Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas! - Our 2019 Letter

Another year has gone by, and we are again writing to wish you a blessed Christmas and a wonderful new year.  2019 was the year in which we had four teenagers at once for a few months, and with that came busyness, change and a lot of joy.
Having said that, our year started on a somber note as Ken’s dad Terry passed away suddenly on Christmas Eve.  The first part of January brought the memorial service and a houseful of family here for a few days. We loved the time with family but miss Dad and Grandad very much.
After Terry’s passing, Ken’s mom decided to sell her house and build a house on the lot across the road from us. Construction is almost done, and she is living in it now, after staying most of the summer and fall at our place. It is a blessing to have her nearby.
Mara (20) had the biggest change this year. She became engaged to Thomas on New Year’s Day, and they tied the knot on May 18th. Our house was abuzz with preparations as the day approached, from making of dresses, bow ties and vests, to bringing the woods into the church building for decoration.
The newlyweds are living in Topeka, Kansas while Thomas finishes his final year at Washburn University.  Mara has spent her time in such enjoyable activities as foraging for wild foods (amazing what you can find in the city) and volunteering in a greenhouse near their apartment. Over the summer, Thomas had an internship with a railroad company and is now tutoring during the school year.
Jonathan (18) is in his senior year and has been working at starting a videography business. He is focusing primarily on weddings for now, with hopes to expand further later on. Jonathan leads our home school co-op’s high schoolers film-making project last year. They had such a blast that they are working on a new film this year, with Jonathan heading things up once again.
At the suggestion of Ken as well as his boss, Jonathan applied for and received a scholarship to Camp RYLA this year. Although he wasn’t sure what to expect, he really enjoyed RYLA and found it very useful in building leadership skills.
                Aaron (16) continues to be our active, outdoor child. As this letter was typed, he was busy outside the window building and trying out a snowboarding terrain course. This summer, he built a huge mountain bike jump and, after an upgrade, proudly called us out to witness his first run, which unfortunately ended in a mighty crash and a broken collar bone!
Aaron followed in the footsteps of his older siblings this summer by going to work at Big River Scoop, our local ice cream shop.  This enabled him to save up money to buy two mountain bikes and a guitar.  (Mountain biking is definitely his favorite hobby, and has learned to play guitar quite well.)  He and Jonathan went to teen weeks at Flaming Pine Youth Camp and enjoyed it a lot.
Megan (13) reads a lot, finds most of her schoolwork easy and is incredibly creative. She continues to draw almost every day.  She loves to sew and has made many of her clothes. This year she began remaking clothes and came up with some pretty cool creations. She also made a fancy old fashioned dress for herself, using a pattern she designed just by studying a doll dress. 
Just recently, Megan made a doll, a bunch of doll clothes and a wooden dollhouse for a cousin’s third birthday. Megan enjoys children and has taught a Sunday school class for younger kids at church. It is fun to watch her prepare and come up with creative ways to teach them a Bible story.
Ken stays very busy with Pine Country Insurance but has also been working on development of an online app for insurance agencies, in collaboration with his younger brother Daniel. 
Abbi’s wedding floral business is still going well. Homeschooling has become a breeze, as the kids do much on their own – except the rare times they ask for her help with an Algebra problem that she doesn’t remember how to do.
One of the highlights of Abbi’s year was a summer program that put on at church called Heroes in Hebrews. She had a blast planning for it with a small group, working on it with the whole congregation and then teaching all the kids who turned out.
Aaron insists that we tell about Kitchi. His highlights: hunting rabbits and having Nana here.
Ken and Abbi celebrated their twentieth Anniversary by going to the US Virgin Islands in January.  Leaving behind minus forty temps, they enjoyed absolutely beautiful weather and warm water. Their AirBnB perched near the top of the mountain had a magnificent view of the cityscape and blue-green waters far below.
Shortly after Mara’s wedding, the other five of us flew to Washington DC in June and enjoyed touring the town. We were able to tour the White House, sit in the Senate Chambers while in session and watch a play at Ford’s Theater. Mt Vernon, riding rental bikes around town, seeing the Davidsons and a trip to the Atlantic Ocean were some other highlights of the trip.
On Labor Day weekend, we traveled to northeastern Iowa and met up with Mara and Thomas, where we explored Pike’s Peak and the historic little town of McGregor along the Mississippi River. We also enjoyed exploring the ice caves in nearby Decorah. 
Ken and Abbi discovered the joy of night-canoeing this fall. With the busyness of life and the shorter autumn days, they were having trouble getting out in the water very often. So they tried canoeing after dark and found they loved the peaceful water, night sounds and view of the stars.
Theater has been another fun activity involving most of the family. Mara, Megan and Aaron acted in The Reluctant Dragon in April. Last month, Aaron, Megan and Abbi were in the Broadway musical Annie. Jonathan ran the sound booth for both shows, plus a third during the summer. The Bemidji Community Theater is a vibrant and fun community. We truly enjoyed our time spent in it and appreciate the friends we have made.
                We are grateful for so many things this year. Having you in our lives in certainly high on the list!    

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Still Feeling Thankful

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving! I hope your heart is just overflowing with thankfulness to our Creator God who made everything for us and who sent His Son Jesus to redeem us and give us hope and peace.

We were blessed to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with many of our family and a friend joining us. It was a day of singing of Thanks to the Giver of ALL good gifts, sharing what we are thankful for, preparing and enjoying an abundance of good food, games, laughter, a new baby and lots of love.

Heidi and Lars (niece and nephew) spent a few nights with us before Thanksgiving and the day before we were doing our normal song of the morning (we are just working our way through a hymn book) and our song was one of Thanksgiving. We had fun singing it together and then I suggested to Jonathan that he video it (as he loves to do that anyway) so that I could share it in celebration of Thanksgiving. Here it is, I hope it blesses you some way....

On Thanksgiving Jonathan did some more videoing and here is his compilation of Thanksgiving day. This was taken before the game playing began and before we actually dug into all the food that was prepared (including 15 pies! We did not eat them all. :-) )

 We had a lovely group of 22 people - but one was not yet a month old so she didn't do much eating.

These 3 boys make our lives much fuller. We feel so blessed to have these three nephews living close by and bringing so many smiles to our faces. Candles are for blowing out, are they not?

Speaking of blessings.... Parents/Grandparents that we get to see often, work together with and serve God with in His church. God is so good!
 A game we enjoy is one called the game of "Things". It takes some fun thinking.

 Some of our yummy pies. Though the meal was at our house I by no means did all the work. Everybody pitched in to make things, clean up and do all the work. It makes holidays pretty easy.

 Hanging out and visiting or singing is always fun too.


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