Dear family and friends,
We finally got back to traveling this year: Chicago to visit Diana’s siblings and their families; Atlanta with Marty’s niece and family, joined also by Marty’s sister; Enid to visit Marty’s sister and our friends there; Marty to Kiawah Island, South Carolina with four friends since childhood, who get together with in various places every 2-3 years; our time-share in Williamsburg, Va.; and monthly visits with Abel. We’re looking forward to a week this January in Austin, TX, joined by our friends Vern and Ilyse, with whom we’ve taken vacations over the years to New Orleans, Orlando, and elsewhere.
[Diana] In August while visiting my siblings, we all traveled from Chicago to Menominee, Michigan to have a burial service for my mother. She passed away at 91 in 2000. Since it was during the pandemic she was cremated, and the funeral service was via Zoom. My Dad grew up in Menominee, my parents lived there in their later years, and my Dad is buried there. It was good to be together in-person at the cemetery to again remember Mom’s life and say good-bye.
We were incredibly saddened by the unexpected passing of two close friends this year: John Chambers in February and Doug Grace in November. John was Marty’s age and Doug was only 52. Both were Jesus-followers who left behind wonderful legacies of fruitful service to God and neighbor.
It was great to be with our friends and former housemates Esam (originally from Egypt and now a U.S. citizen) and Oguz (from Turkey), and Oguz’s wife Bushra, for Thanksgiving (along with 15 of Sarah’s friends). Bushra said she felt like she was in an American movie!
We have a full house. Justin gave up the apartment he and Josh shared and has been living with us for some time. As are Sarah, Andy, Andy’s 5-year-old daughter Jolie, and Sarah’s dog Chester. Also, Aaron, who is Abel’s biological father. Abel, our former foster son and virtual grandson moved in August to live with his adoptive parents about two hours away. We miss him a lot, visit him regularly, and are very happy with his new parents who are showering him with much love.
[Diana] I continue to work full time as a public health nurse, although by teleworking from home. I have started back doing in-person Home Visits – rather than phone calls — with my clients. I’m enjoying feeling more a part of what’s going on in their lives, and therefore more able to evaluate their needs. Our whole office is moving in February. We will be co-locating with multiple other city agencies. I’m thinking about retiring this year, but we’ll see. I continue to walk an hour early every morning — my effort to fight aging/arthritis! I spend the time focusing on the Lord and praying for those brought to mind.
[Marty] I’m thrilled everyday about being retired. Another retired person recently said to me, “people who loved their work usually love their retirement too.” Not sure that’s true of everyone, but it’s true for me. Several people have asked me about my daily routine. Reading; prayer times; visiting with friends (mostly on the phone or Zoom, since most live elsewhere); church activities; some writing; 30 minutes on my exercycle; watching movies or TV series with Diana most evenings. What’s not to love!
Our church, New Hope Fellowship, has started meeting in person again, though we still broadcast the service on Facebook, and some still participate that way, including some folks living in other countries. Because of that, we’ll probably continue to offer the FB option even while meeting in person.
[Marty] Best movie seen this year: easily Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. Imaginative, inspiring and lots of fun. Two recommended new novels: My friend Court Atchinson’s The Mapmaker, set in the 5th century BC, is a picaresque romp through an absurd and brutal world. At once hilarious and thought-provoking. And Cormac McCarthy’s The Passenger. Complex and not to everyone’s taste, The Passenger continues McCarthy’s exceedingly bleak view of life and the world, yet with an obscure hopefulness.
[Marty] This year I learned a new form of Christian meditation. I play a piece of music – for me usually instrumental jazz or classical, but it could be any kind — and listen for what God might say to me through it. I usually listen to the piece 3 times. Recently when I did this, I felt I heard a message that I’d like to share. It was a word that Jesus said to his disciples. “In the world you have troubles. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” We all have challenges and struggles, but God encourages us to lift up our hearts and be joyful. Because Jesus has overcome the world.
May your hope be more bright than obscure this Christmas season and in the New Year ahead!
Marty & Diana and family