Dear Friends and Family,
As I think back on this past year, my mind has difficulty sorting through the stories in an effort to determine what to share in such a brief space. Time seems to move too quickly, making moments more difficult to capture. And yet, Christmas has a way of helping unwrap the memories.
The line “Nothing is impossible with God” from the Christmas story in the Gospel of Luke plays over in my mind. We have witnessed this in an extraordinary way in our own family over the past 12 months. Rod can give account of how he felt imprisoned by his job only to see God deliver him in a way that still blows our minds. He had no leads for a new job and yet found one placed in his lap. For the past six months, he has been enjoying the freedom of employment with Codilis & Associates. The story is amazing! If you haven’t heard it, you may want to ask him to recount the details. This current job is one he can see himself at for the rest of his life, God willing. There is opportunity for friendships as well as learning and growth. Most importantly, however, this job allows our family to enjoy his presence on a more consistent basis. Overflowing with gratitude, Rod is adamant that this precious gift of time he has been given will not be wasted.
I continue to focus my time at home. As the girls get older, my main role seems be that of taxi driver. Coordinating all of our schedules keeps me on my toes. When I’m not focused on running our household (who am I kidding… that’s my full-time job), I enjoy spending time with friends and serving in the church. I’m currently working to adjust priorities as needed in order to best live in the moment and for the day at hand.
As I read for Advent, I am reminded that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was likely only about 12 – 14-years-old. (The Bible doesn’t say specifically, but this was tradition back in those times.) With our oldest, Nikelle, being 12 ½, this fact brings the story of Christmas into a whole new light. In so many ways, she’s just a little girl. At the same time, this new stage of parenting has our thoughts more honed in on her future life as an adult. In just a handful of months, we will have a teenager! Our oldest is the musician and artist and is extremely even-keeled like her dad. Nikelle continues to play the flute in the school band. She has also joined the All City band which she loves. They will be travelling to Colorado in May and Rod will be chaperoning. (I think he’s ecstatic to experience the fullness of life as a band parent.) If you ask her, she will tell you music equals life. It may very well appear that way in her world as she has added piano lessons to her week this year as well. She’s excelling wonderfully and it’s a beautiful thing to listen to our daughter create music. We pray she will be able to use this talent to worship God and share His love with others. This past summer, she went on two trips with the church youth group. Getting a taste of what freedom from her parents (as well as from her little sisters) feels like, she is anxious for more trips in the future. While she has not yet quite passed her mother in height, she is taller than many adults at this point and cannot wait until she can look down at me. We are so grateful for this beautiful young lady God has given us to raise for Him.
As I think about what to say in regards to Jaycie, it just came to my mind how much she would have enjoyed being around the baby Jesus. She is a magnet for little ones. It’s such a joy to watch her take care of her little one-year-old friends. They just love their Jay Jay and she loves them! Most exciting is that her cousin, Cassandra, (who was married this past August) is expecting her first baby. I know Jaycie will work hard to win the love of this little one even with the competition of other family members vying for the baby’s attention! Jaycie is in 3rd grade now and makes us smile often. Our middle daughter is the comedian of the family as well as the deep thinker. It’s always around dinner time that she cannot seem to contain the goofiness. Constantly, questions poor out of her on every topic. Recently, I came across a post-it note she had written that said: "God is perfect. We are not. Listen to God and Poof! We are His!" It’s this simple mindset of welcoming God into her world that reminds us to keep our hearts open as well. Jaycie has come such a long way from the little girl who wouldn’t leave my side. Because she’s such a hard egg to crack, there are still many who are unable to witness the “real” Jaycie. Yet in our home, we thoroughly enjoy watching her blossom into the person God created her to be. And it’s especially fun when others get a sneak peek as well!
Andelise can sing “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” this December. It’s a bittersweet moment as we exit this period of parenting younger children and so many “firsts”. She is in her final year as a Kindergartener at Our Savior Lutheran Preschool. We are so grateful for the partnership these teachers have had with us in preparing our girls for a bigger world. While their collaboration in sharing Jesus with our children will be missed, we look forward to what is to come. If all goes as hoped, Ande will join Jaycie at Eisenhower Academy next year. Our youngest is full of life and a confident leader. She loves people and hates to be alone. As the athlete of the family, she is quite thrilled to have figured out the jump rope! She’s enjoying learning how to read as well as attend AWANA where Grams is her leader. Ande embraces each day early to be certain no one leaves without saying goodbye. “Wave to me and blow me a kiss” she reminds us as she reciprocates from the front window. She’s busy until the moment bedtime comes. And I won’t lie: bedtime is sweet relief for us all.
Christmas brings with it all kinds of ideals especially as portrayed in all of the beautiful songs of the season. “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas…” “Deck the halls with boughs of holly…” “The fire is so delightful…” “Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe help to make the season bright…” “I’ll be home for Christmas…” “Have yourself a merry little Christmas…” And I feel these ideals clash with the realities of everyday life that doesn’t get put on hold because “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”
One necessity to keep the joy in the season is to let go of these ideals written in the tunes that play through my mind. The reality is that head colds prevent us from enjoying the beauty of Christmas lights. Band concerts and school programs fill up our calendars stealing time away from the fireplace. 5 different people have 5 different desires and “family ideals” conflict in a way that threatens our holly jolly anything.
The most threatening destruction for this family is that of busyness. Busyness steals our intentionality. Busyness works to divide our family. Busyness does it’s best to keep us from God. Busyness creates chaos leaving the only option for living as response mode. This is not okay. More than anything, we want to be intentional about life. And absolutely nothing should be more important than preparing room in our hearts for Christ.
Tristi and Family