Christmas Newsletter 2023


And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; 
therefore the child to be born will be called holy - the Son of God."



November 27, 2023

   Hello friends and family!  We pray your family is well and that your year was filled with happy memorable events.  We have had a truly blessed year.  Visiting the lake house is the highlight of our life now, especially in the summer when the children and grandchildren come to visit.  The house is mostly finished; just a few odds and ends remain undone.  It truly is an idyllic place to reflect on the magnificence of God's creation.
   Tom is still working as a healthcare architect and travels around the country a bit.  This fall, he and I enjoyed visiting Mackinac Island and the Upper Peninsula to view the breathtaking autumn colors.  We hope to make it a yearly practice.
   Jade graduated high school in May, which marked an end to my 40 years as a homeschool mom.  I am officially retired!  It has been fun spending more time on my hobbies and taking care of Tom.  He likes it too!  I went on another mission trip with our TN church this fall, this time to Jamaica.  It was a privilege to work alongside Jamaican brothers and sisters, assisting them in their work for the Kingdom of God.  They were extremely encouraged by our visit.  God is so good!  We have missed having Jade at home since she left for college.  But she is doing well, as you will read in her letter.  I think she misses us too, at least the home cooking!  We look forward to her Christmas break.
   Enjoy reading the children's letters and photos.  May God bless you and your families in the New Year!


Jamaica team

Tahquamenon Falls

Under the Mackinac Bridge (on the ferry)

On the frozen lake, trying not to fall!

One of many beautiful sunsets

Rare Northern Lights display



Jade

Hello, I hope you all are doing well.  Last summer, I had the opportunity to go camping for the first time in Yosemite National Park with my brother, Tony and his wife, Rachel.  It was incredibly beautiful and I highly recommend visiting.  The waterfalls were especially big this year due to the heavy snows last winter.  I will never forget the experience of looking over the park from Yosemite Point.  We also visited Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks.   The start of the school year was a major change for me.  I started my first year of college, majoring in Computer Science.  College life has been busy, but I have really enjoyed the experience.  I have made a lot of friends and have settled into an efficient study routine.  Unfortunately, the cafeteria food is lacking, so I have Cup Noodles as the first item on my Christmas list!  I look forward to seeing what the New Year holds for me.  Merry Christmas to you all!
Graduation

Graduation party


Sequoia NP

On top of the world at Pinnacles NP

Sequoia NP

Arriving at Cedarville University

Dorm room


Micah and Christy

2023 has been a challenging but rewarding year for us both. Early this year, I took a position at a new law firm. Learning a different area of law has been challenging, with many long hours and very few weekends. At the same time, I am thoroughly enjoying the new position and the intellectual challenges it brings. Christy and I are both thankful that God opened up this opportunity for me. Christy received a promotion at work and consequently experiences an increasingly busy schedule. Thankfully, we both have continued to be able to work remotely for significant parts of the year and are able to spend time together, despite our busy schedules. Due to the steep learning curve after my job change, we have sadly not been able to keep up our roller coaster adventures like we used to. But, we hope to be able to do so once again in the new year! We are still living in Northern Virginia and are enjoying our lives in DC. Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year! 
PS: We are also thankful that God helped the Michigan Wolverines humiliate the Ohio Buckeyes on national television!!

Visiting the Capitol

View from our apartment on July 4th


Bekah and Kevin

Merry Christmas everyone! It has been yet another wonderful year for our growing family. We are pleased to announce that Baby Girl Bushey will be arriving sometime in mid Feb, 2024. This baby has brought tears of happiness and complete and total exhaustion and she isn’t even here yet! Due to prenatal fatigue, I was unable to work on as many farm projects as I had originally planned, but was still able to accomplish a lot. I added a couple high-quality dairy goats to my herd and started my hand at cheesemaking. Next year, I hope to tackle goat’s milk soapmaking. Stephanie was able to utilize these goats as well by taking them to our 4-H fair. She learned a lot and did very well on her second year showing goats. She also worked with a couple of dairy feeder calves. She bought them in mid-February, raised them on buckets of milk for a short time, and finished them off with a grain and grass diet. She was quite nervous showing calves for the first time. Just imagine walking around a 500-pound young cow which has a complete mind of its own! At the end of the fair, she sold both her calves, earning a decent profit for all her efforts. Stephanie is also busy this year building a house! She signed up for a home building class at school. Along with several other students, a couple coaches, and a few necessary contractors, she has been building a house from the ground up and learning some amazing skills! Patrick is keeping busy with his hockey team. They practice constantly and have many games, including some out-of-town tournaments in not-so-close states like Texas, Florida, New York, and Rhode Island. He has been working very hard to accomplish his dream of making it into the NHL. Francesca and Michael have been thriving on our little farm. They love helping out with chores and can be surprisingly helpful when it comes to carrying buckets and chasing chickens from the barn. They have grown a little timid of the horses but are really enjoy helping with the goats, including the milking. They have also both started a “learn to play/skate hockey” class for small children. Michael is gaining confidence at every class and loves skating with his dad. Francesca is more of a beginner and is still just kind of crawling around, but loves it. Kevin has been so busy at work, as usual, but has also been able to work on his own farm projects. He tapped about a dozen maple trees in our woods and, after hours of boiling, bottled about three gallons worth of syrup. His bee hives did well this year and produced about four gallons of honey. He also planted blueberries, more strawberries, corn, and a large pumpkin patch. The deer or raccoons got to a large portion of corn, but we still harvested a few dozen pounds for the freezer. The goats thoroughly enjoyed the pumpkins. We hope your year was as blessed and eventful as ours. We pray you have a wonderful Christmas!

St. Ignace

Hockey lesson

Michael, age 4

Francesca, age 2

Patrick

Kevin and Stephanie

Apple picking

Lake house fun

4-H County Fair


Christian and Rebecca

Greetings from the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina! Life has been full in our fourth year of living up here in the High Country. I have continued teaching in my faculty position at Appalachian State University while also working with nine students in the research lab. I had the opportunity to take some of my students to present their research at two chemistry conferences this year. It was great to see some of my senior students share their research with other chemists and explore options for their scientific careers. Rebecca has continued teaching ESL classes part-time at App and has taken on a part-time administrative role at our church here in Boone. Kaitlyn is turning five soon and growing up in so many ways. Highlights include new teeth coming in, pre-school learning days with Rebecca and some local friends, and making art for family and friends. Melanie is about to turn three and continues to entertain and engage everyone with her vibrant personality. Both girls took swimming lessons this spring to prepare for a summer trip to Grandmother’s Lake, which was a highlight for all of us. Kaitlyn loved playing in the water at the lake, although Melanie much preferred fast rides in Grandpa’s boat. We are all looking forward to future summer visits to the Lakehouse. May your lives be filled with peace, love, and joy this Christmas season and in the new year!




Otter Creek Falls, NC

Swim lessons

Grandpa's fast boat

Best friends

On the Ferris Wheel




David and Amanda

Merry Christmas!  We have had an incredibly exciting 2023! We spent most of our year in Loveland, Colorado. We had such a great opportunity to explore more of the West and show our kids the joys of exploring the great outdoors! Some of our adventures included Yosemite, Sequoia, White Sands, Kings Canyon, Guadalupe, and Carlsbad Caverns National Parks. The kids have grown so much. Judah is one and is walking, talking, and just a happy, spoiled boy. Attalie is our joyful little three-year old princess, who is best friends with everyone. Seraphina is four and loves to go on hikes and eat snacks all day long. Ellie is our oldest at five and has already lost her first few baby teeth.  She loves reading already. Amanda and I continue to enjoy parenting our fun and adventurous kids as well as homeschooling Ellie. Amanda’s highlight of the year was starting her own business! Grand Terra Solutions now provides marketing and gap solution services to development companies in the multi-family housing industry. She is an incredible mom, business woman, and wife! We were able to check a lot of bucket list items off this year, my favorite being a visit to the old Carson City Mint in Nevada. We observed one of the original working presses strike a few coins.  The kids really enjoyed the great museum there.  We pray you and your families are blessed this Christmas season! 

Sequoia NP

Loveland, CO

Seraphina, Ellie, Attalie in Guadalupe Mountains NP, TX

Judah

Death Valley NP, CA

Bryce Canyon NP, Utah

Yosemite


Rose and Michael

Merry Christmas, friends! I hope this season finds you well. This past spring, we sold our house and moved into a smaller house while we build again. This journey of building and selling and building is always an exercise in keeping a light hold on the things of this world. Every time I move something I ask myself, “Is it worth it?” We are staying in the Dickson area, close to where we have lived for the past 15 years. The kids and I are still enjoying our education journey with Classical Conversations. Rosalind is in 7th grade, and I direct her class. We are enjoying quality time together as we study Latin, science, math and more! She has recently discovered a love for macrame and has enjoyed earning her own money by selling at craft fairs. Asher, 6th grade, has discovered a love for science, specifically in regard to science that backs the Biblical account of creation. Calem, 3rd grade, is still showing his bent toward creativity and focus. He loves to settle into a project or drawing and keep at it until it is finished. He loves little details, especially while building Lego creations. Angus, 1st grade, is thundering and boisterous as ever. He loves playing outside with the dogs, wrestling, and generally causing a ruckus. He loves being on the homeschool bowling league with his brothers and sister. Verity, 4 years old, is full of life and excitement. She loves being around friends, playing with the dogs, and going places. Michael also enjoyed getting back into bowling and, with some friends, joined an adult bowling league this summer. I love going along to cheer everyone on. As a family we enjoyed two trips to Alpena, Michigan, where the kids fished, swam, and kayaked non-stop. The Lake House up north is a favorite destination among the Gray kids. Asher could be happy fishing the whole time, while Calem and Angus love to kayak. We hope this Christmas season brings Peace to your homes and that you find times to reflect on the Greatest Gift. "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Calem caught the biggest fish!

The Circus came to town!




Top of Presque Isle Lighthouse

Tycho Brahe and Isabella Bird, school speeches


Tony and Rachel

Greetings from the nomads! It has now been more than a year since we left Michigan and began living out of our pickup truck. We have driven over 30,000 miles, taken over 17,000 pictures, been to the lowest elevation point in North America at 282 ft below sea level in Death Valley, been about 1,000 ft underground while caving in New Mexico, visited as far south as the bottom of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico and as far north as Deadhorse, Alaska. We’ve also taken Uber rides to auto parts stores so we could do roadside truck repairs, wrapped our water containers in blankets with a heating pad to avoid them freezing, freed the truck from deep sand using old scraps of a catamaran, and been turned around when the road we were on dead-ended into a river. Through it all, God kept us safe and healthy while showing us His phenomenal works of creation. We’re not sure what next year holds but are incredibly and deeply grateful for the amazing experiences of 2023.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

White Sands NP

Gunsight Mountain, Alaska

Zion NP

Grand Mesa, CO

Starbase, TX

Deadhorse, Alaska


Katie and Roberto

   I have spent another year driving kids everywhere! It is crazy how quickly they are growing, and it is so much fun to see them develop into young adults/older kids. 
   Celeste is 15! My new role for this year is driving instructor! Celeste has been learning to drive quite well. I cannot wait for her to take over some of the chauffeuring of the family this year. Her interest in politics has blossomed and she has had many amazing experiences this year to develop skills and relationships in the field of government. She continues to excel in school, especially with her writing and persuasion. She is funny, compassionate, empathetic, and loves Jesus and others. 
  Robbie is almost 14 and has loved studying logic this year.  He continues to take tennis, piano, and tap. This summer we spent a couple weeks at Mom and Dad’s lake house, and he absolutely loved fishing! He spent quite a bit of time on the boat, and even took the paddleboat out with his cousin and caught a big bass!  Robbie tends to be good at everything he tries, and I’ve loved watching him explore new hobbies this year. 
  Twelve-year old Abigail is my smiley, fun, goofy girl. She is taking art classes and does so well. This year has been a big step up academically for her and she has really excelled! She continues to dance, sing and act. She is a good friend and sister and is always working hard to help me and others. 
  Katherine is 10! She is both funny and chatty! If you are hanging out with Katherine, you will never feel lonely. She is kind to all and a good friend. Her dancing keeps getting better and better and she was promoted to dancing with pointe shoes this year! Her performances are always beautiful and there is ever a smile on her face. 
  Leah is 7 and hilarious! She keeps me laughing all day long with her witty and sarcastic comments. She loves animals, Hot Wheels, Ninjago, and swimming. 
  Roberto and I have been busy parenting, working, and building our new house! We should move in early in January and are so excited! Roberto’s job has changed a little bit, and instead of driving to Clearwater twice a week, he is now traveling internationally a few times a year.  It has been a great change. I am still enjoying directing the 9th grade class in our Classical Conversations homeschool group. 
  As always, we wish you a Merry Christmas!

At the Florida Governor's Mansion

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens

Governor's Mansion, FL

At the Governor's Ball

Governor's Ball

Celeste at the Supreme Court in DC



Big catch!

Science Fair

Comments

Phyllis said…
Loved every word of it!
Phyllis
Susie Morrell said…
what a beautiful idea! this is my first time visiting the Wallen Street Journal! Such a beautiful family!!
Gail Parry said…
WOW O WOW my true heart Wallen God Family❣️👏💞 BIG God HUGS and THANKS to ALL of you for sharing another BEST EVER Wallen Street Journal full of expressive, exciting, completely enjoyable family letters and OH SO BEST EVER family photos!!!
I laughed out loud many times in sheer JOY‼️with very grateful feelings of knowing and seeing each of you develop as Grandparents!, parents!, students!, overwhelmingly wonderful people and families of and for God! Ohhhh my heart is FULL with Great God L💗VE for each and all of you here and coming! I am sooo God blessed to call you friends!, extended family!, for our yesteryears!, present years!! and to Eternity! Soli Deo Gloria!!! Gail❣️👏🙏
Brenda Fielder said…
You are all so amazing…no wonder my mom adored you so.
Thank you for all you have done for her and meant to her over the years and thank you for sharing Gail with us!
She has been such a God send for Heather and me to help with mom.
I know how proud Anita would be of all of you…her second family.
Thanks for sharing it all with us!
Love Brenda

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