A year ago we had a baby here who got from place to place by strategically rolling over and over. Now that kid stomps around here like the big friendly giant - looking over whatever is on the table or counter that he might be able to confiscate or play with: keys, phone, glasses of water, cutting implements. Owen is so tall that almost nothing is off limits! For him it's been a year of growth and change and development. For us it's been an adventure - all the joys and challenges of an in-house hurricane! If I make it sound like he's wild that's not true; he just swirls around leaving trails of toys, cars, alphabets, books...
Russell has contentedly carried on as pastor at Bristow Advent Christian Church where he enjoys a rapport with young and old alike. We are blessed to be here where the people show us grace and encourage us with their generosity so often. Besides shepherding the flock, he is Vice President of the Bristow Ministerial Association, which involves monthly meetings and community activities. He helps care for Owen on his days off, and he tries to fit in weight lifting and a never ending honey-do list. He's been actively working at staving off diabetes and weighs about what he did when we lived in Rhode Island...eons ago! That's down about thirty-five pounds. In February he went to Florida to visit his mom, and in October he went home to Big Lake Township to prepare our house to sell it. It was listed in late October but no takers yet.
I spend my days caring for Owen, working as secretary for the church and fitting in some writing between cooking, cleaning, laundry and reading. I've toned up a bit from a healthy regimen of lifting (Owen), walking (Owen), chasing (Owen) and bending and stretching every day! I am working on my fourth book. I had a goal last year to finish it by Christmas. My goal this year is to write a page a day, and as of January 3rd I was managing that 50% of the time! I'm not giving up :) I had two poems selected for the Goose River Anthology, a collection of stories, essays and poetry published by Goose River Press and released in November.
We have settled in here in Oklahoma and are maybe even getting acclimated. The consensus was that this past summer was a mild one, and we found it blistering but not unbearable - probably mostly due to air conditioning. We had family visits from Russell's cousin Simon and his wife Mary, and my sister Robin and her husband Brian. Both joyful occasions and proof that Oklahoma is more than "on the way to somewhere"!
Being in Oklahoma means being close enough to Texas to see the little Carles, which we managed to do two or three times. Ryan changed jobs this year and is now a field manager for U-Haul in northeast Texas. No more nights. Crystal has a variety of medicines that she's taking for lupus which help her cope with the various symptoms. She home schools six children and cares for a toddler (the child of a church friend) and manages to maintain a cheerful and patient demeanor. Gracen will turn thirteen this year, Zoe will be eleven and Naomi nine. They are happy, imaginative and fun children to be around. Our Christmas with them was postponed because Crystal got pneumonia and then everyone proceeded to get the flu. We still have our celebration with them to look forward to. (Added 1-11-16) I forgot to mention that Ryan is now pastoring a church plant and has performed several baptisms in this new church. He's a busy man!
Emily has juggled work, home, baby and the adjustments of moving quite well. She does bookkeeping for the owner of the Subway and Pizza Hut in our town. He is good to her and doesn't mind if she has to take Owen for a doctor appointment or come home early so I can go cook for our Wednesday night Celebrate Recovery meeting. She has been considering going back to school as she doesn't want to do books for always...so maybe forensics, pathology...who knows? She has begun cutting out a quilt for Owen and WILL learn to sew!
Peter is back to college at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology. He has been able to save enough from working to finish his degree without any more debt, which is an amazing accomplishment. He is majoring in network security. He worked nights for a long time, but no more. He actually ate supper with us last evening!
I'm including a poem I wrote recently that might help explain the general sense of the past year. And I will just add that I read a couple of months ago that when grandparents are actively involved in raising their grandchildren, they are 30% less likely to develop Alzheimer's. Yay!!
We love you and pray God bless you in 2016!
I wanted to learn how to juggle.
The smooth arc of balls
The nimble hands -
The steady balance of high and low,
It drew me so.
Then there was you,
And eventually them.
The cries of babies in the night,
Hungry eyes, messy meals -
Breakfast, lunch, supper.
And there was Him.
Start here, go there.
Pack up, unload.
Make a home and
Make it again, and again...
Add the call of words,
The sound of song, the joy of friends.
Talk, laugh, cry.
Write, think, sigh.
And now again,
Starfish hands and laughing eyes
at my clumsy tries
with three balls.
I can't get it right,
But I guess by now,
I really do know