20 December 2019

My 2019 in Twenty Bullet Points

Given the eventful year that our family has had over these past twelve months, it was clear that our annual Christmas-Epiphany letter would either amount to a short novel or else need to be encapsulated in a series of brief bullet points. The lovely LaRena suggested that we have copies made of the family picture we were able to get on the occasion of Frederick's Confirmation in October and summarize the high points of the year in whatever space would be available on the back of the picture. Between the two of us, we managed to do just that.  (No novels this year!)

As usual, for LaRena and me, breaking down the year into a few highlights basically results in a list of our ongoing vocational duties and responsibilities; which hardly does justice to all the varied nuances constituting our daily adventures throughout the year. In LaRena's case, for example, a few seemingly mundane phrases actually encompass more steady hard work, sacrificial loving service, and significantly valuable contributions than any number of words could adequately describe. Such is the life and labor of a wife and mother (who in this case also happens to be a ballet seamstress and costume assistant).

For myself, it occurred to me that, other than my Dad's funeral, my short list of "bullet points" did not really include any of the most memorable highlights of this past year. Well, that's not quite true, but it is the case that a number of my favorite memories from 2019 simply did not fit. And that's okay! But there are those other significant things that I would like to savor and remember from this past year. And as I was thinking out loud about it with LaRena, she suggested that I could put together a list of those things and share it with family and friends online.

So, anyway, without attempting to rank these activities, events, and occasions in order of importance (which would hardly be appropriate or possible in most cases), here are my own Top Twenty "Bullet Points" from the Year of Our Lord 2019.

  • Visiting my Dad in the final months and weeks of his life on earth, and then laying his body to rest in the sure and certain hope and promise of the Resurrection, with my Mom and siblings and almost the whole extended family gathered for his funeral
  • My regular outings, play dates, and walks with our seventh baby grand, Guinevere
  • Welcoming our eighth, ninth, and tenth baby grands, Benedict Paul Ingram Harrison, Philippa Eilonwy Nichole Stuckwisch, and Augustin Steven Wirgau
  • Looking forward to the birth of our eleventh and twelfth baby grands in 2020
  • Sam & DoRena and family returning to Indiana, and visiting them in Ossian
  • Preaching for Sam's installation as pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Ossian
  • Officiating the installation of several other new pastors within our Indiana District
  • Serving as 1st Vice President (NW regional VP) of our District under Pres. Brege
  • Bringing LaRena with me to the spring pastors' conference at this new stage in our family life, in which we have more adult and teenage children than adolescents at home, and no more infants or toddlers of our own
  • Speaking on the Liturgy at multiple other conferences throughout the year
  • Serving as the D.Min. thesis adviser for Rev. Dr. Phil Huebner at CTS, Fort Wayne
  • Finally finishing my essay on the lectionary and Church Year (after over a decade!)
  • Taking my first actual vacation in several years, visiting Zach & Bekah and family in Texas (and not taking any work with me on vacation for the first time in decades)
  • Daughter Monica's engagement to be married to a fine young man, Mr. David Sams
  • Having all of our children and and all of our grandchildren gathered together with us on the occasion of Frederick's Confirmation at Emmaus
  • Watching Frederick and Katharina dance throughout the year and fostering new friendships with other ballet parents at Southold Dance Theater
  • Reading the entire Realm of the Elderlings series by Robin Hobb (all sixteen books)
  • Reading all of the books by one of my long-time favorite authors, Lloyd Alexander, including quite a few books that I had not previously known about
  • Seeing Joe Bonamassa in concert at the Morris in South Bend with LaRena and our good friends, Erich & Christina Fickel
  • Celebrating the national Thanksgiving holiday with my Mom and most of our children and grandchildren at Matt & Oly and Benedict's house in Michigan
And one more "bullet point" I could hardly forget or fail to mention: Baptizing not only two of my own baby grands, Benedict and Philippa, but also four other new babies at Emmaus (Fredrick Bliese, Violet Rodriguez, Ruth Osbun, and Juniper Seyboldt)! Christ be praised!

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