Friday, December 07, 2012

Christmas Letter 2012

Alas, I have the privilege of staring out my window at the familiar sights from the comfort of our own home!  The warm days make it hard to believe it’s the Christmas season and time to wrap up our year in a letter!
Okay, so this time last year,  life was in a topsy turvy royal mess. But, here we are...surrounded by color (white is just not me~white walls, white fixtures, white appliances, white counters, white sinks...!) and all that is us!

This year is all about CHANGE...and faster than I can blink my eyes! I know change is ever present, but there’s always some sort of  foundational stability that anchors us. The four winds, however, seem to be blowing all that away!

Let’s start with Bert and Jessica, who faced major changes this year when Bert lost his job due to the continuing economic downturn. So, in addition to teaching part-time at the local college,  he spends his time as Mr. Mom while diligently searching for a new job! They are still able to participate in their favorite past-time~UTK/Troy weekends. Even the girls cheer  them on!

Jessica keeps us up-to-date with her blog, and we love hearing about their daily lives and seeing photos and videos as Elizabeth and Caroline change on what seems like a daily basis!

Elizabeth is trying out her ballet wings, and the videos are soo adorable! Caroline has had  her share of being sick this year; despite it all, she continues to be the most content and happy child ever! Both girls are growing so quickly!

Ditto for Alexis, Aleaha, Alivia and Alaina!  Alexis is almost as tall as I am, and Alaina is  even with Alivia! Though Melanie attends college and works, with two kids at home during the day, they still go camping whenever they can!

Alexis sings in the school chorus and is throwing in her soccer shoes for softball cleats in the Spring. Aleaha, on the other hand, continues  to play soccer; and I understand she is a most avid reader!  All four girls love the outdoors and riding 4-wheelers!  I love the pictures Melanie texts to me that crack me up so much!
Hannah...she indeed graduated in May, completing the IB Programme, and then took off to London and France for two weeks–a dream she’s been saving for since 9th grade! After return-ing home, she worked all summer, then packed her life up in two suitcases and traveled half way around the world to New Zealand/Fiji for six months with YWAM. She is absolutely in her element leading worship, writing songs, minister-ing to so many through love, prayer and sharing    the gospel. Her life is full and God is doing some amazing work in and through her!

Rebeka, on the other hand, is already experiencing senioritis.  Despite that, she keeps persevering. Accepted to both her college choices, she has chosen to attend Lee~~BUT...not before attending YWAM!!  She just made the deci-sion to defer, taking a gap year to travel to the New Zealand Outdoor Pursuits YWAM! Lee University will defer all scholarships, etc., and she will also earn credit for the trip! In the mean time, 4 AP and  1 Honors class keep her on her toes!

She still has a passion for her violin, and when all the youth group crowd into our small parlor every sunday, she pulls it out to accompany whoever is playing the piano!  She’s been playing Christmas songs, and there’s nothing like a sweet violin to usher in the Christmas feeling!

Keith just keeps on doing what he does best...being the most awesome husband, father, pappa, friend and employee he could possibly be. He’s looking forward to the time when we can travel to be with family and friends.

Another big change for our family was losing of our 16-year-old family dog, Dakota. I  didn’t think I could grieve for a dog the way that I grieve his absence from our lives.  He is sorely missed.

We also lost a very dear man who was like a second father to me, Paul Parham. It’ still hard to be-lieve he is gone. Everytime I make peanut butter cookies, I am reminded of him and miss him deeply.

We rescued a  kitty back in the summer and  named her Ginny...found out six months later, Ginny is a boy. We had him neutered and all his shots up to date only for him to disappear two weeks later.

So, for the first time in 16 years, we have no animals.  To top all that off, this time next year, we will be empty nesters...after how many years of raising  kids, it is going to be terribly quiet around here!

There is already a lot missing this year: the morning turmoil of two girls sharing one bathroom; the discussions over who is wearing what and where is what article of clothing that was borrowed and not returned; the priority-setting for who gets the vehicle for what activity and who will drive; Hannah’s incessant chattering and singing and strange vocal experiments that have to be video’d (for what reason, I still don’t know!); the 4 or 5 piano practices a day; the tattletelling; the daily gang-up-on-mom rituals; the midnight-i-feel-like-talking conversations; the 15-minute-interval reminders to finish homework; the what-if conversations; the lived-in look of Hannah’s room (which Rebeka does spend a fair amount of time trying to rectify!); and of course, the multi-hormonal week of insanity! Spoiler Warning: Next year, this whole page will be filled with a whole new list of what will be missing!

My mindset is on “lasts.” My life has been centered on being a mom, and this is the last year to be in that season. I am quite aware of all the lasts and cherishing each one as they come to a close. I think I will grieve the end of this time for a bit. I’ve spent more than 25 years raising kids and being a part of their lives. It will take me awhile to recreate a new life taking just Keith and me into consideration. The song by Alabama, “Changes” comes to mind...!

Though so much has changed, there are some things that will never change, and that is the depth of the relationships we share. As Hannah and Rebeka join Jessica and Melanie in creating their own lives, our joy is being able to share in those lives.

This Christmas season may you join us in focusing on God’s unchanging perfect love come down to earth so that we may have life everlasting!