When I think of Christmas Eves, Christmas feasts, Christmas songs, and Christmas stories, I know that they do not represent a short and transient gladness. Instead, they speak of a joy unspeakable and full of glory. God loved the world and sent His Son. Whosesoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. That is Christmas joy. That is Christmas spirit. ~ Corrie Ten Boom
Merry Christmas! I hope this note finds you in the midst of Christmas Eves, feasts, songs and stories that are lavish and festive and glorious. Because God is these things (and to the extreme!), we need to not only celebrate that fact but emulate Him in it. So…bring on the fudge and wrapping paper! Jesus became Man and He is KING! Time to party!
May we all have eyes to see the wonders He has done for us and given to us, not only in this glorious Christmas season but in the whole of 2019. See it in the fluorescent skies of sunset and the floating dandelion seeds; taste His goodness in the wine and bread, and steak and ice cream; hear Him in the red-winged blackbirds and thunderstrikes and phone calls and giggles; feel Him in the love of a neighbor, the hug of a child and the warmth of the sun.
I know you are all just dying to hear about our family (har har) so for those of you who want a further run-down on our shenanigans…read on! All the rest- Merry Christmas and much love!
At the beginning of the year, Corynn made the lofty goal of reading 100 books in 2017. She wound up finishing that many around August and has read 153 so far. (That number will have changed by New Year’s Eve, I am sure.) Things like Austen, Bronte, Wodehouse, C.S.Lewis, D. Wilson and N.D.Wilson, Gene Stratton Porter, L.M.Alcott with plenty of J.K. Rowling and B. Selznick mixed in. She writes the titles in a journal as she finishes them and I think it will be a great treasure for her, some years down the road, to look back on all that she has read. She may have exceeded her own expectations in this, but she has exceeded so many of our expectations in so many other ways. It is frightening to look at her growing and acting so grown up these days; at 15, her years left living at home with us are dwindling too rapidly. I can’t think about that right now. As a homeschooling mother, I have been with her almost every single hour of every single day of her life and yet- it still doesn’t feel like enough. It still goes by too fast. I know~ I am so greedy!
Andrew is 12 this year- his last year before he becomes a ‘teen’. We measure each other at the start of every new year and mark it on the kitchen wall- and when we looked the other day, we discovered he grew over 6 inches since January! He is becoming downright manly these days and as much as it makes me sad, I appreciate so much the manly help that he does around here for me- especially when Matt is away. He splits wood and wields an ax with skill, splitting me kindling and helping Matt with firewood. He helps to tend the fire sometimes and he is the one we all depend on to get the crazy renegade cow back to where she is supposed to be. He got to go to the PA farm show this year with a good friend and it has been one of the greatest adventures and memories of the year. He took a hunters’ safety course and went hunting by himself for the first time this year and got a nine point buck on the first day out! He still dreams of deer farming and now has some experiences to go along with his dreams as he was able to help out at a neighbor’s deer farm. He has been saving money for this dream for a while. I wouldn’t be surprised if you read about this dream becoming a reality for him in the next Christmas letter.
Adele’ is now double digits and, unlike last year, her birthday passed with no broken bones! (Praise God!) She is a quiet soul and can have a hard time coming out of her shell with people she doesn’t know but when she is totally comfortable- better watch out! She loves to whistle- and in ear-piercingly high notes too. We always love that. ;-) There are times when she will just randomly clean my sink for me or will ask to make supper or go to visit some older neighbors who she loves. She learned to knit this year and has been enjoying reading chapter books- a milestone she has looked forward to for quite some time. She very bravely took on the scariest rollercoaster at Knoebels this year and I realized that behind that quiet façade is a warrior! She is always surprising me…I wish everyone could have an Adele’.
Judah, now 8, didn’t wait for his birthday to break a bone…he just decided to fall out of a tree this summer instead. We learned something new about Judah during that time- he is petrified of needles and doctors and any medical attention even remotely directed at him. No matter that they were fulfilling the Hippocratic Oath and doing him only GOOD. He wouldn’t listen- he was too busy screaming. J He broke his left arm, which was his dominant one and so the months of recovery resulted in him becoming truly ambidextrous! Not everyone can claim so cool a feat, but I wouldn’t say he would think it was worth it. He and Adele travelled to New York City with Grandma and Grandpa and their cousin David just a few weeks ago which was an amazing experience that they both adored. Judah is still a Hoss of a boy and he grows more and more able with each passing day~ but I know there is still a little boy inside him who needs love and direction, as little boys do, and I try not to let those moments slip past my notice. I know what time does to children…
Ineke is a hair shy of three, though she got her birthday presents a bit early this year so they wouldn’t have to compete with Christmas presents. She still sports the wild and crazy troll hair that she always has and still prefers “pwiddy dwesses”, specifically the “bid ones” (the big ones). Girls are called “doyels”, mermaids are “berbaids”, alligators are “a-leg-ilators”. Oh man, I love toddler talk. These are precious times.
Matt works so hard for his family and provides well for us. He does the work God has given him to do with tenacity and grace. When he isn’t working for Dairy One, he is busy with splitting wood, building a wood splitter from scratch with his Dad, sawing up lumber for a new shed come next summer with his brother or building gorgeous stone patios. He always finds some new project to work on. We got to enjoy him on three separate overnight trips this summer-away from “work work” and away from “home work” -which means all he could do was RELAX. It was AMAZING. This year was a stretching year for me, when certain hard providences made for struggles that seemed to overwhelm me and my heart felt a bit shattered. Through it, though, I was reminded how much of a gift Matt is to me….he scooped me in his arms and let me be broken and vulnerable while also strengthening me by patiently meeting me in my brokenness and speaking Truth and wisdom. Over and over and over again. He is a good man. And after 16 years of marriage, I have renewed gratitude that it is HIM that I get to share my life with…this smart, patient, wise, and loving man.
In May, I was extremely blessed to fulfill a lifelong dream of going to the Netherlands, where my mothers’ family is from (and, in some cases, still is!). I went with my Mom and her siblings…without any children in tow. It was glorious. My world became much larger in that trip- metropolitan life is so vastly different than the life I lead- and the trip was filled with beauty- from the paintings of the masters in the Rijksmuseum to the old windmills, from the Dutch language dancing from the lips of newly introduced relatives to the orchids lining windows, from the grandiose architecture to the artfully presented cuisine and bottles of sparkling water. I took it all in, every bit of it… And yet, I was reminded that all the amazing sights in the world cannot compare to the ones I wake up to every morning. Matt, with his smiley eye-wrinkles. Ineke and her tousled hair. Corynn and Andrew goofing off together. Adele in her pretty dresses. Judah drawing pictures of bison. The pheasants that visit each morning. The pollen of homegrown flowers. The sweetness of soft puppies. The taste of sun ripened cherry tomatoes. Sweet pan chili. Frosted grass, crunching underfoot. The beauty of a dragonfly wing. Yes, God is lavish indeed.
May we all have eyes open wide to his goodness and hearts filled with gratitude, no matter where He puts us in this coming year. And may we all have JOY in all circumstances, because God loved the world and sent us His son. Even with nothing else, that is enough. Merry Christmas!
Love, Rebecca (et al.)