Hello Expectant Prayers Friends and Family!
We pray that all of you had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year with hope and expectancy. As we close a year and begin a new one, we often reflect on what the previous year held and anticipate what will be written on the blank pages of the next. Without a doubt I can say that no matter what 2011 holds, we are CLOSER to God's promises; His promises that He's spoken into our spirits as well as the promise of His sure return. For that, we can rejoice!
To quickly recap the Highlights of 2010:
In the beginning of the year (Jan. and Feb.), we were anticipating moving. We had been wanting to move for several years to accommodate our big family, but the timing wasn't right. Now was the time. We were packing and had found a house we wanted. The Lord had opened the door and it was time to walk through it. Of course, we rode on the roller coaster of selling and buying a house, but God came through. In the year of the worst housing market - God gave us a huge blessing.
In March, we passed the one year mark since my mother's passing. My father decided that he was ready to sell their condo and move out this way to be closer to our family (and my sister). So, we put his house on the market and it sold. We moved him out here in April to a retirement condo, but with the anticipation that he would build onto our new house. The day we moved him back, we got the call that our house had sold and we were getting our new house for sure! March was also Fine Arts, which my kids entered in several categories. It was a lot of fun and they did well.
Right after dad got out here to Missouri (end of April), he developed a kidney stone. He battled with it in April and May. Eventually he had to have it blasted to break it up. Since that time, he has had no more problems with kidney stones. He has remained in good health the rest of this year and even got down to 5 meds in reduced dosages. Praise the LORD!
Also in March and April, we lost both the Grandmother's on Peter's side of the family. Our loss here on earth was heaven's gain! They were laid to rest in Ottawa, Kansas. They were the grandmas I never had and I feel so blessed that they were a part of my life for the past 19 years!
In April, we added 2 new puppies to the house: a toy poodle named Pierre (boy) and a miniature schnauzer named Charlie (girl).
During the first week of June, we moved into our new house. We did a lot of painting, redecorating, adding walls and started finishing the basement. Right after we moved in, our poodle got out of the yard and was gone for a full 24 hours. We searched and searched for that little guy. A positive note from the search for Pierre - we met SO MANY NEW NEIGHBORS!! We had exhausted our search until we almost gave up. We prayed and set out one more time - and found him almost immediately. Our Shaddy (who was 2 at the time) said that Pierre was sitting in the mud near the orange farm. We found him sitting in the mud by the house with the orange brick that's on a huge property. God always amazes me through these little ones!
We really love our new place and especially appreciate the country feel even though we are still in the Kansas City limits. God is so good. We have deer, wild turkey, owls, almost everything you can imagine... and skunks. We had skunks living under our porch that we had to deal with right after we moved in. In fact, there were several issues that crept up right away, but again - I see a positive side to that. We like knowing ALL about our house. Two downsides were: the flood in the basement, which resulted in us having to re-landscape the front of the house, remove a tree, add foundational dirt around the house perimeter, and seal and drylock the basement. Secondly, our air conditioner also went out in the summer - during the hottest month. But, now we have a working air conditioner on the opposite side of the house.
Near the end of June, my dad lost his brother, Bob. We didn't go back to Ohio from the funeral since dad was just getting over kidney stones and the trip is hard on him.
By July we had contacted our contractor friend to begin work on the addition for my dad. In August, the project was in full swing. We really enjoyed building! My husband and I also started teaching the College and Career Sunday School class at church.
In August, our oldest son, Titus, turned 15 and got his driving permit. He passed his test with 100%. Personally, I think he's a better driver than some adults. There's only been two times in 6 months that I was the least bit nervous. I enjoy having a chauffeur! He also earned the Gold Medal of Achievement through Royal Rangers earlier in the year, but had his awards ceremony in August. It is equivalent to an Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts with an added spiritual/ Bible emphasis. I am SO proud of him!
The bulk of the summer was spent working on the house and schooling. We had to work straight through for a few of the kids - which meant year round school from the teacher's standpoint for the past 2 years!!! But by the end of the summer, our home schooling schedule was finally where we'd hoped it would be. We had worked very hard for the past two years to get some of the kids combined into grades. Now Titus and Celeste are combined and Levi and Zeke. This, again, was a LOT of work, but well worth it. I have found that both these sets of kids work very well together and it makes for a lot less work for me. Instead of having 5 different grade levels to keep track of, I now only have 3, well, 4 if you consider Shad's pre-school. This will make our schedules flow. 2 of the grades - the kids are using video streaming through our A Beka Academy, so I am really only teaching 3rd grade (and preschool) currently. Of course, I am supervising the other grades, but it is a lot less work overall. What a blessing!
The kids also made some new neighborhood friends for which we are grateful. There are a lot of wonderful neighbors in our little development and we went to a lot of cookouts and potlucks this past summer!
In September, my sister and her husband decided that God was releasing them from Indiana and that they were going to be moving to a new church.
My best friend in North Carolina (Laura) lost her mother in the fall, too, after a long battle with cancer.
In October, my dad hit a milestone birthday - 75! In November, we finished up the addition project coming in under budget and turning out better than we'd ever dreamed. We moved dad in the day before Thanksgiving. My sister and her husband tried out for a church in Arkansas. A few days later, they got hired. I found out that one of my beloved Pastor's wife (Wanda Clark Hundley) was from that very city! Small world.
Also in November, our Uncle John fell and tore a muscle in his leg that required surgery.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving in our new home and realized that there was so much to be thankful for this year!
In December, Dad lost his oldest sister, Margaret. We did not return home to Ohio due to a horrible snow storm.
Also in December, another best friend had her miracle baby (Rhonda - baby Natalie) and my cousin got married - which is also a miraculous story in itself. God is faithful!
We celebrated our first Christmas at our new house and it was wonderful.
There are many things to thank God for in 2010. Even in the highs and lows, we are confident that God's hand was in it all. We had an excessive amount of loved ones lost and huge amounts of change, but God sustains!
What will 2011 hold? Only God knows for sure!
We are going to be finishing up our basement over the next few months and a room extension on our daughter Celeste's room. Then this spring we have plans to work outside getting our yard back up from dad's building project, a garden, etc. I am excited to finish up at the house. Are you ever really "finished" though??? It's a relief when your house feels in order, however, and that' s the goal we are striving for.
Finally, I wanted to share that our prayer theme for this year is going to be: Instruments in the Hands of God. We want to be used for His purposes in the way that He intended. I will share more about this later.
Many, many blessings for the New Year! Jenni