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Year in Review 2009

January 1, 2010

I was thinking about everything we had done this year and wanted to jot it all down for a reminder when I feel like nothing ever happens to me (yes, I have those days). So here goes:

Most recently we traveled to Maine for Christmas. We visited with family and made time for old friends. It was an awesome trip and I can’t wait to go back “home” again in February..

I stopped smoking on Christmas Day. I have tried before. This time is different. Don’t ask me how I know. Just take my word for it.

I started volunteering every week at Interfaith Homeless Network. I work in their office helping them answer phones, do mailings, type letters, etc. Keith and I go down once a month (sometimes twice) and help out in the day center and just hang out with the homeless families. Its nice. It makes their days not quite so boring and it really helps us too.

Thanksgiving was a great time this year. We opened our doors to anyone who didn’t have family in the area to go to or to anyone who didn’t WANT to go to family in the area. 🙂 That morning we went downtown and did the Grateful Gobbler Walk. That evening was dinner. Dropped cherry pie and all.

An elf came to visit. He was such a success and made such wonderful memories with us all that he will DEFINITELY be back next year. A special thanks to Mitzi Talley, for without her, Tique never would have came to visit that first time.

I learned that I have a penchant for creating things made out of cake batter. Now, am I perfect? far from it. But I am getting better. and its easy for me. I have this awesome book called Hello Cupcake and just work my way through the book and am having a blast doing it. Keith is going to let me take a cake decorating class soon! I am uber excited!

We made a TON of new friends this year and they are such GREAT friends. I won’t list them all by name here. They know who they are and they are dearly loved. Most of them came out of the new church we are attending (which will be mentioned later) and are simply wonderful, caring, loving, terrific people who aren’t afraid to come into my house, tell me the ugly truth about myself and eat all my food, all at the same time. Many of them on Sunday afternoons during…

The Simple Lunch started on a whim. We opened our house up every Sunday after church to anyone who wanted to come eat a Simple Lunch. I throw something on the stove or in the over thats hopefully going to feed a lot of people and everyone (normally) brings a drink, dessert or side. We eat, we talk and we are merry. I don’t’ spend a lot of money (barely any at all, truth be known), God makes sure that we have enough to eat (although, its been close a couple of times) and we just hang out for a few hours on a Sunday. A couple of times, we have had to shut it down early if we have had something to do. But not often. I don’t care what my house looks like (ok, inside, I do cringe a bit, but I am getting better) knowing that I didnt get around to cleaning on Saturday night and no one seems to mind. Everyone opens the fridge like its their own house and to be quite honest, it is.

My MIL gave me a great gift that, quite honestly, intimidates the hell out of me. A sewing machine. It rocks. I love it. I love sewing. I am so terrified that I am going to mess up that I wont use it anymore. I have bought all this cool (read expensive to me) fabric, that I have stopped sewing. It was great when I was sewing on sheets or plain cotton, but now I have moved on to suedes, its not so easy to mess up. I have a quilt that is cut and ready to be turned into a gift that I must get on but it will be my first gift and I am so afraid I will mess it up, that I havent started it. Its due in two months !!!!!

We took the girls camping this year for the little girls’ first time. Now it WAS in a cabin. With a pool. But for their first time, it was a great experience. A bit of the woods, a lot of campfires and cooking over a fire. NO TV, internet or Wii to entertain and that was a HUGE deal. Just a lot of family time.

Following the camping trip, we headed up to Nashville for a day trip and visited the Zoo and the Rainforest Cafe. The Cafe was a bigger hit than the Zoo I think. Probably more expensive too. For about an hours worth of entertainment. And a not so decent meal. oh well.

On the less than happy note, I battled a horrible medical condition and always will. I was hospitalized once this year due to this condition. The doctors had some VERY serious ideas for treatment (gimme gimme… ) but God had different plans. The week before the seriously dangerous treatments were to begin, I fell down and had a concussion. No treatments. Then it seemed that things evened themselves out on the medical condition thing. Are things normal? No. Are they managed with meds? Absolutely.

2009 brought a few life changing events into the Riddle household. If you are still reading this, you must know what they are, or at least have an idea….

Along about November or December of 2008, Keith and I began seeing a billboard that read “If you hate” Keith and I attended a church that we were less than thrilled with. We were casually visiting other churches. To be honest, I was so involved in things there (not NEARLY to the level I am now, just with the kids and VBS) that I wasn’t that into moving for the kids’ sake. Anyway… I visited the website. I started emailing with the pastor of this new church that was going to open its doors in January. He kept inviting us to an open house at his home. We couldn’t ever make it. It was on a Wednesday and that’s when I was teaching Youth Drama at our old church. And even if we didn’t have Youth Drama, there always seemed to be a reason that we couldn’t make it to the May’s. Finally Ryan (the pastor) invited us to dinner on a Thursday since we couldn’t make it out on a Wednesday. We went. We met. We fell in love with him and his wife, Selina and even their son, Gannon. He sold us on his idea of this church called The Net.

One morning, we showed up to help the launch team set up and break down their set. We did a run through of a service. Its no exaggeration to say that in FIVE minutes time, we felt more at home than we did in five YEARS time at our old church. And I mean NO disrespect to those from Morris Hill. I love Mo Hill. I love the people. I love the leadership. It was not for us. We connected with those people in an amazing way. We knew IMMEDIATELY where God wanted our family. We have been a Net Family ever since and haven’t questioned it a single time. It has truly changed our lives and our walk.

Keith and I re-read a book about the same time together. It was called The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. I highly recommend it. The re-reading changed our lives. This guy talks about what it means to be a Christian. Not in pretty ways. In the ways that matter. In the ways that you SHOULD be doing it. In the every day ways. In the down and dirty ways. He lives in an inner city ghetto in Philly. Intentionally. He hangs out with the homeless and the downtrodden and sees Jesus every day through those people. He has simplified his life and gotten rid of the “stuff” that doesn’t matter. Who needs five tvs? (Well the Riddles DID but not anymore. More on that later.) Anyway, you should read the book. And live the life. That’s what we are trying to do. Live a life that Jesus would live if he were here today.

Love Jesus. Love People. Its that simple guys.

We actually got to meet Shane Claiborne this year. He was speaking in Athens, TN and we all (We took Abby and even Heather and Jamie went) drove up and heard him. Keith and I went two days in a row. We met him, hung out, talked to him a bit. He is amazing. he is a southerner (from Maryville, TN)
and just as nice and intelligent as he could be.

Reading about Shane and his passion for the homeless has further ignited OUR passion for the homeless. Ryan (the aforementioned pastor) found out that I have a passion for outreach and the homeless. in that first meeting with him, he explained that The Net would be made up of many small groups and perhaps I would like to start one focused on nothing but outreach. The idea intrigued me but I didnt do anything about it. In June I think, Ryan came to me and asked if I would organize a feeding of the homeless we were going to be a part of in conjunction with The Springs Church in Ft. O. I jumped on it. Then he suggested that since it went so well, we start a small group revolving around that. Thus, Net Reach was born. Yeah, we started that small group Ryan wanted. I think we have grown beyond what he originally envisioned. our small group (ha small) has 52 people in it. Thats about 1/4 of the church. Keith and I come up with outreach ideas and organize them, invite anyone and everyone out to them and a group of people get some small, some large community project/volunteer work done. Its amazing. We do battered women’s shelter makeovers, feeding the “hungry”, hospital visitation, decorating homeless shelters for Christmas, etc.

If Keith and I had our way, we would do the Net Reach stuff all the time. Thankfully (i Think haha) we have Ryan to pull us back in from time to time. So we do a lot of stuff on our own. Part of that stemmed from simplification. We decided (after reading THE book) that we have too much stuff. I mean, seriously, who needs 75 band tshirts, other than Keith? How many pairs of too small jeans do I need (although now that I lost 20 pounds, I could use a pair!)? Why do I have 17 forks? So we simplified. I have 7 outfits. Three pairs of shoes. A set of dishes for each of us. Keith weeded out the tshirts to I THINK 20. We got rid of 3 TVs. Countless movies and CDs and books out the wazoo. Yeah. *I* parted with books. Can you imagine? I, who had books on every flat surface of the house. I got rid of books.

So we simplified first. Then we took – seriously – an entire back of the Pathfinder load of clothing to the community kitchen and gave it away.

Then we did the same with the rest of the house and gave it to various non profits.

Then the simplifying wasnt enough. So we started hanging out with the homeless. We know them by name. We went down last night to have a New Years Eve party with them. We made sandwiches, bought water, took a box of sparklers and headed downtown. Too bad none of them were out and about.

Wow. I just stopped to catch my breath. This was supposed to be a bullet pointed list with a sentence or two explaining each item. boy did I get off track. I will stop now.

The one thing I want to point out is how well our family is doing. For those of you who are NOT part of the family that has joined with us this year, you know how much our family has struggled over the past few years. We have had more than our fair share of stress and pain (at least I think its more than our fair share. maybe not.) We are finally happy now. Its about durn time, don’t you think? I love my family more than anything and I will walk through hell to keep us this happy. It has totally been worth it. From my marriage to my struggles with exes, to my struggles with stepchildren to my struggles with raising a teen, it has finally paid off. I am at peace. Love to you all. I hope 2010 is a banner year for us all.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Katrina permalink
    January 5, 2010 11:49 am

    I need 75 band t-shirts too 🙂
    YOu taking any new books? I still have a pile that I’m collecting for you, history textbooks and stuff, that I have yet to ship.

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