The Lord has blessed us richly this year, although it hasn’t always felt like much more than a long string of trials. I (Brenda) have been sick with more maladies than I can count. And while my naturopathic doctor makes short work of everything, none of it is covered by insurance. The children have had to handle a lot of things on their own. But every night that I’ve spent shivering under a blanket, every day that I’ve spent unable to hold down food or worrying about a lump, every hour that I’ve spent wondering what is wrong with me is a night, day, or hour that I’ve spent seeking my savior. Every morning that I’ve awakened to hear the birds sing again has been glorious, and I’ve developed the habit, now unshakable, of Scripture reading and prayer for others who are suffering much worse, chronic issues. I sense that what I am experiencing is the eviction of every unhealthful aspect hidden inside as the Great Physician remakes me and fills me with His Spirit. I have become stronger even as I’ve become keenly aware of the fragility of human life. The Scripture passages that used to convict me now comfort me. I am blessed to have a loving family around me and my needs cared for. The children have made leaps in character development that can only be attributed to the God who provides everything and more if we will merely lean on Him. I am awestruck to think of my prayer last Christmas, when I begged (demanded) that God remove us from this house within the year. I vowed before Him that I would be in “a different place” by this time. I very definitely am, although nothing visible has changed. I now look forward to what each new day brings. I totally rest in God’s provision for our lives. But enough about me.
Rachel will be 5 already, in February. She is excited to meet her new cousin at Christmas and see her Aunt Amy again. And while everybody in the house calls her Pippa, she is learning to write “Rachel”. She and Tommy do schoolwork and play trains, cars, or Legos together while she chatters a running commentary. She is a whiz with her preschool curriculum and amazes me with how easily reading and puzzle solving come to her.
Tommy just turned 8. He’s doing well in school, although he’s become quite adept at quietly sliding under my radar to play while I work with other kids. He loves to go for bike rides and talk to the construction crews working at the local power station. He always has the latest news on what’s happening, how everything works or is built, and which neighbor has a new pet. Somehow, he picks up the school subjects in spite of me.
I (Jon) turned 18 this year and finally got my driver’s license. I achieved full firefighter status in September and have fought several fires and landed two helicopters. I completed an EMT course, although I’d much rather fight a fire than handle an accident scene. I’m still very interested in computers, and built one from scratch over the summer. I also worked a “part time” job with a local farmer. 60 hours a week and 10 weeks later, I had driven a shredder, hay rake, several tractors, a utility vehicle and a Dodge dually with a gooseneck trailer hauling 6 tons of hay we’d loaded. I’ve done mesquite abatement, field mowing and hay baling, fenced 1/2 a mile with welded pipe, and filled several barns with hay bales. Mom counted it as PE. I made enough money to buy myself a really nice R/C car and put some more in the bank. I found muscles I didn’t know I had, especially when I put a chain saw through my knee. Thankfully, that wasn’t too bad, and Mom put it back together with butterfly bandages. I was back to work within the hour.
I (David) worked alongside Jon in all that. And although I don’t have my license yet (I will turn 16 in January), I’ve driven the Dodge dually, my boss’ farm “mule” (another utility vehicle), his wife’s Pathfinder, and the BIG tractor. In learning to drive the manual transmissions, I stalled the diesel dually miscellaneous places and inadvertently parked a tractor on the state highway that divides several fields we worked in. The trick is in getting the gate closed behind you while not being hit by oncoming traffic. I’ve really enjoyed having the muscles that come along with work, although I don’t think farming is my top choice of careers. I spent a lot of my downtime playing computer games and also joined the fire dept. as a cadet. While filling out reports may kill me, I’ve enjoyed fighting hay and brush fires, a car fire, and directing traffic at multiple accidents.
I (Faith) will turn 14 just after Christmas. My puppy is now a dog and my best friend. She sleeps on my bed at night and follows me everywhere. I enjoy reading mysteries, watching romance movies, photography, and practicing accents with Michael. I have also been experimenting with cooking and baking. I help Dad with his fire dept. paperwork and filing, which is fun, but I don’t want the hips required for being a full-time secretary. I’ve really done nothing courageous or noteworthy this year – sustained no scars and traveled to no exotic destinations. I am looking forward to going to Phoenix to spend Christmas with my cousins.
I (Michael) will turn 12 by the time you read this letter. I really enjoy watching movies and quoting people with cool accents, like Jeff Foxworthy’s 12 Days of Christmas. (“…3 shotgun shells, 2 huntin’ dawgs, and some parts to a Mustang GT”) Mom says I’m destined to be the next Jim Carrey. I still love drumming on everything and wish I had a drum set. I’ve played around with the guitar a bit, but haven’t gotten very far. We went ice skating for the first time earlier this year with the church, which was really fun, and at a campout, I learned to kayak and survived bicycling down an extremely steep, very eroded, dirt road with no brakes. I’ve grown about a foot taller this year. My favorite part of school is learning to program in Microsoft Logo.
We all pray you have a blessed Christmas and that the Lord provides richly for your 2011 –
Bob and Brenda, Jon, Dave, Faith, Michael, Tommy and Rachel Elving
Thanks to Alexandra Adams of http://buggeyed.wordpress.com/ for all the photos in this article.