Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2013 - In Review

What a year it has been. With all that happened, it seems wrong to let the opportunity slip past me to look back and be amazed by the moments- good and bad- that were 2013.

We attended Emergence Christianity: A National Gathering in Memphis and what a time we had.  There we honored Phyllis Tickle and got the crazy idea we should have her come and speak at Vintage Fellowship.  At a dinner the night before the event, we found ourselves at a table with Wendy Grisham, who drew Brian McClaren and Nadia Bolz-Weber to our table (we were just trying to find a table that was far away from the dinner noise so we could hear better.) I kept seeing a girl with an interesting name tag and eventually began following Jerusalem Greer.  I even got to hear Lauren Winner, a long-time favorite writer,  in a panel discussion.

I wrote this blog post. And I haven't really looked back since. Lent began very early and I gave up buying any clothes-new or from thrift stores- for Lent. We had a garage sale at Vintage that funded many Kiva loans.

We went on a book tour for Fundamorphosis over spring break.  Not a raging success as far as book tours go, but we got to spend time with dear friends and family along the way. 

What a month!  I ran my first 5K!  This was a huge accomplishment for me since I never thought of myself as a runner before.  Charleigh turned nine.  I helped local photographer Shu Lan Tang with an amazing photoshoot and realized I have a great love for photostyling! I also started using Instagram more faithfully to capture my daily moments and posting on my facebook work page regularly.  Thanks to friends who were visiting IKEA in Dallas, we were finally able to install the wall to wall bookshelves we had been dreaming of for years.

With the arrival of beautiful weather (after a freak snow storm) I began making custom mosaics at a new level, shipping a large table to New York successfully, creating a headboard for a local client and starting work on an intricate headboard for a client in Boston. I also began experimenting with making jewelry for the first time. The garden began to be beautiful very quickly and it was a bumper year for strawberries. Charleigh joined a soccer team, which was adorable. I made the decision to stop maintaining flea market booths to have more time to devote to making mosaics and my old macbook died, requiring a new MacBook Pro and consequently, new software to learn and improve my business. 

Perhaps the lovely weather throughout this month was some sort of grace as we faced a very challenging month. We were evicted from our former meeting place for Vintage Fellowship and had to move out of our building into a temporary space (where we are still).  We entered therapy as a couple and learned the hard way that things often get worse before they get better when Robb had a major breakdown the weekend we were to move the church.  After setting up an emergency therapy session for us, I was forced to miss the session when an appointment at the vet ran long only to discover our dog of nine years, Sidney, was dying of kidney failure. After taking her home to say goodbye and feeding her a steak, we took her back to the vet to have her put down.  Meanwhile, my dear friend and boss had an ectopic pregnancy and needed help and support to keep her business going, followed closely by a major magazine photo shoot of her home and then the news that her husband had gotten their long-sought-for University teaching job. They moved away in just two weeks. Our community wrapped their arms around us and Vintage granted us a sabbatical for the rest of the summer.

Rest and grieving were our main focus in the month of July.  Calvin turned 12. We made a trip north for a family reunion with my aunts, uncles and cousins, many of whom I had not seen in more than ten years. I ran another 5k with my siblings in a truly memory-making morning. We further traveled to Canada, hoping to recapture some of the peace and rest we had experienced the year before, but a phone call before we left the country and a follow up afterward confirmed that Robb would be without a job very soon.  Canada had record-breaking heat while we tent-camped for the first time on the beach with the kids.  A day trip to Niagara Falls was a definite highlight, bringing us a larger-than-life example of God's power and our smallness.  Two other wow-moments greeted us on the return trip to PA: I attended my home church by myself for a lovely morning; and we got a chance to explore an abandoned house with my parents, which was full of all the creepy contents of decades of a family's accumulation. Back at home, the kids attended camp, giving Robb and I a quiet week together. 

Our small raised garden started producing vigorously and we had all the tomatoes and cucumbers we could eat. We celebrated our seventeenth wedding anniversary.  The weather continued to be mild and easy to live with, which is rare here. The kids started back to school and I began to prepare in earnest for my upcoming fall craft shows. 

We came back to Vintage from our sabbatical and celebrated our seventh birthday as a community.  With Robb fully unemployed, we looked for any and every way to save money and prepare for a long winter, which led to Robb doing a lot of preserving and freezing of garden bounty.  We harvested our first apples from our very own apple tree. Mattie turned 14 and I did nothing but work in preparation for the three shows I signed up for, hoping to help keep our finances together. We were so sad to say goodbye to our good friend, Adam who moved away to a new job in California.  Despite all my worrying, all of our needs were always met, including a generous gift from a friend who paid for our 13 year old van to be repaired. We added a staff member at Vintage to help shoulder the load of ministry and continued to look for a new building for Vintage and a new job for Robb.

Completely dominated by the four day show at War Eagle, this month I added all new logos, stamps, labeling, headers and other marketing materials to both my Etsy shops with Robb's help. I also traded and utilized offers from professional photographers to help bolster my marketing materials.  Robb assumed all the cooking, cleaning and taxiing, which was a lot of work, especially with Mattie's challenging vollyball and football schedule. After a successful craft show, Robb surprised us all with a new member of the family - a dachsund puppy, who was ultimately dubbed Neville Longbottom. Despite his stubborness to be potty-trained, he proved to be a great addition to the crazy. The kids trick-or-treated for what was probably the last time all together.  Bittersweet.

This month started to feel like a marathon as I returned to prepping for another show. I turned 39 while setting up for this event where I landed more than a few custom orders. The next day, we welcomed the amazing Phyllis Tickle to our community and shared both the public events of her speaking to our church and the serene gift of privately visiting over dinner with our family and on the drive to the airport.  What a rare thing to be able to talk with this wonderful lady, so full of knowledge, wisdom, joy and love.  Her gentle, beaming smile and blessing of "Be well"  upon leaving us felt like a prophecy as much as a benediction.  We gathered for a quiet Thanksgiving at home and felt hope again as Robb found employment.  Watching Charleigh run (ie, crush, totally kick butt) her first 5k still gives me a thrill. Amazingly, Robb was hired for a second, even better job, and after only two weeks gave notice.

A freak snow storm made the last show of the season a challenge but ultimately made it wildly successful as buyers came out with intention. I lived out my long-desired dream to dye my hair crazy red and we were able to fill our freezer with a local, grass fed beef. Amazingly, we had the last of our garden's tomatoes on a Friday taco night. We adjusted to the new, strange schedule of having Robb go off to work each day and enjoyed some snow days before the Christmas break. I scrambled to finish the last custom orders of the season and learned valuable lessons about my limits. A truly simple and sweet advent with Vintage Fellowship did good things for the soul. We utilized our Amazon Prime membership to the max in preparing for Christmas just over a week before the holiday and felt a lot of gratitude to be celebrating. 

2013, what a year you have been.  I'm not sorry to see you go, but I am thankful for all that you gave us, both good and bad.

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