December 20, 2014
Today it’s finally beginning to feel like Christmas. Snickerdoodles, sugar cookies, and peanut blossoms are among the dozens of cookies sitting in the kitchen waiting to be divvied up between Warren, Long Island, Texas and New Jersey. Actually, the Texas shipment is already on its way, and we are packing up for an early Christmas dinner with Matt and the Long Island gang tonight. It’s a good day to write to our friends and family to wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Joyous New Year, as well as catch you up on what’s going on with us.
It looks as if 2014 was mostly a year of preparation for the transitions coming up in 2015. Earlier this week, we hosted a holiday luncheon for the staff of both presbyteries. It was a day to mark the ending of Wendy’s work with New Brunswick Presbytery, and to celebrate the work of Monmouth Presbytery as we tread into the undoubtedly difficult, yet hopeful, future of the Church. She announced in September, that she would be ending the Regional Presbyter position and continuing with only the Monmouth half of the job on January 1. The other half will be filled with … well, we’re not quite sure yet … first some writing projects that need to get out of her head and into print, perhaps some consulting, and definitely some pulpit supply. She will also continue with her larger church responsibilities including her work with the board of directors of the Board of Pensions to which she was elected this summer.
General Assembly was in Detroit this year, which enabled us to reconnect with our Michigan friends. Most notably, Wendy was able to officiate at Katie Moser’s wedding on the weekend following GA. Speaking of weddings, we also got to travel to Houston a few weeks ago so Wendy could officiate at one of Kate’s good friends, Rachel Conger. Both were gifts of the heart for Wendy. She has always loved to do weddings, but to bless the marriages of the young women she feels are “like daughters” is sheer joy.
Kate and Ben have been married for more than a year now. We were able to fly down to Texas in May when Kate graduated with her Master’s Degree in Linguistics at UNT. This fall Kate completed seven graduate school applications for Ph.D. programs … so she’s now on pins and needles waiting for acceptance letters this spring, so they can prepare for a major move to the east coast, the west coast, or the mid-west. In preparation, Wendy and Kate took an “ivy league tour” in late September. To spend a week with her only daughter driving through the colors of a New England autumn is as close to paradise as Wendy can imagine (though, maybe not so much for Kate). Two of the four schools didn’t make the cut, but she’s still applied to three universities within a half-day drive of our home in New Jersey … so, while we’re trying not to get our hopes up, we sure are rooting for the east coast schools!
Serendipitously, the Ivy League tour was scheduled for the same week as Bradley’s baptism. The baby was born in June to Mike and Amanda … we are now great aunt and uncle on Wendy’s side of the family. What a cutie! He will definitely bring hope and joy to Christmas this year! Other transitions are with our parents: Dwayne’s mom and dad made a permanent move to Florida this summer; no more snow birds. Wendy’s dad has bought a new house with Penny; they are planning an April wedding in Texas.
While change is the only constant in the tech industry, Dwayne is still working from home on a contract with FEMA. He enjoys work, but gets his joy from the theater and his church work. This year his big role was “Norbert,” a not-too-smart, cheating husband/toll collector in The Great American Trailer Park Musical. No, it was NOT type casting, though he did a great job of playing a real jerk J. Dwayne’s parents were able to come see one of the performances; as residents of a trailer park (albeit not the trashy kind) in Florida, they laughed hysterically through the whole show. This fall Dwayne was in the cast of Secret Garden, which was also the very first show he and Kate did with the Baytown Little Theater. Singing those songs again brought back many memories. We still miss our friends at the BLT.
Dwayne’s church work includes team teaching a Monday study group, occasionally leading worship as a liturgist or with the music team, serving on the presbytery Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM), and this year he began serving as a grader for the ordination exams. The week after Christmas Dwayne will be the lay leader at church and get to introduce Wendy as the “guest” preacher.
All in all it was a good year. We’ve been married for 35 years now and we cannot imagine it being any other way. When we got married we had hoped to take a honeymoon to the Maine coast, and we finally made it this year. We trailered JoJo and the Red Baron (yes, our motorcycles have names) and stayed four nights at a remote bed and breakfast across the bay from Acadia National Park. We were able to ride the park roads, eat at our “local” lobster shack and drink blueberry soda, and enjoy the quaintness of Maine. It was as perfect as we had imagined. But by the end of the week, believe it or not, Wendy was actually tired of lobster!
We are grateful for each one of you who has blessed our lives and we wish you all a very blessed Christmas and all the best for 2015!