My top 10 for 2009

1. Baby Madelyn’s dedication on May 22 in Kansas City, Kansas. In May, John Belinda and I traveled to Kansas City for Madelyn’s dedication at Nall Avenue Baptist Church. It was a moving moment to hear my son, Jonathon, sing a special in honor of the day. Photos and video:

2. July “Staycation” in Jacksonville with Belinda and Jonathon and his family who came from Kansas. Had a great time celebrating Madelyn’s first birthday and playing with Joey and Madelyn and attending the wedding of Anna Sander, Melissa’s best friend, where I took dozens of photos. It gave me a chance to brush up on wedding photos using the new camera John gave me last year for Christmas! It’s always a joy to take pictures of and for family and friends.

3. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and lunch in Central Park at Loeb’s Boathouse. Both were never expected, never anticipated. Our entire trip was a last minute plan concocted when John realized we could use reward points for our hotel stay and found a great price on airline tickets. So we packed Belinda along—and off we went. A dream come true!

4. Seeing the neighborhood where my mother grew up in New York City, even if it was from the window of a subway car. Windows at Macy’s. Carriage Ride in Central Park. More highlights of our trip to New York which made my top ten list a dream come true this year. In fact, we saw so many things and did so much in New York, it could have eclipsed the rest, but in all fairness, my year was so full, I decided to give just two points to New York.

5. My trip to California for my 30th class reunion. Taking my aunts to lunch in Pasadena. Going to a football game at Arcadia High School. Attending my class reunion with John who flew out for a couple of days. With a little planning, I was able to accomplish quite a bit in my 8 day trip to California, where I grew up. I had not been back in 10 years. One of my first priorities was to take all of my aunts, my mother’s sisters to lunch. In two batches, all but one was able to attend. I was so thankful. I had a great time of sharing and learning about what was going on in their lives. I was grateful to stay with my Aunt Agnes with whom I’ve shared many memories. The last few days were wonderful, just driving around Southern California with her and my Aunt Phyllis, catching up.

6. Peru, Indiana in October for Brian Hannigan’s wedding to Kerry. Catching up with John’s brother’s family always means a good time. Jonathon and Melissa, Joey and Madelyn joined us from Kansas and so all our family was together.

7. In September, I participated in a 5K Run for their Lives in Jacksonville with Belinda. There is no way I would have made it without her. I walked over two bridges and it took me a long while and I was HOT, but I made it. Belinda was just released in September to begin running again after nearly nine months of not being able to run after she was rear-ended and her car totaled in an accident in which she had spinal injuries. I am so entirely grateful for her health and for her company and her encouragement. She is a blessing to me, over and again, as is each and every precious member of my family.

8. Miami in August for a relative’s first birthday. Saw Aunt Lily and Aunt Nancy and the rest of the gang and had a great time catching up. It’s so important to connect with family.

9. Super Bowl in Tampa. One of the highlights of my job this year was to interview and photograph athletes and coaches during media day and at other events prior to the Super Bowl and then to interview Tony Dungy the night before the Super Bowl. Though there are many stories that were my “favorites” to work on throughout the year, the experience of working with a gifted photojournalist like Bob Carey, who is president of the National Press Photographer’s Association and a dedicated Baptist Press colleague and friend, was an unexpected bonus.

10. Covering the Fireproof Conference in Daytona Beach in March. A marriage conference, when one is married, is an interesting thing to cover. I learned a lot and wrote a lot. Also relaxed just a bit on the beach with my husband of 28, now 29, years!

11. Oops, I can’t believe I didn’t add this. I would be remiss to not say I have enjoyed all of the golf outings. TPC Sawgrass for the Player’s. TPC Summerlin and TPC Las Vegas and Eastlake Country Club and all of those snazzy places Belinda takes us. It has been fun to see men hitting around little balls. … No really, it has been a GREAT time walking those courses and hanging out with my daughter and husband and watching them enjoy and getting some exercise! And the FOOD, well, the food is excellent at those clubhouses! Thanks to Belinda and the great work she does.


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