Sunday, December 1, 2013

2013 Family Christmas Letter

Christmas is quickly approaching and we are trying to speed up our gift making here in the Dixon home. Over the past few years, we have been challenged by Advent Conspiracy to think differently about the gifts we give and how we give them. We make gifts, buy second hand, and give gifts of time, so that we can give more to people who may actually be in need.  It does take a little more effort and has us scouring Pinterest quite a bit, but it's ultimately more fun (at least until we get down to the last days before Christmas and gifts are unfinished).  We are reminded of how greatly we have been blessed by Christ and this great gift of life we have in Him. We have life only because of His willingness to give up all He had to come to earth to bear our trials and die in our place, and we have hope because of His victory over life and death.  We struggle at times to consistently live it, but we know that all we have has come from God and He only gives to us so that we can give to others. This season we celebrate Immanuel - God with us... He has been so present throughout our year.

Like every year, not everything has been easy this year, but great good has come where there has been struggle.  God has been shaping us, growing us in grace, humility, and love.  We have been driven to points of uncertainty, reminded that we are not in control, and challenged to trust God more. We have been blessed to have been able to share our home and lives with others, to share in their trials and to have them share in ours. God is good all the time.

Many of those who read this letter will be familiar with our Facebook posts about some of our greatest blessings.

Caleb is currently 12 and has started middle school this year.  He seems to have adapted well; he has made new friends and is excited about being in the same school as some of his good buddies from church.  At home, he can mostly be found with his nose inside a book until interrupted by a little one desiring his attention or antagonized by Reuben. One of his highlights this year and last has been his participation on a Lego Robotics team.

Katie, currently 10, now wants to be called by her full name, Kathryn [though we're having a hard time adjusting]. She is responsible and hard working, but equally fun loving and silly. Whatever she does, she puts her heart into.  Her great love is horses, and though that is a somewhat illusive dream, she gets her fill in reading about them.  She loves the social life, but is learning more about who to keep close.

Reuben, age 8, is our impulsive child; he is often devising plans, building forts (inside and out), climbing structures, and has a great fascination for Rube Goldberg machines, traps, dominoes, marble tracks... He needs to have a project at all times or he's bored and / or hungry.  Sometimes he can be distracted by "Calvin and Hobbes" or "Bone."

Jordan, age 6, is our disorganized, absent minded, head-in-the-clouds, funny guy.  He'll do a lot to get a laugh and is interested in knowing what the world record for burping is as he is confident that he can break it. He has shown great creativity lately in his Lego building, commemorating Remembrance Day with a display, and is now devising a display for Christmas.

Molly, age 4, has been Ezekiel's surrogate mother since he was born.  We suspect that this may be why he didn't crawl until he was a year old (July) and doesn't walk yet.  She was attentive to his every cry, picking him up and lugging him around, up and down stairs, through various rooms of the house.  She definitely has maternal instinct. She can be a "diva" at times and likes things to be done for her.  She also has a peace making, diplomatic side to her; she is often in situations where she is working to pacify her younger sister, while also serving her own sense of justice.

Emily, age 3, is a spitfire.  She has an independent spirit, believes that she can do just about anything on her own (as long as she wants to do it), and is quick to volunteer.  It has taken a bit of getting used to - this independent spirit - as doing something for her that she wants to do herself (eg. flushing the toilet) can lead to an automatic tantrum. She is a tough little nut, not intimidated by size or age, but also loves pink and tutus.

Zeke, age 1, loves his big brothers and sisters.  He is a happy little guy, for the most part, but likes to stick close and be carted around / cuddled.  He likes cars, balls / balloons, and books (well, he mostly likes to hold books and "talk" about them, not so much read). He loves music - loud music (no surprise there!), and is showing signs of the same destructive streak that some of his older brothers had (no surprise there, either).  He is particularly fond of bathrooms, specifically toilets.

We are anticipating yet another blessing: an eighth child to join our family somewhere near the end of May or beginning of June.  The kids are excited; names suggested have been Calvin, Hobbes, and Suzie.

If anything, this year has taught us that we cannot predict what the future will bring and we are not the ones in control.  However, we do know the One who is:

"Many things about tomorrow, I don't seem to understand, but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand." (Ira F. Stanphill)

So, we look confidently to the new year, not knowing what it may bring, but reminded by the verse that hangs over our front door, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for The Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go." (Joshua 1:9) Our prayer for you is the same, that you would go into this year, free from fear and discouragement, confidently trusting that The Lord goes with you and before you wherever you go.

Merry Christmas!

Love, the Dixon Family

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