Dear Family, friends and everybody else,
This is the 28th edition of our annual Christmas letter where we share with family, friends and others what's been happening in our lives during the past year.
What do you share when the kids are gone, the house is quiet, the plumbing works, we are both retired and we are both committed watchers of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy?
We are thriving. And we hope you are too. This Christmas we invite you to join us in our prayer to do more than observe the birth of Jesus Christ this year. We want to experience it. The Apostle Paul said it in Ephesians 3:19:
19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
QUESTION: So, do we have any big news to share from this past year?
ANSWER: Yes, yes and yes. We are going to be grandparents. Krista called one afternoon several weeks ago and said she had a surprise. I was thinking they may have bought a new car. Way better. She's pregnant and due at the end of June next year. A while back, I felt I wasn't old enough to be a grandpa. Looking at the birthdate on my driver's license, I can enthusiastically say that I am. Gladys and I are excited. We've seen a video of their first ultrasound and heard the heartbeat. Wow. .
QUESTION: Who's getting into who's hair now that both of us are retired and that we spend a lot of time together?
ANSWER: I don't know how to answer that without sounding like I took too many happy pills. This past year has been like we are dating again. It brings back memories of eating Saturday breakfasts at the Char House in Bay City where we talked and talked and drank lots of coffee and really enjoyed it. Let me emphasize that we are not joined at the hip, but we spend lots of time together and we love it. I still have lunch every Monday with my friend Ken and Bible study on Tuesday morning's with my other friend Ben. Gladys still gets into classroom and I still get downtown. I'll share more about that in a minute.
QUESTION: What's this about Gladys getting back into the classroom?
ANSWER: Actually, she's been in a bunch of different elementary school classrooms in the Lansing area in her part-time role as a student teacher supervisor for Spring Arbor University. Given her background in and her love for teaching, it's a natural next step for her to pass on what she knows to the next generation of teachers. This school term she's had three which keeps her busy along with her tutoring of three refugee students. She's teaching them English and helping them with their homework. I almost forgot her blog-- www.mrsthorp.com - where she shares practical ways parents can help their early elementary students, especially third graders.
QUESTION: Was that us who was spotted at six different wine bars on the Old Mission Peninsula by Traverse City, in the woods just outside of Caseville at the tip of the Thumb, in Brewton, Alabama eating sweet potato french fries, on the streets of Washington, D.C. this summer and fall and in Indianapolis a couples of times? And what about a 'Wes and Gladys sighting' in Michigan's Copper Peninsula?
ANSWER: That was us. This past year has had a "Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego" quality to it. As a gift, Justin wanted to share his love of wine with us by giving us a very special wine tour on the Old Mission Peninsula. Riding in a special limo, we stopped at six different wineries and sampled the results of their efforts. There were five or six offerings at each stop. We quickly learned the value of taking a sip and pouring the rest in the bucket. We had a great time.
Then there was Caseville where we stayed at our first bed & breakfast. It was a gift from Krista and Adam. No television. Just a nice suite in the woods with wi-fi, a hot tub for two, a screened-in porch where we could watch the deer and a fireplace. Great time. We'd do it again.
We flew to D.C. for Justin's birthday in June and last month. Special stops included the National Food and Wine Festival, some of the Smithsonian museums that we hadn't seen before and some really nice restaurants. It was good family time with Krista and Adam joining us at his apartment for Thanksgiving holiday.
The sweet potato french fries were part of our road trip to Florida where we stayed with my aunt and uncle in Destin. It was a great drive down and back on Easter weekend when we stayed in Indy and celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus.
Ask us about our trip to Michigan's Copper Peninsula. We met Gladys' siblings there during the last weekend of August. We had a great visit in Houghton-Hancock, an area that has an Artic Circle flavor.
ONE LAST QUESTION: How do we feel about the upcoming year with all the uncertainty and turmoil in this country and around the world?
ANSWER: Because of Christmas and the birth of Jesus and because of Easter and what happened there, we feel confident about the promises of God to see that we get what we need regardless of the circumstances.
This newsletter is just a birds-eye view of our life during the past year. I invite you to visit my personal blog to follow what we are doing. The address: www.dailygrit.com. We are both on Facebook and so are our kids. Give a shout there. We'd love to visit. And, of course, you are always invited to call, write or visit.
Regardless of how you do it, please stay in touch. We value our relationship with you and let us know what's up in your part of the world.