Saturday, January 2, 2016

Christmas Letter, 2015 (July 15-Dec 15)

JULY, 2015
Our visit to South Carolina for the Fourth of July week is always fun.  This year was no different, with time to get together with friends, mostly around FOOD, and spending time with family.  We did family pictures with Jason's family, and went out on the lake, swimming during the day, and watching the fireworks from the tri-tune boat at night.  I went and visited with my parents for a few hours in order to fill them in on what was going on in our lives.

And we got to go to church at St. Andrews Evangelical and see many friends from across the years and from around the world.  As always, the time went to quickly, and we left to head back to Massachusetts.

Soon after we arrived home, Jason flew to Washington, DC, for a meeting with the Chaplaincy Board, in hopes of being selected as a Chaplain in the Navy.

That same week, the four kids and I went to Camp Pineshore to begin the first of three amazing weeks of camp.  I was the resident Professional Counselor on staff, all of the kids attended at least one week, and we acted as photographers for all three weeks of camp.  It was an amazing three weeks, relaxing, and getting to know some really great people.

Leah, Katherine, and a friend had fun creating costumes in an effort to nab free food at our local Chick-fil-A...the same one where Heather was already working!!

We also enjoyed a GREAT visit with some friends from Virginia while they were traveling back from Maine.  It was GREAT to sit down and have some coffee and conversation with them!!

AUGUST, 2015
This month saw the last two weeks of summer camp at Pineshore, Katherine taking part in Starbase Flight Week, and Leah going away to the Summer Stars program, as well as marching band uniform fittings, and a visit with a friend from college days!!

Katherine was part of a program on base during the school year, which then offered her the opportunity to take part in a one-week STEM camp.  As part of Starbase's Flight Week, she ended up on the front page of the base's paper!!

Leah was also afforded a great opportunity to take part in a performing arts camp called Summer Stars.  This happened at the beautiful Northfield Mount Herman School, which was founded by D.L. Moody, in 1881.  She had a great time, and learned a lot!

Preparations for Marching Band is always a part of our summer, and this year was no different.  Justin had to be fitted for his uniform, and Leah got her flag for the color guard.

I was so happy to learn that a friend from college days lives about an hour away from us, and she was able to come visit for an afternoon in August!  It was wonderful to spend some time catching up!!

Finally, school started.
Katherine started 6th grade, and Leah moved into 8th grade.

Justin moved up into 10th grade, and Heather is a Senior.

We also learned in August that Jason was NOT accepted for the Chaplaincy, which was disappointing, but we KNOW that God has a plan.  We are waiting to see what He has in store.

In September, we all adjusted to the school routine, while still enjoying the comfortable temperatures and changing colors.

Heather went to Hampton, NH, and had some more Senior pictures made.  I'm having a hard time believing that she is graduating this year!!

October saw a LOT of changes.
Frances unexpected came home for the school year, which meant a rearrangement of bedrooms, and the acquisition of some more furniture, as well as jobs for her at Chick-fil-A and Lindt, and starting online classes through Liberty University Online.

Then in late October, my maternal grandmother passed away, and I made a trip to South Carolina.  While there, I finished cleaning out Frances' dorm room, and packed up her car to drive back to Massachusetts.

Monday, November 2 was my grandmother's memorial service in Montreat, NC.  I was glad to be able to be there, and to see my family.  My grandmother was an amazing lady, and saying goodbye is always difficult.

While in the area, I was able to catch up with a couple of from high school days, and one from college.  After some relaxing time with them, I left to drive back to Massachusetts.

Thanksgiving was different again this year...last year we spent it in South Carolina with family, and this year three children had to be back at work at the mall the next day.  We enjoyed sharing a Thanksgiving meal with our small group at our home the Sunday prior, and had a quiet and restful day on Thanksgiving Day, in preparation for the hectic nature of the month to come.  I experimented with gluten-free pie crusts (yum!!)

We also celebrated Heather's 18th birthday on the 25th.  She and a group of friends enjoyed an afternoon of bowling at the alley on base, and came back to the house for movies and pizza afterwards.

And....we're full-circle.
After a year in Massachusetts, I am starting to feel more balanced, not so much out-of-place.  We celebrated another round of the holidays without Jon here, which makes me sad, and we're far away from the rest of the family, which is always hard.  But we know that God is working, and we are where He wants us to be, so we're attempting to bloom where we're planted.

We love our church, and are deeply involved.  Jason is doing sound.  Justin is playing in the orchestra.  Frances and Heather help out with the children's ministry.  Everyone is involved in a small group.  And the Christmas services were AMAZING, yet again.  I was blown away, again, by the fact that the Father sent His son to us, as a baby son of a teenaged mother, in a backwoods town, and that before very long their family was Middle Eastern refugees, fleeing certain death at the hands of a tyrant.  What an amazing lesson for us, and an amazing and awesome gift.

Thank you to all who have prayed for us this year.  Please don't stop.  We don't know what the future holds, but are reassured that our God definitely holds our future in His very capable hands.

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