Thursday, November 24, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016

Hello Family and Friends,

As I think about recapping our year, I’m drawn to showing our experience in pictures. In all honesty, I don’t think Sarah and I took enough pictures, but we try to capture memories at every turn. Time marches on, and we certainly feel it as we watch our kids grow and realize we aren’t as young as we used to be.
Each kid spends a portion of two grades in the year. For Jace it was 2nd and 3rd grade. For Gwyneth it was K and 1st. And for Quinn it was her 1st and 2nd year of pre-K.

One of Jace’s 2nd grade works of art was featured in an art show put on by the school system.

We attempt to give the kids a dabbling in a variety of activities that we pray helps to broaden their experience and help them to develop as whole persons.

Jace enjoyed basketball in the winter.

Gwyneth and Quinn did a dance class together and are pictured here with their instructor.

Jace and Gwyneth sang in the New Creation Choir at our church, and we are expecting another big Christmas show in which their choir is participating the second week, this December.

For the kids’ Spring Break, we headed to IA for a week to see Sarah’s side of the family. Sarah’s sister, Hannah, gave us a photo shoot on a frigid, rainy day. We didn’t have summer tans, but we were thankful for the opportunity to have family pics from a seasoned photographer.
Sarah and her mom.

Jace played his last season before Little League baseball and enjoyed his Pirates team.

At the end of summer, we rescued a greyhound from the racetrack in FL. We later found out he has run around 41 races, won 5, and placed in most … He was a sick dog at first, but Sarah has done a great job changing his diet and getting the worms out of his system.

At the end of the summer, we enjoyed a short trip to KY to visit Grandma Lee and Aunt Esther. Natural Arch was the chosen destination for a picnic and hike.

School arrived too quickly after a summer that the kids spent with our nannies Alyssa Cummings and Sarah Benson. They did an awesome job, and the kids had a lot of fun!

Here are first day of school pics for all three….

Jace/3rd Grade

Gwyneth/1st Grade


All three kids played soccer in the fall. This was Quinn’s first time playing soccer. We enjoyed watching the games.

Thanksgiving was spent at my sister Becky’s home. 

Sarah and I are full of gratitude for friendships, a good church, jobs we enjoy, and a relationship with God through Jesus Christ that sustains us. We hope you have a BLESSED Christmas season with your family.

John, Sarah, Jace, Gwyneth, and Quinn

Is. 9:6 "For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015

Dear Family and Friends,
This past year began as the previous 5 years. John was able to stay home and care for Gwyneth and Quinn while Sarah continued working at Fishers Veterinary Hospital.  Jace was in first grade at Brookschool Road Elementary and enjoying his friends, his teacher, and learning. John continued to work in the evening, and as a family, we continued to trust that the right doors would open at the right time for him to step back into full-time work.

We enjoyed a few hole-in-the-wall restaurants with high online ratings.
An excursion at Shell Island.
In July, we took a family vacation to Panama City, Florida, and enjoyed a week on the beach. As a special treat, Sarah’s mom was able to join us from Iowa, and the kids had a wonderful time playing with Grandma.  (Mom and Dad enjoyed having 3 adults and 3 kids to make it easier to keep them in line!) Following vacation – life was dramatically different.
Deviation. Turn. Diversion. Break.

After 5 ½ years as a stay-at-home dad, God opened up a door for John, and he began a full-time job as a chaplain for Indiana Wesleyan University. God’s guidance and direction were very clear, and we were able to move forward with confidence that this is where John is meant to be. He works with non-residential and online students through Spiritcare, a segment of the Student Services department and is able to touch many lives through his ministry. He enjoys working with his new team and looks forward to ministry developments in the new year.

First day of school for Jace and Gwyneth.
Two weeks after John’s orientation day at IWU, Jace started second grade, and Gwyneth started kindergarten in a new school. Our school district went through a redistricting plan, and our kids were switched to Hoosier Road Elementary. Admittedly, we were apprehensive about this switch but now we see that God was watching over us.  Both kids have fantastic teachers; they are growing socially and academically. Gwyneth is blossoming in school. She comes home and performs the songs and dances that help her learn how to spell, and we see many expressions and hand motions that she mimics from her teacher. She LOVES doing her homework and is rapidly becoming a proficient reader. Jace is also a good student, although drawn more to art and creating than to math and reading. He continues to sing in our church’s children’s choir, and both Jace and Gwyneth take piano lessons from John’s sister Becky. They also enjoy dabbling in group sports through the YMCA.

Our spunky Quinn.
With John working full-time, Jace and Gwyneth at school, Quinn is now attending The Playschool at Arbor Village. She is there all day on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday and continues to struggle with this adjustment. Her teachers assure us that once we are gone, she does very well but openly expresses that she would rather stay at home.  At 3 ½ years of age, this is the first time she hasn’t been with a parent during the day.  On the plus side, she is learning to play with kids her age, she gets to paint almost daily (her favorite), and she enjoys feeding Lucy, the guinea pigJ.   
Our family has always been one to follow tradition, and that includes putting up the Christmas tree and decorations on the day after Thanksgiving. We also like to watch The Muppets Christmas Carol in the evening of Black Friday. Consistent with how 2015 has gone – this also changed.  Instead, we joined Sarah’s mom and her sister’s family at an indoor waterpark north of Chicago. We enjoyed turkey chili in our hotel room on Thanksgiving after splashing through the normal Thanksgiving meal time. While being with family was wonderful, we don’t anticipate a new Thanksgiving tradition! 

A family shot at Key Lime Cover, Gurnee, IL.
Sarah’s year has not been quite as eventful as the rest of the family’s. She continues integrating Western and Eastern medicine in the veterinary practice and enjoys caring for her patients and their families. On the health front, she continues to focus on a rigorous and specific diet that will get the full function of her adrenal glands back. While a grain, sugar, and dairy free diet is challenging, she is definitely feeling stronger and hopes for a full recovery in 2016. Please pray with us for that.

May your family sense God’s blessings during this season and in the New Year. It is a privilege to journey with you and with the Lord.  God’s best to each of you,

John, Sarah, Jace, Gwyneth, and Quinn

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NIV

We are looking forward to some time with grandma Lee this Christmas.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How to Read the Bible

“I can’t understand what I’m reading!” This is a common remark that I hear when a person desires to grow in the Christian faith and he/she has been encouraged to read the Bible. The Bible is not one book, but rather, sixty-six! It is quite important to understand that it is not necessarily a chronological ordering of the books it contains, but rather a collection of works that the Church prayerfully agreed are the inspired words of God. It includes law, history, prophetic messages, poetry, perspectives on the life of Jesus, and even letters.


“Where do I start?” That is a great question! Some would prefer to start at the front, in the book of Genesis, with the creation account. Others just want a simple book to ponder on a spiritual level. A simple book about the life of Jesus is the book of John. Another basic read about some of the basics of Christianity is the book of James, written by one of Jesus’ own brothers. For a raw and heartfelt perspective about life experience, reading the songs and poetry in the book of Psalms (most by Israel’s former king David) would be valuable. For wise principles to conduct your business or relationships in your sphere of influence, you might consult Proverbs, written by King David’s son, Solomon. It’s your choice, but these are a few pointers to help you read to understand.

Understanding the Bible:

1)      Pray for understanding. Ask God to guide you and help you discover truth to apply to the way you live.

2)      Read everything in context. The author had intent and purpose when he wrote the text under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The events happened at a particular time in history. When anyone attempts to make a point by sharing a particular verse with another person or group, the fact needs to line up with the message the author desired to convey. It must harmonize with the message of all the other verses in the 66 books of the Bible. Understanding the author’s background, the time in history that the book references, the main purpose of the book, and the audience to whom the author was writing, all help to make what is written meaningful. In many study Bibles, much of the background information is included.

3)      The Bible wasn’t written or organized chronologically. Please view this basic historical timeline (located at the bottom of this document) to help you understand the historical period related to each book in the Old and New Testaments.

4)      Use helps. Maps, commentaries, and even Google can be helpful in investigating content in the Bible. Caution -- as with any research project, be aware that all sources of information aren’t reliable.

5)      Ask yourself questions as you read the text. “Is there a command for me to obey? Is there a promise for me that relates to my situation? How will I live differently now that I’ve read this? What truth may I apply to my life today? Is there a word/phrase that is being repeated or a message that is being reiterated?”

I hope these suggestions will make your reading a valuable experience and that your understanding will grow. As the Holy Spirit teaches you, you will grow in your spiritual walk as you learn to assimilate the Scripture into your daily life. It’s a discipline that has amazing results.

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8