A New Year to Savor

For all the best laid plans, Christmas came to town and captured my full attention. No blog posts of Merry Christmas wishes or family photos shared on Facebook. The only photo we snapped this year was when we piled in the car in search of a Christmas tree on the 21st (yes, just four days before Christmas). For the record, trees are crispy by this time, but it was more important to do the tree trimming and decorating together and that was the first day we were all in one place.

It still stands in the corner of the living room.

It’s not that I didn’t have things to post or merry tidings to share, there was just a purposeful savoring of the time we had together. Our former exchange student, Paulina, was visiting and two of our daughters made it home. They don’t live far-off, but coordinating work schedules can be tricky at this stage in their lives. The house was abundant with conversation and traditions, choice foods, games and puzzles. These are most certainly a few of my favorite things—homey, familiar, comforting.

As we prayed for friends processing the loss of their homes, loved ones, or jobs, I was reminded that holiday traditions can be a source of both comfort and pain. The holidays are incredibly difficult for families grieving loved ones; long held traditions abandoned because the pain is fresh and raw. We’ve been praying for a family who said good-bye to their teenage daughter just days before Christmas after she suffered a gunshot wound at school. Another friend of a friend waiting long hours and days while her husband slipped away in a hospital room. Tragedy and illness lay waste to traditions.

There is also the delicate balance of newly married couples and young families trying to create and blend traditions with respective parents and siblings. The dynamics of this have sucked every ounce of joy out of the holidays for so many, no wonder it’s a stressful time of year. Sometimes letting go of tradition is the healthiest thing we can do. I know when our girls are married, we will navigate these same things, but so long as they are close enough to hug tightly and their laughter fills the room, I’m good. Really good.

Welcoming 2014, we were reminded once again to savor life as the clock wound down on 2013.

Seafood Paella w Saffron Aioli - served (1 of 1)

New Year’s Eve, we were busy in the kitchen with Seafood Paella and Saffron Aioli, chopping, dicing, stirring, reviewing multiple recipes and sipping our favorite Chianti.

Then the phone rang. We knew it was our youngest kiddo because they each have a special ringtone.

“Mom, I’ve been hit by a drunk driver.”

Thankfully, she was not injured beyond a couple of bruises; to say the least, it was a stressful evening sorting everything out. When I say thankfully, I mean every morning I wake up, if awake in the night, when I see a text from her, when her Facebook status pops up, or I hang-up the phone from another insurance inquiry, I whisper tearful prayers of thanksgiving. Sometimes tears become the prayers as I’m utterly undone with gratitude because I know that first phone call could have begun with “Your daughter…”.

Even as I type this, I see her vibrant face in my mind’s eye and thankfulness wells up again.


Life is so much more than the days we string together, the twists and turns give opportunity for character to form and faith to build. Wrapping my arms around her sweet neck brought this mamma immense joy, her response to the situation brings joy deeper still. Her forgiveness toward the individual who caused the accident along with the peace and confidence in God’s provision for another car was not only a little surprising so early in the process, it reminded me to do the same.

More gratitude. I love it when our kids teach us what we’ve taught them.

Our family is familiar with the concept of living life as a gift, we have all survived life threatening events. The simple truth is, tomorrow is not guaranteed. We have learned you can’t dwell too much on the brevity of life or it will flat out drive you crazy. Controlling, fearful, stifling, suffocating kind of crazy. Instead, be purposeful in the things that really matter, in our opinion, that’s faith, family, and friends—relationships.

The popular song, Live Like You Were Dying, by Tim McGraw is a good example of focusing on savoring life rather than the fear of dying. It’s a good way to begin this year and every day in it we’re given.

I’m so glad you are a part of Savoring Today and I hope you savor the New Year with us!

Kristen Senior 055

One of my favorite photos of Kristen ~ her zeal for life is inspiring.

On thoughts of food … I plan to share the Seafood Paella recipe when we can make it on a less stressful evening and we can compare the difference preparing it with Bomba rice. This time we used Arborio rice, which was good, but I suspect it could be even better with Bomba rice. If you’re interested, these are the three recipes we referenced to make the paella:

The Ulitmate Paella by Tyler Florence
Mixed Seafood Paella – Paella de Marisco by La Tienda
Saffron Aioli by Fine Cooking


  1. says

    Glad your daughter is OK! And love the looks of that seafood paella. Looking forward to the recipe. Happy New Year!
    [email protected] Riffs recently posted..Moroccan Carrot SoupMy Profile

  2. Charley says

    There are people and families that come into your life, and for what ever reason ordained by a Higher Authority, they become essential to your life and well-being. And for good or bad for you, your family has assumed that distinction in my life. Knowing you are there, and holding on to every scrap of news so that I know you all are safe and sound, grants me peace and happiness that others can not provide. Forgive the ramblings of an old man, know that I care and love your family deeply, and it is no secret that I would walk through any hell to help or protect those two little ladies you call daughters, as well as the rest of you (even Matt from K-State, lol)

    I am glad that life is returning to “normal”, whatever that is truly. As always, if you need us, we can be there in 10 hours (9.5 if I drive)


  3. says

    I would still be trying to put my heart back into my chest after that first sentence. I’m so glad she wasn’t badly hurt. I’ll never understand why people think it’s smart to drink and drive. The penalties should be high enough that people wouldn’t consider doing it.

    Happy New Year and may you be blessed every day of 2014.
    Maureen | Orgasmic Chef recently posted..Big Mouth FunnelsMy Profile

    • says

      Exactly Maureen, it is the kind of thing that rings in your ears and heart for a while. I don’t understand it either, it 5:30 pm, but you could add that to a whole list of things I don’t “get”. Thanks for your well wishes ~ appreciate that!

  4. JoyceI says

    I so appreciate your sharing. For many there are many tears at this holiday season. Some have many heartaches, and more than a few are alone and lonely. Being “real” is often rare these days. Yet the Bible says we are to share one another’s burdens. I see you practice this in your life and it is indeed precious to read how you actually do that.

    Thank you again for sharing. You blessed this mom and grandmom and wife hugely!

    • says

      Hi Joyce! You are right, being real is somewhat rare, but it is the only way we can truly know how to help or comfort. Thank you for commenting, to know this story blessed you warms my heart.

  5. says

    Beautiful post Judy! I’m so glad that your daughter wasn’t hurt too bad physical. She is one blessed young woman! I know the emotional strain on her and you and the rest of the family is going to hang on for a while, but you obviously have a lot to be thankful for. BTW – She’s gorgeous!!! Amen to the Tim McGraw song! Thanks for sharing and thanks for sharing your thoughts for the new year. Hope you and your family have a wonderful 2014!
    mjskit recently posted..Orange and Cabbage SlawMy Profile

  6. says

    Hi There, This is a terrific post! Loved your title… ! It’s wonderful to see your each and every post. I simply adore your work ! And hope to see more of your creative endeavors soon ! Bookmarked this one and shall give it a shot :)) Wish you and your family a very Happy and Blessed New Year!!!
    Thanks & Regards, Sonia !!!

    • says

      Hi Sonia, thank you so much for your kind words and taking time to comment with well wishes! It is always fun to discover other bloggers out there, so I’ll be by for a visit. New Year blessings to you! 🙂

  7. says

    Judy, this is such a beautiful, heart touching post. I’m saving this to reread several more times as you have expressed those true feelings of the holidays, the true meaning and truth about life, both good and difficult. I’m so glad to hear that your daughter was okay, that definitely wakes us all up to the preciousness of life. I so wish you and your family a very blessed New Year!
    Linda recently posted..The Best Homemade Pita BreadMy Profile

  8. says

    I am so glad to hear that your daughter is okay, and adding my prayers for a new car for her if she hasn’t found one already.

    It’s hard when they move away, even though that is what we have prepared them to do. You reminded me of our blessings – thank you!
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  9. says

    This was such a powerful post, you really put so much into perspective. My heart was racing as I read your daughter’s story, god bless.. she is safe and well. But that does shake a parent up and it will take a while before you worry a little less about her when she goes out. We had a horrible incident with our son last January and every time he is out with his friends I lay awake for his texts. Here’s to 2014 with all of our loved ones and family healthy and well and jumping for joy!!
    Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen recently posted..Bella’s Biscuits | Homemade Dog TreatsMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks, Barb for the well wishes, you know exactly what it’s like to have your kids on your heart in this way. We just got another car to her yesterday, it has been a long month of borrowing rides to work and she is happy to have wheels again. I try to turn the feelings of worry to gratitude, that is a mom’s job when they are grown. All the best to you and yours too in the coming year!

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