Monday, December 21, 2015

Thanks Giving Letter (aka Christmas Letter)

Dear Family and Friends,

Here is my attempt at yet another Thanksgiving Letter. It's that time of the year where you get family updates (feel free to send me yours!). As I've said before I'm not a huge fan of listing all the achievements etc, i.e. painting a 'perfect' family picture. I can assure you that we are NOT the perfect family! 

While I don't believe in picking a 'theme' for the beginning of the year as such the following seemed to reoccur as a theme in our 2015 year. So without much further ado here is my overview/thankful letter for 2015!

The Theme that seems to reoccur throughout this year is God's faithfulness. Let me share with you some glimpses on how we have experiences God's faithfulness this year. 

  • Spring Semester for Albert - Despite the heavy work load and HUGE pressure to full fill the required amount of preaching, endless papers, exams and the dreaded oral exam, God was faithful. Not only did Albert manage to 'manage' his deadlines, he aced his oral exam (after many, many, many etc hours of study), and he took out two awards (out of four) for the senior year. I kept telling him time after time that God is faithful and that HE is not going to let you down. So while I'm not wanting to boast about Albert's excellent results (I know of other students who put in HUGE efforts and yet did not 'win' any awards), the results are 'proof' that God does not let us down despite our human doubts! 
  • Friends - I've spoken of this before but not having family overseas is not always easy. God showed His faithfulness through God's people around us. Our graduation pew burst to the seams with friends (some of who traveled a HUGE distance, in fact one of our friends came as a surprise!). Friends, Seminary Families, Church members, Home school Friends all played a huge part in our lives this year, from the little things to big things. I'm so grateful for these people in our lives, who invested in us despite knowing that we might never see them again. Only our great God is capable of 'stirring' the hearts of His people! We are so undeserving!
  • Our Vicariate (Internship) - While our human nature doesn't always like God's timing, His timing is perfect! Again grateful for the Vicariate (I know other graduates didn't know what they were doing, whereas we as members of the RCNZ were guaranteed a Vicariate!). I have very much appreciated seeing God work through the people of Hamilton Reformed church, from getting us a house, car, organizing our container in NZ to making meals. It is such a comfort to know that we didn't have to worry about any of those things! 
  • Our ladies bible study in our USA church. - We were studying a Nancy Guthrie series, "Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament". I have been so blessed by this study and have been awed by how God is faithful throughout the Old Testament. I was very sad to leave this group and the study. BUT God knows my needs and has provided two ladies (so far) to continue to study the Old Testament here in Hamilton. I highly recommend this series!
  • School Jan until May 2015 - WOW where do I start? At the beginning of this year it became clear that Albert would no longer be able to help with English (Language Arts) with the older girls. No worries, God provided a teacher (a Seminary student wife, Hi Karena!) whom we bartered with and she came weekly to help the older girls with their school work. I know the time spent was mutually encouraging to all of us! I'm also indebted to Jenni Terpstra, who encouraged me, helped me and listened to my home school woes over the years! I appreciate her dedication to homeschooling! 
  • School June - Dec 2015. Once we knew where we going to be for our Vicariate, schooling for the girls became our next priority. I shouldn't have been surprised that God provided a private Christian School for our girls. It happened all so fast that the decision was really taken out of our hands (in a good way!). So before we knew it the girls started school and 'small' things like the school fees (remember these are private fees), uniform (someone gave us some), testing etc were 'ironed out'. While we had some concern on how the girls academic levels were compared to their peers, no red flags turned up! In fact I posted on FB photos of the girls each receiving prizes in their year group despite the girls only being at school for half the year. This was not to boast but to show God's faithfulness to us with regard to the girls schooling. It bought me to tears to see the girls up on the platform, not because I'm proud of them (I am!!) but how God works. 
  • Financially - God again has provided so much more than our needs (daily bread and water!) but also plenty of wants (Christian School for the girls). We shouldn't be surprised. It has been so nice to finally save again and not to worry about every single dollar we spend. (I treated the girls to a Mcdonalds ice cream cone with a Flake this week with our own hard earned money, it was $5 well spent!)
  • Family Holiday - We had planned a family vacation after gradation to recover from all the stress and to spend some time together as a family. While we paid for our train trip from Chicago to San Francisco with our NZ funds the rest of the holiday was paid for by the gifts of generous people. We booked our accommodation in faith earlier in the year. We were so blessed to spend four nights in San Francisco and relax (we did lots of walking). What a great way to end our time in the USA. 
So there you have it - some glimpses of God's faithfulness in our life this year. I challenge you to think back to 2015 and see how God has been faithful to you. Even if you haven't had as 'good' a year as we have had I know God is faithful even during life's trials. Keep looking up and depending on HIM in all you do, God is faithful despite our unfaithfulness! (just read Genesis if you need proof!)

We are looking forward to 2016. While 2016 is going to contain lots of changes and some uncertainties I cling to the fact that our God is faithful and knows our needs even though we don't always know what we need. 

On a personal note (for those who would like a family update!)
We are all doing well. In fact the girls are thriving in their new environment, they are excelling at school, making friends and continue to be a challenge to parent (ha told you we are not perfect!). Albert is doing well, getting better at this work/life/play balance. The 'calling' is continuing to be affirmed, what a blessing! He ran a marathon early December, crazy just crazy! I'm doing well also. I'm enjoying getting 'stuck in' in the school community, the church, swimming and some running. I haven't had to apologize as much to the girls since they are now at school now. phew! We have enjoyed catching up with our families and are looking forward to a reunion with Albert's family in January 2016. 

PS I still haven't got my head around the new photo system on our computer system despite Albert showing me several time, hence lack of blog posts. I do post photo's/updates regularly to FB, so friend me if you would like to be updated in that way :).