This has been a long year for me, and in a sense I'm glad it's finally over. At the same time, time continues to fly by so quickly, wondering where it went!
We started this year with a little boy about to turn 4, loving everything to do with David the Shepherd boy. He still has a "friend" named David who is usually with him. Lately, he's been telling us that he must go to town with David to go shopping. In April this year, Luke asked Jesus to forgive his sins and come into his life. He has always had such a tender and eager heart for anything to do with God, and his heart is also tender towards others. He'll often quickly do Susanna's chores if she doesn't want to do them so that she won't get into trouble (she still does). It's been a joy seeing Luke grow more physically, mentally, and spiritually this year. His jeans are often still baggy around the waist, but they're high above the ankles! It is amazing at how his mind works, putting things together, reasoning things out, coming up with ideas that really scare me because no four year old should be able to come up with the things he does! I'm really going to have to be on my toes.... Luke developed true friendships this year, looking forward to seeing his friends at church, the library, and Cubbies -- inviting them over for play dates, and experiencing the disappointment of how it feels to be "outside "when two good friends are better friends with each other and prefer their own company without anyone else playing with them. He decided he wanted to do 'real' work with Daddy on the farm this summer, although he didn't often have the chance, but he sure was an asset to our Pumpkin Parties in the fall when he started out as a little scarecrow and later morphed into Davy Crockett. Davy fell to the wayside shortly after when he discovered Daniel Boone....but even Daniel Boone didn't hold the same magnetism as Aslan in the Narnia books. Luke has also really embraced "school work" and knows all the alphabet - by letter recognition, sounds, and writing. He is eager to write things down whenever he can and has started captioning his own sticker book, a Christmas present from Aunt Lori. He also loves to color and amazes me at how well he does. Right now he is looking forward to his fifth birthday, complete with his first real birthday party where he can invite friends that aren't just family.
My baby Susanna turned three this year and it's hard to believe how fast she is growing, too. It often seems she is in a race to outgrow her big brother, and there are times they are the same height. I do believe her feet are bigger (although she tells everyone she has very little feet). Those little feet prefer to be bare....or wearing fancy slippers or high heeled shoes. I cannot keep socks on that girl! She loves princess dresses and twirly dresses and doesn't care how pretty something is...if it doesn't twirl out, she doesn't want to wear it. She wears her pants and jeans backwards (after all, buttons ARE supposed to go in the back!), and continues to be fiercely independent in all things. One of the hardest things for her to say is "will you help me, please?" Followed by "I'm sorry. Please forgive me." She loves helping me however she can, unless it involves picking up toys. Susanna has a beautiful voice and will often hum and sing as she is playing around the house. She surprised us all this year by learning how to whistle...and this after learning how to wink last year! While Susi could care less about doing school work, she loves to draw and write on anything and everything she can find. She's learned, however, that she must scrub the walls she writes on....after she can once again sit down (not that she sits while scrubbing the walls....). She has also cultivated friendships this year, enjoying very much time spent with Simone and Nikki, but by far her favorite friend is the little girl with lots of curls named Kayla. Susanna is often found just spinning around in circles and had us laughing the other night when she couldn't even sit without toppling over after spinning and spinning and spinning (my stomach turned just watching her!). Susi also asked Jesus to forgive her sins and be part of her life in July this year.
Tony continues to amaze me, too, and I appreciate him so much. He is dedicated to all he does and works so hard. I see the things Tony thinks up and completes and understand more why Luke thinks the way he does. I'm in awe at everything Tony does both at the farm and at home. He's a wonderful daddy and an even better husband, all the time continuing to grow the farm, increase the pumpkin parties, and teach Sunday School (although he is taking some time off from that right now). Through the difficulties I had this year, Tony was always there, helping take care of me, keeping the children occupied, and still juggling the responsibilities at the farm, too. Oh, I love this man!
As for me, I've learned some valuable things this year.... there are times when I have to slow down, say "no," and not worry about if something is going to get done or not. Don't ever have sausage the morning after having your gall bladder removed. Never have major dental work done two weeks after major surgery. Eating lots of nuts is not a wise thing when you no longer have a gall bladder. Christmas letters don't have to go out by Christmas. They don't even have to be written by the New Year....but of course, you probably can't call them "Christmas" letters then! And God is faithful through everything. Through health problems and trials, through good and bad, He is always there providing in ways I can't even begin to think of. My brother showing up an hour before I had to be rushed to the ER (and admitted for gall bladder surgery -- it's amazing how removing one small organ can make one improve so much! Of course, it depends on the organ, too....), a dear friend from Alaska popping in to visit me while at the hospital (granted, her husband was in ER at the same time while they were here visiting family!), friends who brought meals or played with the children during times I was too sick to do anything, two good outside sources of income that are flexible and provided income for us this year, and the joy and delight of family and friends.
We started the year saying goodbye to Tony's sister Rita and her family as they returned to the Philippines but said welcome to his brother Mark and family as they moved back to Park Rapids from Spokane in July. We also welcomed a new nephew on each side of the family, two boys with wonderfully strong names to grow in to; Josiah David and Silas Elliott. We enjoyed family visits from Papa and Grandma; Uncle Al, Aunt Carla, Katherine, Elisabeth, and Olivia (before they transitioned from Uganda to Rome); Uncle Paul, Aunt Lori, Carrie, Mary Joy, Jim, and Erin as they spent lots of time at the lake cabin, and Uncle Tim, always a favorite visitor.
Tonight we're staying home, having fun food (shrimp cocktail, pigs in blankets, apples and marshmallows dipped in hot fudge and/or caramel, sparkling juice, popcorn), maybe watching a movie, playing a game, and seeing how long the children can make it before they become too fussy to deal with any longer. I suspect Susi will last longer than Luke...she's already been napping for an hour and he has yet to even close his eyes. Oh well....I'll be surrounded by those I love the most....it doesn't get much better than that!
Have a wonderful new year, and I hope this past year was full of blessings for you!