Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas card!!!

(Once again, we are not sending Christmas cards out in the traditional way - see the end of this post for more on that...We hope you enjoy this online version! If you regularly read my blog, some of these stories will sound familiar...)
As I looked over last year's Christmas letter, I was reminded of the struggles we believed we had faced. Then I went over the photos from this past year to remind me of any big happenings I could talk about in this year's letter. Amazingly, I found nothing. At first, I thought, "That can't be! There must be some huge earth shattering events I could write about...!" *scrolling, scrolling* Nope. Nothing. I was a little sad. I love writing about the fun stuff we do, which is why I blog, of course. Anyway - I realized that not having any major events over the year means one thing - nothing happened! YAY! Do you how happy it makes me to tell you that we had a wonderfully mellow year? Sure, we experienced some ups and downs, but nothing like the year before! I believe we persevered through the 2008 year and that this year was one filled with new growth!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

As the year of 2009 began, our family was made up of Mom, Dad, Moses and foster son Pumpkin (obviously, this is his 'secret identity' for the purposes of this blog). Before the month of January was over, our family grew to include 17 year old foster daughter Pickles (again, her secret identity =)!) Remember how we want 12 kids? Having 3 under the same roof at the same time certainly gave us a taste of what it could be like! There were mornings when I taxied Dave and Pickles to school, while the younger boys were barely waking up in their car seats. Having more kids, I needed to get my act together a little more and organize meals and chores on a regular basis. Pickles was a great help w/the boys and it was a beautiful thing to watch her bond with them. I believe God knew what He was doing when he placed Pickles in our home with the 2 young boys. I can't remember if I talked about this before, but as it turned out, Pickles was in the early stages of pregnancy when she came to us, but we did not find out until March. I could write a book about that time in our lives, but I think I will simply say that I thank God for the opportunity to mentor to Pickles. I thank God that I had the chance to be pregnant at least once, so I could share my thoughts and knowledge. It hurt sometimes, and I cried because I really felt like God was 'showing off' that when we couldn't seem to get pregnant, He was placing a pregnant teen in our home. I am over all that now, and again, I feel like I could write a book! My feelings aside, spring was a fun time experiencing (even second-hand) the miracle of new life.

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:3-8)

That's not all we have to say about new life and babies - this past spring Dave

attempted to hatch chickens in his 4 year old classroom! He started out with over 60 eggs and approximately a dozen hatched (yeah, that's not many, but we have since learned from our mistakes - stay tuned for next spring's hatching attempt!). Oh what fun it was to go to his room every day and see little beaks poking out of cracked eggs, new chicks under a heat lamp, or a few of them running in the plastic kiddie pool! Those little buggers were such a mood uplifter! On a normal day, the promise of a pancake breakfast will work wonders to get me out of bed quickly, but I must say, I bounded out of bed to see the chicks quicker than that! As if

that wasn't enough to fulfill our urban farming dreams, Dave helped me

build garden boxes. Not just two or three, but 16!! Not everything I planted did well (my mint never got started! Weird...) but some things did better than I expected (yay! Basil!). One of my favorite parts about gardening was that the boxes were located at my best-friend-in-town Tracy's house. The other part I loved was the fact that all summer Mo came along and got to see

where some of our food was coming from. In our family this year we have been making some changes in what we eat. For instance, we've been buying more local foods, which makes me a little sad because it means less trips to one of my favorite places - the grocery store! But we've been getting to know some local farmers and finding other sources for our food. This shift is by no means complete. Believe it or not, I am learning to cook using foods like quinoa, fresh vegetables and pasture-fed meat!

The summer of 2009 was one of the big events we had been looking forward to...we celebrated 10 years of marriage with a party at Kohler Andrae State Park! We reserved the group camp and a shelter and invited most everyone we knew! It was a beautiful day by the lake and brought back memories of our wedding, another beautiful day by a much smaller lake. The summer also brought about a few changes in our house. For starters, Pumpkin moved out and joined his dad and family early in July. Don't even ask me if that was hard, because you know it was! But the good news is that we were at peace with it. It helped so much to be able to release him to a family...again, I could talk about this more, but I think you can imagine the gamut of emotions! Shortly after, Pickles moved out as well. We felt like empty nesters! I couldn't help but ask God where He was taking us next. Just when things in our house seemed to be really mom had a seizure. There really isn't any answer as to why, other than the fact that people who have sustained a brain injury are more susceptible. Again, we felt it was a time to persevere and push through. Shortly after that, we were able to take 2 sisters for emergency foster care! Thankfully, Dave was home and willing to stay with the kids and his mom was able to come over and help out, as I was able to be with my mom while she recovered and my dad was gone on business. If that wasn't enough, we got a follow-up call to bring a possible pre-adoptive foster daughter home from the hospital, all within the same week! Suddenly we were a family of six, four of whom were under 5!! Oh the milk we went through! Oh the giggles! Oh the little socks and the diapers and pullups and oh the HAIR! Since all the foster kids were girls at that time I had to go buy some new combs and hair doo-hickeys! I learned a lot about little girl hair! The sisters were in our house for about 3 weeks, which really gave us a taste of what it's like to have twins or something! We considered it a blessing to have them, but once they were gone we could really focus on Fabi (her secret identity) and her medical issues. Shortly after her arrival, all 4 of us were on our way to Delaware for a

much needed beach vacation!! We rented a house one block from the beach and spent every day there. For me (Mel), that was one of the best vacations. I was happy not to be criss-crossing all over the map. I loved having our own kitchen to prepare healthy meals, being so close to the beach and having enough space for everyone to get their own room. It was cool to see the ocean in the morning and at night, on a sunny day and on a really stormy day...we were there over the week of Moses' birthday too, so it was fun to decorate the house and celebrate by making sand castle cakes and riding waves!

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:11

(The first day of school pic by the apple tree!)
Fall began another season in our lives. Moses started Creative Play preschool, three days a week for half days. It was nice to see him take to that really well and it gave me a chance to spend time with Fabi one-on-one. At the time, she had a feeding tube in her nose and just about every week we drove down to Children's Hospital for an appointment of some kind. I got kind of sick of doing that but on the days I felt really crabby, I was reminded of all the people that were helping us make that possible! My aunt lives a few miles north of us and is a reliable and loving babysitter and taxi for Moses! Friends helped pick up Mo and once even dropped him off in the morning. None of what we do in this family would be possible if it weren't for the support structure we have in place. There are so many people helping in physical ways but the number of people praying is astounding! Most likely, if you are reading this, you are one of those people, so thank you! It means so much to us! Before Thanksgiving, Fabi had surgery to move the tube from her nose to her stomach. Dave and I celebrated his birthday at the hospital that night...again, not the ideal way to celebrate, while our family was split up and one was recovering from surgery, but we tried to laugh a little. If it wasn't for the perseverance in our hearts, we might have felt a lot worse!

This past few weeks we have been finding things to celebrate each day. It was our first round of Christmas programs as parents, and oh my, did our sweet son put on a show! If you are interested in seeing the video, let me know! We laughed so hard and many people at church said it wouldn't have been the same without him! We had a video camera, a digital camera and eyes full of pride. Moments like those remind us that whatever may come our way, we have each other. More importantly, we have Jesus. While we may have been scurrying around finding presents to show family and friends how much they mean to us, God has sent His Son to save us all from our sin. There is no greater gift.

...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

Merry Christmas to all of you! We pray that this letter finds you in good health and spirits, or maybe you're persevering through some things of your own. We'd love to hear from you - please keep in touch! If you don't know how to get a hold of us already, leave a comment and we'll get you our info...if possible, it would be great to get together in the new year!

Mel & Dave, Moses, & Fabi

We hope you enjoyed this green version of our Christmas card! (If you still wish to receive a paper copy, leave a comment.) There are lots of reasons we decided to do things differently this year (again!)'s a few:
1) Save postage. We love you, but we're cheap!
2) Save paper. You just recycle those cards after you read do recycle them, don't you??
3) Save printing costs. See reason #1!
4) Save stress. Nothing to print, sign, stuff, address...
5) Expand our options! Now you can see a practically limitless amount of photos.
6) Our greeting to you is saved in cyber-space for posterity! Yes, we can be that vain sometimes!
7) It went so well last year...we heard a lot of positive responses, and even some people who said they'd try it themselves. Welcome to the dark (green) side! (Sorry that was a goofy Star Wars joke...)


preschooldevotions said...

Praise God for the way you have allowed Him to work through your family! Love you all!

Peggy R said...

Hello. Sounds like a great year you had! It's wonderful that you fostered an older teen too. Love the chicken thing. I used to raise them when I was a kid, so fun...