We sit on the verge of a new year, and I find myself doing the cliche: thinking.

Contemplating, being retrospective, and since I am being redundant, going over life in 2019 from my minuscule point of view.

So much has happened this past year, I can hardly keep track of all of it.

For starters, I gave away my creative kidney. True story. (Ahem. If this conclusion is as true as I feel it is, we can all expect my son, the current owner of said kidney, to start putting out some really great books in the near future!) 

Seriously, what is with this slump in my creative output?

I know, I know all too well. You don’t need to tell me. It’s called Distraction. Distraction is my enemy. The “I just don’t feel like it right now,” bug has to be killed off and I need a shot of self-discipline to get myself back into the writing habit. You see, like most habits, the more I write, the more I feel like writing. The less I write, well… enough said. 

Despite my struggles, I have some great ideas and I am about 30k words each into not one, but TWO sequels to Anna’s SongSome chapters made me cry. That’s pretty embarrassing when you’re reading it out loud to a writing group–as if I didn’t already know the outcome.

I laughed at some scenes, and others got my adrenaline going. Of course, I had to kill someone off. I actually jumped ahead, so anxious was I to be done with the deed. Not telling you who kicked the bucket, but said person was in my first book. What’s a story without drama? Now I have to go back and fill in the events in between.

Back to the kidney bit, because that really was a biggie this year for our family. Our son is doing well! Hooray for modern medicine!

I’m feeling pretty much unchanged. My Lone Ranger is doing her job thoroughly and well. From early on it was easy to forget I ever had surgery. I struggled with episodes of fatigue for a while, but they would go away away with a good nap midday. Back aches have been more of a problem, but, as my husband keeps reminding me, it would probably be cured if I would remember to exercise my core more often.

The best part is watching our son. Seeing him resume a normal life (if you can ignore taking tons of pills and having to be careful about catching flus and such) has been worth the minor back aches and fatigue. If anyone wants to consider kidney donation, I recommend checking out the possibility. There are so many people out there waiting for a much needed donation and so few people are aware that they can give this gift of life—usually with relatively little impact on their own. It’s one of the few organs you can donate while you are alive.

Mid-year, I got to watch as my son and his wife became parents for the first time! We have four grandsons (with a fifth on the way!) who live way too far away. This little granddaughter lives close enough for me to babysit on a regular basis! Oh, the joy!

With his renewed energy, our boy is able to throw himself into being a dad, and is doing a smashing good job.

As many of you know, my father passed away toward the end of last year. That, plus dealing with the kidney issues, has caused me to consider more intensely the value of my family and close friends. 

Ever heard the phrase, “I love you so much it hurts”? I feel that emotion on a regular basis, whether it is in caring for aging parents, or watching the perfection of a growing young mind, or taking the time to appreciate how much my husband sacrifices in his care for me, or trying to keep in touch with the heart of my children near and far. Life is precious, and it takes effort to appreciate all of it the way I ought to. I need to not live in fear of losing them. Realizing they (nor I) won’t be around forever, I need to treasure them all the more.

In celebration of treasuring our time together, we rented a house on a lake, and gathered all of our kids, grandkids and several grandparents. It warms my mommy heart to watch as my grandsons rush up to me with raised arms and ask when we are going to do the next “boat vacation.” The pontoon boat we rented and the jet skiis were the highlights of their year.

When I asked the grandboys where, if they could pick anywhere in the world, they would like to go, the oldest responded with an enthusiastic, “Greece and Rome! I just studied about those places in school.”

The next two were, “The boat house!”

The younger grandkids just smile. Anywhere with mom and dad suits them.

Because we love to travel, and love sharing our passion, we went to Italy this fall with my brother and his wife. Yes, yes, I have yet to finish travel blogging about our adventures. (Remember that bit about donating my creative kidney?)

This year, the holidays have been less populous than our usual get togethers, with kids spending it with their in-laws. I love how our family keeps growing, and with that growth I have to learn to share. Doug and I cheated a bit and crashed the in-law Christmas with our daughter this year. We are really blessed to not only have wonderful son and daughters in-law, but also to get along well with their families. Someday, I would LOVE to have a reunion with all sides present. We may have to rent a summer camp to fit us all, but oh, it would be fun.

Going into 2020, I have several goals—not necessarily in this order: 

  1. Grow creativity in the kidney I have left. (AKA Finish and publish my main work in progress, if not both WIPs.) 
  2. Learn how to market my book (groan!!!!) 
  3. Strengthen that core!
  4. Love on and connect more with my family and friends.
  5. Find any reasonable excuse to explore somewhere new!
  6. Surrender all of the above to the One who has plans of His own for how I should live. May my goals line up to His.

How has this past year turned out for you? What are your goals for this coming year? Is there some need you have that I can pray for? Please let me know. I’m making my list!

Wishing you lots of smiles and blessings in 2020!

Brenda Gates

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