Christmas Letter 2009
December 25, 2009
Dear Friends and Family,
I was recently reading an article in Time magazine titled, “The ‘00s: Goodbye (at Last) to the Decade from Hell.” It posited that the first ten years of this century would likely go down in history as one of the worst decades America, indeed the world, has ever seen. The author pointed out that the 00s were bookended by 9/11 at the start and a financial wipeout at the end. It got me thinking about the last ten years. Think about it, if I were to mention the 60s you might think of Kennedy, hippies, The Beatles; the 70s, disco, Vietnam, and Watergate; the 80s, legwarmers, Thriller, and The Cold War; 90s, grunge, Clinton/Lewinsky, and Seinfeld. But, what will define the 00s? I don’t know; however, I do know that it seems like only yesterday I was being warned of a Y2K meltdown, and I personally can’t believe this decade is now about to come to an end! As I read the doom and gloom article, I thought of all my friends that are out of work or the victims of cut hours and reduced pay. Yet, as I began to personalize things, I realized this past decade has been very good to my family. More than anything, I feel blessed.
Kasey was born in 2004, so ten years ago, we wouldn’t have had her jumping around our home. As I type this she’s happily playing with her best friend and fellow 5-year-old, Samantha, another blessing bestowed during the 00s. As illustrated by this friendship, Kasey is very relational. We call her our “love bug” which is a title her kindergarten teacher whole-heartedly agreed with as she literally kissed her report card during parent conferences, proclaiming, “I love her, I love her, I love her.” Kasey, in turn, loves school. She is also an obvious grandma’s girl, preferring Chrisy’s mom, Sherry, who lives with us, to others in the family much of the time. Considering the amount of time she spends with her, it is easy to see why. Kasey is a true morning person, happy and spreading joy from the moment she gets up. She is docile, loving, and agreeable. If there was one phrase that sums Kasey up it would have to be her often uttered, “I love you to infinity and beyond.”
Zoey came into this world in 2002, just 5 months after the twin towers fell. Honestly, I remember asking the question, “What are we doing bringing another child into this fallen world?” I would never ask that question today. Clearly the “why?” was to bring excitement and richness to our lives. Zoey is very extraverted and always asking to help cook, to have a play date, to play a game, read a book, or go outside with her sister to talk to neighbors and play with the neighborhood kids and dogs. She also likes to “borrow” our cell phones to text people; among her favorite is our friend Christina with whom she has been fortunate enough to make crafts with several times this year. With Zoey there’s always a “mom” or “dad” or “grandma” being hollered. Like her mother, Zoey has developed into quite the reader. She always gets her homework done with grandma. Her 2nd grade teacher has a lot of praise for her. Additionally, she has been showing much dedication in swimming this year, something she has chosen to do year-round. Zoey is passionate, extraverted, and a real feeler. She is the definition of abundant life.
Wes was only 2 when this decade started. Now he is this really fantastic 6th grader. He is doing very well in school. Normally, I have had a policy about not bragging about school accomplishments, but I was so blown away when this boy scored a perfect 600 on the math portion of his CST this year! Wes is very motivated in school and has become more independent. Usually, it has been dad’s job to proofread the writing and help with final drafts. This year Wes boldly and appropriately said, “Dad I don’t want you to correct anything. I just want to see what I can get on my own.” He’s aced every paper. Wes is also a deep thinker. When we sat down for his parent-teacher conference his teacher said, “You have the coolest child.” Wes is also still very into music and among the best blessings this decade has brought would have to be the sound of his guitar filling up our house. This year he gave quite a performance at the school talent show. Wes has been excelling on the local swim team and has also been running for fun. Above all, Wes is helpful and thoughtful. It is not uncommon for him to undertake his siblings’ chores and to do so without grumbling.
Max turned 4 at the beginning of this decade. Now he is taller than dad! Height is not the only way he has grown. For his 13th birthday we held a “passage to manhood” blessing ceremony for him. Many of the people that have watched him grow-up were on hand to pass down insights, encouragement, and words of wisdom. What emerged that night was a common theme of character and leadership. Along those lines, we recently received an e-mail from one junior high teacher and a phone call from another, both expressing nothing but praise, thankfulness, and gratitude because Max was their student. They literally thanked us for raising such a boy. At times it is hard to imagine that we had anything to do with it, but we certainly welcome that sort of school-home communication! He is a self-motivator! Of course, Max is now in the junior high youth group at church, which is lead by his dad. Rather than being awkward as expected, it has been a blessing and a blast for both. Max is always willing to participate in the discussions. Moreover, as is the case at home, he always brings a huge sense of humor and comic relief to the table as well. Max has continued his drumming at home and plays percussion in his school’s band. Max too had a phenomenal year in swimming and has been running on his own as well.
Doah turned 40 this year! Okay, who am I kidding? I am the one writing this letter so I’ll just tell you that Chrisy threw me an amazing 40th birthday celebration bash! My friends The Taylors hosted and it was a total surprise! My friend Tony even flew in from Minnesota! The house was packed out with friends and family from all aspects of my life. As I look back on this past decade I can honestly say that 40 is better than 30! In the year between my 39th and 40th birthdays I logged in over 1,000 miles of running. Then, on Memorial Day of this past year I ran my first full marathon! It was the Los Angeles Marathon and I finished in less than four hours! This year has seen a change in my job. For the first nine years of this decade I was at Remington Elementary School, but I was displaced from that site and I am now in a unique position at a place called the ARC where many at-risk students from 6th through 12th grade serve out their suspensions. As I personally assess this past decade, serving as the leader of the junior high youth group at our church stands out as something that has been the most meaningful. In this capacity, I continue to serve along some of the most wonderful people I have ever known.
Chrisy finishes this decade in a very different place than when she started it. For the last 18 months, she has shown amazingly consistency in participating in a boot camp. Her physical improvement has been remarkable. Moreover, she has formed an important friendship and bond with the group of women she meets with in the very early morning three days a week. Moreover, Chrisy has even taken up running herself, completing a half-marathon this past October! This year marked her return to full-time employment as well. She continues to do social work for Western Medical Center, Santa Ana. Although we are running our lives at a pace that often makes Chrisy feel like she is drowning, she never ceases to amaze me with her ability to do her job extremely well while managing to support me in my junior high ministry and teaching job as well as making sure that everything is running well and organized at home.
The dawning of 2010 certainly does seem to be a good time to reflect on this past decade. As I write this letter I can honestly state that these past ten years have brought welcomed change in all areas of our lives. I hope this Christmastime and New Year find you able to reflect on your blessings as well.
Doah, Chrisy, Max, Wes, Zoey, & Kasey.