Christmas Newsletter, 2015

Merry Christmas!

"There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel"  
Numbers 24:17

David and Amanda's wedding, March 17, 2015

From Lynn

    Greetings from the Wallens!   2015 has been a wonderful year.   The photo you see above is from David and Amanda’s wedding on March 14th.  It was a lovely North Carolina wedding and we are so blessed to welcome Amanda into our family.  With the children moving to different parts of the country, Jade and I have had new opportunities for travel.  We have been to Tampa four times to visit Katie’s family.  It is best to visit Florida in the winter months when the weather is perfect.  We spent a week in North Carolina for the wedding, though we were a little too busy to do any sightseeing.  In August, Jade, Micah and I visited David and Amanda in Colorado.  We enjoyed some great hikes in the Rockies and other parks near Denver.  In June, Tom and I were privileged to travel to Israel and Jordan for two weeks.  What a life-changing trip!  We will never forget the experience. But in case we do forget, we have a few thousand photos to jog our memories!  You can view our photos on this blog site.  Just scroll down past this Christmas newsletter.  Last month, Tom, Jade and I went to Washington, DC, to visit Micah who is doing an internship this semester with the Heritage Foundation.  It was Jade’s first visit to the capitol of her adopted country.  In late August, we sold our home in Atlanta and moved back to our farm in Tennessee.   Moving gets more difficult as we get older, but it always feels good to weed out unnecessary “stuff.”   God bless you and your families this Christmas and in the coming New Year!

On the Sea of Galilee
Tom floating in the Dead Sea

From Tom

Coming soon!

From Katie and Roberto

The Diaz’s year was full of family, friends, travel, homeschool, and lots of local fun! We decided to embrace all of the typical Florida entertainment and spent quite a bit of time at Disney and Busch Gardens. That is...until the heat hit in March. After that, we enjoyed a lot of travel time, beginning with my brother David’s wedding in March. It was a beautiful wedding.  In May, we traveled to the Dominican Republic for Roberto’s sister’s wedding. Again, it was a great week of fun in the sun with the Diaz Family. We took a whirlwind trip across the country to make sure we had the chance to greet as many friends and family as possible!  This summer I escaped the crazy heat and took an adventurous trip with the kids up to Michigan! We were able to spend some wonderful times with family, and even made it to my cousin’s graduation party and another cousin’s wedding shower.  In the fall, I again escaped the crazy heat and spent a week in Tennessee. The kids had a super fun time with their cousins and Jade.  The kids enjoyed their regular activities this year. Celeste and Abigail both take ballet and are doing very well. Celeste takes drama also, which has been a perfect fit for her personality. They will both be in a production of Peter Pan Jr. this spring. I can’t wait to see the show. Robbie is excelling in his martial arts class and just broke his first boards last week. Abigail is the same spunky, fun-loving, people-loving sweetheart. It is her first year taking actual classes in our homeschool group and she is doing so well! Katherine is a happy, stubborn, imaginative child. She definitely has the same love of people that her siblings have, and is often the first to run up and hug any visitor, even if she has never met them before. She is talking up a storm and I am constantly laughing at the statements she comes up with!  Roberto continues to enjoy his job. We have joined a great church, which makes Tampa seem a lot more like home. We are looking forward to spending Christmas and the surrounding days with both of our families, and we pray that you are blessed as well with time spent with your loved ones. Merry Christmas!



From Tony and Rachel

Hello, and welcome to another episode of T&R Travels! The adventuring started early this year with Tony going to South Korea for work in February. Though he had only one day for sightseeing in Seoul, he enjoyed the non-touristy aspects of Korean culture while working for more than a week in an engineering test lab. Tony took another trip without me in the summer to Colorado.  He did some rock climbing and visited David and Amanda.  At the same time, I backpacked in the Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho, with a friend who had just moved to Boise. While Tony battled rain in CO, I basked in sun and low humidity.  Finally, we traveled together for our biggest trip of the year, driving all over New England.  After a wedding in Massachusetts, we visited Boston, and then camped and hiked in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. Hiking up Mount Washington was a major highlight of the trip. Valuing solitude over ease, we chose the least frequented and most physically challenging route up the mountain, the last couple miles of which consisted of a steep scramble up a boulder-filled gully. However, somehow we finished all of our food only half way through an 18-mile hike, which included a 5000 ft gain in elevation, along with rain and early darkness.  Going down became even more difficult than going up.  Sore, exhausted and famished, we finally got back to the car.  What a way to end a good day!  Lastly, speaking of doing things together, at the end of last year I accepted a job at Link Engineering, the same company at which Tony works. You may not believe it, but Tony and I have truly enjoyed working together there. In gratitude for the many blessings of friends, family, and each other, Merry Christmas!

From Rose and Michael

Hello from Michael, Rose, Aniya (19), Nakiya (18), Rosalind (4), Asher (3), and Calem (1). This has been a wonderfully eventful year for us. In February, Katie and I took 5 kids plus Jade to Disney World for a couple days. That was Rosalind’s and Asher’s first time, so it was a wonderful experience for them.  We are planning an encore this coming February. About a month after our trip to Florida, we all headed to North Carolina for David and Amanda’s wedding. We rented two beach houses, so there was lots of Wallen-fun mixed in with wedding prep for a few days. Rosalind loves everything girly and pretty, so she was thrilled to be a flower girl in the wedding! We are so glad to have Amanda as an official sister/aunt/daughter in our family. Asher found his love when he saw Jade’s electric train last Christmas. His life continues to revolve around everything “train,” including pointing out and shrieking with excitement whenever he can spot a train or tracks, whether they are in a book or out the window. Calem has just started walking ands for the moment his daddy walks in the door.  We enjoyed a nice summer in which many changes began for our family. Michael began the process of becoming a contractor, and has obtained his license! It was a process full of paperwork and red tape…but we are so excited for this new chapter in his career! We are utilizing his new license to build our next home, about 4 miles from Mom and Dad’s farm. I’m really looking forward to the process of building a house. We hope to move in in early spring. We just spent a wonderful Thanksgiving week as a family of 7. Aniya and Nakiya were both able to come to visit, so our week was full of fun, laughter, games and good food. God has blessed us immensely this year, as I know He has you. Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

From David and Amanda

In Jamaica
Happy Christmas from the Wallens out West! Amanda and I are loving the married life, as well as the great state of Colorado! I will try not to use too many exclamation points, but just know that the last year has been nothing but exciting adventures as we began our life together. To start the year off, our wedding was an amazing experience to share with our close friends and family. We are truly blessed to have each other as such loving and awesome companions to spend the rest of our lives with! :) After the wedding, we had a nice long honeymoon in Jamaica where we enjoyed Dunn's River Falls, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, shopping, and relaxing at our resort. My favorite part was, of course, the unlimited buffets and delicious restaurants, while Amanda couldn't get enough of sailing the little catamarans. Though it was fun while it lasted, we immediately got back to work by moving all our possessions to Colorado and starting our new jobs. After moving twice, we are now settled in Loveland, CO. Amanda is managing a brand new apartment community near the mountains, the same community we live in. I am working in the logistics department of a food company. We are absolutely in love with Colorado and all of the adventures that surround us! Just to give you an idea of how we put 30,000 miles on our car in the last year, we have been to the Red Rocks Easter sunrise service, Grand Canyon, Garden of the Gods, Mt. Rushmore, Devil's Backbone, the Royal Gorge for whitewater rafting, Custer State Park to see their huge herd of Buffalo, Four Corners, Badlands, Wall Drug Store, and many more parks! That has only put a dent in our bucket list, so we are very excited to see where our adventurous spirit takes us in 2016! May God bless you and keep you safe in His hands this upcoming year! Watch your six, and Semper Fi, from the Wallens! 

From Christian and Rebecca

Another year gone by, and what a year it has been! Rebecca has continued to teach English part-time to adult international students at Kennesaw State University. This has been one of her passions for years, and teaching just part-time has allowed her to have time to invest in relationships with the women at our church. In fact, we have been very involved at Ikon Community Church in East Lake since its launch in September 2014, and God has taught us many things about pursuing His kingdom within our community. Our genuine relationships within that church family and the spiritual lessons we have learned there have been very formative in this stage of our lives together. By God’s grace, I have made significant progress in my doctorate program at Emory University as my research took an exciting turn this spring. I was able to present my work at a conference for oxidation chemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison this summer.  It was an exciting career opportunity but also a nice break from the scorching Atlanta heat. Additionally, my advisor and I have written two publications on my research, and both were accepted into peer-reviewed journals this fall semester. If all continues to go well, I will be on track to graduate in the spring of 2017. Other highlights from the year include a wedding for Rebecca’s sister in January, a trip to North Carolina for David’s wedding (see above) and a trip to New York to see Rebecca’s brother graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. After the graduation ceremony and celebrations, we decided to take an extra day to see New York City with Rebecca’s family before heading home. We explored the city, seeing Freedom Tower, the September 11 Memorial, Wall Street, Rockefeller Center, Battery Point and, of course, Times Square. The trip was a memorable experience, but Rebecca and I were both glad to escape the city that never sleeps and come home (and sleep). Despite our busy schedules and living in a big city like Atlanta, we have found time to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with friends playing disc golf and hosting game nights. Recently, Rebecca and I reflected on God’s blessings to us as we celebrated our 2nd anniversary. Indeed, it has been a year full of new friends, new experiences, and new perspectives. We are excited to see what other things God has in store for us in this New Year. May God bless you and keep you this Christmas season.

From Micah

Coming soon!

From Jade

   Hi, this is Jade.  This year, I turned 10 and am in the 5th grade in school.  Some of my favorite books I read this year are the Anne of Green Gables series and the complete works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  In February, Mom and I went to Florida to see Katie’s family.  While there, we went to Disney World.  Rose and the children went with us.  I love being around all my nieces and nephews.  My favorite ride was the Magic Carpet Ride.  My brother, David, was married this year to Amanda.  We all went to North Carolina for the wedding and stayed in a house on the beach.  It was too cold to swim, but we had fun collecting shells and running on the sand.  Mom bought me a small weaving loom and I made a pink and purple scarf on it.  It was fun.  The summer was all about packing boxes for our move back to Tennessee.  Most of my books and toys are still in storage; I can’t wait to see them again.  But, I am happy to be back living on the farm.  Dad bought a new chicken coop and we will buy some chickens soon.  In August, we went to Denver to visit David and Amanda.  The Rocky Mountains were amazing, though it was sometimes hard to breathe up there.  On one of our field trips this year, we went to a show called, The Days of Knights.  We learned about chivalrous knights and their armor and weapons.  It was fun trying on chain mail and watching the jousting.  In November, we went to Washington, DC, to visit Micah.  Mom said we actually went to “feed” Micah, as he does not have the opportunity to eat much as a student in Washington.   I loved visiting the museums and memorials, especially spending time with Micah.  Well, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas.  I will, because all of my siblings are coming home to see me!

At the National Gallery of Art

A beautiful view with Micah
At the American History Museum
At the Ford Theater where Abraham Lincoln was shot


Gail said…
BEST EVER again Everybody! Great traveling along with you by your adventurous stories and photos! I wonder if the Wallen Brother couples may have some adventure travel together sometime!~ Mmmm E, W, N, or S!? or ALL! :) I love every visit opportunity I have with you each and all! and as ever truly enjoy your great annual CHRISTmas reports! Tom, Micah, Bekah looking forward to your letters too! Rose!, you must have some pictures coming! Jade! all of your siblings will be most happy to be with you of course! Hugs, LOVE!, and more GREAT times together in 2016!!!! Next visit; The Diaz Family! MERRY CHRISTmas in TN!!!!
Unknown said…
This Christmas party was so amazing. Thanks for sharing the photos here. These outdoor locations seem quite fascinating. I am happy that kiddos enjoyed the day. I also took my son to a funky Christmas event at some local Chicago event venues. It was totally amazing event guys!!

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