We Wish You a Merry Christmas!
Dear Family and Friends,
This year has not been what any of us hoped for when we were anticipating 2020. The unexpected, the uncertainties and the unprecedented nature of this year have left all of us reeling. Yet this year has brought joy in the midst of sorrow, hope when all seemed lost and a deeper love for others. As this year comes to an end and as we celebrate the most important gift that has ever been given, I am choosing to lift my eyes off of the heartache and fix them firmly on the heaven-sent blessings that my Father continues to lavish on me.
It’s been a tough year for my Lindsay girl. She has faced many disappointments and a senior year that looks nothing like what she expected. But as the year has progressed, we have watched her grow and adapt and adjust in ways that we would not have expected from her in previous years. She has learned to be resilient and as a result, this has been one of her best years ever. It sounds odd, doesn’t it? But that is the way God works. Sometimes he strips away all that we are holding onto and asks us to trust him. Then we step out in faith and he blesses us beyond our imaginings.
Lindsay has made the decision to pursue a degree in elementary education, but has decided to take a gap year next year instead of starting college right away. We are happy to have more time with her before she embarks on her next adventure and are thankful for the opportunity to push back on the pressure to make all of the decisions right now! Lindsay continues to pursue her passions for music (singing, playing guitar and ukulele), writing (she is currently collaborating on a book project with a friend and writing a book of her own), working with kids, serving at a local Christian camp every chance she gets and hanging out with friends (virtually for now).
Ethan is in his sophomore year in high school and is still the sweet and thoughtful boy he has always been with a bit of grumpy teenager thrown into the mix! He has been a rock for me this year, listening to me, challenging me when I needed to be challenged and encouraging me when I was brokenhearted. He is wise beyond his years and I am amazed at the work God is doing in his life.
Despite the challenges of this year, he too has had one of his best years ever. In February, our family took a mini-vacation to Toronto to celebrate Gibson’s birthday. The boys went to a car show and it was a dream come true for my car loving son(s)! He is passionate about cars and is extremely excited to start driving next year. During the summer months, he had the opportunity to go on a leadership hike at the camp where Lindsay serves. It looked different than in years past, but he was able to experience the challenges of backpacking in the wilderness and being stretched emotionally, physically and spiritually. He embraced it fully and camp has become one of his favorite things. He too serves at camp every chance he gets! In addition to these interests, he enjoys working out, playing video games with friends and riding his bike off the beaten path.
Gibson started 6th grade this year and the growth we have witnessed in him this year has been amazing. He is becoming more sensitive to the needs of others and will often give me hugs for no reason. He is an insatiable reader and has a passion for astronomy, computer coding and learning in general. As with all of my kids, he has his own unique challenges, but it is an absolute joy to watch him grow into a young man!
The best parts of this year for Gibson were the car show in Toronto, a few days at camp with our family, our vacation in the Adirondacks in August and the increased time our family has spent playing games and watching movies together. He has come out of his shell this year and enjoys playing with friends and helping the younger kids at church and school feel included. He still loves climbing trees, riding his bike, swimming, playing in the snow and soccer.
The biggest news for Ainsley is that she learned to read this year! It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to work with her and watch her master this skill. We are constantly amazed at the words she is able to sound out in our times of scripture reading. The ability to read has ushered in a new season for our family of playing a wider diversity of board games, an unexpected blessing. She also learned to swim this year, but riding her bike continues to be an elusive skill.
Ainsley has been blessed with many friends in our homeschool co-op and at church. These friendships have enriched her life and we are so pleased for her that even in the midst of a trying year, she has been blessed with the gift of friendship. Many of her friends joined her ballet class and that has been an absolute joy for her. Ainsley loves to play video games with her siblings and she loves to draw and color.
To say it has been a challenging year for Dave and I doesn’t quite seem to cover it. Yet the Lord has been faithful in holding us together when we felt like we were falling apart. Our love for each other, for Jesus and for the people He has called us to serve has only grown stronger. For this I am truly grateful, because there were times when the pain and the heartbreak of this year threatened to overwhelm us. We are able to say with more conviction than ever, that the Lord is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble. He has held us close and we are eternally grateful.
We too have enjoyed the trips we have been able to take despite the challenges of COVID. I have continued to write in my journal and with a friend although any public writing has been stifled this year. I’m trusting the Lord for whatever he has for me in the future and am content. I love homeschooling my kids and teaching a couple of classes at our homeschool co-op. The Lord continues to give me opportunities to serve. Dave has been blessed with friends who share some of his passions such as playing board games and video games and a nerdy excitement for all things space related. He has been encouraged by pastor friends as well and I am so grateful for these men who have come along side my husband and encouraged him to keep on keeping on.
The deepest heartbreak for me this year was saying the final goodbye to my precious Mama. By the end, she was in constant pain after battling cancer for four years and so I am grateful that she is no longer experiencing any pain or sorrow or heartache. But oh, how I miss her! She was my biggest supporter, a prayer warrior and a confidante. I can’t type these words without crying, but I know she what she would say. Don’t cry for me, Bekah! I am the happiest I have ever been! But of course, I cry for the hole that she has left. My Mama loved Jesus and she lived her life to shine the light of Christ. There will be many people in heaven because of my Mama’s faithful witness.
If you are reading this and you don’t know the hope that can be found in Jesus, it would by my greatest joy if her example would encourage you to find out what you are missing. This year has left us with no doubt that we are not in control. We can’t keep others from getting sick, we can’t convince people to listen to truth, we can’t even plan the next day with certainty. But there is one thing that has not changed and that is the plan that God has had all along. He never meant for this world with all of its horror and ugliness to be our final home. Our sin separates us from God, but his answer to this divide was to send his Son, Jesus, to be born, to live his life teaching others about God and then to die in our place, taking the penalty for our sins. After that, he rose again, because death cannot have victory over the author of life. Now he is seated at the right hand of God, offering eternal life to all who would believe.
Oh, friend, I hope that’s you! In case you think this life here and now is all that there is, I pray that the truth of Christmas, the truth my Mama lived out with every breath, would penetrate your heart and cause you to run to Jesus. I’m here if you want to learn more about this hope that I have.
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!
Dave, Becky, Lindsay, Ethan, Gibson and Ainsley