Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 :: RESTORE

{my word is top right
but please don't miss Justus's...
you will know}
Until Timehop reminded me today, I had no recollection of the word I chose for 2016:: RESTORE.  I love choosing A Word of The Year and in the past those words have helped keep me focused year round. Ironically, I forgot my word at some point this year as I moved from surviving to thriving.

Many parts of 2013-2015 are ones I hope to never re-live. Hurt, loss, despair, confusion, while intermingled with joy, fun and hope, the heaviness won out in those years. The end of the summer 2015 and into the fall of 2015 brought light to those dark days and I was resolute that 2016 would bring full restoration to the things in our hearts that were still lost, stolen or destroyed. Only this time, I knew it would not be me that brought the restoration but it would, one hundred percent, need to be the Lord. I smiled so big when I saw the Timehop post today reminding me my word was RESTORE because I distinctly remember acknowledging to the Lord it would need to be Him at work to bring restoration in our hearts and that we were going to step out of the way and watch Him work this year...and that He did!
Just yesterday I was looking through my iPhone at all the photos from this year and thought to myself, "even with all the loss we had this year, our hearts have been restored with joy through all the places we've been able to go and all the people we've been blessed to be around." Restored. With out so much of a thought beyond a few prayers at the beginning of the year on my part, God did just that, Restored.

We deeply miss the loved ones we lost and the next years will continue to be full of grief as we continue on with out them. We said pre-mature good-byes to a dear, amazing Aunt, a strong, loving Grandpa and our hilarious, best hug giver, wonderful Mother/Mother-in-Law/Grandma.

While we went through tremendous loss, 2016 will be remembered as a true gift.

January -

January started off hard with the news of my Aunt Ann's passing. We packed up as fast as we could and headed to Austin where we stayed for the next few weeks. Family and friends came in from all over to honor her life that week. We are truely a blessed family.

Vernon got his letter stating they accepted his PHD disertation and defense making him Vernon M. Burger II, PHD!!  We are so proud of him. He has worked so hard to achieve this.

We ended the month with our annual His Voice Global Board Meeting. We discussed and planned and enjoyed eachothers company.  We have such a tremdous, robust board of directors. We LOVE being around them.


February was full of soccer and travel.  We started the month on with a trip to Michigan to see Vern's Mom. We had a ball. We went to the Ice Sculptures and to Bronners, two of her favorite winter activites. We never could have known this would be one of our last weeks with her. We are so thankful we went.
Justus had a blast joining up with his longtime soccer buddies to play the winter/spring YMCA league.
We sent Vern off on his yearly trip to South Sudan. He had a great visit and came back so encouraged.


March was a month of enjoying Houston, catching up on school and a few short trips to visit dear friends. We spent Easter with our beloved Durham & Billups families, and traveled to Baton Rouge to see all our people there (and came away with some great family pictures!)


In April we said good bye to friends and headed across the US.  We stopped at 8 national parks :: Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde , Arches, Canyon Lands, Capital Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Great Basin. We made it to our final destination, Scott River Lodge. We did school along the way and basically all of the rest of April!


In May I headed to Kenya with some of my dear friends. The Lord did so much on the trip in all of our lives. He restored hearts, mended wounds, opened hearts and minds and provided a way where it seemed impossible. I included a deliriously tired picture of Phyllis and me because we took a fun risk at the airport in Amsterdam on the way to Kenya and went through customs to meet up with friends in Amsterdam. It was so fun!


There is absolutely nothing in the world that could have prepared us for June.  We found out that the condition Vernon's mom had, which we thought she would be able to fight and recover from, had worsened.  We all got on a plane to Michigan, not knowing what the next weeks would hold. We laughed, we cried, we played songs, read scripture and held hands as we walked through Stephanie's last week of life with her.  This was one of the hardest things we have ever gone through. We miss her tremendously, especially this time of year, as the holidays were her favorite and she always made them so special. She was and continues to be such a gift to us.


Coming off of June with our sweet friends at Scott River Lodge was such a blessing to us.  We had the privilege of partnering with some the best college students around the US as we worked the summer at the lodge.  These students are so much fun and full of life.  They let us cry, let us grow and let us lead even when we were weak. We love them so much.  We went on SO many adventures on our July off days. 
We crossed off another National Park, Lassen Volcanic.
We also had a week long visitor, Titus's best friend, Johannes.


In August, the boys went to Kidder Creek Camp and had a blast!
We said good bye to our sweet college crew, with lots of tears and laughter.
We went to some more beautiful places.
Started school.
Dyed Titus's hair blue and celebrated the new Harry Potter book!


September started with harvest fun at the farm. There were fires all around the area which made the air quality too poor to have guest at the Lodge, this ended up being a blessing to us as that same week all the programs were postponed, we got a call that my Grandpa Bud was being taken home and put on Hospice.  We jumped on a plane and got to Missouri as fast as we could. That week with family was full of emotions. I am so thankful we were able to be there before he passed away. I am a lucky girl to have been raised so closely with my cousins. We went to school together, played ball, FFA, gymnastics, we were such a big part of each other's lives. Being home with them, in my Grandma & Grandpa's house was such a sweet spot in the midst of sadness.
We returned to The Lodge the following week and were so thankful to have friends come through the program. The rest of the weeks at the Lodge we had friends come through the programs. It was like Gods arms around us. We finished September celebrating Fall at Kidder Creek with friends!


October started with closing up programs at the Lodge. Packing for our drive home and getting to a good stopping point for school.  When the programs were finished, we loaded up and drove back across the US.  We stopped in St Louis to celebrate Allison's wedding and see family. We ended October back in Houston, and on a plane back to Kenya with some super fun ladies!


November started in Kenya celebrating a friends wedding, hanging with my sweet friends at RVF and hiking crazy hikes on Safari. Upon return to Houston we celebrated Tommy & Haley's wedding, voted, dyed Titus's hair platinum.  We through our annual Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving feast followed by Black Friday shopping!


We started December with Titus's new glasses!
We traveled to Missouri for Early Christmas with family.
We celebrated a final adoption for our sweet friends.
We said good by to our beloved 13527.
We traveled back across the US stopping at HARRY POTTER WORLD!
We arrived at The Lodge in time for a beautiful, magical, white Christmas.

I am excited for what all 2017 will bring. I am so thankful for 2016. I want to remember.

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