Just the other day I wrote our Christmas letter and printed off a copy (before the printer decided it was hungry and ate all my paper) for Tim to proofread. He then commented that I didn't include Papa's passing. I went on to share that I wanted to keep the letter positive and focus on the "happy" things of 2009. He agreed, but then I continued to think about that. Maybe I do need to address the hard things.
Those who know me well know that fall is my favorite time of year. There's nothing like a cozy sweatshirt, a football game, and a bowl of chili, all with the love of my life that I met in the autumn. It seems though that fall is now starting to be characterized by death. In 1994 my dear Grandmother passed away in the month of October. Last year in October we lost our beloved Jerri. For some reason in 2009 news of death has occurred quite frequently. From pop stars like Michael Jackson, to football prodigies like Steve McNair and Chris Henry. We brushed death's door for a while with my mom's cancer diagnosis, and lost our precious "Papa." It seems like this fall was heavily laden with those dying. In just four weeks time our dance teacher's grandpa passed away, our pastor's wife suddenly lost her dad, and my cousin and her husband both lost their dads! While people pass all year long, those that went in the fall remind me that God is making His harvest. Some are profitable grain, others are chaff.
Shortly after Halloween, a holiday focused on death, you see Christmas things in the stores! There's lights, gifts, and baking supplies. There's something joyful to look forward to! There's more to the story than the depressing thoughts of death. That's what makes the Christmas story so special. God sent His son Jesus so that there may be life instead of death. He is the Light of the world, the most precious Gift, and there's no sweeter name than the name of Jesus. Those thoughts are are happy thoughts. Those thoughts give us hope of seeing our loved ones once again, and most importantly being with our Creator for eternity.
Holly especially is excited about the presents that are under our tree. Our gifts to her aren't even there yet. If all of us are truly honest with ourselves, we get excited about gifts too. Some gifts we just absolutely love. Others get laid aside not to be played with or used a month down the road. If you're reading this, you've been given the best Gift of all. Some have opened it and cherish it deeply. That Gift is used on a daily basis. Others have opened it. They claim to like it, but it sits in a closet collecting dust. Still more have a wrapped Gift sitting there waiting for them. I'm not sure why they don't receive it. Maybe they feel like the tag doesn't say it's for them. Maybe they're worried there's strings attached.
I guess the reason I can focus on the joyful things in a Christmas letter is because thankfully I have the joy that is found in the gift of Jesus and can look at life with an eternal perspective. Our prayer for you this Christmas is that you have that prized Gift with your name on it. If you can't find it, we'll be glad to help. It's not hard to find, have to fight a mall crowd to get, nor is it too late (yet) for special delivery. For those that have lost loved ones, know that we are praying for you by name. Hang on to the hope of Christmas. We know what it's like to especially go through that year of "firsts" and we love you all so much.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
While most of you have heard about the big snowstorm in the Northeast, some have not heard how that affected Tim. I woke up Friday morning to read on one of my friends' Facebook status that they were expection 10-15 inches of snow. I immediately texted Tim to make sure he knew. By the time we were on our way to dance, he called to say he had his flight changed free of charge. He safely arrived in Louisville around 3:30 Friday afternoon.
This is not what our house looks like right now, as there is 2 foot of snow surrounding it. However, as soon as I had an address a dear new friend of mine went over and took this snapshot for me ahead of the storm. While it's one of the smallest 5 bedroom floorplans, we are blessed to have an attached garage, fenced in backyard, and be located next to a playground which all backs up to a wooded area. Best of all, all 6 of us will be living under the same roof! God is faithful and we are thankful.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
The recital began with the senior music class singing "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." Ahren took the lead while playing his guitar, Mrs. Kim played the piano, and Nick played the drums. Haley, Bekah, and Beka were the back-up. It would surely bring peace on Earth to all who heard. The senior class performed 3 dance numbers to "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "Christmas Shoes," and "Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland." Mrs. Mindy and Mrs. Theresa did a fantastic job choreographing those. As a dream come true for a budding ballerina, Mrs. Tara came back in time to teach Bekah her first pointe routine. She made her debut in a beautiful way. The teachers and staff at Grace In Motion put together a blessing of a morning to worship our Savior.
Holly was able to sing and dance at the Christmas recital at Grace In Motion. Ahren played his guitar while the kids rang their bells singing Jingle Bells. They also sang Away In A Manger. Mrs. Kim has been so wonderful to teach them music in a way that honors the Lord. They had a display of the artwork that Mrs. Kathy and Mrs. Paula led them in throughout the semester. Mrs. Mindy taught them a tap routine to "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!" It was ironic that as they were dancing to this song, we were trying to get Tim out of DC before a big snowstorm hit! It was good to know that he got an earlier flight out and made it home shortly after the recital.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
As I was walking out the door to a busy Tuesday I happened to pick up the phone to "Unknown Name, Unknown Number." The kids were already in the car, but for some reason, I answered it. It was the housing office from Ft. Belvoir. They will have a house ready for us in mid January. It's too early at this point to give out many details, but we're in the process of getting things moving. We now need to greatly purge what we have to prepare to downsize. It would also help to get our house here sold as well. This brings about many mixed emotions for everyone. We cling to the hope that God has this all in control. We are so greatful to all of you who have prayed for us during this time of separation.
Sandwiched into the same day was Hunter's Cub Scout Pack Christmas party. There was singing, games, awards, and of course, food. This is such a great group of boys. We are quite thankful to be a part of this pack. The top picture is the group of boys from 9th and O. The middle picture is Hunter's Webelo II den with leader, Mr. Chipman. At the bottom, Cubmaster, Mr. Mathis awards Hunter with 4 activity badges. This puts him very close to earning his Arrow of Light.
Haley and Bekah had the opportunity to sing and dance at a nearby nursing home with their dance class. They got to experience what it's like to perform in a small space and do quick changes. Regardless, I'm sure the residents were blessed. This was a great opportunity to learn how great it is to give during the Christmas season.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Our church youth group has small groups so that teenagers can form close friendships and strengthen their walk with Christ. Sarah, one of Haley's leaders, organized a Christmas party for their group and we were honored to host it. The girls decorated cookies, dipped pretzles, and exchanged gifts. Everyone had a good time. Some special girls were missing due to other obligations. We are thankful for a beautiful team of young ladies.
Monday, December 14, 2009
I think Sunday, December 13, 2009 was the night of Christmas musicals for many people we know across the country. 9th and O Baptist was no exception. How blessed we were under the direction of Dr. Barry Joslin. The Worship Choir, Made 4 Praise, Made 2 Praise, Wee Praise, instrumentalists, and Heather Payne did an awesome job in leading us in worship. What an awesome offering of thanksgiving for what God has given us!
The Saturday after Thanksgiving would be Bekah's 15th birthday. Where has the time gone? I was just recently thinking of the year when she played baby Jesus for the Singing Christmas Tree. Now she's itching to drive. We had an awesome time of celebration at Marian's Piazza. Not only did we have Tim's side of the family, but my cousin Angi and her family were able to come as well. Good pizza, good cake (Ele Cake Co.), good company, and one happy teenager!
Tim was home for 10 days during the Thanksgiving holiday. We traveled to Ohio (the six of us + my mom + 2 dogs) Wednesday morning. Half way there we realized I forgot the pumpkin roll. It actually turned out this year! After arriving safely, two more pumpkin rolls were made. We had the opportunity to meet Patti, Dennis' new friend. What a blessing she is. Jessica prepared an awesome turkey complete with all the trimmings. Patti added darling party favors for the tables. Of course the day was complete by skimming through the ads for the next morning. 4am would come very early! Tim got up with me this year. He needed a coat for this side of the mountains. After meeting Jessica and the teenagers, he went back home. The whole family gathered at Panera for lunch at the request of Bekah. Thanks, Papaw! Later that evening we had a good visit with my dad. Overall, a very good weekend.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
One of the requirements for a Webelo to earn his Arrow of Light is for him to attend a campout with a Boy Scout troop. Uncertainty concerning our move, I was worried this wouldn't happen for Hunter. Thankfully it did. Tim was able to attend with him. It was a very cold night, but we were thankful it was dry. He and the other boys in his Webelo den planned their "grub" and fixed it themselves. He also set up the tent all by himself. He was able to meet with the Scoutmaster and shared his goal to one day be an Eagle Scout. If you'll notice, there's no picture to accompany this post. Just a sign that he is outgrowing "family" outings when it comes to scouts.