Friday, December 4, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015!!

Holiday greetings to our much-loved friends and family!                                                                                                              
As we rapidly approach another holy season of Christmas, we look back on the past year of fond memories with great joy and a bit of sorrow.  Mix them all together and you have the recipe for life – the abundant life in Christ Jesus.  He is our Strength, our Hope, our Redeemer, and our Friend.  What a privilege to celebrate His birth and purpose!  How grateful we are that He is in control of everything!

This year brought several travel opportunities, one of the perks of retirement.  In mid-May Tony and I joined my sister Lisa and brother-in-law Bob on a lovely trip to Greece.  We toured Athens for 2 days, then spent 3 days each on the islands of Mykonos and Santorini.  Athens was spectacular!  From ancient ruins to modern architecture and everything in between, it is a city alive with history, culture, ethnicity, and pride.  We were somewhat concerned that the precarious Greek economy might topple while we were there, but fortunately we had no problems.  After Athens we spent idyllic days on Mykonos, a land of gorgeous scenery, windmills, and crazy-twisty mountain roads, staying at a pretty, gleaming white hotel overlooking endless blue water.  On our last night there, we were having dinner at a lovely outdoor restaurant when we received a call from Erika, telling us that our precious Great Dane/Anatolian Shepherd, Millie, had blown out both her back knees and was in very bad shape.  We knew one of her knees had been bothering her, and we took every precaution before boarding her.  But this was during weeks of endless rain and very slippery conditions.  Apparently when Millie was let out to do her business, she must have slipped, finishing off the already bad knee and tearing the other one as well.  She could not get up at all.  I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that Erika and Josh heroically did everything humanly possible for Millie.  In the end, since it was virtually impossible for us to be home in less than the week we had remaining, and with our vet’s approval, we made the agonizing decision to have Millie put to sleep.  I wanted more than anything to be there with her as she made her journey, but we could not let her suffer even one day more.  When Erika texted a couple of pictures of her, we could see the very real pain on Millie’s face.  We couldn’t allow her to be in pain another whole week until we could get home to her.  Needless to say, there was a cloud over the remainder of the trip, but we really tried to make the most of a difficult time.  Santorini was quite different from Mykonos—more barren and stark.  But we did have some fun excursions, the best being a blissful all-day sailing trip around the Cyclades.  After our 3 days on Santorini, we flew back to Athens for one more day before returning home.  It was a very long, sad flight back to Dallas. L

In July Tony and I rented a van and drove to Jacksonville with Erika, Josh, Leo, and Etta for a week of beach fun and amazing hospitality at Lisa’s and Bob’s, including one of Chef Greg’s memorable meals.  Then in August, Tony and I drove to see my best friend Jan in Hampstead, NC.  It was a very peaceful week of visiting, reminiscing, remembering her husband Bob, and spending time at the beach.

The family is doing great!  The kids are growing and thriving, and their parents are doing a fabulous job balancing and managing homes, school, jobs, sports, church, and activities.  Jenni and Dave will celebrate 13 years of marriage Dec. 28, which is also Zoey’s 9th birthday. Ruby is 6½, Maggie is almost 5, and Sam just turned 3.  Erika and Josh had their 12th anniversary Sept. 13.  Leo is now 7, and Etta will turn 5 in January.  I can hardly believe that Etta and Maggie will start kindergarten next fall.  Tony and I are so blessed to have our kids and grandkids so near us.  We love participating in their lives and holding Zoey, Leo, Ruby, Etta, Maggie, and Sam close to our hearts. Grandparenthood is the BEST!!!  Bonus: the 6 cousins adore each other and enjoy playing together more than anything.

I turned 65 in April, joining Tony in the interesting and mind-boggling world of Medicare.  We’re gradually trying to understand the idiosyncrasies and challenges of government medical care.  Thankfully, we’re both fairly healthy and don’t have to do too much navigating.

During this holy season of Christmas, Tony and I think of you with fondness, love, and prayers.  We wish you good health, safety, prosperity, happiness, and most importantly, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  A gift of love from God the Father, He came to earth from heaven, lived the perfect life we could not, and paid the price for our transgressions.  He is the only way to abundant life with God eternally.  All we have to do is believe this simple concept, ask His forgiveness, and open our hearts to make room for Him.  This is the best and most important decision anyone can make, and it’s so easy.  The best way to face each new day is to have the security of a future in heaven no matter what kind of hurdles life throws at us.  May this be the year each one of you really, truly knows Jesus.

We hope to hear from everyone and we look forward to hearing about your year.  May God bless each of you abundantly.  Joyous Christmas and Happy New Year!                  Love, Mona

Back row:  Dave, Jenni, Erika, Josh // Middle row:  Maggie, Tony + Sam, Mona + Etta // Front row:  Zoey, Ruby, Leo