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.


Jaena Hardin said...

Love your annual Christmas update. I vote you keep that tradition. :)

John Lee said...

Thanks Jaena! Just realized I hadn't moderated the comment and acknowledged it. I think we are sold on keeping people updated via this letter:)...