Sunday, January 1, 2017

looking back on 2016

Judging by my Facebook newsfeed, 2016 might be the most maligned year since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina blew through.  It was a rough one for many.  But one of my high school classmates had posted a list of 10 things that were positive about 2016.  I made my own list and it's the jumping off point for this post.  So without further ado....2016....

1. For many years, I have wanted to make a silent retreat at a nearby retreat center.  Finally, in February, everything fell into place and I made it!  The weather was lovely and the experience was peaceful.  I didn't go with any nagging problems to be solved or any issues to be addressed.  I just wanted to open myself to the experience. 

2.  One day in April, I was on my way home from work.  It would have been my Granddad's 100th birthday.  I usually pray a Rosary on my way to work, but on this particular day, I was praying it on the way home, and I had offered it for my grandfather.  I was almost home when I pulled up behind this car.  It was a sweet reminder from the Good Lord that He is with us - even in the small things. Eight months have passed. I generally follow the same route home and same approximate time schedule every day, but have not seen this vehicle again.  

3.  In June, I boarded a plane and flew up to Philadelphia to visit my very best friend.  Once at the airport in Philadelphia, I got on a train and made my way northeast.  I had to change trains this time, but all went without a hitch.  It was a wonderful visit.  A great mix of conversation, prayer, quiet, and relaxation.  We watched the movie War Room over a couple of evenings... we tried our hand at painting...and we talked... it was excellent.  

4.  July found my little family in the car driving to Tampa to visit my stepson and his beautiful family.  We enjoyed our time and returned home a week later with 2 of the grandchildren who stayed for a few more weeks.  We don't live a very exciting life, and July in Louisiana is just too hot to do much, but hopefully they had fun.  One absolutely adored our evidenced by the number of pictures on my phone.

5.  The Year of Mercy!  See the previous post for details.  

6.  August was a busy month!  School started for all of us.  My oldest had been laid off from his job at a machine shop in May and decided to enroll at the local community college and major in Civil Surveying.  He liked it, and ended up making the Dean's list.  My youngest continued in Hospitality Management at the university.  He also worked as an Equipment Manager for the football team, which required a lot of hours.  His final grades were not as awesome as he wanted them, but he worked hard.  

7.  I continued my 30th year of teaching!  Where has the time gone??  This year one of my students' families "adopted" our class through a program that our local newspaper sponsors, and we were blessed with things (a gift card and boxed mixes) to make cooking more possible.  Later the same family was instrumental in helping us get a refrigerator through  I am blessed with awesome students, parents, and co-workers.  

8.  August, 2016, will best be known in Louisiana for water.  Lots of it.  Floodwaters.  For days and days and days of rain.  We had our first day of school, and then didn't return to school for over a week.  Livingston Parish was probably hardest hit, but Baton Rouge, Breaux Bridge, Lafayette, and Youngsville, also saw widespread damage.

It started off as just rain on the second day of school.
It was unremarkable, and most of us got up and started the day off like any other.
Many were already at school or on their way before the decision to cancel was made.

We got these warnings for days upon end.  

My Facebook feed was full of posts like this.
It was heartbreaking.  
The river overflowed not too far from my house.

This became a common sight once the floodwaters receded.

My brother who left his house thinking he would lose everything, was spared - by an inch or so.
You can see the water line near the top of the step and on the inside leg of the bench
...little pieces of debris left behind.

As quickly as it came, it left.

My sister was trapped in her house, surrounded by rising water.  She had several feet of water in a workshop and shed, but the house did not take on water.

My parents also had more water than they have seen in the 50 years they have lived in their home. At least one of their vehicles got wet, as did a shed and a utility room outside, but their house did not flood.  

The Cajun Navy were heroes as they rescued thousands of people from their homes when government agencies became too overwhelmed to keep up with the rescues.  And in the aftermath, the "Cajun Army" pitched in to help friends and neighbors with the clean up and demolition process. 
Kids from a nearby high school were part of the Cajun Army,
filling sandbags for neighborhood residents in anticipation of a levee breach.

9. My husband had the first of his two knee replacement surgeries.  He had put it off for years.  As I write this, we are 4 months post-op on his first surgery, and 6 weeks on his second.  He walked around the block yesterday, without a cane or walker.  He might get his life back!  

10.  At some point - probably before Thanksgiving - I hit a 25 pound weight loss milestone.  I haven't stayed there, but hopefully with the new year, I can resume that journey.  I have not been a poster child for strictly following the program - the weight loss would have happened much quicker if I had - but Weight Watchers has been helpful.

11.  Also in November, we elected a new president.  Whether you are happy or sad about the outcome, we are blessed to live in a country where we change leaders on a regular basis without bloodshed.  And thank goodness that election is over! 
Pretty sure our Blue Dog stickers were the coolest in the country!

12.  November and December passed in a flash.  Another knee replacement before Thanksgiving.  Work.  School.  Christmas.  Relaxation.  It is a good time to take stock of the blessings that we received during 2016 - both those that we welcomed and those that didn't seem like a blessing, but God uses to draw us closer to himself.  Happy New Year!  May 2017 bring you ever more deeply into the loving embrace of our Father.