My first instinct is to apologize for a late Christmas Greeting, but don’t you think this is a season meant to linger anyway? So, here is our family’s Christmas greeting to you (the digital version, since there was no paper version this year).
We started a new tradition this Christmas season – puzzles! We worked on and completed (!) two, 1,000 piece puzzles as a family. I was pleasantly surprised by how much we all enjoyed this slow and simple activity. Also, I’m so thankful to be in a season of family life where such an activity is possible (no more toddlers of destruction running around the house 😉 ).
Anyway, I mention all this because doing complicated puzzles is a fitting picture of what it means to be a member of the Kingdom of God’s Beloved Son – Jesus Christ. Each piece of the puzzle looks strange and indiscernible on its own, seemingly useless and out of place. But once it is placed within the context of the entire puzzle, its purpose and the beauty of its presence becomes clear. So it is in God’s reality. We are pieces of a bigger picture. We are meant to fit in with the bigger plan, not to be independent. The beauty of the Grand Design is only seen once each component is in place, and the beauty of each component is only fully realized as it serves the Grand Design.
So here’s a look at our family’s piece of the puzzle for 2018. We are grateful to be loved by the Father and Architect of all reality, and hope and pray that you know and receive His great love for you too!
I (Cyrus) continue to serve as the Associate Pastor at Willamette Community Church. August marked my first full year at this ministry and the relationships with the staff and congregation continue to grow and become more pleasant. I am thankful that I have been used by God to minster to people in many different capacities – men’s ministry, community groups, a trip to Sierra Leone in April, leading a Bible Conversations hour, marriage ministry, and the list goes on! It is such a blessing to use my God given gifts to serve the Lord and minister to His people. Another blessing has been the participation in some activities that had been set aside for many years – fishing and hunting! The whole family has enjoyed the benefits of these adventures :). Being in creation is refreshing and I look forward to sharing these experiences with my all my adventurous kids.
I (Kim) am experiencing a new stage in life. Now that the youngest of the family is five years old and in Pre-school every morning, life looks much different than it did even a year ago. I have had the privilege of being involved in women’s ministry at our church in some leadership and teaching capacities. I help lead our Moms group, helped lead our fall Bible study, and am also continuing to gain experience in Biblical counseling. Through these activities, I am discovering more and more about who God is and who He made me to be for Him. I continue to blog occasionally (though I have sort of a love/hate relationship with it), which is where you are right now, in hopes of encouraging others as I have been encouraged in the Lord!
Ruth is eleven years old and started Middle School in the fall. Can you believe it!?!? Though life has it’s challenging at this age, Ruth is making it! In the spring, Ruth participated in Track and Field and was finally old enough to give the hurdles a try. I think she’s hooked. She continues to play the violin in a local youth orchestra. Probably the most exciting thing for her right now is that she earned a part in her school’s musical – Alladin Jr.!
Lydia is ten years old and in 5th grade. Lydia also did track in the Spring and is really beginning to excel at the High Jump. And since Lydia is a kid who NEEDS to have a physical outlet, she is currently giving swim team a try. She’s seems to be enjoying it for the most part. Lydia is currently in her second year of learning the Cello. We love listening to her play and she is improving so much!
Charis is nine years old and in 3rd grade. The biggest milestone for Charis this year was that she finished eye therapy!! Almost two years ago, the eye doctor discovered that Charis had several issues with her eyes. But, after a lot of hard work, she is done. And she actually enjoys reading now. We are so thankful that these issues were caught early and resolved completely. Charis also did track with her sisters in the spring and her specialty was the long jump. She showed a lot of promise in sprinting as well. Like Lydia, Charis is also learning to play the Cello. She started in the fall and has hopes of eventually transitioning to the upright bass.
Caleb, seven, is now in 1st grade. He is excelling academically and he loves his teacher! Caleb also gave Track and Field a try in the Spring, but he was much less enthusiastic about it than his sisters. He continues to surprise and delight me by breaking some of those ‘boy’ stereotypes I held. Though he can be rough and tumble, he is also very sensitive, expressive, and cerebral. We often refer to him as our “little professor.”
Lukas, five, is in Preschool this year. He is enjoying the new friends he has made at school and church. As much as Caleb didn’t want to do track in the Spring, Lukas wanted to do it! He’s just not quite old enough yet. We see Lukas’ personality develop more and more these days. He is energetic and stubborn, but also has some of those ‘baby’ of the family traits – like trying to get out of trouble by being super sweet. The girls have started calling it ‘cute-ing.’ “Mom!” they say, “Lukas is ‘cute-ing’ me to try to get what he wants!” Mostly, he makes us all smile and laugh 🙂
We’ve been privileged to have a couple family adventures this year. In March we went to Disneyland with my parents and had an absolute blast! It was the first time for the kids and we have great memories of our time there. Right after Disneyland, we joined up with a group from our church for a mission trip to Mexico. This trip was such a blessing. We met some fellow ministers of the Gospel and were encouraged by them and sought to be an encouragement to them. Another exciting thing about the trip was that our kids were able to be immersed in the Spanish language. Our kids attend a dual language school and have been learning Spanish since kindergarten. I was amazed by how fluently they were able to converse with native Spanish speakers and I think our friends in Mexico were equally surprised. As a parent, it was just amazing to be able to watch our girls serve others by translating and building relationships with other kids. What a gift it is to be bi-lingual!
Whew! If you’ve made it this far into the letter, thank you for loving our family and having a genuine care and interest in us! We are so thankful for all the beautiful cards and letters that were sent our way this Christmas.
We love you!
P.S. – I’d like to offer you a little gift, straight from my heart. The most life transforming thing I have ever experienced is getting to know the Love of God better and better. It was with great trepidation that I agreed to speak at our church’s women’s retreat back in April. I was able to share more specifically about how learning of God’s love is so simple yet so profound. The retreat theme was “Rooted and Grounded in Love.” Unbeknownst to me, a couple of the sessions were recorded! So, I’d like to share them with you because I think we can all always benefit from a reminder of God’s love. The two recordings below are sessions two and three out of the four sessions I taught. May you be blessed and drawn closer to your Creator and Savior!
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.