While Presidents have to address the Union to report on its status, I will give an update on how the family is doing. I am excited to do it especially since I never got to the Christmas cards, which is such a natural time to assess things.
We live in the woods on a mountain in the high desert, and we have a love-dislike relationship with the remoteness. We really aren’t all that remote—about six miles from the center of town, which is, itself, rather remote—but there is a definite snow line during winter between town and us and it isn’t exactly a quick jog for visitors to come or us to go on a milk run. It snowed before Christmas a LOT, and we are just now seeing the dregs of that storm dwindle, thanks to steady below-freezing temperatures through most of January. I hadn’t realized how cold it was until the evening I decided to take a little walk because ‘it wasn’t that cold out.’ I passed a big light up thermometer on the street and was shocked to discover it was 35 degrees! When, exactly, did three degrees above freezing become balmy? Sometime during crazy January when we were pummeled by single digit highs!
The state of the family address probably shouldn’t begin with a paragraph about the weather, but it matters when things get that extreme. The kids and I were training for a 5K, until the streets became ice-skating rinks. I fell in love with Zumba last year, but haven’t been since the mercury dropped. A positive is that I have learned to really, really, really like soup! Looking out the windows to beautiful winter-wonderland scenes is only enhanced when your hands are enveloping warm ceramic something filled with savory goodness. See? The weather matters.
I shared earlier that we began a new year of school with the new calendar year. The books we are reading are top-notch, each earning the title New Favorite Book. Why Pray?, Guests and Stink Alley are what we are currently digesting. Why Pray? is so compelling that I am reading and sending excerpts to anyone I think I can bother. Stink Alley was both insightful to the era, but also offered some great conversations about what the truly right thing to do is in tough situations. When we finished Guests, I almost cried because I wanted more. Most books we read are well written. By design, our curriculum company selects books that serve as teaching aids on the subject we are studying, but also as models for writing, so it is often a foregone conclusion that the authors employ imagery, metaphors, character development and writing mechanics with laudable talent. Maybe that has jaded me to it, because I frequently breeze through poetic descriptions, or innovative word choices. But Guests…. Wow! I just devoured this book as though it were a rare delicacy—and I a starving vagrant! No class at all, I marveled, repeated and even giggled at the author’s expressions and word choices. It is just so beautiful. On top of that, the characters were compelling. At one point, my daughter interrupted the reading just to exude about loving the girl in the story. One chapter ended with all three of us with tears because we were laughing so hard. If that weren’t enough, the story itself was a familiar one taken from a new viewpoint, with revelations at the end that reflected an integrity of humanity.
The other aspect of school that has us experiencing the thrill of adventure is the increased rigors of testing and detailed documenting. School lasts longer each day, too, simply because the depth and breadth of teaching has increased. I am proud of the kids for rising to the challenges with terrific attitudes. It isn’t always easy, but they are striving for excellence and that sense of accomplishment. While we are learning academic substance, I am far more excited by the desires I see in them to behave with poise under the pressures.
As a family, we are in a bit of limbo as we await the Lord’s leading in regard to our future. Where we will live and questions regarding college can loom large for me. I am learning daily about His grace that is enough for today. It is hard to find the balance between being prepared and not running ahead. I wait.
In the last many months, I have dealt with some medical issues. I lost some weight, which reduced my already low blood pressure to a degree that made it unsafe for me to drive. I have been to countless doctors to find help with fainting and dizziness, and I wasn’t eager to go down that road again. But I did. In the process, I collected an unexpected diagnosis for an autonomic nervous disorder that prevents my brain and heart from communicating so well when adrenaline is introduced to my system. But the diagnosis that is primary in my day-to-day life is just the extremely low blood pressure. I take a medicine (three times a day!) that constricts my blood vessels to increase pressure. Think thumb on the garden hose. The medicine offers a decided improvement over my natural state, but I still struggle with feeling dizzy pretty often. I am still undergoing some debilitating cycle issues and there is no ready answer for that.
My husband is at a good place with work and has good friends who share his interests in apologetics and games. Our church family is God-ordained and we are excited to mature and learn and serve with them. In fact, when I think of our church family, my pulse invariably picks up. These are exciting times and the best part is my husband’s role in it. His excitement and involvement and thoughtfulness and care are just so cool! He will tell you how long he has felt like an outsider in the family of God; tolerated on the fringe as a brother who needs prayer, struggling to be who he is in constraints too tight. I don’t think this is an accurate description for his condition anymore, praise be to God! He is free to be himself, to pursue paths the Lord sets before him AND to be fully present in the church. What a gift! Our children, too, are learning more about the Biblical prescription for the Church and that they have an important part in it. Oh, how long we have prayed for this! What a blessing it is.
That is a not-so-quick sum of where we are right now. So many more things are running through my mind to add, but I will trust that I hit the highlights, and won’t drone on any more.