As you can see from this year's family photo, we are standing in front of the Nina an exact replica of Christopher Columbus' ship. Let's just say that after walking squeezing around other visitors on this not-large vessel, I was very thankful for our home and that it doesn't involve bunkbeds with thin privacy curtains. However, if you are ever looking for your next adventure, I heard they are always looking for people of stalwart adventurous spirit to man this vessel as well as the Pinta! Check out this link!
As with most of our other family photos, this one was chosen by the unexplained providence of each person actually smiling with their eyes forward (which usually happens as often as the kids choose not to fight when presented the opportunity). A fun trivia fact: it was taken by a random guy who told me he was Italian in case I would rather him not take my phone to snap the picture. He made me chuckle.
As you know by now, this isn't a Christmas letter; it's a letter of thanksgiving. Even if Mike lost his job and we had a heartbreaking year, sickness or other troubles, I hope and pray that I could still write this yearly update with words that bring my focus toward the Author of everything and the Perfector of my salvation because this life is not all there is. Thankfully!
This year, I want to still bring our focus back to Him, great year notwithstanding. He is so good!
Most nights, we sit as a family around the dinner table and listen to the kids talk about their day, usually making all manner of bodily noises. We laugh until our sides hurt, endure tantrums, but every once in awhile, those moments shine through. You know, the ones where one kid asks a profound question about God and instead of us simply answering, we ask a question in return and the discussion begins. They are learning to think big thoughts about God and understand that God wants us to know Him and that what we believe changes our perspective and our perspective changes what we do. My heart always does that squeeze thing and my eyes begin to tear up when they begin to answer each other's questions.
I wish I had known the abject practicality of theology while I was sitting through those lectures and writing papers at Moody. Never did I realize I'd need it when conversing with my almost 10 & 8 year olds about "why God doesn't stop the wars", "Mommy, how can God let people get hurt?" "How does God make all things turn out to be good?" "Can God count to infinity?" "What does this verse mean?" These are the moments I treasure. They are learning the powerful Truth that God isn't just a Sunday topic. Who He is and what He says influences every moment of every day.
Mike and I
The perfectionist in me is chafing as I edit this letter. It feels so disjointed, though I'm not sure there is a better way to give a birds-eye view of our family, how the kids are growing and what God is doing in our lives. As usual, this barely scratches the surface of all the year's happenings. I would love it all to flow so naturally that you are treated to a Readers Digest Condensed version of the year. But instead, I'm going to tell that perfectionist to move her finger away from the delete key and step back from the iPad slowly. Life isn't always clean and smooth and finely edited. It's messy and rough and sweet and hilarious with all the crazy ups and downs. And. That's. Okay.
I'm so thankful for each of you! As this week of thanksgiving commences, make time to be intentionally thankful and choose not to rush past the important things, as Ann Voskamp says. With a countdown on for visiting family and food to cook, it will be a challenge to not rush past the quiet moments. I will be constantly telling that perfectionist that the food and other details matter but her peaceful soul matters far more.
Have an amazing week of remembering and thankfulness!