I’ve let this blog lie dormant for far too long. Every year, I think, “this will be the year I get back in the habit of blogging.” 2023 may be the year I make good on that promise. Or it may be the year I decide it’s not worth it to keep paying for this platform. Whatever the case may be, I’m getting started with an old favorite (of mine, because I love lists), the 2022 Top Ten.
You may think, “but 2022 is not over yet. How do you know something else couldn’t usurp one of the things on the list below?” And you would be correct. But, we made the difficult decision not to send Christmas cards this year (I might be posting a Bottom Ten of 2022 as well, and you’ll find out in that list that my dog, Sookie had a very expensive surgery to remove both her eyes, causing us to cut back on expenses like yearly cards), so this blog will serve to provide all those pictures everyone expects at this time of year!
So, without further ado – my top ten (in mostly the correct order):
10. Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly
In June, Scott and I were able to attend the first in-person CBF General Assembly since COVID by ourselves. You read that right – our first trip together without a child in nearly 3 years. Most of our CBF friends were disappointed not to see Franklin, but we enjoyed time to catch-up without worrying about bedtime and other toddler chaos. I also felt compelled to include General Assembly on this list, because the atmosphere was so life-giving. Even though it was in Dallas, there were quite a few people from our region (MidAtlantic) who made the trek, and there just seemed to be a general sense of excitement for CBF’s future. We always joke that General Assembly feels like a family reunion, but this year felt more than that. It felt like a reunion with an ever-widening table, and I am so grateful to be part of such a vibrant Fellowship.
(Here we are with CBF Fairy Godmother, Helen Moore-Montgomery.)
9. Celebrating Anniversaries: 5 Year Wedding and 10 Year Ordination
I’m cheating a bit with this one, but since these anniversaries took place within a week of each other, I think it counts. On October 7, Scott and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary, and on October 13, I celebrated my 10 year ordination anniversary. In many ways, it feels like an entire lifetime has passed since both of these occasions, but I enjoy looking back on them and seeing the ways God has remained faithful through the years. I am amazed that 10 years past my ordination anniversary, I am serving a church that I love so much, and that 5 years since our wedding (with a pandemic in the middle), I love Scott and our life together more than I did on that perfect day 5 years ago. Scott and I marked our anniversary by staying a couple nights at a house across the Bay (thanks, Leslie and Pete), just enjoying the scenery and reading books. We are living the dream.
8. Joining the Pool
In July, Franklin went to a birthday party at one of the local pools. Before that, he had only ever been to the pool with Mimi, so we hadn’t seen what a blast he had playing in the water. I didn’t grow up with a pool membership, as the pools in Louisville allowed you to pay when you came (and until the tides shifted, we were able to go the Seminary pool for free), so I wasn’t convinced that it was worth the money for the bond and the yearly fee, but talking with some of the other moms there, we decided to take the plunge (sorrynotsorry for all the puns). We were able to get a prorated rate because it was so late in the season, but I was still determined we would make the expense “worth it,” so we spent almost every free and clear August afternoon at the pool. Franklin loved splashing around the baby pool and jumping into the “big pool.” We also really enjoyed getting to become good friends with some of the other parents from Franklin’s school who go to the same pool. I am looking forward to Fridays next summer, when I can send him to school and lay by the pool with a book in my hand.
7. Train Rides – ALL the Train Rides
Franklin has become obsessed with trains over the last year or so. He loves watching Thomas and then going back to his room and acting out the episode with his Thomas train set. Franklin has also become very good friends with a little girl from school whose dad works for the train station. A couple times, when he and his friends were out of school for various reasons, her dad and Scott would take them on train rides to pass the day. This has become a regular excursion for us to the point that Franklin made a video the other day for me to send to “Mr. Dave” to ask if we could go on a train ride, please! These trips to Union Station and back have become some of the best parts of each month.
6. Preaching with Sara
When my seminary bestie and writing partner told me that she and her husband would be coming to DC to celebrate his and his twin’s birthday, I had a crazy idea: “Would you be interested in preaching together?” Sara and I took our first preaching class together and I love to hear her preach. I also know that my church is very open to trying new things, so once she said yes, we got to planning. I had the most fun preparing the sermon through our google doc and zoom writing sessions. Studying and writing the next week was just not the same. I can’t wait to do it again someday!
And since I know y’all are going to ask, you can watch the service here:
5. Scott’s 50th Birthday
In November, Scott turned 50! At some point this spring, I came up with the idea to have his siblings and parents come to visit (and to keep it a surprise). Between all the group chats, emails, and summer vacation, I am dumbfounded that the whole thing came together without his knowledge. And it was so much more than I imagined. Though all his siblings weren’t able to come, 8 of his family members were there (would have been 9 if the airlines hadn’t messed up flight arrangements) for a weekend of fun. We made plans with some friends to go out to dinner on Friday night, and when we arrived at the restaurant, Scott was greeted by a table full of family. Then, on Saturday, we had a trivia party with them and so many friends we’ve made over the last (almost) 3 years. On Sunday, Scott played hookie from church to go visit DC with his siblings and nephew. I can’t even begin to say what it meant to me to be able to pull this off, and to hear Scott say how meaningful the weekend was. When someone that amazing graces the world for 50 years, you make a big deal about it, right!?
(I wish I had a better picture from the weekend, but all the group photos are on someone else’s phone!)
4. Vacation to Wyoming and Colorado
Again, I’m kind of cheating by including these two together, but I didn’t want to have to toss anything else out. In July, Scott and I were able to get away once again for a trip to the Wild Wild West (ok – Wyoming is really not so wild). We stayed for 5 days in Colter Bay, which is one of the many campgrounds along the Grand Tetons. I could not believe how beautiful the mountains were, and had such a wonderful time walking, riding, canoeing around to look at all the views. We also spent about a day exploring Yellowstone, including watching Old Faithful erupt. I was not excited about all the steep drop offs, but we got to see bison, bear, and some gorgeous overlooks.
After Scott’s family vacation ended, we spent a couple nights in Denver with my cousin, Amanda. She took us on lots of adventures, including bookstores, hiking, and on a train ride up to the top of Pike’s Peak. We even sweat our way through the Garden of the Gods, getting some awesome pictures. I wish I could post all of our pictures on here, but they just don’t do justice to how magnificent Colorado is (although I would prefer to never drive the mountains again).
One thing we learned through these trips without the toddler was that we should always schedule the first flight of the day whenever we plan to come home. On both our trips this summer, we ended up rescheduling our flights so we could get home to Franklin sooner. Spending time as individuals and as a couple was restorative and refreshing, but when you have the most adorable toddler waiting at home, you really do want to rush back.
3. Doctor of Ministry Proposal Submitted
In January 2021, I started my Doctor of Ministry program at Louisville Seminary. Due to the pandemic, our first three seminars were held entirely online, so we didn’t get to be together as a cohort until this past June (and one of our members had to join virtually, because she is in another country). In addition to the seminars, we had to complete 3 advanced practice or independent study courses. After Seminar 4, I still had a few assignments outstanding for the independent studies. Even though I had a nearly completed proposal in August, all the chaos of life in general kept me from being able to finish all my work and finalize the proposal, but in early December, I plowed through and finally got everything submitted. I am still waiting for approval from the Institutional Review Board to being research, but if all goes well, I should be adding a new degree to next year’s Top Ten list. This program has been much more difficult than I imagined, but so worthwhile. I am grateful for my cohort, my professors, my family, and my church for walking this journey beside me. I know the research will be rewarding for us all!
2. Franklin Got His COVID Vaccine
When I was looking back through different memories of the year to come up with this top ten list, I found so many screenshots of articles from the New York Times as early as January saying that Pfizer was ready with a vaccine for children under 5. Then, articles that said that children under 5 would have to wait until Moderna was ready. Then, even more articles saying that the FDA would go ahead and approve Pfizer. Then, then, then… The whiplash was really maddening. We kept hearing people tell us to treat COVID the same way we would treat flu season, but we didn’t take Franklin out in large gatherings before he had his flu vaccine, so we felt like we had to be extra careful with COVID for him as well. In May and June, his school classroom got shut down twice due to outbreaks, and that was difficult for us to manage. We were ecstatic when the COVID vaccines for his age group FINALLY came out, and I signed him up right away, taking him (ironically) on a day when his class was shut down (he had not been exposed to the person, because we were in Louisville when the exposure occurred, and we tested him beforehand). In early September, he received his last vaccination on the same day that Scott and I were able to get our bivalent boosters. We are abundantly grateful for the work of doctors and scientists who made this possible. Like every other 3-year-old in the country, Franklin has gotten colds this fall, but we have also been able to connect more with other people without worrying so much about his exposure or theirs, which has been such a blessing. We know not everyone made the same decisions as us, but the vaccine was a game changer for our family and I can hardly express how much it has meant.
1.Just Franklin in General
Ok. This is really cheating, but I didn’t know how to end a top ten list without just gushing about how astounding Franklin has been this year. He turned 3 this year and has genuinely blossomed in ways we couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of the year. He talks non-stop and has very distinct opinions about things. He loves going to church and playing with friends. He is learning his letters at school and can identify all of his friend’s names. Sometimes, he will just start dancing and laughing at himself. He often asks for group hugs, and his friends don’t like for him to leave the classroom without a hug. Cupcakes are his favorite dessert, and this year, we had to add a third bookshelf to his room because of all the books he loves to read. In addition to train rides, he most often asks to go to the library, so we are glad to know he has adopted some traits from us. We are exhausted nearly all the time, because the kid has so much energy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel like many people could learn a lot from the way he and his friends have responded and adapted to all the twists and turns over the last few years. Not only his my top item from 2022, I am most looking forward to watching how he grows in 2023.