“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”
– Desmond Tutu
“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” ―
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every Year since 1978 we have composed an annual letter to send to family and friends. We started this the year after we were married. School and jobs had taken us to California away from our immediate family and close friends in Kansas and Colorado. We wanted to stay in touch, and frankly, we had a lot going on in our lives we wanted to share.
Our mailing list was current from our wedding invites/announcement so the tradition began. We have rarely missed a year, although there were a few when the letter went out as late as Valentine’s Day. It has been important to us to stay in touch with our extended family and ever-growing circle of friends from around the globe. These are gifts we do not take lightly and one this girl from small town Kansas never expected. Truly.
There were a number of years I struggled to keep up with the address list and e-mails, to the point of despair. I longed for an assistant just to keep up with my contact list. These days with social media and friendlier software for managing such things, and a bit more time, I feel I am once again ahead of the game. Sort of. This year I will be sending cards to some while posting holiday greetings on my social media sites. I may even print a few letters, but I decided to use this BLOG space to do my annual letter and let folks come check it out. Maybe even comment, send greetings…so here we go…
Dear Friends and Family,
It has been almost six years since I retired. I continue to enjoy having the freedom to choose how I spend each minute of every day. I enjoyed my career but with that choice was the reality that the job dictated a lot of how, when and even where I spent time. It was my choice, and it was an honor to serve our nation in air traffic, but this is nice. Reall y nice.
As to what I do, it looks like this:
Take care of David and running our household. I have enjoyed taking over much of what David did to keep things going while I was tending to the airways in one fashion or
another. We have found a new rhythm that suits us and supports this season of life.
I continue to facilitate an on-line life group through a church in Texas. We are now in our fifth year and have members from three continents. Google Hangouts is our monthly meeting space. Such an awesome group!
Write, which involves this weekly BLOG that I started last February, and books. I am about to complete the draft of the story of my Dad’s Costa Rica involvement. There are at least three more book projects on the horizon.
In the book category, I was asked to be a part of a book launch last spring for the best seller, Living Forward. It was fun and educational to get a peek inside of what a major book launch looks like. This lead to me teaching a class at our local church using the book as curriculum.
David’s life involves:
Teaching geometry at Northfield School of the Liberal Arts in the upper school. He has also picked up a tutoring situation on European History, using the Great Courses curriculum. Occasionally he fills the pulpit at our church and will be co-teaching a class in January that will deal with some of those pesky questions that come up when discussing the Bible.
He remains the primary laborer for our little house renovation, but we have been able to hire a fair amount of supplemental help to move things along. This year the sub-floor in the attic was completed (almost). We ran into a few surprises involving a little thing like structural integrity, but hey it’s all small stuff, right?
He also continues to sell on eBay as Pencilwhipper with a great deal of gusto. This keeps him trolling garage and estate sales for treasures for which to find new homes.
Daily cat wrangling. Yes they are still here and continue to be a cheap, fun source of entertainment and amusement. David is quite the cat whisperer
In addition to my regular trips to Texas where I fly, write, shop, rest and hangout with family and friends, we made a few other treks this year. In March David went to visit his Dad in Sacramento over spring break. Upon his return, he learned that his baby sister was very ill, so he hopped back on a plane and headed to Portland, OR. It turned out to be a farewell visit, as she passed on a few weeks later. Her family and friends gathered in June in Moscow, ID to celebrate her life and all she had done as a teaching trauma nurse in the area.
We did our best to honor Maureen by making the trip an adventure. We did a 26-hour drive -through to and from Idaho, but included David’s Aunt Judy in the mix. It was a joy to have her along. In spite of the heart-breaking reason for the trip, we made the most of it. Maureen would be pleased. Along with the gathering of the Cullen clan and Maureen’s awesome “force of nature” colleagues and friends, we made a few side trips.
David was able to meet one of his fellow pencil aficionados whom he had only known from their on-line transactions. I bowed out of that meeting as the evening involved discussions of the virtues of Eberhard-Fabeer vs. Ticonderoga pencils and the secret locations of the best Blackwing 602 writing sticks. (yawn). He also met up with a former teaching colleague from his Wichita Collegiate days. They pretty much picked up where they left off 15 years ago, jokes and all! I was able to meet in person one of the couples from my eGroup who live in Spokane, WA. On our way out of Idaho we made time to visit Mission Aviation Headquarters in Nampa. You can read about that visit here.
We also took some Kansas trips. For David’s birthday we went to Abilene KS, stayed in a wonderful bed and breakfast, toured the Eisenhower Library and rested. In August we returned to my home town and county for my 45th High School reunion, staying at yet another B & B in the country, then headed up to Jewell County, my maternal homestead.
Other Letter Worthy Events
We began the year as a part of a special wedding in the flint hills of Kansas at sunrise early in January. David co-officiated the union of a couple, the bride, the daughter of friends here in Wichita and the groom a Frenchman. The wedding was in both French and English, so that the two sides of the family were represented in their native tongue. David did the French version. It was lovely (and yes, VERY cold). The reception was at the Historic Beaumont Inn.
My sister graciously hosted my side of the family for a July 4th barbecue AND for Thanksgiving. Way to go Cindy! The day this is posted David and I will be celebrating 39 years of marriage and I will be a week into my 63rd year. We both enjoy good health and energy. I still work out several times a week and ride my bike when the weather is good. David prefers to get his exercise cutting wood, mowing the lawn and hauling plywood – although he fusses about it!
We are enjoying our 60s. I find each decade has its special joys and graces. Our life in the Love of The Father, His Son Jesus Christ and presence of the Holy Spirit undergirds our every breath and we are grateful. May you have a blessed Holiday Season and Joyous New Year.
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