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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

Remarkably, we've come to the end of another year.  2013 was a life changing year for me for two major reasons: My mom died and we traveled to India.  My mother's death has given shape to my future now and has created an even closer bond with my father.  I remain grateful for the love of my parents, their abiding support of my life, and the joy we shared along the way.  It is still hard to grasp that my mom is really no longer a presence on earth, but I cherish the memories of my life with her.
India was also life changing for a number of reasons.  To experience a place that is so unlike the US and Sweden, to see the sweet spirit of the people, the sheer joy with which they embrace life in spite of difficulties is hard to take in.  Additionally, this trip brought us much closer to our Indian friends in the church, especially Lalit and Sujata Kumar, who we now refer to as our brother from a different mother and our sister from a different mister!  
Our beloved congregation, Immanuel International remains at the centerpiece of why we have remained in Sweden for these 15 years.  They are such an inspiring group of people and give us energy and joy for continued ministry.
For me, Doug and Tanner remain at the center of my life's joy.  They make me laugh, comfort my sorrow, share my journey and love me unconditionally.  What a gift to have both Doug and dog in my daily life!
What follows is a slide show of our starts with New Year's in Saltsj√∂baden with our dear friends who also traveled to India with us.  The events that follow are these:
Officiating at the marriage of a dear friend from college
Conference in San Diego
Winter hiatus in Palm Springs in our cute little house
Confirmation camp
My mom's memorial
On the water and around town in our beautiful city
Moments with our church family
The wonderful summer boating in Stockholm's archipelago
Midsummer with sweet friends
Gorgeous sunsets taken at all hours of the day and night
Our week in the archipelago thanks to the generosity of the owners, also dear friends
Tanner antics and napping throughout!
4th of July celebration with 2 other Americans and a Malawian
More time on the water
Becoming Swedish citizens
Dad's wonderful July visit including the Cribbage board from our epic game where all 3 of us ended up in the stink hole!  Doug won.
Trip to Latvia by ferry
Picnics and tubing 
Wacky Wednesday featuring Dusty Dan and Sheriff Molly McClean
Visits from friends
Holiday in Sicily
A visit from President Obama
Gorgeous autumn in Stockholm
Birthday celebration 
Kids at church
Sunset on the 30th of December at 3.00 p.m.
(The video is 8 minutes long.  That may seem like a lot but remember, it's 365 days, 52 weeks and 12 months of events!  The photographs maintain a clearer quality in the smaller frame.)

The music is from Rascall Flatts whose concert we enjoyed in Stockholm in July.  The second song is called My Wish.  Here are some of the lyrics:
I hope you never look back but you never forget
All the ones who love you and the place you left
I hope you always forgive and you never regret
And you help somebody every chance you get
Oh, you'd find God's grace in every mistake
And always give more than you take
But more than anything, yeah more than anything
My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold
And while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish, yeah yeah
My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold

I suppose I could say that this encapsulates my wish for you, my wish for us at the end of 2013.  It is quite remarkable to review one's year through the beauty of photographs.  2013 was a very hard year in many ways and yet as it comes to a close I don't feel overwhelmed by sadness and loss.  I feel surrounded by love and a fullness of life.  I feel bolstered in my faith and look forward to 2014 with joy and anticipation.  I know sorrow awaits as well, but I am confident that my friends, my family and my faith will see me through the unexpected events of 2014.  I pray this will be your comfort as well.
Happy New Year.  
Thanks for reading!