Laura, 17 … My three unmarried siblings and I were able to go on a weekend camping trip together
earlier last month! We had a blast planning it (although, with no one in
charge, it took a couple of weeks to settle on what to eat). We had never
gone on a trip with just the four of us before. Life holds many changes,
so I was glad we could do this together while we are all still living at home
and available to each other. It was nice having it be just us and being
able to do everything together: cooking, eating, hiking, singing, and even
being cold! On our hikes we enjoyed beautiful sunsets, gorgeous views,
and an enchanting, out-of-this-world (or Texas), 100-foot waterfall.
Becca, 19 …In
February I took an ESL tutor course so that I can teach English at the
library. I haven’t started teaching yet, but I am excited (and nervous)
about this opportunity to meet new people and gain experience. In March I
had a lot of fun going camping twice. I also drove all the way across
Houston by myself in bad traffic with a major road closure, an experience which
may have included arguing verbally with the GPS, praying, reassuring myself out
loud, and singing praises to God after seeing a correct road sign. On the
business front, I made my first successful sourdough bread after several weeks
of playing with sourdough starter (I’m still trying to get rid of all my extra
Seth, 23 …
This month our church has been reading a really good book called Church in Hard Places by two pastors,
one from Virginia and one from Scotland. The book is about how the
discipleship, evangelism, preaching, membership, and discipline that occurs
within a community of believers (a local church) is absolutely vital for
transforming the lives of those living in poverty. The emphasis of the book was
on how the local church brings life to the poor, but it really applies to
everyone. Even if you are "well-off" or "posh" you are not
so very different from someone who is "poor". The book inspired me to
be committed to my local church and to invest myself in other people's lives
through discipleship, evangelism, and friendship.
Anna, 26 …I went to
Florida for a week at the end of February. I spent the first few days
with a sweet friend who showed me around to all her favorite places, including
the beach, a historic lighthouse, and a wildlife refuge. At the end of
the week, I attended Ligonier Ministries’ annual national conference.
Their theme this year was the Gospel, and the speakers were all
excellent. It was so encouraging to spend two whole days marinating in
the glory and the mercy of who Christ is and all that He has done for His
John, Megan, James (4), Ezra (2), and Joy (8 months) …Our remodeling has not progressed a
whole lot other than some drywall repair being done. This past month we went to the Houston
Livestock Show and Rodeo, San Antonio for a performance with Uzori at the San
Antonio Folk Dance Festival (both John and I performed), and Huntsville for the
bi-annual campout. Joy is now pulling up
on things and is cutting her two top teeth! She will be 8 months old in a
little over a week! James turned 4 in
March! In James' words: "I lost my three now that I'm four. Then I'll be
five, six, seven!" He is in a big hurry to grow up.
Ray, Katie, Peter (6), Samuel (4), Andrew (3), Grace (1), and baby (due April)
…Ray’s dad came to visit
us for about a week in February. We went on some outings to a barbecue
restaurant, a park, and a military museum. It was fun to show him some
different parts of the city. We also enjoyed visiting and playing at home. He
and the children had a great time together, although they wore him out. It
didn’t help that we adults kept staying up too late playing Monopoly!
We are getting excited
to meet our newest family member, who is due in two weeks. I’m really ready to
let someone else hold the baby for a while!
Judith … We had another close
view of death recently. (I don’t mean to
be gloomy, but death seems to be a glaringly regular part of life.) One of our guests at our neighborhood open
house Dec. 26 was a 62-year-old man in a wheelchair with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s
Disease). His wife and 17-year-old twins
(son, daughter) were with him. On that
day he said he hoped to live long enough to see the twins graduate in May. After the open house we wanted to then start
inviting the attendees (household by household) over for dinner and thought we
better start with this neighbor and his family.
They came over on Feb. 12 and he died 10 days later. He didn’t make it to May for the graduation.
It was poignant to be sitting at dinner becoming better
acquainted and briefly sharing life with a person we didn’t expect to see alive
again -- and with his wife and children as they were living with his
soon-to-come death. Yet in the midst of
all this was an amazing peace and joy as this man, who had long since repented
of his sin and placed his faith in Christ to save him from the judgment of God,
looked forward to eternity with the Lord.
His hope in Christ was clearly sustaining him through his physical
suffering, giving him security in the face of death, and directing his
priorities in what he said and did in his last weeks and months. Death is truly awful but, for those who trust
Christ, it is not to be feared.
From Gerald …The big news for our church is that
after 10 years in a rented facility, we have purchased a building. It was
an existing church building, so we were able to move in quickly and begin
holding services the very next Sunday after the closing. There is still
much work to be done, but there is a great deal of enthusiasm among the members
and many are pitching in to get things accomplished. We have only been
here two Sundays and have planned a big anniversary celebration for this coming
are excited to see how God will use this facility through us to accomplish his
purposes in our lives and those in the surrounding neighborhood.
We don't usually go camping twice in one month, but that's the way it worked out this time. We camped at Huntsville State Park with a bunch of great friends. We enjoyed long hikes, short strolls, bumpy bike rides, tranquil canoe trips, alligator sightings, gusty kite-flying, misty mornings, pink sunsets, popcorn, fireside singing, delicious meals, long talks, and jolly games.
Anna, Seth, Laura, and I had a wonderful time camping together at Colorado Bend State Park, northwest of Austin.
When our whole family goes camping, we fill up the whole truck, but this time we managed to cram everything into Seth's tiny car.
Seth planned a very interesting route to get us there. It made the four-hour drive take about ten, but it was a lot of fun.
The open range:
Kale chips and back roads:
Picnic at the Capitol:
We stopped to take a quick tour of the Capitol.
We did finally get to the park. We went on several hikes and saw some beautiful things. It's really fun to get out into the hill country and actually be able to go UP to places and see DOWN, instead of just wandering around aimlessly in the woods.
The (Texas) Colorado River:
After walking through a bunch of rocks and cactus, we came to this enormous and enchanting waterfall.
We walked up to the edge of a cliff to watch the sun set.
We had a lot of good food too.
Except the roasted eggplant. That was Seth's idea and it was terrible. The roasted mushrooms weren't too good either.
At night the sky was clear and a cool breeze was blowing up from the river, so we were very cold and uncomfortable. But the second night was better because we put on all the clothes we had and huddled together in the tent. The stars were amazing.
I think we will have many fond memories from our trip together.