Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

We wanted to post this year's (and we will do so in future years, too) Christmas letter here on our website.  We are cutting back on the number that are going out in the mail, so if you don't get one, it's because we knew you'd be able to access here it at our website! 

We had hoped to post a "fall update" but didn't quite get to that! :)  So this can be our "Christmas update" and hopefully we will post a winter update sometime after the first of the year.  This is re-published from Lisa's blog at www.oneworshipchic.blogspot.com:

Ordinarily I send a zillion and one Christmas letters. This year, I thought I'd try something different. So... for the first time ever, here you have it... our virtual Christmas letter.

Dear Friends and Family,

Another year has come and gone, and 2011 was quite the year for us.

We kicked it off with Upward basketball and cheerleading, which took up quite a bit of our time from January - March. We had a 1/2 hour drive, and we made 3 trips every week for practices and games. It was well worth it, though, and we are getting ready to begin another season after the 1st of the year.

In March, Miah celebrated her first birthday with a princess party. In reality, she is more like the queen of this household. We are all crazy about her and have spoiled her rotten. She knows that she can have whatever she wants... whenever she wants it. It's all good, though, because she is a smart, sweet, and loving little girl. Miah is enjoying her music class, where she runs around like a little cyclone and bounces off the walls... and her friends. She does eventually wear herself out by the end of the day, blows everyone kisses, "honks" some noses (Seth taught her that), and snuggles down to rock and listen to stories. We pretty much adore her.

In May, we made a trip to Idaho for Phil's graduation from Northwest Nazarene University where he received his Master of Divinity degree in Spiritual Formation and Pastoral Ministry. Along with Miah, we took Caleb with us, because the graduation fell on his birthday weekend. We had a wonderful time catching up with old friends and visiting some of our favorite places from when we lived in Nampa. Phil's graduation was eventful, especially since we almost didn't make it in time because of road construction!

So... Caleb turned 7, experienced his first airplane ride, and has bragging rights with his older siblings since we didn't take them on the trip! Caleb started his first year of piano in the fall and is enjoying his class and friends, as always. He is in 2nd grade this year and is continuing to improve his reading skills. This has been a challenge for him, but we have seen a lot of progress in the past few months. Caleb loves to play outside, has fun with science, excels at math, and can't wait for it to snow some more!

As it sometimes does, life took us by surprise when Phil lost his job, with no explanation, one week after returning from graduation. After putting a lot of effort into this community and the relationships we had built over the previous 3-1/2 years, we took time to think and pray about what we should do next, and in the end, we felt just as called to minister to these people as ever. In the months that followed, we have begun an organic-based church plant through the Church of the Nazarene. We meet in our home and at local businesses, and we have been blessed with a traditional congregation of friends, as well, at our local 1st Church of the Nazarene. They have welcomed us with open arms as a part of their family, and for that we are very thankful.

In addition to finishing his last MDiv class over the summer and leading our new church plant, Phil has been doing pulpit supply... filling in for pastors at other area churches when they are sick or on vacation, or just filling in when a church is temporarily without a pastor. I have been working hard to establish my photography business, elemenoh-cheese portraits, while also continuing my education at Indiana Wesleyan University. I will finally graduate this summer with my Bachelor's degree in Business Management. And because of God's grace... and receptive people who care... we are surviving...

This summer, the kids attended various camps. Seth and Grace both went to pre-teen camp; Seth spent a week enjoying a video game making day camp; and Seth, Grace, and Caleb participated in a sports camp when we visited Michigan for campmeeting. This was a bonus, because it was free and I didn't even know it was going on until we got there! We had a nice week with the grandparents and felt refreshed when we arrived home.

In September, Seth turned 11. Something about that just doesn't seem right, but you can't stop the passage of time. Seth is in 6th grade now and is doing very well at Hoosier Virtual Academy, which is an on-line public school. He has continued to participate in an art class and also took a couple of pottery classes this year. Seth enjoys playing video games... and playing video games... and playing more video games. Seth also likes to make up creative games for his siblings to play and generally "directs" things.

Grace turned "double digits" in October, and we celebrated with a party at Splash Universe in Shipshewana. Let's just say that I'm glad they only turn 10 once, because "Mom's" getting old for this party stuff! Grace is now in her 4th year of piano and keeps bringing home awards and cash prizes, so I'm thinking she's probably going to stick with it forever at this point. This makes me happy, because I love to hear her play. Grace is also at Hoosier Virtual Academy and is doing well in 5th grade. She has made a lot of friends and checks her e-mail 17 times an hour... like someone else I know...

Well... who does that leave? Oh yes... Our resident super hero. Super Ian continues to control the happenings of the Michaels galaxy by flying through the house. He has acquired some ninja capabilities, as well, so sometimes we find him in places we would never have dreamed of... As a general rule, he loves his baby sister, except not quite as much when she's destroying his "creations". Ian keeps everyone on their toes wherever he goes, and though you might not always know it, he does enjoy music class and children's church. Ian also loves to read and listen to music. He will turn 5 the day after Christmas.

I guess that about covers it. Does this letter get longer every year? We hope you all have a very blessed and happy Christmas and that 2012 is better than ever! And don't forget to drop us a line every once in awhile so we can keep up with you, too!

Love,

Phil, Lisa, Seth, Grace, Caleb, Ian, and Miah

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