This is the only place you will see it.
So, here’s the most prevailing reason that I’ve neglected my Xanga Friends!
Shady Acres * 7484 Shawnee Road * Milford, DE 19963
Greetings to all of our friends and family members!
I’ve begun this letter numerous times in my head, as I usually do at this time of year, but couldn’t seem to come up with anything to my satisfaction. You see, Dear Ones, that while we hope that you all enjoy reading our family letter, I also like to have fun writing it. And sometimes, especially after a year as full as the one that is coming to a fast finish, it is difficult to come up with a story and format that is fresh and new and interesting enough to hold people’s attention! And I do hope to hold your attention! Our family certainly hasn’t been bored on this year’s journey!
There have been important milestones in the life of our family this year. All of our children are now adults. Rachel, our youngest, turned 18 in October. Rachel, of the blueberry eyes and the tender heart is a lovely young lady who has weathered a tough year on many fronts. She is a senior this year, and has her eyes set on a degree in social work so that she can help disadvantaged and abused children. She was chosen as the female delegate from her class for a leadership conference this fall. She stays busy with Quiz Team, basketball and is looking forward to being in the school play. She hopes to attend Rosedale Bible College next fall, and just took her college boards. She works hard at finding activities for the youth group at our church and is a willing helper to her dad and me. She took on the same summer job that she had in 2007, but the dynamics were decidedly different. Rachel learned some lessons in perseverance, faithfulness and even how seemingly small choices can affect families and friends in ripple effects that can make people miserable. It seemed advantageous to keep this job as she has been faithfully saving money for a trip to Europe that she, her sister, Deborah, and a cousin, Holly Yoder are planning for next summer. Quite honestly, Youngest Daughter’s year has been more one of planning and dreaming than seeing fulfillment, but God really does save the best for those who wait, and we believe that there are some wonderfully exciting things in store for this young woman.
Youngest Son, Lem, saw one of his biggest dreams come true this year when he married his lovely bride, Jessica Lee, on June 22nd. It was a beautiful wedding as Lem and Jessica began their life together with the blessing of their family and friends. They spent the summer in Delaware, with Lem working in construction. In late August, they moved into married student housing in Cedarville, Ohio, and Jessica began a new job as a caseworker for Greene County Children’s Services, and Lem began his Senior year at Cedarville. Lem just finished the first semester of his senior year, and has picked up some construction work in Columbus while they wait for Jessica’s Christmas break, when they plan to be home for a few days. Lem is in the process of applying to graduate school and they hope they can relocate to the east for that. We’ve enjoyed accounts of their little apartment being stuffed with friends and good times and good food, and are especially thankful for their commitment to the Lord Jesus and their determination to live as He would have them in a world that has gone so wrong. We miss them intensely, but modern communication is a wonderful thing, and there is something really special about seeing a familiar number show up on our caller I.D. and hear Lem’s familiar voice say, “Hey, Mom, I’ve got a cooking question for you — “
There was a second wedding in our family this year! Oldest Son, Raph, decided that a Yoder gal from Ohio was the perfect wife for him (and she didn’t seem to object any), so on a glorious Saturday in August, Raph married his lovely bride, Regina. They live a couple of miles from us in a rented mobile home that is on a wooded lot. Their decision to not buy for now has seemed providential with the current housing trend, and they are content with their situation. Raph is working in construction, and we are grateful that there has been enough work to keep his crew busy. Regina continues to look for a full time job, but has had some on-line work at home that has been a blessing. She has spent some happy times with the females of the Daniel Yutzy crew – in Bible study, shopping, canning and cooking, decorating for Christmas, etc., and we enjoy her humor and easy laughter. Raph is on the worship team at Cannon Mennonite Church, and they are anticipating being involved in the youth ministry there in the near future. Raph’s drum set is still in our basement, but it is strange how many of the things that are so inherently masculine have greatly diminished in our household. We miss these boys who have been such participant members of our household, but it is a joy to see the gladness in their eyes as they get on with the business of life and homes of their own.
Middle Daughter’s life continues to be one of the most interesting of all in our household. She is never at a loss for things to do. She has been employed at Bayhealth in Milford as an ICU nurse for a year and a half now, and there is never a lack of drama, excitement, life and death situations and the many things that Deborah literally thrives on. She has proven herself to be a good nurse, but she has other interests that make it so she can never quite get done all that she wants to do. She teaches the littlest people in Sunday School at our church and fiercely loves each of them . She even managed a trip out of the United States this year when she accompanied our neighbor girl, Lupe Ruiz Monterroso to Guatemala. Lupe, who has often been mentioned in these letters, married a young man last December, and when he was arrested in January, and deported, Lupe made the decision to go to Guatemala to begin a new life there with him. Deborah, with her savvy as a world traveler, enough Spanish to get by, and her love for Lupe and her family, was the first choice. The days she spent there, the pictures she took, and the memories she brought back were an inestimable gift not only to Lupe and the extended family that she left stateside, but to our family as well. Deborah has been involved this year with Christmas preparations that have impacted people far beyond our family circle as she headed up the decorating of three trees for the Hospice parade of trees, helped to plan the Christmas program for our church, baked Christmas cookies for our family and friends and helped others decorate their homes for Christmas. She is quite involved in planning that Summer 2009 trip to Europe, and the excitement is contagious. I’m convinced that every family should have a Deborah!
Eldest Daughter and Beloved Son in law are heading for ten years together as a married couple. They have some of the most exciting news of all this year. In the summer, after miles of paperwork, months of investigations and a multitude of prayers, Jesse and Christina were approved as adoptive parents and began their wait to be chosen. What a cause for celebration! As Certain Man and I have watched our siblings become grandparents again and again and again, we are reminded that the desires of our hearts are nothing in comparison to the desires in the hearts of this young couple, and we continue to pray that God will be honored by their lives as a couple and that in His Providence, in His Way, in His timing, He would be honored to bless them with a child. They live full and active lives, and a myriad of people depend on them for many different things. Computer glitches, moving large and cumbersome items, encouraging faltering families, volunteering at the local thrift store, babysitting sweet (and sometimes otherwise) little boys, serving on the hospitality committee, accepting the new office of Church Coordinator, being the best Unix administrator any company could ever want to have, opening their home to people who need a place to find love, acceptance and safety, etc., etc., etc.. What would we ever do without them as a family, as a community, as a church? I don’t know, but I really don’t want to find out.
Our family continues to be a huge source of delight, comfort and challenge to Daniel and me. We enjoy these adult children so very much, and are so thankful for the people they have brought to share in our life as a family. Our children are far from perfect, and so are we, but the people that have come into our family and taken us on as in-laws are so right for our children and bring us much joy. The fact that they weren’t scared off by their initiations into the family shows much about their courage and flexibility! We eagerly look forward to the times that we can spend together as a family. In fact, the eight of them went off on a “sibling’s weekend” this fall just because they felt like they needed time to be together. Daniel and I weren’t really invited, but that was just fine! There is something intensely satisfying about seeing our children developing so strong a sense of family that they would sacrifice to be together.
Daniel continues to serve as the chairman of the Leadership Team at our church. The team was made permanent in January, and Daniel has been encouraged and affirmed by the love and support of our congregation and the open and honest communication the team enjoys together. We have had many, many happy times together as a congregation, and while I continue to dream big dreams for the church at the corner of Carpenter Bridge and Canterbury Roads, yet it is an incredible blessing to see that God is at work in the hearts and everyday lives of the people who meet together there. Daniel continues to work for the State of Delaware as a plumbing inspector and for Allen’s Hatchery as a poultry farmer. The days I love most, though, are the days he spends puttering around our farm, working in his garden, tinkering with his many clocks, scheming as to where he could maybe plant one more tree, and seeing after the needs of our family.
I am still caring for two ladies from the Department of Disabilities. Cecelia has been with us for almost nine years. Sometimes I think I may have figured her out a little bit – and then she surprises me with something totally unexpected. Her blindness and inability to speak make for some pretty sophisticated guessing sometimes, but much of the time, I feel like I am just more or less winging it, and hoping that maybe (just maybe!) I have gotten it right. The other individual, Nettie, is an incredible blessing to us as a family. We all see her placement with our family as a “God-thing” and there is many a day when I really do wonder what I would ever do without her. This summer, she watered flowers so consistently that they literally owed their lives to her. She is good friends with the family dog, Shep, and the house cat, Tatters. She makes sure that the bird feeders are kept clean and well stocked. She is self-appointed mail and newspaper carrier, and always remembers that the trash needs to be gotten out on Tuesday morning. When we think back to that July day when we almost said “NO!!!” without even asking our Heavenly Father what He thought, it is almost scary! I believe that we are as good for her as she is for us, and that is how adult foster care is supposed to work. We are not ignorant of the fact, though, that none of this is possible without God’s Grace and Provision for all of us!
Daniel and his sisters are in the middle of looking at some solutions for the care that their parents are needing at this juncture of their lives. My Sweet Mama continues to do exceedingly well, and my brothers and sisters and I are amazed at her resilience and grace. I am writing this on the 17th. Tomorrow it will be three years since our Daddy made his “Heavenly Flight.” Tonight I miss him with a deep and aching sorrow, and it feels like forever since I saw those smiley eyes. As the years have passed, though, it seems more and more “right” that this “anniversary” should fall in this season of hope and promise. For the Baby whose birth we celebrate really came to be the star in the Easter drama – when He died and rose again to bring to us the forgiveness of sins, and to make plain the Way to Heaven.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Do we believe? Ah, Dear Friends, WE DO! It is our prayer that you believe it, too!
Blessings to you and yours in this wondrous season! If you are ever in our area, don’t hesitate to stop. And if you should happen by our house during the next few weeks, you could see Daniel’s incredibly exquisite Christmas village, have some hot chocolate, and we could savor the conversation and friendship together. That would be such a delight!
~Daniel and Mary Ann and all the Offspringin’s
4 responses to “Christmas Card and Letter, 2008”
Thank you for your Christmas letter. It was delightful to read!
May your Christmas be filled with joy and the New Year ahead be filled with many blessings.
After a long and late day at work, it was a joy to read your letter with a nice cup of hot coffee. You have a wonderful family!
Thanks so much for sharing this letter with us. It really has been a blessing to be one of your xanga friends besides being 4th cousin to both of you. My life has been enriched! Christmas blessings to you and yours. Albert
Blessings on you for all you do for us, your xanga friends – I have been privileged to know you better through xanga – thank you so much for sharing!!