Perhaps sharing our recent Christmas letter can more accurately describe my joyful and thankful heart! :)
Dear Friends & Family, December 2010
‘Tis the time of year to reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of chaos and ordinary, the many contradictions and blessings of life. I am often reminded that we make our plans, but God ultimately directs our steps and equips us for jobs or circumstances He assigns.
Soon after the beginning of this year, my (Sara) health improved after having lingered in a fog for a time with my autoimmune disease. A variety of factors may have contributed to the change, but we cannot pin-point any one thing. I’d like to think that learning to ski down the bunny hill last Christmas may have contributed to the improvement, but I’m not sure! If I can lean forward while flying down a snowy hill, surely I can face anything! J.
In our quest for healthy living, I began grinding our own flour to make bread, though I’ve found that consistency and practice remains my greatest challenge. My appreciation for pioneers multiplied significantly. Sam’s Club did not exist for back up if bread recipes flopped from a temperamental oven or if they forgot to make bread one week! Overall, I have enjoyed making bread this year and continue to learn and develop this new skill.
In June, we stopped to see Richard’s extended family in Guthrie, OK en route to Colorado. While in Oklahoma, Richard showed us landmarks of sentiment where he lived from age two to nine, including the creek where he drowned (obviously was revived).
Once in Colorado, we found Estes Park and Colorado Springs quite captivating, and now Richard dreams of moving near the Rocky Mountains. Such a move would actually help our aggravating seasonal allergies, so I’m not totally against the idea — though not fully convinced.
A few of the nature highlights included spotting a bear, watching several elk walk across tundra, and greeting friendly marmots near the top of a snowy mountain. Richard did not enjoy the high- elevation sickness that accompanied our mountain adventure (at one point over 14000 feet above sea level), and concluded that motorized mountain climbing would not be added to his list of hobbies.
We also visited Focus on the Family, Olympic training facility, Air Force Academy, and Celestial Seasonings tea factory. Visiting the Air Force Academy increased my appreciation for men and women serving our Country, and I tried picturing my boys attending campus with such a gorgeous backdrop.
This year held a few surprises. Ashlyn accidentally poked her fingers in my left eye during church this spring, scratching my cornea. Ouch! Though the experience was quite painful, I’m thankful that eyes heal quickly -- and I no longer hold Ashlyn on my lap. I’m also grateful for church friends who took our children while Richard & I waited a couple of hours in a walk-in clinic. I occasionally still favor my left eye.
We never thought we would have a dog inside our house! We discussed adopting a pet for the children, and actively searched for one in July. We soon found “Gabe”, a mixed-breed, medium-sized dog, and surprisingly fell in love and rescued him from the pound. He was 10 months old, timid in nature, and good with our children. Gabe has now become a part of our family, though I cringe at each white dog hair discovered in the laundry basket or in my kitchen, frantically whisking out sticky masking tape to de-hair my kitchen rug. The struggle to contain dog hairs continues …
After much prayer and self examination on my part, we decided to home school all three children, trusting it was the best option for our family. Teaching children at home remains the most challenging, and rewarding, full time job. I never thought I’d teach fractions, decimals or geometry to a fifth grader, and laugh out loud when I consider what I’m doing. :) We don’t know what the future holds with schooling, but we’re trusting He’s in control, working all things for our good (Romans 8:28).
Besides showing Caleb how to find the area of a triangle, I stay busy with our third grader (Antonin) and Kindergartner (Ashlyn). We’re presently studying Ancient World History, and meet each Friday with a home school group for extra-curricular activities.
Caleb sometimes reminds me of his dad, with his interest in statistics, geography, and math. He also finds science fascinating, learning about God’s creation in astronomy and staying up to the minute with weather facts. Caleb was also the top scorer on his soccer team this year, using both strategy and fast legs! We are proud of his perseverance this year.
Antonin began learning guitar this year, and tries to pick melodies out by ear. Hopefully, he will carry on with this interest, but at the moment says he wants to learn trumpet. He looks forward to handwriting every day, claiming he wants to be an author. He does well in all subjects, enthusiastically trying new and different things — like Taekwondo! We are pleased he’s now an Orange belt. His joyful heart makes us smile.
Ashlyn is learning to read, and looks forward to our time together reviewing letter sounds and completing her workbooks and coloring books. I have a hard time believing she’s turning six years old this month (Dec. 10th), and that this year is my last to teach Kindergarten. Ashlyn does not have a favorite subject, but I’ve been amused watching her write addition problems on paper, complete with correct answers! I honestly have not taught her anything but plain ‘ole numbers, and think that either she’s being tutored by her older brothers, or has inherited number crunching skills from her father. Perhaps none of our children will struggle with math like I did as a child.
At times I wonder whether I’m home schooling to teach my children, or to learn information and facts for myself. What an enlightening experience participating in a Seder meal while studying the Ancient Israelites. As a family, we also visited a Messianic Jewish congregation one Saturday. How lovely learning more about the culture our Savior lived while on earth.
With studying Ancient History in school and Old Testament Prophets in Bible Study (CBS), we’ve been absorbing how the Old Testament points to Christ, and how faithful God is even when we’re not. I co-teach the two and three year old class during the Bible Study, and have enjoyed the two hours on Thursdays with ten little children and two other co-teachers.
I completed my second writing class this summer, putting to practice what skills I’ve gleaned, seeking a few quiet moments at night to dabble in writing projects.
God bless your family this season and throughout the coming year. His grace and mercies are new every morning, sufficient for each ordinary or difficult task (Lamentations 3: 22-23).
Our family at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado