Monday, December 22, 2008

Hey!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Letter 08

Greetings and blessed Advent to you all. What a year huh? As we look back over the year we have a lot to reflect on. At the end of March we received a wonderful gift in our daughter Ainsley Elaine. It seems like such a long time has passed, but really it hasn't been that long at all. She is growing up like crazy. She started really crawling about 4 weeks ago, and has immediately started climbing up on chairs, boxes, toys, anything she can find, to get into a standing position, though she hasn't figured out how to get down yet. She's teething, with two cute little bottom teeth in, and four more coming in on the top. She is learning about vocal volume, and I trust will be auditioning for the children's choir in the next few months. She has been, and continues to be, a great source of joy and learning for us, since this is all new.

In May, Joshua graduated from Gordon-Conwell with two MA's, one in Biblical Languages, and one in Old Testament studies. His family was in town for the event and we made the time into a wonderful vacation, in which we got to tour around Boston and sight-see. We went down into the city, explored several museums, and even went down to Plymouth (though didn't see the rock because it was under construction). Our time with them was wonderful and it was great to see them. The day after Joshua graduated, Ainsley was baptized at Christ Church Hamilton-Wenham, where we had been attending church while in Massachusetts. A week later, we flew out to Ohio for Sarah's brother Alex's college graduation, and got to surprise him by coming. In June, Sarah and Ainsley were able to fly back to Washington to see family while Joshua stayed in MA to shoot his first wedding.

While Sarah was in Seattle, we reached the decision that we needed to seriously discuss moving back to the Northwest, since there were no “official” attachments that required us to stay in Massachusetts. Having made the decision to do our best to raise our children near family, we began to make plans to move home in early September. This was a wonderful and difficult decision to make, because while we wanted to be close to family, we were having to leave behind the life that we had built out in Massachusetts. We left behind a wonderful church, an even more wonderful church community, and many many great friends.

So we moved. Sarah's parents offered to let us stay with them while we got back on our feet (moving isn't the cheapest thing in the world) and got settled out here in Washington. So here we are. Sarah's parents live in Puyallup, which is about 30 minutes south of Seattle. There are many aspects of rural life still to be found here, so the adjustment hasn't been too bad since we are still seeing livestock and horses on a regular basis.

Since being here there have been several things we have been trying to figure out. The first is work. Joshua works at the Sumner Starbucks, which is a town to the East of Puyallup. He works opening shifts now, so usually gets up at 3:40am and works till about 12:30pm. This has been quite an adjustment from his 2pm -10:30pm shifts in MA. The market has greatly affected most retailers, and Starbucks is no exception. Part of his adjustment to working in this current role has been the learning of new responsibilities and how to handle the pressures of morning rushes, and learning the flow of the this particular store. Things are going well here though, and he is really thankful to be working. Sarah was hired at R.E.I, which for those of you who don't know, is a sporting goods co-op, more common to the West, though they may be found back East also. Sarah was hired for a seasonal position in their call center, doing a job she was very familiar with having worked at CBD for as long as she did. We had hoped that this position would segue into something permanent, but due the economy, R.E.I has decided not to hire anyone back, regardless of job performance. Obviously we are disappointed, but we know that God is good and are hopeful that Sarah will be able to find something else soon.

Joshua continues to work at photography, since he would like to make a career out of it. He is partnering up with a friend here in Washington, and plans to work with him in this business. They have 5 weddings so far, with great potential for more as they advertise and build momentum. We are very hopeful that Joshua will be able to move into this full time, and scale back to a part time position at Starbucks. If you would like to see his work, you can find it at http://joshuamahar.com/photoblog/
or you can view his professional page at http://joshuamahar.com.

We have begun to attend a church out here, Christ Episcopal Church of Puyallup, and have decided to “try it out” till Pentecost. We hope to be able to get a good sense about the parish over this period of time. Also, we couldn't bear to try bouncing around from church to church during some of the high points of the Christian year, like Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. It is a nice parish, with classic architecture, and has the feel of a small countryside parish. The rector is quite nice, young, and funny, and is adept at giving thoughtful homilies. The church body is friendly, if a bit older (sorry all you “old” people...we still like you), but there are lots of mid-thirty somethings with young children. We are a bit starved for folks in the same life situation as we are, but let's face it: where are we going to find a highly educated set of young, high-church, but slightly evangelical, conservative, liturgical, beer and wine appreciating folks that live within 10 miles of us? So, we are embracing where we are, and trying to build relationships with the folks that God places in our lives, which is really all we did back in MA.

All in all, things are really different, but in ways we didn't expect. We had no plans to move home when Ainsley was born, so the notion that we are here in Washington is still odd at times. We could not have guessed at the joy we have had in being parents, and loving our little girl. The notion of sharing a home with ones parents (or in-laws) leaves many folks feeling a bit queasy, but for us it has been really wonderful being here, helping each other, and sharing life. It is truly a joy to be with family. I don't know how long we will be here, but for the time being things are working out nicely. Joshua has been doing a lot of grilling for dinners over the last few months, and thinks it's great that well into December one can do that kind of thing here. All in all, life is really hard, but really good too. We don't have any idea what this coming year will bring, and even if we could guess, we are hoping that it is better than what we can think up at this moment in time.

It's Advent, and as such we are waiting. Yes, we are waiting for Christmas day, but more than that, we are waiting for something deeper. When Christmas comes we will celebrate again the birth of our Savior, the birth of the One who has fixed, once for all, that rift, that brokenness which separated us from God. And yet, even after those 12 days are over, and we move on to think and meditate on other events in the life of Jesus, we will still be waiting. We are waiting for the final coming, the end of the age, the Kingdom that Jesus taught about, to burst forth in all its fullness. We are waiting for a time when those things that are still broken, still bent in upon themselves, still unjust, and wrong, will be righted. We wait for His coming and glory, for a time when the Light will no longer be the sun and moon, but will be the presence of the Lamb, dwelling here with us. We wait for that time when creation will no longer be abused, but will live and move and be all that it was made to be according to God's purposes. We wait, too, for the righting of ourselves, the full realization of our status as sons and daughters of God. We wait for a time when there will be no war, when our weapons will be bent and beaten into tools designed to help each other. When we stop killing people for resources that we probably don't need anyway. We are waiting, and trying to live as if that kingdom has come even now. It is in this Spirit that we look forward, hoping and wondering. We look forward to what is to come, even if we don't know when or how. We also hope that this time may be for all of you a time to draw closer to Jesus, to wait along with us for all His fullness, and to celebrate those things which he already has done. In this we wish you a blessed Advent, and a Joyous Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What is that...?

Saturday, December 06, 2008