Posted by: ritagone | December 18, 2013

Highlights of 2013




It’s been a great year.

And since I’ll be away from the blog for the next two weeks, I’d like to do a re-cap of 2013 and the highlights month by month of what the year has meant for me. (Hey, it is my blog!)  So come along with me on my journey for the past 12 months, and while you’re at it, you might want to thank God for the blessings you’ve encountered in your own life this past year.

January:  The sad event at the beginning of the year was that we lost Zuzu, our beloved Tibetan Terrier, who was 15 years old.  She had been a faithful pet and friend, and I still smile when I look at photographs of her as a puppy.  I still think she’s the cutest puppy I’ve ever seen!  (No offense, Sherlock and Watson.)

February:  In February I was knee-deep in the process of searching for a new President for Christian Associates, a process which ultimately gave us Dudley Callison!  What a blessing that decision has been and will continue to be in the months and years ahead!  So the hard work in February and March of 2013 was well worth it.

March:  By the end of March, it was official: we had extended an invitation to Dudley to become the next CA President.  He accepted.  It was a month filled with conference calls, interviews, meetings, and then, toward the end, getting ready for the trip to England and our Leadership Summit.

April:  Truly, the highlight of April was CA’s Leadership Summit in Hoddesdon outside London, with my good friend Monique Reidy coming along.  It was great to have her there!  The conference introduced Dudley as President, where he was well received.  And after the CA Leadership Summit, Monique and I spent three wonderful days in London, sightseeing, exploring, seeing Helen Mirren in a play, and having a great experience.

May:  May was a rather quiet month.  My oldest granddaughter turned 13; my son turned 38.  A teenager in our midst.  Yikes!!

June:  In June, Michael and I had a mid-month mini-trip to Pismo Beach, a beautiful town several hours’ drive up the coast here in California.  This is a tradition which we’ve enjoyed with two other couples for the last few years, and we love it.  It’s a quiet getaway where there is delicious food and a card game called “Seven” that we only seem to find time or interest to play in this particular setting.  We love you, Duttons and Dobberts.

July:  In July we were visited by Dianna McCartan and her two wonderful sons, Ryan and Eric, from Minneapolis.  She’s one of the reasons why I maintain that being involved in Christian Associates is more a blessing to me than I can ever give back.  Dianna is involved in a CA church plant called Communitas, and I have been privileged to have become her friend over the last year since we spent time together at a mini-conference in Chicago.  She is one of the best moms I know, as witnessed by her two wonderful young sons, who are fast becoming two of the most exceptional young men around.  And I do wish they were “around” more.  In the middle of the month, Michael and I and the Rouses and Matt and his daughter Hannah had our annual traditional family vacation up in Idaho at our condo, always fun, always hectic, and always too short.  Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of a vacation home in such a beautiful setting, with so much for the kids to do, and such a great place to spend time together as a family.  These are memories that the grandkids will never forget.  And neither will we.

August:  In early August Michael and I flew to Budapest for CA’s Connect Conference.  It’s always wonderful to be with CA people, and this was no exception.  Afterwards, Michael and I spent three days sightseeing and exploring one of the most magnificent and fascinating cities of Europe on our own.  Truly a memorable holiday for both of us.

September:  In early September I went up to Portland for a few days to hear Deb Loyd teach at a conference.  Deb had been one of the speakers at our Connect conference in Budapest, and I was thrilled to be able to hear her again and to spend some time with her and her husband Ken.  Plus I got to spend some time with CA people Dan and Ann Steigerwald and with my dear friend Mickey Bernhardt, a real bonus!!  At the end of September, Michael and I enjoyed our traditional week away at our Marriott timeshare in Newport Beach to celebrate our wedding anniversary (October 3).  I love this week away: we can drive there, we take a stack of books, we go shopping – okay, I go shopping – at Fashion Island in Newport Beach and wander around the outdoor mall and take it all in, we eat at our favorite restaurants, and we see a few friends who live in the area.  All in all, it’s one of my favorite yearly getaways.  But I do miss the dogs, who are boarded back in Westlake Village.

October:  In October, Dudley and I took a trip back to Williamsburg, Virginia to visit one of the churches which has been a solid supporter of CA missionaries involved in our Brussels church plant, The Well, for many years now.  No one from CA has ever taken the time or trouble to get with these donors from Williamsburg Chapel to say “thank you” for their years of faithfulness to our missionaries, and Dudley and I felt that it was time to do so.  We hosted a luncheon at the church after their second service on Sunday and welcomed about 25 of the donors, who learned about Christian Associates in a 20-minute presentation which Dudley did.  Many of them were discovering CA for the very first time, and were quite impressed.  We didn’t ask for money.  We just said, sincerely and repeatedly, “Thank you.”  And we got to sight see a bit at Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, a real bonus!!!

November:  In November Michael and I took a little mini-trip to our place in Idaho, just the two of us, and enjoyed both meeting with friends up there and spending some time alone.  Always good to get away and let the world pass you by occasionally.  Also in November I had some great meetings with Dudley in the Westlake area, and a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration at home, with our traditional Thanksgiving video done masterfully by Director Matt Warren and displayed on his Facebook page.  Go find it and enjoy!

December:  In early December Dudley and I traveled to Dallas to meet with yet another church’s missions pastor to talk about church planting and vision for the future.  We also attended a Generous Giving Conference put on by my dear friend Todd Harper (whose wife Collynn was the flower girl in our wedding!).  Talk about a life-changing experience!  Some time in the next month I’d love to share a bit more about the insights gained at this 24-hour conference about how to give more generously of not only your money but your entire life.  Amazing!!


And those are a few of the highlights of my 2013.  I can’t begin to list all the blessings and wonderful experiences and new people I’ve met who have broadened my life and made this year a joy.  God has given me a year in which I’ve shed unwanted pounds (about 35 so far) and been able to stay healthy.  I’m loved by my family, appreciated by my friends, and feel like I’m doing exactly what He wants me to be doing with my time and energy.

Who could ask for anything more?

Since Rita’s Ramblings comes out on Wednesday, and since both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Wednesday this year, I’m going to take a mini-vacation and excuse myself from writing, also giving you, dear reader, a break and an excuse to stay away.  When I rejoin you on January 8, we’ll have a fresh new year to explore and go on and on about!

Won’t that be fun?

Until then, I want to wish every single one of you a very blessed and joyous Christmas and a New Year that will be filled with every good gift that God has for you, to be used with great wisdom and insight.


  1. Gods been so good to you! You are a blessing to me. Even though I rarely see you I am profoundly touched by your blogs. Christ’s peace and love to you and Michael. Xxo

  2. Rita, thank you for sharing yourself and your activities through your blog.

    The entry about your weight loss inspired me to get a treadmill. I was faithful in my 45 minutes a day at an incline and a speed that were a challenge. I had to take a brief break, on doctor’s orders, and then things have gotten more intense at home. I look forward to getting back to it and the good feeling of taking care of myself. I simply wanted to let you know you were an inspiration in a way that perhaps you wouldn’t have expected!

    It is quite obvious that you have a very busy life, but if you can fit it in, I would love to visit with you over a coffee, lunch, whatever after the first of the year. I will be in touch at some point.

    Wishing you and yours a wonderful Advent and a very merry Christmas!


    Sent from my iPad


    • Susan, I would love to get together with you. I’m around in January until the 21st, when we go to a conference in Orange County. Wednesdays (except the 8th) or Fridays (except the 17th) are good for me. It will be wonderful to catch up in person.

      Thank you for the kind words about the blog. Sometimes I wonder if I should continue writing it, and then I get a comment like yours and know that it’s the right thing to do.

      Merry Christmas to you and Jarvis. Give him my love. Your journey together has been amazing to track.
      Love, Rita

  3. Hi Rita,
    I enjoyed reading this post so much. I have always known that I live a very simple life but now I can say it’s also a dull life. lol lol lol

    Thank you for sharing your journeys this past year. I was visioning each month as I read it.

    May you be filled with Christ’s Joy and Love this Christmas season!


  4. What a great highlight reel! We really did a lot together this year. No wonder it was so much fun!


  5. Sooo enjoy reading your blogs. always encouraging and thought provoking. Thank you for taking time to share so faithfully,,, love you! Jana

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