Apartment living has been quite a change for us after owning our own homes for decades. The last was the beautiful Italianate style house bed & breakfast we operated in Atlanta, Indiana. We took great pride in that 1868 house which had 12 rooms, including a men’s parlour and a ladies’ parlour separated by huge pocket doors. It had, at one time, a marble lined dining room, and three-tone woodworking with striking hand worked  craftsmanship throughout.

I had crafted multiple leaded stained glass panels to brighten every room, with custom etched glass transoms, and crafted new woodwork where replacements needed to be made. Lea made an outstanding effort to collect and, when needed, repair or refurbish antiques from the Victorian era to decorate with appropriate period pieces.

After her recovery from acute pancreatitis and release from the hospital, we first moved back to Indiana, into assisted living quarters for a time, and then nearby into a very nice house we rented from my brother and sister-in-law, who purchased it for our comfort and convenience. From there we moved to Texas to be near our newborn grandson and his family to help in Lea’s recovery and nurture a sense of purpose for her.

We were blessed with three grandsons in the following years, and had the additional blessing of having both granddaughters live with us for a time. All of these were blessings in and of themselves, but our food ministry for our church was key to helping Lea get her cognitive skills honed up and sharpened again. And, that led to development of additional recipes and meals for our online cookbook, VaughnKitchens,

This past year, 2018, was highlighted by the grandsons playing flag football and soccer in league team competition. Each was on a separate team, and Lea really enjoyed getting out to watch the boys play. She always made sure to be there with fruit or cheese snacks and drinks when they were between games or watching their brothers play.

Of course, we had medical issues, too. She had to have ablation procedures in her lower back twice a year, and in her neck each spring. Worse than the back pain, however, was the pain from gallstones, which were inoperable. We had been to three surgeons to explore any possible way to remove her gall bladder, but, with no success. Her intestines had attached to the skin graft over her ventral hernia, and none of the surgeons was willing to take a chance on it, unless it was an emergency.

We received an early Christmas gift from my brother, who lives in Hawaii. He sent us an Amazon Echo Show, a smart speaker that is designed around Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa. It features a 7-inch touchscreen display for video calls, which was delivered just in time for us to sit in on gift opening Christmas morning at my son’s home, five thousand miles away.

It also came in very handy for staying in daily touch with my mother, who had C.O.P.D., and lived about five hours from us. It was essential early in 2019 when she went into hospice and we were unable to travel due to medical problems. We were able to be virtually present in her room as much as we wanted, and chat with siblings and other family members and friends visiting in her room.

So, we put the wraps on 2018, grateful for the continuous shower of blessings the Lord provides us, grateful for the opportunities we are able to minister or give our testimony. Our devotion to each other has grown even stronger this year as we come to rely on each other for more daily support and assistance. We pray for God’s guidance in all that we do, and trust in Him for wisdom and discernment in each challenge He places before us.