Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe that we are almost a full month into the new year. If you are anything like me you approach January with anticipation and hope of all that is in store. There is nothing better than the pages of an empty calendar waiting to be filled with new dreams, get-togethers with friends, vacations and weekend getaways. It’s also the perfect time to reflect on the year passing…to celebrate the wins and to grow from the challenges. There will always be a bit of both, that’s just life, but I believe that as long as we remember that God is in control of our path we can have a lot more peace each day.
Overall, the last year was a pretty good one for me. Professionally, I worked tirelessly on a huge research project and learned so much along the way. In November, I started my journey to become a health coach (super pumped about that and the path it will take me on). Personally, I’ve had some fun adventures to different parts of the country. The highlight was seeing God’s glory come alive during a hike in Joshua Tree National Park this last October with my mom. Amazing! My greatest personal accomplishment in 2016 would have to be tackling the ultra-marathon–I completed my first one in Prince William Forest Park (Virginia). So that was fun! And I logged many more miles this fall and winter, including my first Thanksgiving Turkey Trot in Delaware with my awesome dad and other fun runs with friends (a 10-mile trail run at Fountainhead Regional Park, a half-marathon in Baltimore, and a New Year’s Eve Run in Fairfax, VA). Perhaps all that running was to my detriment as I am managing a back issue at the moment and banned from running (but we won’t dwell on the negative). I’m grateful for the new friends I have made this year and for the quality time with old friends and family—beach trips to the Jersey shore, Virginia winery outings, two weddings, and other various travel excursions to Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, and California to name a few. Sweet laughter with nieces and nephews and growing deeper with my group of Bible study ladies are moments I’m grateful for. I am blessed by every person I had the opportunity to spend time with this year—you have each taught me something to carry forth into the New Year. And if we didn’t get to see each other in 2016, let’s change that for this year!
And yet, as good as most of the year was, on December 16 my dear, sweet grandmother passed from this earthly world to the heavenly one. Sara “Sally” Frances Dunn Funk was my maternal grandmother—90 years young. I was beyond blessed to have known her these last 35 years. As her namesake, I have big shoes to fill! While I’ll never be a renowned artist like her (even though I may have wanted to as a kid, especially when I painted over an art piece she was working on), I like to think that I inherited her caring and loyal disposition. She was a single mother who raised my mom and two uncles during a time when I know that couldn’t have been easy. My grandfather, the love of her life and college sweetheart, came back in to her life when they were in their 40’s, married her and moved the entire family from Oklahoma to New Jersey. He loved her so much!
It was a love story like no other and she would recount their story to me many times (along with my grandfather adding his pieces to when they first met in the library of Duke’s East Campus….his roommate by his side with a baseball bat to keep the ladies at bay). He always was the practical jokester, but maybe it was true! He was a handsome devil after all.
Needless to say, my grandmother, or “Mom Mom” as I called her, and I had a very special bond. There are too many words to describe her. She was smart, brave, kind, strong, loving, funny, and beautiful. I think my stepdad said it best: “I will miss her gentle presence in our family’s life.” I’ve been wearing the beautiful cross necklace that she gave me over Thanksgiving when I visited with her for a few days in the hospital. It is a wonderful reminder of the love that she had for all she knew….a perfect example of Christ’s love for us. My grandfather passed during the wee early hours of Easter Sunday 2015 and I know she missed him terribly this last year and a half. While I mourn the loss of them both, I know that neither of them is in pain anymore. They lived amazing full and beautiful lives. My guardian angel, Mom Mom will always be in my heart and I know that I will see her again someday, for God has paved a way for us through Christ to all be together in eternity. I thank her for having such an indelible imprint on my life.
As 2016 has come to a close, it’s time to keep the special memories close in our hearts and make new ones with the people who mean the most to us. To wake up every day with a heart of gratitude and to love and lift one another as Christ would have us do. I plan to live more in the moment this year, to do my best not to stress about what is not in my control and to give God the glory. May you all be blessed in this year ahead.
“Life passes us by quicker than we ever imagine. To miss even a single moment of it is something we will later regret. Be present in the world.” -Headspace