Christmas Newsletter 2020

Glory to God in the Highest, 
And on earth peace, goodwill towards men." Luke 2:14

Dear Friends and Family,

Greetings from our family to yours!  God is so good to bring us to this season again when we celebrate Jesus’ birth and the culmination of a year full of His blessings.

The above photo is from last Christmas, the last time we were all together.   Everyone is sporting flannel shirts with their names imprinted on them, something we thought would be fun for our future lake house gatherings.  Below this letter are photos of our lake house progress so far.  Tom has designed a beautiful, and comfortable house and is spending a lot of time in Alpena checking on its construction.  He put me in charge of picking out tile, faucets, and light fixtures.  Who knew there are at least 10,000 choices of kitchen lights!  

When not inspecting the new house, Tom has remained busy with work.  However, his traveling has decreased this year.  In fact, in April, we were actually together for 45 straight days! First time in in 20 years!  I am still homeschooling Jade, an excellent high school student.  My weaving skills have expanded to basket weaving, a fun hobby.  I love visiting all of our grandchildren in their various locations around the country.  Jade and I went to Florida for two weeks in May, North Carolina in August, and to Michigan several times.  The children will give you their own updates below.  We hope you all have a very blessed Christmas.  Enjoy your families!

From Jade:  As the youngest, I am the only one still at home with Mom and Dad.  I am in the tenth grade and enjoy attending a homeschool tutorial each week.  There are 11 in my class.  It is great to have other students with whom to discuss the topics we are studying.  I enjoy debate especially.  In fact, I am undefeated in the four debates I have participated in so far.  I earned my Gray/White belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which has been great exercise for me.  I now have my driver’s permit and am only allowed to drive the old car!  May you have Merry Christmas this year!

From Micah:  2020 has been a quite a year, to say the least! The greatest event for us in 2020 is my graduation from Georgetown Law School in December.  I have accepted an offer to start work at a DC law firm in 2021, for which we are very thankful and excited. We will continue to reside in the DC area for at least the next few years. In order to get a break from studying and working full time, Christy and I have enjoyed visiting a couple of theme parks, including our new favorite, Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, TN. It was wonderful to be back in the South, even in the scorching summer heat! We look forward to exploring more of our great country in 2021. 

From Bekah:  This year was filled with many new and crazy adventures for us on our little farm. Michael has been growing and learning so much. At 16 months, he eats almost just as much as Kevin, loves closing doors, and is amazingly wonderful at spreading his toys all over the house! I’m looking forward to the day he learns to put them away! Patrick did wonderfully on a new hockey team, and was able to keep his favorite number, 11.  He spent his free time this summer helping with chores around the farm. We even grew some pumpkins that were almost as big as he! Stephanie had a somewhat quiet year, but finished the school year strong and spent the summer working hard on the farm and in the garden. She learned how to recognize ripe corn and took charge during corn harvesting. She started high school this fall and joined her high school hockey team. She hasn’t played quite as much as Patrick in the last few years, but she is a quick learner and definitely has skills! Kevin spent his free time this year planting loads of strawberries, blueberries, peach, and apple trees. It might be another year or two before we can enjoy the fruits of his labor, but we will have jams, jellies, cobblers, and pies galore! We might even start a roadside farm stand! I played a little bit of hockey on a new team at the beginning of the year, but in the spring, I spent my time working on the vegetable garden. We harvested tons of green peppers, tomatoes, corn, and squash. Next year I will try to double our garden and work on canning the harvest. We took one trip this year to Tennessee to visit Mom, Dad, and Jade. It was a nice, quiet visit and absolutely wonderful to spend time with family. One of Stephanie and Patrick’s favorite parts of the trip was learning how to weave on one of mom’s looms. Since then, Kevin has been shopping for looms on auction sights! We are excited to finish the year strong and are looking forward to all the new adventures God has in store for us! Merry Christmas and God Bless! 

From Christian:  This spring, I completed my postdoctoral work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and accepted a faculty position at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Our family of three all moved to North Carolina’s High Country in June and are now enjoying living among the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. I just finished my first semester as an Assistant Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at App State and Rebecca is exploring teaching opportunities at the university and local schools. We are excited to welcome our second baby girl, Melanie, this week, and to celebrate Kaitlyn’s second birthday next week!

From David: We have had a whirlwind of a year, starting with the addition of two more daughters! Last fall, we were told that Elliana had a newborn sister in the foster care system who needed a new home, our home!  Her name is Seraphina. That same week, we learned Amanda was pregnant, and our third daughter, Attalie, was born in June!  Needless to say, having a 2-year old, a 1-year old, and a 6-month old keeps us very busy. We feel blessed to have the opportunity to adopt our two precious daughters through the foster care system in Michigan, and love sharing the story of how God has miraculously answered our prayers. The girls are like three peas in a pod, all healthy and getting along great. We love taking them on adventures, enjoying the great outdoors as much as possible. 

From Rose: Greetings from the Grays in Tennessee! This year, Rosalind is in fourth grade and enjoying our new creative writing curriculum with Classical Conversations. She is such an imaginative artist, creating everywhere she goes. Asher is working hard at 3rd grade and enjoys reading about various subjects, playing chess, and all kinds of fun games outside. Calem is an extremely studious kindergartener, who loves reading and math time. Angus is 4 and has never sat still. He loves being barefoot outside and running wild. Verity, 1, has learned a lot from Angus, and we all watch out for her as she tries to tag along with all her siblings. Her favorite place is the great outdoors. God has been good to us as we finish up our personal home and continue working on building custom homes in our area. Michael had a bad fall in November, so we are fortunate to have a business I can continue during his recovery. God has been faithful time and again, but especially through this new trial. As this year has been difficult for many, we would like to encourage you to lean into God’s promises. Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” Merry Christmas! 

From Rachel and Tony:  This has been a unique year, to be sure, but we have managed to squeeze in plenty of adventure as always. Tony received a promotion at work that has been a challenge but also a fulfilling change. In February, we traveled to Boise to spend some time in the mountains. We did some cross-country skiing for the first time while enjoying the beautiful, snowy, mountain scenery. In March, we started a new home renovation project, creating a master bedroom and a much bigger main bathroom. This required months of work, but it’s been worth it. In July, we finally ventured out to spend a long weekend in Voyagers NP. We canoed into the park, camped on an island, and enjoyed seeing loons, eagles, and many other birds. In October, we took a road trip to visit Badlands NP, Yellowstone NP, and Colorado. We saw bears, wolves, moose, fox, and buffalo and enjoyed some beautiful fall colors. Merry Christmas and here’s to new adventures in 2021!

From Katie: This year I have thoroughly enjoyed watching my kids mature and grow. Celeste is now 12 and excelling in 7th grade. It is so rewarding to see her mature and develop a love for deep discussions. She reads constantly, particularly enjoying biographies and historical fiction from World War II. She continues with drama and dance. A highlight of her year was earning her pointe shoes! Robbie has begun taking tennis lessons with a friend, a favorite part of his week. He continues to show interest in the sciences, particularly physics and inventions. He is a bright boy, always making us laugh with his witty jokes and confounding riddles. He is also continuing with drama and has added tap dancing to his skills. Abigail is 9 and is still the sweetest, kindest child. Her project for this year is a small garden in the back yard. She grew lots of veggies, flowers, and a gigantic beautiful sunflower! Recently, she began a butterfly garden and has planted lots of milkweed for the growing monarchs. We have one large caterpillar and are checking daily in hopes of seeing a chrysalis. She also continues in ballet and drama. Katherine is our talker! If you ever need to talk, just grab Katherine and go for a walk. She is funny and pleasant and definitely entertains. Her acrobatic talents are unrivaled in our home...I frequently cringe as she leaps in the air landing in a split. Leah is 4 and started her first class in our homeschool co-op. She loves being a big girl and frequently shows how well she can keep up with the big kids. Roberto's work is going well. They quickly adapted to Covid and have not skipped a beat with their patients' care. I'm more proud than ever of how he advocates for his patients. I have enjoyed teaching my kids this year. I facilitate the 7th grade class in our homeschool group, which has been very rewarding. We recently took a wonderful much needed family trip out west. The entire family hiked for dozens of miles at the Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion. The scenery was breathtaking, the weather gorgeous, the people welcoming, and the hiking was exhausting! We will be enjoying many more National Parks in the future. We look forward to 2021 with hope and joy, waiting to see what God has in store. He is Good! 

Photos of Jade:

Earning a new stripe

Debate team preparing its rebuttal

At the beach for the weekend

Fun with nieces and nephew

A walk in the park

At Clingman's Dome in the Smoky Mtns

Hotel rooftop in Pigeon Forge

Micah and Christy

Bekah and Kevin and family

Patrick weaving

Stephanie, too!

Corn harvest

Stephanie and Michael

Christian and Rebecca and family

Rebecca and Kaitlyn

On the Blue Ridge Pkwy

Baby Melanie


David and Amanda and girls

A good catch!

Grandpa and Ellie

Wonder what was funny!

At the apple orchard

Three little Halloween pumpkins!

Daddy's girls!

Rose and Michael and Family

Asher and Angus


Rose and Verity

Rosalind the Baker

View of the new house across the pond

Lucy and Verity

Angus and Papa

Flower Girl


Back Deck S'mores

Tony and Rachel

Leslie Gulch, OR

Black Hills, SD

Lake Superior, MI

Voyageurs National Park, MN

Katie and Roberto and family

The Grand Canyon

At the bottom of the Canyon

Little Leah, Grand Canyon!

Bryce Canyon

Behold the majesty of God's creation!

More photos just for fun!

Tom built some flower boxes for me.

Warping a loom

Tom, proving his planking skills

The Lake House construction
First floor

North side

Lake side

With Windows


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