Saturday, January 26, 2013

Our Christmas Card

Here's our Christmas letter for those of you who missed it (and for me to remember)!
Family Photo Final (1 of 1) 
Merry Christmas to our friends and family near and far!
           Well, I think it's safe to say that 2012 has not gone exactly as we had planned.  In fact, one of the biggest things that God has been teaching me this year is that His ways are not always my ways!  Of course I "knew" this before, but He's really driven the point home this year!:)
            As we started the year we were perfectly happy to put 2011, with all its heart break, behind us.  We were feeling a little stronger and quite hopeful.  And then hit the 3 months of illness!  I don't know if our immune systems were just worn down from the year before of if God just wanted us to rest, but rest we did since there was nothing else we could do!
            And right smack in the middle of this time came some major changes within the Lifelines ministry.  In the past year God has expanded the vision of our Lifelines National Leadership Team (which Joe and I are both a part of) and suddenly last winter God confirmed our vision and gave us all that we had been dreaming of through a series of meetings with our Campus Crusade for Christ national directors. We were (and still are at times) a bit stunned and blown away by God's goodness to our ministry and how quickly everything moved!  And with the changes and expanding of Lifelines came a number of literal moves as pretty much all of our Lifelines staff across the country have moved (or are in the process of moving) to new locations this year!  To be honest, we didn't know exactly what this would mean for us.  We absolutely believed in the new direction that Lifelines was moving in , but the thought of leaving our home was really difficult.  But out of the blue things changed again when we ewre needed to direct our summer program out in Colorado.  And in doing so we were able to put off making a more long term decision.  So we spent our summer in beautiful Colorado leading a great team of staff and students there.
             Our summer was filled with lots of travel including going to Colorado, visiting my parents in Wisconsin along the way, a camp vacation with Joe's family, and an amazing trip to Alaska in August!  Although we were exhausted the trip to Alaska was such an incredible expereince for us.  It was our first time leaving both children for more than one night (we were gone 10 days) and although most of the trip was for work we were able to enjoy a few extra days celebrating our 10th anniversary a little early (the real thing is this January)!  Hiking, fishing, a sled dog ride, and the most amazing glacier cruise were among the highlights!
              When we finally made it back from all of our summer travels we were excited to be back home and jumped right into preparing for the fall with our students.  This fall was really different for us in many ways.  We have been the only Campus Crusade staff here because the rest of oru team already made the transition to working with the Lifelines Resource Team in Plymouth, NH.  This meant that ministry on campus looked a lot different (in both good and hard ways).  We lead less large group trips and we focused more on small outreach trips. leading small group studies, and having students over to our home more.  Fall was also busy for us as we started homeschooling Lily for the first time, Eli started preschool, and Joe started coaching Lily's soccer team!  Lots of changes both big and little!
               And the changes didn't stop there.  After taking much of the summer and fall to consider options for our family in ministry and beyond it became abundantly clear to us in October that the Lord is leading us to stay with Lifelines full time and to make the move to New Hampshire in the new year!  This has been a hard and emotional decision, but both Joe and I feel so much peace that this is what the Lord has for us.  It wasn't in our plans, but we believe that the Lord is asking us to take some risks and follow Him. I can only believe that in doing so He will take care of us and do more through us and our ministry that we can even imagine right least that's our prayer!:)  So, we'll be moving to New Hampshire late spring/early summer of this next year...crazy!
               And if that weren't enough God had one more little surprise for us!  A few weeks after we made the decision to move we found out that I am pregnant!!!  We had been thinking and talking and praying all summer and fall about if and how God might have us grow our family.  We were considering both having another biological child and also considering adopting internationally.  To be honest we didn't feel a lot of direction in this area and with all of our other life changing things going on in our lives we sort of just put the decision about expanding our family on the back burner.  So when the pregnancy test turned positive and the nausea set in a few days later we were in a little bit of shock!  Though I am feeling pretty sick we are thrilled that the Lord would just go ahead and make the decision for us and choose to bless us in this way!  Baby Cousins is due in July!
                Such big changes for our family and I can only be relieved that God is in charge of it all!  Here's a little bit more about what's been going on with each of us this year...

Joe:  Joe has continued to be busy leading the ministry here at U-Maine as well as serving as a deacon in our church this year.  Combined the two have kept him quite busy most nights of the week.  He recently agreed to be the Lifelines National Medical Director and is excited for the opportunities he will have in the coming year and years to train our staff medically and to use the medical skills he is gaining to God's glory throughout New England.  Joe has also enjoyed continuing to be a volunteer firefighter in our community.  And if that weren't enough he also coached Lily's soccer team this fall and has been leading a homeschool ecolory class for Lily and a few of her friends.  In what little free time he has he has been enjoying canoe and boat trips with the family!  These days his free time seems to be consumed by looking for a house in New Hampshire!

Angie:  This has been a very creative year for me and I have really enjoyed doing lots of little creative things with the kids and around the house!  I'm learning how much I really do enjoy making things.  I've also continued to spend a lot of time doing photography including taking my first editing class and having my biggest photography job ever this fall photographing all of the soccer teams for our town rec department.  I became a teacher as well as we started homeschooling Lily and as I have been helping my friend lead a homeschool group in our community.  I've continued my work as one of the Lifelines HR directros and have enjoyed leading a group of women from U_Maine each week.  These days when my head isn't spinning from adjusting my plans to God's plans I have been spending a lot of time napping and resting and trying to ignore the constant nausea that our little babe is bringing!:)

Lily:  Our sweet, feisty little red head turned 5 this year!  Lily finished Pre-K at a school on campus and loved every second of it.  This fall she started homeschool kindergarten and has been enjoying that as well (at least most of the time).  She loves the homeschool groups we are a part of, art, the weekly library club she goes too, and is really excited about learning to read (even if it can be a little frustrating in the process)!  Lily also played soccer for the first time this year and continues to love gymnastics.  She's fascinated with fairies, has discovered a love for jeans (as long as they have sparkles), and can often be found crafting and creating from things she finds around the house!

Eli:  Our cuddly, stubborn, funny boy just turned three!  He makes us laugh more than just about anybody and we were thrilled that he really started talking this year (and now makes us laugh even more)!  Eli started preschool this year two days a week and has been loving it.  The rest of the week he joins us doing homeschool.  Eli already loves sports and doing just about anything active...he was very disappointed that he didn't get to play soccer this year with Lily.  He also loves trains, guns, playing house and store with his sister, and sword fighting!

Indy:  Our much loved almost 9 year old pup had a rough year.  He has severe arthritis in one of his front legs and this fall it got so bad that he couldn't put any weight on it and was in quite a bit of pain.  We were days from putting him down when a new supplement starting kicking in and he made an amazing recovery.  He no longer has a limp and is even able to go on walks again!  We don't know how long it will last, but we are thrilled to have more time with our big baby.

               So, that's a little bit of our whirlwind year (though I'm sure that my "pregnancy brain" is not remembering everything!  Through it all though I am reminded of how much I trust the Lord.  He has been so faithful to our family through the years and as we step out and trust Him I believe that He will be faithful once again.  As we look forward to Christmas and celebrating the birth of His son we can't help but once again be so incredibly thankful that God came to be with us!  Merry Christmas!

                                                               Love, The Cousins

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