Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Family Christmas Letter

As we look back over the year of ministry and family, we have much to be thankful for.  We have been truly blessed, though it bears reminding every now and then.  The year has been a challenging one, as we knew it would be going into it… we knew we were standing on the verge of change, though we didn’t know what that might look like (and now, in the midst of changes, we still don’t know what things will look like but we trust our God).  We constantly rely on the words of God in the Bible in Joshua 1:9, something that has become a key verse for our family – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Some of these changes have included the birth of our seventh, Ezekiel Thomas; the transition in our church of our senior pastor, Bob Knowles, to a vice presidency role at Crandall University (we miss their family but are happy for them)); children getting older… our fourth little guy, Jordan, started Primary in September… Some changes have been easy to see as blessings, while others we have to have faith that, in the end, they will have become blessings.   In everything, God has remained faithful and present; “God is good all the time; all the time, God is good.”

Many of you follow our Facebook posts and have a good idea as to what things are happening in this family adventure of ours.  It has been a great blessing that, with the addition of children to our family, God has also increased our sense of humor. 

Upon writing this, Caleb is just on the verge of turning 11 in a few days.  He is almost as tall as his mom (not that that is any great feat, really).  His adventures have much to do with Narnia, the Lord of the Rings, and robotics.  He won a Remembrance Day contest at school, for a poem he had written.  He has a rich sense of fantasy, honor and glory (not uncommon to hear the war cry, “For Narnia!” at our house) and, quite regularly, solves most of the problems of the world with very simple solutions (if only governments and armies would follow through with his suggestions!).

Katie [age 9] is a great helper, is quick to include and care for the people around her, and isn’t afraid of hard work.  She is creative and adventurous - our best climber - and intrigued by mystery.  She is really into classic Nancy Drew and, as of her birthday, even has her own kit to practice sleuthing.  She has a strong sense of justice (especially when it comes to herself), and is quick to defend “the little guy.”

Reuben [age 7] is “heedless and impulsive… (he) just does whatever comes into his head, that’s what!” He loves to make forts, make “mouse houses” and catch bugs.  If you follow our posts, you know that he’s the guy who climbs out windows using bed sheets and also climbs to the top of jungle gyms and trees. He is quick and, though squirmy, we have found that he does actually take in most of what is said to him.  Just now, he could be the kid who sings, “All I want for Christmas..” as, yes, he is missing his two front teeth. 

Jordan [age 5] started school this year.  We cautioned his teacher that he seems to have his head in the clouds a lot of the time and is far from being organized… and also, will do just about anything for a laugh.  However, his first term report came home with praise for always bringing a smile to her face, so apparently his personality is working in his favour.  Jordan is like a sponge for learning and has come home singing songs from class, doing sign language, and has even educated us as to what ellipses is (we had never heard it by its proper name before).  He uses his “eagle eye” when reading and has really caught on to reading quite well.  Besides having to deal with a fight that occurred between he and Reuben on the bus, the school year seems to have taken off to a good start. 

Molly [age 3] is strong and independent… which has its good and bad points, as most parents can testify.  She is a girl of many faces, which is quite amusing.  She loves to paint and is quite a good little artist for a three-and three-quarters year old.  She has taught herself to print both hers and Emily’s names.  Perhaps we will concentrate on “preschool” more after Christmas… the fall has been busy with an infant and dog (which really is more like having another child). 

Emily [age 2] is a little shadow and parrot.  She repeats most of what the others say, and wants to help with whatever might be the task at hand.  Both she and Molly love to bake with Mom, though most ingredients go in the mouth in the process… thank goodness that heat kills germs! She is a tough kid and isn’t afraid to jump into the fray of wrestling children.

Ezekiel [5 months] is a smiley, chatty little blessing (though pretty good size for his age).  He is not a great sleeper so his sunny personality is a great survival mechanism.  He is adored by his brothers and sisters; Molly and Emily are quick to volunteer to look after him, which is a mixed blessing. 

Mom and Dad, well, we’re just doing the best we can by God’s grace. It has been a busy fall and, for Sharalyn, who isn’t a fan of busyness, it’s been a challenge to carve out the needed “down time” for everyone but it’s coming.  Jon loves both family time and ministry time and tries hard to balance both well.  We love the Valley and God is at work here, changing us and our community.      

We leave you with a wish for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and the words from a great old song (from “White Christmas”) we often use as a lullaby here (can’t you just hear Bing Crosby?):

When I'm worried and I can't sleep,
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.
When my bankroll is getting small,
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.
I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one,
I count them as they slumber in their beds.
If you're worried and you can't sleep,
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings.

“My Year”

Caleb: This year, I did robotics.  I learned how to play guitar.  I went to Camp Peniel with Carson and the rest of my family.  I went to Wilderness Camp with Aunt Angie.  Nana and Papa came to pick me up and we went to “A & W,” where I finally ate onions.  We had VBC.  In September, I went in grade 5.  I have done D.A.R.E. in school.  In October, me and Carson were on Challenge kitchen maintenance.  We had a fabulous Halloween (alternative) with the Jones, Syphers, Hunts, and other families. 

Katie: I like my new teacher; she’s nice.  Her name is Mrs. Hatton.  Even though, I still miss Mrs. Kendrick.  I got a letter from Mrs. Kendrick saying she wasn’t going to be my teacher.  Last summer, I went to Camp Mount Traber.  I was in Western.  I got to ride horses for hours. I also went to Camp Peniel.  I went to Upper Clements Park, too.  It was fun.  I had a pyjama movie party at school.  I have learned coordinates in Math.  I love life! 

Reuben: This summer, I signed up for soccer.  It was fun.  In school, we’ve been writing poems.  I went to Camp Peniel and there was a bat in the cabin.  That was scary.  Today, I got a ticket for any sport (to watch at Acadia).  Soon it will be my brother’s birthday.  We’ve been missing our old cat.  He hasn’t come back since last month. 

Jordan: This year, I went to school.  I like school.  Merry Christmas!

Molly: Christmas time is coming here.  How are you? Are you having a great Christmas? I’m going to invite Ewan and Jude and Aunt Deborah and Uncle Scott to my birthday.  Come to Molly’s Birthday.  And we’re going to play games. 

Emily: “Twinkle star.” Jude.  Hello, Jude. 

Zeke: Eat.  Burp.  Gurgle. ZZZzzz. Repeat. Love my life!

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