We didn't send out a Christmas card this year. (I don't remember the last year we did, actually). I seem to get overwhelmed BEFORE Christmas... but look - we got a good family snapshot - so I'll share it with your AFTER Christmas. This is a New Years Day Letter. Maybe I'll start a new tradition.
This photo was taken at Grace Baptist Church, in Chariton, IA, on December 23, 2012. I LOVE this church and my church family. It's a wonderful thing. So - I'll start on the left of the photo and work my way over.
1. Me, Jennifer - 42 years old, and I feel every bit of that age. I've had a life changing year this year. I went to some counseling at Freedom Ministries, in Illinois, in April of 2012. That was amazing stuff. I really learned a lot about myself. Since then I have been praying differently - really trying to hear what God is saying specifically to me. I've tried to teach my children how to pray this way. I think it has clicked with a few. I need to be diligent with my spiritual training with them. Keep on keeping on. I've read amazing books this year. Wow - I just can not express enough how God is working in my life.
Since I've learned something about myself... I've made changes. I have sold my Scentsy business. I LOVE Scentsy, still use it, plan on having a party in January, but I don't sell it anymore. One reason is time - I am a full time home educator. 5 students. Some require more of my time then others... but 5 - I needed more time to devote to them. This is my true full time job. Speaking of students... let's move on. That will change the subject from all the other areas in my life that I still struggle with like my weight, my hair, and time management.
2. Victoria - 17 years old. This past year she ran in track for Knoxville High School, in Knoxville IA. Indoor season, then out door season. She had an eventful summer with a missions trip. Working R.A.G.B.R.A.I.. Then Cross Country season started directly after that. Now she's concentrating on school work until Indoor Track season starts up again. She is in her junior year of high school. She doesn't require much attention from me for school - although I review her work, and am a sounding board.
She goes in to Knoxville High School every day to sing with the Concert Choir. I love that for her. I wish I could do it. I live vicariously through her... singing and learning in that wonderful choir, under the direction of Mrs. Duffy. It's amazing.
She still loves to fix her hair. She is considering becoming a cosmetologist in the future. One more year of school to get through, then she'll begin that journey.
3. Wayne - 7 years old. He is a 1st grader. He'd rather do anything but school. He still says, "I can't read." We are still working through that book "How to teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons." Depends upon your child if it is easy or not. Still plugging away. He would rather do math. He would really rather play outside. Or wrestle. He is going to wrestling practice once a week, and entering some wrestling tournaments and drags his dad along. Wait... that may be the other way around.
4. Milo - 11 years old. Milo is a collector. One thing he collects is pocket knives. He may expand. He asked for a hatchet yesterday. I said, "I'll let you buy that when you are with your dad." Oh my... boys. I didn't have any brothers - and I'm not a boy... so I do a lot of reading about them. He is doing well with his piano lessons - THAT I know about. I hope he never quits. I love listening to him practice the piano. He is in 5th grade this school year. We are learning in history about the Romans right now. From Rome to the Reformation is the time period we will cover this year, and we are using the My Father's World curriculum. Interesting stuff. I can't wait to get back to it... one more week of break, then back at it for a while.
5. Mansel - 13 years old. He is my busiest child. Always involved in something. 7th grade is the year I have them try every sport because it's free through the public school. He went out for football for the first time this fall, and cross country as well. He didn't run at every meet, but did make it to 3. He improved in football a lot. Going from "yard football" in knowledge to starting on the offensive line the last game to cover for a starter who got injured. That was a fun experience. Now he is wrestling for the Knoxville Middle School team, which he knows, as he has wrestled since he was in Kindergarten. He needs to know more. He is a big 7th grader, so he wrestles the more experienced 8th graders often times. Next sport. Track, then baseball... fun year. He is going through the Further Up, Further In, Narnia unit study for school this year. Reading is right up his alley... he has read these books over and over again. I need to have him help me organize the book shelves in the Den with me, so he can "discover" some new reading material. Avid reader - praise the Lord for that.
6. Danielle - 9 years old. We call her Dani most times. Which only gets confusing when we go home to Dan's house - and they still call him Danny. He's a grown up at our house and at work and church, where he gets called Dan. Anyway... Dani loves life. And most of the time it loves her back. She is a sensitive little girl... figuring her way around in this family. As a 3rd grader she is in her 2nd year of Patch the Pirate Club at church. She LOVES to get the drama parts which are offered each month... sometimes she will memorize a part ahead of time and ASK for it. She likes that attention. So she has a good mind, and is a hard worker. She likes hanging out with her friends from the Heritage Home Educators (HHE) co-ops that we are a part of this year. I can't wait for her to get into 7th grade. She's going to be a runner as well... that is my favorite type of sport to watch; cross country and track and field.
7. Dan - last but not least... the Patriarch of our family. He still works at Pella Corporation - which has down sized quit a bit in the past few years, but he keeps having a job to go to. For THAT I am grateful. It pays the bills, and a few extras, like wrestling club. He is taking Wayne and Mansel to wrestling practices once a week, then to as many tournaments as he can afford. He is the manager of our yard, keeping the swimming pool clean for the kiddos in the summer, mowing the grass. Cutting the wood that we burn for heat in the winter. I sit here in a cozy home while it's in the single digits outside... not worrying about the heat bit one bit. And our cars are usually purring like cats all the time. One has a broken mirror right now - but that's due to icy roads and inexperienced drivers, not low maintenance. He'll get that fixed before long - and all will be right with the world.
I appreciate you staying and reading about our family. If you would - you could use this as a prayer list, and pray for us as often as the Holy Spirit brings us to your mind. Ahead of us are times of great spiritual growth, and educational milestones that need to be met. Character training is a constant thing around here. Pray that I have the wisdom I need to keep these kids feet on the path of Holiness. That's my plea... you may need to call Dan, and see how he wants you to pray.
Thank you for all you do for our family. Some donate time, money, most pray - and some I'll never know. Thank You, Thank You, as I can't walk this journey alone!