Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Christmas Letters

When Timmy and I were newly married and celebrating our first Christmas together, a little neighbor girl was selling a variety of things to help her school raise money so I purchased a small nativity scene. It had a Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. I set it on a coffee table that first year and after Christmas carefully wrapped it up in the tissue paper and box in which it had arrived. Just before I closed the box though, I scribbled a little note on the tissue paper. The next year, I did the same. And the year after that and the next until the tissue paper was ragged and crumpled. I finally added another piece of paper to the little box and began scribbling notes on it. Since the papers are approaching 30 years old, I thought I would record the words here in our family scrapbook blog so that they would not be lost.

January 1, 1985
I hope that next year when you set these same ornaments out that you're just as happy being married to Timmy as you are right now!

December 26, 1985
I am even happier this year! We're taking the tree down early this year so we can move into our new home! We're so happy and excited! Marriage just keeps getting better and better.

January 3, 1987
Our third Christmas together! It was as happy as ever! Our relationship has such a deep love. Sometimes I feel like it's only the two of us in the world. Timmy makes me so happy. He's just what I dreamed the perfect husband would be!

January 7, 1988
Wow, what a Christmas! This year we had a brand new baby girl to celebrate with. Meredith has made us happier than ever. We're so lucky. What a wonderful life we have!

December 29, 1988
This has been the roughest year I can remember. We've been so happy to have a wonderful baby girl who is so good and brings us such happiness but I think I expect so much of Tim now that we have a baby and he always seems unhappy - with me and himself. I wish I could write something terrific, but it's been such a bad year.

January 3, 1990
What a beautiful and happy Christmas...a snowy morning and the first Christmas that our Meredith was so excited about all the toys. This year has been a good year - we're both really working at a terrific marriage and our precious baby is more than ever "the light of our lives."

December 31, 1990
Truly the best Christmas of the best year of our lives. We've come such a far way in developing a strong marriage. Timmy and I are so content with each other. I've grown so in love with him this year. Although it was our worst year financially (Tim was a full-time student), God met our every need. We learned how to be content with each other and thankful to God. Our three year old is a sweet little girl, not a baby anymore. And in March, we're expecting another baby. What a terrific year!

January 4, 1992
This was the first year that Meredith really understood why were celebrating Christmas. She is a big four year old and was excited to give to our less-fortunate neighbor as if she were giving to Jesus. Elliott is a precious baby boy - a nine month old with a wonderful, cheerful personality! I've concluded though that a "new baby year" is a rough year. So much tension and stress in our marriage. I hope Timmy and I will be close again very soon.

January 1, 1993
What a wonderful Christmas. I enjoyed our little family so much this year. We had a very conservative Christmas and emphasized what we gave for Christ's birthday instead of what we received. We went to an elderly home and sang as one of our gifts to Jesus. I enjoy teaching these little children so much. I'm so very blessed to be in this family. Timmy is so dear to me - a precious jewel. I fall more in love with him each year. Elliott is a sweet baby. (As I wrote that he came and gave me a kiss for no reason.) Meredith is the perfect daughter. She is growing into a beautiful person on the inside and out. The maternity shop has been a horrible struggle this year. I don't know if it will make it. God is faithful though. He is such a wonderful Friend and has given me peace in this storm. He is so good to me and my precious family. He has blessed us with happiness and contentment this year.

December 27, 1993
So much happened this year. We have a new baby boy - Oliver! He's just four weeks old and is simply terrific! What a precious gift to our family. God did something else really wonderful this year, too. Our retail/rental maternity shop is gone! Through a meaningful walk with God, He lovingly took away the horrible burden in April of providing for Expecting Style. It was a tough summer thinking we would lose our house to the shop debts, but God graciously provided. I don't ever recall such contentment as I have now. I am so grateful to God, so totally fulfilled as a mom, and so thankful and appreciative of my sweet Timmy. He has been incredibly helpful since Oliver arrived. This year, more than ever, I have so much to be thankful for. God is so good to me!

January 10, 1995
Although we took down the tree a week ago, things have been so hectic I'm just now getting time to pack away the manger scene. This has been a miraculous year. We have worked so hard to pull ourselves out of debt from the shop and did paper route most of the year. Now we have all the debts paid that were pressing on us, have consistently lived on a budget, and even have money in a savings account. God has blessed our efforts tremendously. Another terrific year as a wife and mother. Timmy is working long hours and really hoping for another job soon. Meredith accepted Christ this year. Elliott has become such a sweet boy. Oliver is a precious one year old. I am definitely the most blessed person I know!

January 1, 1996
Who would ever believe how God has worked in our lives this year? Just an average family with ordinary lives but I have (for years) begged God for something more. I have prayed that God would draw Timmy closer to Himself and in the process draw us closer as a family. There are no words to describe the change in Timmy. We were asked to think about becoming houseparents at Hope Haven Children's Home and without hesitation Timmy said we would consider it. On August 4th, our eleventh wedding anniversary, we moved to the children's home. Sometimes I don't even recognize the man God is making with Timmy. It has been a tough adjustment for me to embrace the cross and obediently follow God through paths that lead to the answers to prayers I've prayed. Of all the many things I used to pray for Timmy, God has answered every request except that Timmy have a job where he can be challenged and grow in the Lord. I am looking for the answer to that prayer this year. I have incredible peace knowing that I followed God and am in the center of His will. We had an exciting Christmas with our three precious children, Nikki, and John and Ronnie (2 children we're caring for at Hope Haven). God is teaching us how to serve Him.

January 9, 1997
This year I watched my last big prayer get answered. Timmy left his job of ten years and came on staff at Hope Haven. I love how we see each other all the time. Our marriage is beautiful - like a fairy tale. Our service to the Lord has been so challenging this year. I get so discouraged sometimes. I'm still trying to adjust. Timmy is everything I ever prayed for, but much more than I could even imagine. God has done an unbelievable work in his life. Elliott and Oliver are doing well. I worry about Mere. This is a tough time for her.

January 2, 1998
It occurred to me as I tried to un-crumple a new piece of tissue paper in the manger scene box that maybe I should just write on a piece of paper. I had no idea how precious these yearly comments would be when I first began thirteen years ago. What can I say this year that summarizes these last twelve months in a few short sentences? This was the most difficult year of our lives. This was the most victorious year of our lives. After two years at Hope Haven and more struggling, sadness, and despair than I've ever experienced, we left. Through all the pain came unimaginable growth - as parents, as a married couple, and as children of God. Words cannot express what God has done in our lives. Obediently following Him, contentment is found! Timmy is a husband and daddy that most of the women in this world long for. He is the most precious gift I've ever received. What a caring and loving daddy he has become. Our home is heaven on earth. We are all so thankful to just be a family again. I don't know that the celebration of Jesus' birth has ever been any sweeter than this year. God has been so good to us. He is a faithful Friend and our victorious Provider.

January 3, 1999
How ironic that the best word to describe this year is "calm" when it began at a lovely home in Stonegate (after having left Hope Haven in September and moving to a Virginia Beach condo for two months), then on to Williamsburg to be near Timmy's work for three months (what a mission field God sent us to there!), then on to Charlestown Lakes (a wrecked auction house that has become a real blessing). We're on the move but are experiencing such peace. We enjoy being a family so much. God had blessed our buying and selling auction houses this year. We're having so much fun. Every one of us gets involved and this project has drawn us even closer together. The new Timmy is the normal Timmy. The man he became through the trials at Hope Haven has been the man he is every day. He is a precious, godly man and terrific daddy. I'm living in heaven on earth with him. The children continue to be the thrill of our lives and imagine - the Lord is blessing us with another in July! We're so excited and so happy!

January 1, 2000
Can life get any better than this? We are such a happy family. What a great Christmas. Our precious newborn, Sullivan, was with us and we headed out to West Virginia for a Christmas ski trip. We enjoyed each other so much. I don't know a family more blessed than ours. This year was uneventful - I'm so glad. Even though we continue to move often, we're enjoying the challenge and excitement. We are all so in love with little Sullivan. What an incredible gift to our family from the Lord. I can't imagine life any better this side of heaven. Timmy is an unbelievably terrific daddy. He's so good with the baby. I'm so glad he's my husband. Life is so good.

January 2, 2001
The Lord is faithful through the good times and the bad. Lots of opportunities to lean on God this year. In March we learned Oma had breast cancer. Things went incredibly well with the treatment and the whole ordeal is remembered mostly by the many visits we enjoyed with Tabby, Opa, and Oma. After an incredible week-long seminar (Bill Gothard's Basic Principles of Life) we gave control of our family size to the Lord. In July we miscarried our seven week old growing baby. The Lord held us so close during that experience. In August Granddaddy Palos died. We moved to a hotel in July when we sold our Riverwalk house. Then moved to a fixer-upper in Greenbrier in September - just two days after Opa was hospitalized. He spent one very difficult month in and out of the hospital then came home and passed away on October 14th. The depth of the darkness and fear I felt during those last weeks has been difficult to really address as of yet. I have such contentment to know Opa is with the Lord and we will all join him so soon. Our lives really are a vapor. A daily walk with God is the most important thing in this world. We are now expecting another baby - 16 weeks along, due June 14th. We thought it best to spend Christmas a little differently this year and our family, along with Oma met the Hershbergers at Snowshoe, West Virginia for a ski trip. We had such a good time and Oma seemed very content. Through each trial God has taught us more about how truly good He is and how much He loves us. In the midst of the ups and downs I have been more blessed than ever by my precious Timmy - what an incredible friend. This year, more than any other, Timmy has grown as a friend and an outstanding father. our children are so fortunate to call this dear man "Daddy". The joy I find in being a wife to Timmy and mother to our wonderful children is beyond words. I am so blessed. God has been so good to me.

January 1, 2002
Wow! What a lot of changes in our lives this year. Our wonderful new baby Harrison joined our family on June 23rd. What a blessing! In October we moved to Roper, NC where Timmy is building bridges for the next two to three years. So much has changed. We have left our fast-paced city life for a quiet, remote, desolate little town that allows time for playing in the woods, preparing home-cooked meals, and enjoying each other. We are adjusting to the many things we left behind though - a great church, the Growing Kids God's Way ministry, weekly Bible study, homeschool support groups, sports, friends, teaching childbirth classes, mall and thrift store shopping, .... We know God has brought us here for His purposes and we want Him to find us faithful to trust Him even when we don't know His plan. We are blessed with good health, a comfortable place to live, and a deep peace and contentment that only God can give.

December 31, 2002
Deuteronomy 28:3 "You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country." How true! What a wonderful year our family enjoyed. We've adjusted so well to our slow-paced, family-centered life here in NC that we now hope we'll never have to return to the city. We didn't fully realize how hectic city life was or the way it stole from the quality of our family relationships until there weren't so many activities in which to participate. Although Timmy's bridges are coming along nicely, this is definitely a huge job and responsibility with great potential for creating a lot of "take-home stress." Asking Timmy why he seems to have less stress about his job than ever before, he stated it was because of our relaxed, non-rushed family life. We've also enjoyed an incredibly healthy year avoiding virtually all the colds and flus common to families with several kids. We know this is just some wonderful, unmerited gift from the Lord. The greatest blessing and sorrow has been the addition of two more babies to our family that we won't meet till we get to Heaven. Miscarriages in April and August were very sad but we're focused on trusting our loving Lord's plans for our lives and theirs. The Lord has done immeasurably more than we've ever asked or imagined in our family this year.

January 4, 2004
This last year could best be summed up in one word: WORK! We began building a house in Hertford, NC last spring and continue to spend every evening and all day Friday and Saturday working together. Although it has been much harder than we expected, it has been an absolutely wonderful way to spend lots of time together as a family as well as teach the children invaluable skills for their futures. We had hoped we would complete the house and spend a couple of years in it, but it looks like we may be moving to Amelia, VA while Timmy builds bridges there. It was disappointing at first but as we recall the great things God has so faithfully done in our family with each of our moves, we have almost come to look forward to what He'll do this time. God added two more babies to our heavenly home this year. We miscarried one baby in May and just found out a couple of weeks ago that the baby we've carried for almost fifteen weeks died around eight weeks and will miscarry soon. We have an amazing sense of peace. We have accepted that God is surely receiving greater glory through these sad losses and we have chosen to continue to trust Him with this area of our lives. "So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." 1 Peter 4:19 God has been so good to us this year. We have much to be thankful for. "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

January 26, 2005
I've never written this late but these past few months could best be summed up: PLAY! We just returned from a fantastic sixteen day trip to Colorado. What an unimaginable treat to travel across the U.S. as a family. In August we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with a cruise to the Bahamas and in September we enjoyed a terrific trip to Disney World. The Lord has blessed us with sweet relationships, good health, and financial resources to enjoy so much fun as a family. Tim's job in Amelia, VA (Fort Pickett) provides for us nicely along with the huge blessing of Sullivan's Tractor Service. This year we have worked hard and played hard. I feel we are the most blessed family in the world. Our greatest sorrow was the completed miscarriage in February of the baby who died in late 2003, as well as another dear baby who miscarried in November. In our trials God has been our closest Companion and continues to heal our hurting hearts. The pain has served to bind our hearts closely to one another and to our Lord. God makes us feel so complete, so content. I love this moment of our lives and wish I could freeze it here forever. Cheerful teens, precious younger ones, a fulfilling marriage - thank you, God. You are so to good to us.

January 2, 2006
We begin 2006 with so much uncertainty on the horizon. For some time we have felt God's leading for Timmy to leave Mid Eastern Builders and begin a home building business where he can better teach and disciple the children. However, posturing ourselves for that huge step has been both confusing and frightening. It seems we're constantly before the Lord begging for guidance. We moved from Amelia to Tyner, NC and are comfortably living in a small trailer (less than 1500 square feet) that was a true blessing from the Lord. As Tim's job finished up, we decided we should move closer to his new job location in Smithfield, VA. We searched so hard for housing but nothing opened up, so we moved to our Kempsville (Virginia Beach) rental, praying all along that God would rescue us from what we feel is not the best place to raise the children. We were so happy to have been given this trailer. Life is so good in the country. We had several memorable events this year: Timmy and I both turned 40 and Meredith turned 18! We also added another baby to our heavenly home on May 16, 2005. At times this feels like an unbearable sorrow. How we would love to welcome more children into our family. We continue to trust God and have confidence that He loves us and is only allowing what is best. May this year bring us "happiness in proportion to our former misery." Ps. 90:15 I wish I could take a peek at January 2007 to see how this year turns out.

December 27,2006
I'm writing early this year so we can take down the tree and pack up the ornaments. In our tiny trailer with the make-shift garage (a pull-behind work trailer borrowed from Timmy's company) there is much rearranging that must be done when bringing in the tree. This year we're eager to get everything back in its proper place so we can bring in the cradle and prepare for a miracle: the anticipated arrival of a baby girl! We all stand in utter amazement that God would allow us to join Him once again in the awesome privilege of raising another soul for His glory! After adding seven babies to our heavenly home through miscarriages, we never thought we'd know the joy of welcoming a baby into our family again. We are so grateful!
It has been another year of deep searching as we try to follow God's leading in our desire for Timmy to leave MEB. It has also been a year of much growth as we've gone through the life-changing seminars as a family: "The Institute in Basic Life Principles" (for the second time) and "The Financial Freedom Seminar." God is revealing so much as we obey. It has been difficult though peaceful. We desire more than ever to finally settle down, but are completely dependent on God to make a way. God is good.

January 1, 2008
What an indescribable year of blessing this has been! God gave us a gift of immeasurable worth on February 19, 2007 - Sheridan Anna Claire! She has brought an enormous amount of happiness into our lives. A baby, a precious baby - there is no greater gift given to families. A few weeks after her birth, a family looked at and put a contract on the trailer. It was sold fifteen days later. This opened a long-awaited door for Tim to leave his job and work from home around us full time. He celebrated his last day at MEB and his 42nd birthday on April 20th. We moved back to Amelia to focus on selling our investment properties but because of the very slow real estate market, we began a farming (small dairy) venture. Although we are very thankful for its success, our biggest priority continues to be getting out of debt. God sold our lot on the water so we only have the Hertford and Amelia houses left with mortgages. What a year. A baby, a dad coming home, and an exciting, new farming business, to say nothing of the unexplainable good health we're enjoying (an undeserved, gracious gift from God). God has blessed us tremendously, beyond words, beyond measure. God is so, so good.

February 1, 2009
I don't think I've ever written so late but we are unimaginably busy with all the demands of a farming business. We've never worked so hard. More often than not, the days start early, end late, and don't offer even a short break in between. We began the year with many health concerns as sicknesses and ailments came as unwelcome visitors. Most grieving was the miscarriage of another baby June 5th. While God has shown Himself so incredibly faithful to our family this year, we, never-the-less experienced the greatest financial stress we've ever known. We continue to carry the burden of unsold properties though God has faithfully helped us week by week, month by month. During this most difficult year, the farming/cow share program has grown beyond our wildest dreams. We have begun this new year with our needs not only being met, but even exceeded. The sun of our financial situation is beginning to peek through the clouds. It is so very welcome. Even though this was a hard year, God has been so unspeakably good to allow us the absolute joy of spending our days together as a family. The children bring us so very much happiness. I am blessed beyond measure to enjoy a husband of almost 25 years, a hard working 21 year old daughter, a tender-hearted 17 year old son, a most cheerful 15 year old son, a brilliant, bubbly 9 year old son, a creative, inventive 7 year old son, and an absolutely miraculous 23 month old baby girl.

December 27, 2009
Writing the annual update on December 27th?! Hopefully this is a sign of a more manageable year ahead. It has been our very busiest year ever, this last year. The farm has grown so much and is meeting our needs very well. However the growth has made it feel completely overwhelming at times, like a wild monster. We are trying hard to streamline so it won't be so stressful next year. The farm is an amazing gift of provision from God and we are very thankful for it. We celebrated our 25th anniversary in February with a wonderful two week trip to Colorado for skiing and then we went to California to board a cruise ship headed to Mexico. What a fun trip. We also celebrated Elliott's graduation with a wonderful pig-pickin' and square dance. After much prayer regarding the growing farm and limited pasture, God opened a door for us to rent land and an abandoned, one hundred year old house. We moved on June 20th - what an overwhelming task. We are so very thankful for God's provision though. We were sad to miscarry for the ninth time on October 1st. God is faithful though and we are only drawn closer to Him through the trials. We have so much hope as we look to the future. God has been so good to us.

February 27, 2011
Have I ever written the year-end review so late? I suppose last year's early entry was no indication of an easier year ahead. I can't believe how much has happened in this last year. God sent a godly young man for Meredith and she and Stephen were married December 11, 2010. What an unimaginably busy year. We all worked so hard to prepare for the wedding in a Richmond church and reception at the farm for over 400 guests. Then Mere and Stephen moved to Oxford in England. God has already blessed them with a pregnancy but Mere has been in the hospital for a week from severe dehydration and vomiting. I had no idea how much we'd miss her. It feels like the best years of our lives just ended. From this point, will we always look back and miss what used to be? It's such a big adjustment.

1 comment:

madsta said...

This was so amazing, I can't believe how long you've kept it up!- I used to read and enjoy Meredith's blog, I'd love for you to post an update of how she's getting on with her new life,
Maddy