‘Ready for the unexpected’ – how is that possible, you oxymoron? However, the poetry of this song resonates so deeply with us, it has become our anthem of the year; of 2017. It has been a year best summarised by the unexpected. In the beginning, I wrote down some whimsical plans of what I hoped to achieve, but the year passed surprisingly fast and none were achieved. The unexpected was accomplished instead. For example, no flame lily was grown but rather we actually touched our feet on the soil in which a flame lily might naturally grow. I never expected that!
It has been our third year at Festival Church, in Chester, and it has felt like we have been living in the third year of this promise: Isaiah 37:30
‘This will be the sign for you, Hezekiah: ‘This year you will eat what grows by itself, and the second year what springs from that. But in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
It has been a fruitful year catagorised by the unexpected, which has included mainly pleasant and some unpleasant events. In no particular order the unexpected of 2017 includes:
- Boffin got a part-time job on a guinea-pig farm.
- Longshanks got a part-time job working for an undertaker.
- Miss Friendship got a distinction in her music theory.
- Miss Puddleduck took part in her first stage production, was given a lovely first report from her drama school, and got discharged from speech therapy that she has been attending since she was 2 & 1/2 years old.
- Boffin flew overseas for the first time in his life.
- Tim and I travelled to Africa with specific purpose, that was the outworking of a dream I had when we were first married.
- Longshanks terminated his apprenticeship and came home in August. This was a huge surprise and adjustment as we had sent him off down south, in 2016, with the full expectation his apprenticeship would develop into a lifelong career. We recently found a prophecy given when he was a baby saying we shouldn’t be surprised that he will do unusual things, the timing of which would be significant.
- Longshanks started Agricultural College in September and, after six days, was moved up onto the higher level course where he has been given distinctions for 80% of his work, so far. I think even he has been surprised.
- I began teaching, again, for an organisation I taught with seventeen years ago.
- Our Shetland pony, Sonny, was put-down, with colic. Longshanks’ ferret, that was the first owned of his ferrets and the last survivor, passed away; as did the old goat, Inky, and Miss Puddleduck’s rabbit, Poppet, this winter.
- It is not unexpected that Tim and I both turned 40 but a trip to Switzerland to celebrate my birthday, was. It was unexpectedly beautiful in Autumn and the hotel we stayed in, beyond expectation for excellent hospitality.
- Miss Puddleduck ended up in Alder Hey children’s hospital, in Liverpool, with encephalitis, in May, and recovered miraculously quickly.
- My mother moved to Wales.
- I have ended the year in very different physical shape to how I began the year, enjoying the gradual return of my waistline after a long absence. I have unexpectedly journeyed into regular swims, three times a week. Randomly, 2017 has seen me sign up for an open water swim in 2018, something I would never have imagined myself doing, but will hopefully keep the momentum up. It had a little to do with turning 40 and a lot to do with the encouragement of good friends.
- Miss Friendship has mastered the Rubiks cube.
- Boffin’s English Literature teacher has been trying to persuade Boffin to take English literature for A’level. He is so Science and Maths orientated, that he should even consider it came as a surprise.
- The orchestra we started within our family of churches has been surprisingly popular.
- We have facilitated a transition of leadership that was unexpected, at one of our Festival Churches.
- Our girls took such delight in meeting their third cousins from America, at our wonderful family gathering in the summer, they have kept up correspondence, since.
- A tutor from Longshanks’ college and a teacher from Boffin’s school have commended both the boys on the quality of education received at home. Really it is the quality of character the boys themselves carry that is to be commended.
I am sure there are plenty of unexpected events I have forgotten. But 2017 went something like that. And now we look forward. 2018 feels like an entry into a year of unknowns, more so than the unexpected. I love the richness, energy, variety and excitement a house of predominantly teens produces, however in 2018, our eldest will become an official adult and our youngest will enter her final year of childhood. To enhance the value of family, we have changed the kitchen layout and moved the table to the centre. This makes it much more the hub of family discussion. I am loving the time we have had to listen to one another over the holidays. Each bring their uniqueness to the table and the discussions get deeper as wisdom increases. There is a lot of laughter, nonsensical jesting and light teasing that characterises so much of this family, too.
2018 – an unknown – year to regenerate, that will no doubt be full of the unexpected. We walk alongside amazing people who enrich our lives, help us keep on track, and in His shadow, step!
Bring it on! 2018! We’re ready for the unexpected/unknown.