(Picture gallery at the end of the letter)
One of the benefits of getting older is that you have a longer perspective with which to appreciate the blessings that our Lord showers on us continually. We also have a better perspective to appreciate the value of family and friends (old and new). I am reminded that everything else I do in life will pass away, even from memory, but family and the friendships that we make are designed to be eternal. With that in mind, here is what the Lord has been doing in our lives this year.
We were blessed with two (almost) additions to the family this year. It feels like they are already family, but all things should be done decently and in order. So, while they feel like family members, the Lord has not completed that work just yet. I will start with them and them move on to Bright Eyes.
Meet the Newest (Almost) Family Members!
Pooh Bear (6 mos.) – “Pooh Bear” has been a great blessing to us. He joined us at four days old through foster care. His case resolved very quickly and we are in the transition stage from a foster placement to an adoptive placement. It is essentially all paperwork and waiting from here, but it will not come quick enough for us.
Pooh Bear is a little diminutive in the length, but more than makes up for it in weight. I have never seen a child’s profile where his cheeks protrude past his nose, but that is exactly what he has. Top off those cheeky mounds with a dimple each, a perpetual smile, and two coal-black eyes, and you have one handsome little man (or Pooh Bear).
Sweetness (20) – Sweetness and Coco were engaged this summer. From our perspective, they couldn’t be more perfect together. When we talk about how the Lord always exceeds expectations when you wait on His provision, she is our living example. She is beautiful, bright, and most importantly loves the Lord. Coco couldn’t be happier!
She is finishing her studies and looking forward to when the Lord will promote her to fulltime housewife. We have treasured our time getting to know her and her family.
The Rest of the Story!
Bright Eyes (3) – “Bright Eyes” is truly the human embodiment of a butterfly. She flits from one thing to the next with barely a pause, bringing her beautiful touch to everything she does. It seems like the only thing that will slow her down is a book. Any book. If it even looks like a book, she will stop and find someone to read it to her. She has made a lot of progress with some of the challenges she was blessed with and we cherish every day watching her transform from caterpillar to butterfly.
Portable Circus (5) – “Portable Circus” continues to charm every member of the female gender without appearing to even try. The fact that he really isn’t trying is probably one of the reasons they love him so much. Of course his penchant for saying the most heart melting thing at just right time, doesn’t hurt either. We all have made a great deal of progress with his sensory integration challenges. That has enabled him to manage “overload” situations much better.
Curly Girly (7) – “Curly Girly” has grown more curls and grown more girly. With her increased curls she has grown sweeter and more helpful. I have decided that her sweetness is in her hair, so like Samson, we are not going to cut her hair. She is enjoying first grade and finds vacation very bothersome because she can’t go to school. Curly Girly still loves to be coddled, and I confess that as her father, that is something I enjoy immensely. Yes, I was just kidding about the hair thing.
Thunder (12) – “Thunder” is the same as always, just bigger…and stronger and more mature. He is just over 5’ 8” and looking to catch Jamie in the coming months. It is easy to forget that he is only twelve. We have to remind ourselves of that every so often so as to keep our expectations in the realm of reality. He has continued playing baseball and for the first time his Spring team did not win a championship. We are grateful that the Lord provided this great dose of reality for him. He is back at school this year and has thoroughly enjoyed returning to school. It has been great for him to renew his old friendships and make new ones.
Princess (19) – “Princess” had an eventful year. She graduated from high school and started at the local university. Her first semester was very successful and one of her professors nominated her for a fellowship that essentially provides a full scholarship. I am always very proud of her, but this semester I am more so. Not because she was so successful. On the contrary, it is despite the success, she was able to determine that this is not where she is called to be. Her first semester may be her last, but with it she was able to move forward in life, confident in her ability and her direction. She is now able to pursue growing her domestic skills (where she truly desires to be), bless her family, and minister to the community. We are excited to see where the Lord will take her (and to enjoy the extra time with her).
Coco (24 years) – “Coco” has enjoyed his first year as a taxpayer. He worked for a major IT company for a good part of the year. He made some great friendships there as well as had some great experiences. He was given the highest score you can receive in his evaluation, then shortly after, his group was shut down as the company realigned. He never wavered in His faith as he waited on the Lord again for direction. The Lord was quick to respond, and while he had options to remain with the company, he was given an offer with a smaller IT company that was better in every way and exactly the type of work he wanted to be doing. We see less of him these days as we need to share him with Denise, but the blessing is, that when we see him, we frequently see them both. We look forward to sharing them for decades to come.
Beautiful — God has been exceedingly generous in the blessings he has poured on me over the years. Next to granting me saving grace, none of His blessings exceed that of my bride. Our family has grown enormously over the years and her dedication is awe inspiring. Not only has each child added to the mundane demands that she has met with skill and enthusiasm, but they have also added special needs that require efforts above and beyond. Each day our children benefit from a mother that will do everything in her power to make their lives the best they can be. It is truly a blessing to witness.
Me—The church continues to grow and thrive and once again, I am blessed to be working alongside fantastic people. It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord will bring just the right people at the right time. We may not have all the same people in the church today that we did when we started a decade ago, but it has been a blessing to be part of their journey as they spent time with us. We are certainly better off for each person that has called our church home, and I hope that they are as well.
Work operated at a faster pace this year than previously. That was fun and challenging at the same time. I could not imagine attempting to meet those challenges without that great people that I am blessed to work with. It is always encouraging working alongside people that hold their work and their coworkers in high regard.
While we miss sharing these experiences in person with all of you, we look forward to the day when we can visit at length. Then we will be able to recount all of the things that have slipped my mind (or yours) or simply won’t fit on a two page, once a year letter. As we all prepare to remember the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh, let us not forget that the baby was, and is the King. He reigns still.
P.S. Click on the pictures to see a larger version.