Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

Hello Friends!  We have enjoyed looking back on 2013 and marveling at all the amazing things we were able to be a part of.
-  Had the pleasure of hosting a teenage friend for a few months and learned a lot about what it's like to be a teen in today's society as well as what it would be like to be the mother of a teen.  Glad we're not there yet, but also glad for the wisdom gained!
 Great Wolf Lodge family getaway- 2 of the 4 kids said this was the best thing that happened all year.
Passover- Has become our favorite holiday.  All the smells and tastes make for a very vivid picture of God's story of redemption.  
 Easter in Austin:  It's always great to be with the cousins.  Jo enjoys celebrating her birthday in Texas, and then again with Meme and Grandad back at home.
 Lydia turned 5! Still loves crafting and she and Johanna were in a local kids production of 101 Dalmatians.
Summer Camp- Another great summer!  We are amazed at the number of families and children that we get to host at New Life Camp each year.  Johanna had her first year of Cabin Camp and is looking forward to her first overnight camp this year.  Lydia had another fun year at Kindercamp.
Moldova- Britt got to go to Moldova for the first time since Greg started taking trips over there 7 or 8 years ago.  It was an incredible and convicting experience to be around people who are living very simple lives that are completely surrendered to Christ.  When I came home I realized that I wanted our family's life to be one that is set apart for the sake of God's kingdom-one that is simple, yet very purposeful in all we have and do.  It has totally transformed our home, our schedules, our money and the stuff we buy with our money.  I think one of the hardest things to deal with as followers of Christ in our culture are all the distractions we are faced with everyday.
Cousin Sadie's Bat Mitzvah- We had such a great time road tripping to Naperville, IL in August.  The kids enjoyed every bit of it!  They were great in the car and we got to make a fun stop in Indianapolis on the way up.  Watching all the extended cousins playing together was wonderful.  They are begging for more road trips!
Chloe turned 2- She's walking, talking (imitating all of Lydia's mannerisms), going potty fairly consistently, growing up fast!
Bryce turned 4 and it was his year for his "friends" party.  He had his 2 friends over (poor guy always surrounded by girls) and had a Robin Hood birthday.  He was so into it and Greg did an awesome job weaving their characters into a Sherwood Forest adventure in our woods!  Bryce is quite the archer!
Myrtle Beach- We got to join our friends, Shelley and David at the beach this year.  Always a great time of rest and fellowship and knitting.
NC State Fair-  I love how the fair brings all people of all sorts of people together in one place.  My favorite place to people watch, for sure.  Lydia and Johanna entered the art competition with 2 great Egyptian collages they did in school.  Lydia ended up winning first prize for her category and we were surprised to find out that her prize was $75!  Now we know how we'll be paying for their college education.  How many categories can we enter?
Friends:   We love hosting our friends in our spare room above the garage!  The kids enjoy having Tanya Crevier over and helping her with her basketball shows.  We got to host a missionary doctor from Russia, Dr. Olga, who we fell in love with immediately.  We are taking reservations for 2014!!
Thanksgiving- Britt's mom and Dad came for Thanksgiving this year.  Mom came early and we got to do a Sheep to Shawl workshop together-learning how to wash, dye, and spin the wool into yarn.  It was a fascinating experience and we both had so much fun together.  Again, there is something about the simplicity of farm life and creating things from scratch that is so satisfying.
Coach Greg- Greg is coaching basketball again!  Our high school homeschool boys team that practices/plays at camp needed a coach this year and Greg agreed to take the job.  I think coaching (although adding hours to his schedule) has given him some great balance to his other responsibilities at camp.  And he's a fantastic coach so it's fun to watch him back in his element!
Grieving the Loss of friend, Ronnie Smith:  Ronnie was a member at my parents' and brother (Justin's) church in Austin.  We did not know him personally, but he lost his life in Dec. while serving the people of Libya.  His death impacted us greatly and caused us to really search our hearts as to what it means to love sacrificially as Jesus did and how he teaches us to do the same.  We have a long way to go, but we are eager to surrender more of ourselves this year than last for the sake of God's glory and his kingdom.
Behold the Lamb of God:  More and more we are learning that the Bible as a whole is God's beautifully complete story of Redemption.  As followers of Jesus we tend to sometimes focus only on the New Testament and in doing so miss out on so much of why Jesus had to come/chose to come to earth.  We enjoyed attending Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb Christmas concert that brings to life God's story of redemption in a very creative, powerful way.
Christmas with the Burtons- It was a sweet time with Greg's brother, sister and our niece and nephew at Greg's parents house this Christmas.  We brainstormed ways that we could give birthday presents to Jesus and the kids did various random acts of kindness around town.  The kids had a great time!  Our week off was low-key and relaxed.  The kids slept by the tree Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning opened one gift- a book we had picked out that included a letter of blessing for each of them.  We cried tears of joy as we expressed how we loved each one of them uniquely.  They all said it was their best Christmas ever.  I agree.

We love you!  Happy New Year!!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy New Year!!

We started the year sick.  Really sick.  It is a very humbling experience to be able to do absolutely nothing except sleep.  I think it's where God wants us, really.  Not sick, but in a place where we completely give up our sense of self-reliance and do nothing but rest in his grace as we go about our daily activities.  That is what I want for our family for 2013.  To glorify God in all we think, say, and do.  There is no greater calling, no greater hope.  We love you and hope that this year will be one that you grow in the knowledge of who Jesus Christ is. 

By the way, we are pretty much all well now, but whatever we had we spread to mom and dad while they were here on a special visit after Christmas.  Keep the love and soup going their way! 

Jo's haircut and laughs

Jo's been losing her teeth and recently lost quite a bit of hair!  It looks great and so grown up. 

Bryce and Lydia are great pals!

Christmas fun

This is as close as we got to a family pic in front of the tree.  

Tata before they got sick

We had so much fun with mom and dad when they literally sacrificed their well-being to spend a few days with us after Christmas. They took care of us and picked up the yucky flu stuff that we had. Here's a great pic of Tata with the kids!

Fun times with Tanya and Caleb

We got to spend a fun weekend with Tanya Crevier and her nephew Caleb.  They do ball-handling shows around the country (not to mention juggling, unicycling, hula hooping, etc.) and share the hope that is found in Jesus Christ.  They brought such joy to our home and it was just what we needed after all struggling with an awful bout with the flu.  Here's a pic that we took with Tanya this summer and one that we took a few days ago under a balloon fort she made the kids.  http://tanyacrevier.blog.com/ Very cool stuff!!