Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Looking Back 2007

2007, December. The days are getting shorter and the nights colder, while flannel sheets now grace our beds. Autumn came and went without any effort to get the garden ready for next Spring. Lots of our plans were put off ... not purposefully, but, sometimes, life just happens and we still can find the beauty in the remainder of the day.

"The splendor of a King, clothed in majesty. Let all the earth rejoice, All the earth rejoice.
He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide and trembles at His voice,
trembles at His voice."

The year was filled with the usual day-to-day activities and a few unexpected events. Caitlyn completed her freshman year of high school at Chicago Hope Academy – go Eagles! She’s now firmly entrenched in her sophomore year, with classes including chemistry, Spanish II and world history. Caitlyn made the volleyball team again and is working hard being a Student Ambassador. In July, she had an incredible opportunity through school to spend a week working in Ensenada, Mexico by helping to assemble pre-fabricated homes for some very needy families. The project was part of the Arial Home Initiative, in conjunction with Youth With a Mission. (Here’s a link to pictures and info on the build:;
click on the July 26-26, 2007 link).

Alexandra is now a 6th grader and in the junior high youth group. She participated in each and every sport offered during the school year and has just begun practice for the upcoming basketball and cheerleading season at St. Andrew. Her new passion is skateboarding and before it turned cold, she spent a lot of time in the backyard practicing "ollies" and "pop shove it" off the ramp that Darrin built for her. Alex took 2nd place in the storytelling division of the Chicago Area Lutheran Association’s annual forensic competition in November during her performance of "The Three Silly Billies".

In June, we spent a week out in California visiting Darrin’s sister Dawn and her husband, Larry. We spent a day up at Zuma Beach in Malibu. While the girls and I were out in the surf, Darrin relaxed under the partial cover of an umbrella, but he still managed to get a second-degree sun burn on his ankles. We finally made it down to Orange County to visit Knott’s Berry Farm. The girls got a kick when just the three of us took a drive up through the Hollywood Hills, Brentwood, Beverly Hills and down Rodeo Drive. We wrapped up the week with a trek down to Huntington Beach with Dawn & Larry where we staked out a fire pit near the ocean, swam, ate, made smores and relaxed. The sunset was breathtaking and we were able to watch porpoises feed in the water about 150 feet out.

In September, Darrin and Alex fulfilled their dream of owning a dog by brining home a Maltese puppy which we named "Brody". Lottie is slowly warming up to the new addition to the family. Sometimes it feels like our house is a zoo with everyone running up and down, in and out and away and after each other.

I started noticing pain in my left knee late last year, which I thought was just runner’s knee. I was able to run the Shamrock Shuffle 8K with Darrin and Caitlyn in March, but took two long breaks up through July. During my last attempt to run in July, I made it only three steps before I felt a horrible, ripping-type pain shoot down my leg. An MRI confirmed it was a lateral tear of the left medial meniscus. So, on a Friday in late August, I underwent an arthroscopic surgical repair on my knee. My orthopedic surgeon (the best ever), discovered I also had the start of a tear on the anterior meniscus as well. Darrin, Janice and the girls took exceptional care of me at home and I was able to return to work (with crutches) the following Thursday. I only had six weeks to recuperate from the time of my surgery to the day Janice and I were scheduled to leave for Ireland; so, after a few weeks of physical therapy, I was physically ready to make the journey with Janice to the Emerald Isle to celebrate her 40th birthday.

IRELAND. I’m still thinking about the sights, sounds, people, places ... it was magical, it was beautiful, it was exhausting, it was adventurous. We started in Dublin, staying at The Clarence (Bono’s hotel) across from the River Liffey and near the Temple Bar area for two nights. Lots of walking down Grafton Street, a tour of Trinity College, a viewing of the Book of Kells, took in an evening song service at Christchurch Cathedral and a tour of St. Patrick’s. * A three hour train ride took us to Galway on the west coast. We took a tour of The Burren in County Clare (home of megalithic tombs and portal dolmens) and the Cliffs of Moher (breathtakingly beautiful). The King of Belgium just happened to be on an official state visit and stopped by the Cliffs while we were there. Every county that we visited was different (especially dialects). * Cork had a different feel; a bit edgier than Galway, but very urban. We found our way to Blarney Castle and made the trek up to the top to kiss the Blarney Stone. The view of the estate from the top was worth it, especially with all of the trees in their autumn splendor. * Another long bus ride took us back east, down to Waterford, where we did the Waterford Crystal factor tour. You really get to appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into each piece. Janice and I had to make an Amazing Race-type dash to catch a train back up to Dublin for our final two days. * Back in Dublin, we did more shopping, toured the Guinness Brewery and walked around O’Connell Street. We cheered along with visiting Brits while watching the English beat the French in World Cup Rugby during dinner one night. * Ireland is so rich in history. A history that is worth learning about. Our guided tour of Kilmainham Gaol (jail) left me speechless. You can read about the 1916 Easter Rising to get started. This trip made me appreciate refills on coffee, ice, the 16 oz. beverage size, good signage and transit maps that actually show you which direction you’re heading to. * I’ve posted all of my digital pictures on flickr, which you can view at your leisure at:

"Age to age He stands and time is in His hands, Beginning and the end, beginning and the end. The Godhead Three in One, Father Spirit Son, the Lion and the Lamb,
the Lion and the Lamb.

And I remember ... the beauty of freshly fallen snow; early morning prayers with a friend; the joy of freshly brewed coffee at 5:30 a.m.; walking through St. Stephen’s Green; Evening Song in Christ Church Cathedral; Dublin mornings; parents who pray; yearning to run when I couldn’t; a better year of growing hydrangeas; the Danes vs. the Brits at Oliver St. John Gogarty and the "With or Without You" sing-a-long; Looptopia; catching the girls’ sporting events; the climb to the top of Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone; hearing Stewart Copeland’s familiar drumming as The Police finally took the stage at Wrigley Field; watching a sea lion in the water off Zuma Beach in Malibu; body surfing with Alexandra in the Pacific; running with Caitlyn during her first race; the beauty of the Cliffs of Moher and the roar of the Atlantic Ocean below; watching Alexandra chase Brody around the backyard; the noise from the MRI; celebrating the first of the "40th" birthdays of friends; hugs from the 4's & 5's on Sundays; expanding my garden in the patio; the porpoises of Huntington Beach; cicadas; lunchtime spent in the Lurie Garden at Millennium Park; getting the news that Chicago has a chance to host the 2016 Olympics; fish & chips at McDonough’s in Galway; the excitement and letdown of the Chicago Bears; catching up with old friends during our mini 20th high school reunion get together; walking through the damp and dark cells in Kilmainhim Goel; being wheeled into a cold room and feeling the burn of the anesthesia in the IV; hearing a voice that’s still whispering; the stillness of the Burren; the ability to fill my lungs with air to breathe and muscles that continue to propel this still 30-something body; and just how good God is.
"Name above all names, Worthy of our praise, My heart will sing How great is our God."

2008. May the new year bring you much love and peace. I pray that your celebration of the Savior’s birth will remind you of all that He has done for you in giving His life as a ransom for all "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." Thank you for being a part of our lives.

"How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God, and all will see how great, how great is our God."
"How Great is our God " by Chris Tomlin

These are Days

PICT0011, originally uploaded by Meridith Louise.

West coast of Ireland, near The Burren.