Friday, January 13, 2023

Big News: Our First Great-Grandbaby

Our blog has been pretty quiet, but we are entering in again with the most exciting news! Our oldest granddaughter, Abigail, and her husband Addison, just welcomed their precious baby daughter, Lily Noel, into the world and into their arms, about a week ago!

You can imagine their great, overflowing joy and excitement! And also, imagine how very thankful and excited we are to enter into a new season as great-grandparents ("grams" and "gramps")!!

Lily Noel was born on January 5, at 9:36 am (9 lbs. 3 oz.), in Tokyo, Japan! Addison and Abigail started their new life as long-term missionaries in Japan with World Venture the beginning of March 2020. They made it into Japan just two short weeks before the pandemic struck and closed the doors into Japan for a long while. And now, after their two years of intense study of the language and half a year of full-time ministry, they have welcomed their precious baby girl into their lives.

Our hearts were very involved here on the other side of the globe, as they awaited her birth, and also as Abigail (with Addison's love and encouragement) labored through 10 long hours to give birth. How thankful we are to God for Lily Noel's safe arrival, and for good health for both mother and baby! Also, they are so thankful that they could find a hospital about half an hour from their home, which allowed for the father to be present during a good portion of the labor, and also for the delivery. 

We received the news of her birth the evening of Jan. 4, just two hours after she was born. Though her official date of birth is Jan. 5 (Japan time!), we had the great joy of hearing of her birth on Jan. 4th (our time)! And photos followed not long afterwards. Every photo, and also a FaceTime call, give us so much joy!

We are thanking God for many blessings surrounding baby Lily's birth, all evidences of His loving care. Our daughter, Cristy ("Granny"), on the left in photo above, was able to fly over to Japan to be with her daughter and brand new grandbaby for the first half of January. Cristy arrived just in time, on Jan. 3rd, for Lily's late arrival (11 days after her due date). And though the Japanese hospitals have a policy of requiring mother and baby to stay in the hospital for 5 days after birth, Abigail and baby were released on Jan. 7, just two days after the birth!! Cristy's loving presence there in Japan and her great care, together with Addison's support and encouragement, helped make that possible! 

Who would ever have imagined that our oldest granddaughter (and her husband) would be living long-term in Japan someday? And that our first great-grandbaby would be born in Japan? As many of you know, I (Cherry) spent my childhood years in Japan ... from the age of 1 1/2 to the time I graduated from high school. Lily's Noel's birth there, in the land where I grew up, fills me with much joy. 

My joy was also overflowing as I crocheted a baby blanket for our great-grandbaby in the month and a half before her birth. In the photo above, you can see the beautiful cuddly striped blanket that Abigail made for her precious daughter, and also the blush pink & white blanket that I made for our first precious great-grandbaby. So many memories to treasure ...

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Memories: First Half of 2022

Our retirement from Cru began exactly two years ago, in July of 2020! And though we love to communicate with our friends and family here, it has been pretty quiet on our blog! We are definitely loving retirement, and also are finding that even retirement life can be quite full! For us, it is wonderful with many restful, peaceful moments, and time for many (unending?) projects.  Also with many sweet connections with family and friends, and then, of course, with the realities of the daily responsibilities of life!

We'd love to share with you some of our memories and highlights from the first half of 2022. Here are a sampling of our digital scrapbook pages from the past six months, giving a glimpse into the joys and trials of our wonderful retirement life together. The year started out with 43 days in a row (weekdays) of treatment for Gary's prostate cancer. You can read more in the journaling above on the scrapbook page. We are so grateful for excellent results from the 9 weeks of treatment!

The page of photos above shows one of several trips we've made to McCook so far this calendar year ... visiting Carrie & Tyler & family. We're so thankful they live just a 4 1/2 hour drive away, and always love our visit with them. It is hard to believe that our youngest grandchild, Eva, is now 10 years old, and older brother Cruz is 13 already!!

It was such a joy to have Amy & Joe, and also Sara & Sean, and their families, here for Easter! Both families live nearby, which makes it possible to see them often! Levi is in college now, and Ali finished up her freshman year of high school (Amy & Joe's two children). And Sara & Sean's two sons, Jake & Cole both finished up 7th grade. Our grandkids are all growing up too fast!

Family nearby means that we get in a fair number of sports events ... soccer games, and baseball games throughout the spring/summer. Also, we are so very blessed by the close friendships within our CityGroup, a small group within Citylight Midtown. it is a special gift from God to do life with these friends, in the same empty nest season of life we are in, and also retirement season for some of us.

Oh, how we love springtime! We both enjoyed the planting of our veggie garden, herb garden, and various flower spots in our yard, and also on our patio. We're so very thankful for the two lots that our home is on ... a source of much joy for us.

In June we had a special treat ... our daughter Amy (& Joe) asked us to "cat sit" for them when they went on a vacation trip to Colorado. Of course, we were delighted, and therefore had our own week-long "vacation" at their beautiful home right on Beaver Lake, just a 45-minute drive from us. It also happened to be during the week of Father's Day, and Gary's 78th birthday!

Many, many more highlights occurred during the first half of 2022 ... too many to be shared. Of course, we are missing being with the other half of our family (in Texas, and in New York), and have loved every bit of communication we've had with them from a distance. 

Thanks for your friendship and prayers! And above all, we are so thankful to God for the gift of each day, and for His Love and Presence through all of life.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Twenty Years Ago ... Remembering a Very Significant Day

Yesterday, 2/22/22, was a day for us as family to remember the same day of February twenty years ago, 2/22/02. And those of you reading this who were well acquainted with our family twenty years ago, also may remember the significance of this day.

Family gathered for the emotional moments when Gary was allowed to come off of sedation
 three days later, following the accident and surgery on Feb. 22, 2002.

Yesterday marked "20 years" from the date when Gary was involved in a horrific accident, when he was backed over by a trash truck right by our home. He was taken by lifeflight helicopter to UNMC in Omaha. After receiving 14 units of blood that day, and going through a  5 1/2 hour surgery by an expert surgeon, he (together with our whole family) began the long road to recovery. His story of recovery is covered with big and small miracles. Yesterday, we as family (long distance, over multiple states), had a very special time sharing our memories together, and giving our thanks to God for preserving our beloved husband/father's life that day. 

Another precious photo during the weeks of recovery,
with our third grandchild, Luke, just 2 months old.

It was a miracle, by God's grace. The road was difficult, with questions if he could even be stabilized for surgery, and then during surgery, if his right foot could even be saved. The expert surgeon made the decision to try to save his foot, and continued to caution us in the following days that he may still need to amputate. By God's grace and mercy, things turned around! And the injuries in his right leg improved, as well. 

There was a two-week stay at UNMC where Gary graduated from the ICU to a regular room, and then he was moved to Immanuel Hospital for two weeks of rehab. Back home, there were trips back in for more rehab, and continual changes of dressing at home for the wounds on his right foot, and left leg. He progressed from wheelchair, to walker, to crutches, and to using a cane over the following months.

Our family was amazing throughout the days and months of recovery -
here with our youngest son, Lance, at DeSoto Bend.

His progress was quite amazing, as initially, the doctor had told us that if all went well, Gary would likely be able to stand on his own in a year after the surgery. But just seven months after the accident, we were able to leave on a two-week roadtrip with our two sons, the two of our six children who were still living at home at that time. We had a walker and crutches along, and by the end of that memorable trip to California, he was using a cane! How we thank God for this amazing recovery!

It is sobering to think how close we came to losing our precious husband, father, and grampa that day in February 2002.  And how close so many, many friends came to losing someone who had great impact on their lives in many ways. We are filled with thanks for the miracle of these past twenty years. 

And also, we will never ever forget the prayers, the visits, the cards, the care in so many ways that were extended to our family during those days, weeks, and months of recovery twenty years ago. You all were so amazing, such precious tangible touches of God's love and care for us in our time of great need. Thank you again. We will never forget, and never stop thanking our loving, faithful God! 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Happy New Year 2022!

We are now at the one and a half year mark since our retirement from Cru in the summer of 2020! Retirement life has been wonderful, and we are thanking God for His care and help as we have made this big change in our lives. We'd love to share a few of the highlights from 2021 with you ...

Our 50th Anniversary Celebration

Twenty-one members of our family gathered at a rental home in Missouri the end of July to celebrate together! Our six kids and their families gave us the most memorable 50th Anniversary celebration! And what fun it was to spend several days together in a big spacious home with its own little private lake.

Our 50th Anniversary Trip

Shortly after returning home from the most wonderful time together with our family in Missouri, we left on a ten-day trip, just the two of us. This trip was extra special, as we used the money gifts that our family had given us over the past two years (for significant birthdays 75 & 70 for us, and also for our retirement) to fund the trip! We especially love to be by water, so drove down to the southern part of TX, and stayed on Galveston island.

On our actual 50th Anniversary Day (August 14), we were at the Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX. We are thanking God for the joy and blessing of sharing life together for 50 years now! 

After being together with our wonderful family during the summer, we did not even entertain the idea that we could be together again for Christmas. But before we even left the rental home in Missouri, our two sons (the ones who live the farthest away from us), told us that they wanted to come home for Christmas, too! 

Family Christmas 2021

It was a blessing beyond measure, the icing on the cake, to be together with our family twice in one year. Especially after the very unusual season due to pandemic when we had our longest stretch ever when we were unable to all be together.

We were 25 precious family members around our dining room tables, with everyone home except very two loved family members who are in Japan (our oldest granddaughter and her husband). With each year that passes, we are even more in awe of the priceless gift of family. 

Mixed in with the joys of being with family in 2021, we also hold so very many memories of times with our friends, special gifts from God in this season of life that we are in. We are grateful for many memories made, especially with our CityGroup (small group), a special trip we took in the fall with close friends, and so many connections we made with others throughout the year.

And overarching all of the gifts of 2021, we treasure most of all the Greatest Gift of all ... Immanuel: God with us. Through all the joys and trials of life, we sense in even deeper ways than before, the nearness and presence of our Lord and Savior. 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Our Fall Colors Trip to New England

 An unexpected joy for us in this season of life has been to take several trips together with dear friends of ours. And this month we were so very blessed to travel on our third trip together, this time to see the gorgeous fall colors in the New England states!

We drove about 4,000 miles altogether on our 11-day trip! Our main destination was the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Vibrant, gorgeous fall beauty captured us at every turn ... we could hardly take it all in! These first two photos were taken during our 3-day stay in New Hampshire.

Since we weren't that far from the coast, we decided mid-trip to drive all the way to Bar Harbor, Maine! This was such a treat for us ... to be right along the Atlantic, re-visiting this beautiful spot that we had been to as a couple, back in 2012. A short overnight stay, and then the next day we began the journey back west, traveling the back roads of Maine for the first stretch. We were fascinated by the glimpse into that part of Maine ... winding roads, isolated homes scattered here and there, white churches nestled in the hills and trees, even more beautiful in the fall.

We continued our journey back home through New Hampshire, Vermont, and then enjoyed a meal right along Lake Champlain. The next day we drove through the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York (photo above), stopping at Lake Placid where we saw the famous spot of the Winter Olympics of 1980. 

Our last night on the road was at a peaceful, beautiful retreat spot (a surprise, as it just randomly came up as we searched lodging under Travelocity)! The next morning we drove to nearby Lake Michigan (photo above), before driving the final stretch home.

We are thanking God for this "retirement trip" with like-minded, kindred heart friends, enjoying the incredible beauty of autumn in the New England states! (Thank you, Jack & Linda, for the joy of traveling together!)

Monday, September 20, 2021

Celebrating Our 50th Anniversary!

August 14 was a very significant day for us in 2021 ... our 50th Wedding Anniversary!! As the time of our 50th approached, we could have suggested a public celebration, an open house, or something similar. And though we would have loved to see many of our friends, we knew that the best celebration of all would be if we could be all together with our family, especially with our six children. It had been an extra lengthy time since we had all been together, which made us long for this even more. And God granted us our wishes ... we had a very memorable time together with 21 (out of 26 total) of our family the end of July!

We have loved receiving anniversary wishes from you, our friends and relatives, as well, and here in this post, we want to share some of the photos that capture our time together with family! Thank you for your love, prayers, and congratulations to us at this mark of 50 years!

We'll share a few of the many digital scrapbook pages that I (Cherry) have created, preserving memories of our time together in a beautiful rental home in Missouri. It was in a beautiful, wooded area, with its own private dock, paddleboat, kayaks, etc., and the large home slept all of us!

Here are a few of the pages capturing the great fun we all had ...

Our dear family designated one evening for our 50th Anniversary Celebration, and made it so very special ... complete with an amazing grilled steak meal, a bouquet of flowers, a beautiful and delicious cake, cards, gifts, and a sharing of memories! It was just the sweetest time with our precious family!

We also were blessed to have some family photos taken in the very beautiful setting!

We are thanking God for the gift of 50 years together, and for the gift of time with our dear family. We are cherishing the memories of our 50 years, which we also captured in a 30-minute slideshow that we prepared and viewed together as family. Such a fun time that was ... filled with laughter and so many memories! So many, many things to thank God for! And most of all we thank Him for His love, grace, and mercy through all the joys and also the trials of life over the past 50 years. 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

March Memories

We must be really enjoying our retirement ... so much that we haven't even been able to keep up with posting here on our blog! Actually, life continues to be full even during retirement, as we are blessed with a big family, and also many friends. These past few months have also been filled with helping with arrangements and much prep for Gary's brother, Neum, to move to Assisted Living. We're thankful we have been able to help out, and now that the big move has happened, we're back here with another post. 

We do desire to keep in touch with our friends! Here are four digital scrapbook pages filled with memories from March ... from early spring memories, to a granddaughter's birthday, to a dream come true of putting up a border fence on the west side of our big yard, and more.

We also had our first dose of Covid vaccine the end of March, mostly done in anticipation of being with all of our family this summer. We are so excited to finally all be together again, and this time, for a big occasion ... to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary! We've reserved a big VRBO rental home, with room for all of us! It will have been over two years since we have been all together, extra long because of the pandemic.