think and something tells me that it will be something that I will continue striving to improve on in 2017.
In the meantime, let’s look back at some of what 2016 had for me!
On January 20, I lost my paternal grandmother just ten days shy of her 94th birthday. She was such a strong woman and to lose her just four months after my maternal grandmother was hard. But she lived a beautiful life and I am blessed that I continue to learn many of the life lessons and bits of wisdom that she taught her children through my father. On January 28, the Lord called my maternal grandmother’s cousin, Nellie, home as well. Nellie was the daughter of my great-grandmother’s brother but in the short time that I knew her, she was like a bonus grandmother. She was only in my life for about a year, but her grace and her sweet soul had such a profound impact on me and on all that met her.
In late January/early February, my family and I traveled to California for my grandmother funeral. Though it was a sad trip in that we had to lay her to rest, it was so nice to visit with my Dad’s family in San Bernardino since we don’t get to see them very often. We even snapped this photo with our three cousins and their kids! It’s rare that we’re all in the same place.
Later on in February, I traveled up to the Virginia coast to celebrate my Aunt Deborah’s birthday! I have always loved visiting my aunts in Poquoson and Hampton and this trip had no shortage of love and laughter.
In June, my sister and I had a sister’s weekend in Savannah, Georgia! It was the first time either of us had been there and man, was it hot – the heat index during the day was about 108! As a girl who is obsessed with Forrest Gump, I loved being able to go to a couple of the locations used for filming. I’d love to go back, maybe just in the Fall next time.
In July, my sister and I drove down to North Myrtle Beach to visit my Aunt Kay at the condo she and my uncle own there. I fell in love with the view from her deck! Aunt Kay was such a big part of our childhoods and it was so nice to spend some time with her (and to finally have her teach us some tennis!).
In September, my family came together on the one year anniversary of my maternal grandmother’s passing (her “homegoing” as her pastor said at her funeral). My aunts and uncles secured a large van to cart several of us around Alamance and Caswell County to visit the places where my mom and her siblings lived, where my grandmother is buried, and where various other relatives and ancestors are buried. I absolutely love how deeply rooted my mom’s side of the family is into this particular part of rural North Carolina and the day was like one big history lesson. Basically, my mom’s family is of English descent and they came over to America in the 1700s and settled in Caswell County (a little bit northwest of the Raleigh/Durham area) where they’ve lived ever since. One of my favorite moments was stopping at this little tobacco farm, no longer owned by any relatives, but out in the back of the property was a little fenced off section of land where my great-great-great-great grandparents were buried. The sun was beginning to set and the beauty was absolutely breathtaking (I didn’t even need to put a filter on these photos).