Every year it is a gift to sit down and write this letter, sharing with you the blessings that have occurred in our lives the past year. Even when difficult times come, I have grown increasingly more aware of how blessed our family is. We have health, shelter, food, each other, and grace through faith in Christ. That is so much more than the majority of people in the world have. May God help us care for those in need, knowing that all people are loved by Him.
Paul is still working at Honeywell. In June, he was sent to China for two weeks for a work project. Since then lots of changes have happened at work, but we can be thankful that he is gainfully employed. He is looking for employment opportunities at other companies, so we will see what the future holds. In February, Paul and I attended the Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) conference in LaCrosse, WI. It was exciting to learn more about organic food and farming, and we didn't mind time alone together either. Paul was able to harvest honey this August, getting almost 2 gallons from our three hives. This fall we were disappointed to lose all 7 of our chickens to what we think was an owl, but thankfully it happened right before winter when they don't lay as many eggs.
I am still homeschooling Ethan and Elijah, while running interference with Caleb. I added a large section of strawberries to the garden this year, which was exciting except for when the deer nibbled on them a few times. The garden did AMAZING this year despite drought conditions all over the nation. I finally learned to pressure can and it's very satisfying to see our canned carrots, green beans, and tomato sauce in the cupboards. And better yet, we've eaten some of it and we're still alive - ha! I am learning how to crochet, which is something I've wanted to do for some time. Hi, my name is Rachel and I'm addicted to yarn.
Ethan is 10 (yikes!) and a 5th grader. He excels in his schoolwork which is a blessing, even though he "doesn't like" math. He doesn't like to write either, but definitely has a talent for it. He continues to pursue drama classes in our homeschool co-op and loves AWANA, winning 2nd place for speed at the Grand Prix car race in March. He's been learning piano for over a year and a half already. He is growing so fast!
Elijah is 6 and a 1st grader. He is a pretty proficient reader already and nothing makes me happier than to see him reading on his own, esp. if he's reading aloud to Caleb. He is also growing like a weed, wearing many of the clothes Ethan wore just last year. The boys were thrilled to get a play set this summer, courtesy of Daddy and Papa. Now I can send them out for recess when the need arises. Both big boys participated in the MN Creation Science Home School Science Fair in February.
Caleb will be three in January and is a full of exuberance and affection. The grandparents affectionately refer to him as "the tornado." He always refers to himself as "me." "Me love you, Mommy." He loves acting like Bear Grylls and is often jumping off cliffs (the couch) and swimming across rivers (the carpet). Of course in true Man vs. Wild fashion, this often involves stripping down to his diaper first. He is slowly learning potty training (read Mom and Dad aren't as focused this time around!)
In May, we traveled to South Dakota and Wyoming for a family vacation. My parents joined us, which was fun for everyone. We saw lots of sites: the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave, Devil's Tower, and Crazy Horse Monument. My mom's health had been deteriorating due to heart problems, so it was a blessing to build more memories. In October, she had a successful open heart surgery to repair her mitral valve and close a hole in her heart.
Just two and a half weeks after Mom's surgery, her younger sister Cathy, unexpectedly stopped breathing due to an undetected cyst growing near her thyroid. After almost week in a coma her body started to give out even though she was on life support. So we said goodbye as Cathy slipped from mortality to immortality. Because of her faith in Jesus as Savior, we know her spirit is in Heaven, playing with Felicity I like to imagine. She was such an important part of our lives and since she was unmarried and had no children, she poured herself into the lives of Ethan, Elijah, and Caleb. They loved her as more than a great-aunt, she was their playmate and friend. She has left us sad, but with many memories and great hope in Heaven. She left a great legacy in that she was an organ donor. The boys have taken over the care of her much loved guinea pig, Gabby, their first indoor pet.
We pray this letter finds you thankful in all circumstances and knowing that God loves you so much that He sent his only Son to die for your sins so that you might spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
Paul, Rachel, and boys
Blog readers: My apologies for being an absentee blogger. Life has dictated that I spent less time blogging and in reality blogging has lost some of the importance it used to have in my life. Right after I started blogging, Felicity died and this blog became all about my grief and healing, along with a smattering of family life. Through the grace of God, the years have healed much of my grief. I hope to pick back up with the family posts, but doubt it will be with any regularity. Blessings to you as you continue to blog. I am still reading!