Saturday, January 01, 2005

Christmas 1998

There is a sense of joyful expectation during advent in a family with ten people in it! Rebecca goes around singing, “Joy to the World” in a style of her own. Dad plays Christmas music with a beat of unknown origin. Candles are in frequent use, be they for waking the children up with carols or adorning our dinner table. We even chopped down our Christmas tree before the calendar announced the month December. Yet in the midst of all the excitement there is a peace in our hearts because Christ Jesus the King is come into the world! The life, joy, peace, that we have is ours because Christ was humble enough to come from his realm of glory and into this world to give us tidings of comfort and joy. This Jesus put us together as a family we are so thankful. I think the cords of love between us grow a bit stronger everyday.

I feel so fortunate to be the oldest child in this family. However, I must confess, I had a great time this summer when I took a break from my job as older sister and flew away to Minnesota for a week! Another very special event for me this year was attending an eight week seminar with Mom about living the life of abundance and joy in the Holy Spirit. This year I have spent my time, studying, doing experimental baking (the kids will tell you that the results are not always perfect!), sewing, cleaning, taking Amy (the infamous dog whom I inherited from Nathaniel) and Caleb on walks, reading, and learning to type.

Isaac is now officially in the farming business (read: expenses sometimes exceed the income). His cow freshened this year and he now milks her twice a day. His two oxen are quite big and he is thinking of ways for them to start to earn their keep. Two of Isaac’s special friends are octogenarians! One kindly made a beautiful cart for his oxen which is exhibited in the picture. The other, Farmer Henry, continues to pass his love for farming onto Isaac. Isaac in turn worked very hard this summer when Henry could not. Isaac is putting more effort into getting serious about his studying. He is enjoying a teen boys group, and is a great big brother to the children.

Nathaniel has discovered a new love – farming! He got a calf whom he named Dairy Queen early this year and recently got a beautiful Ayrshire after he sold DQ. He wakes up faithfully at five with Isaac and does the farm chores. His afternoons are spent working diligently at the farm. As he says, “There’s a lot more work than you think!” His new interests have been taking some time away from his bookworm habits. But many a time I’ll find him working at the farm, and out of his back pocket sticks – a book! He will always be our scholar, even if it means reading in the corn wagon! Nathaniel is a very considerate brother and builds up the family.

Luke is a great farm worker; he is probably all muscle! He does not let anything get in the way of accomplishing what he has set out to do. Luke has learned to enjoy reading, and he has started to sew. He likes to praise the Lord by fingering, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” on the organ. He and his “twin” have the best times together, be it laughing, learning, doing laundry, baking the best chocolate cake, being ma and pa to Caleb or doing farm chores. Luke’s smile adds a lot to the family.

Hannah Grace, formerly mentioned as “twin” has a very special treat this summer! She went to Minnesota with Mom. She had a wonderful time, especially building stronger bonds with her cousin. When she grows up she wants to be a farmer, her brothers are doing a good job with her. She is a Caleb’s faithful helper. She shines with a sweet and quiet grace, special to her.

Jacob has started to follow his brothers to the farm (does anyone hear an echo?). He also has started to do school work. His character has definitely changed. He has become helpful and left the monkey business to his brother Caleb. His squinty eyes and charming personality brings laughs to many.

Rebecca is a good mother to her dolls. She and Jacob have had the special treat of going into the city to a friend’s house to play frequently. She has a lot of love for Caleb, much more than he appreciates! Not surprisingly Caleb’s first word was, “stop”! Rebecca’s love and spunk bring spark to our lives.

Caleb, although the smallest, means so much to the family. Babies seem to have an innocence about them that is refreshing. He is enamored with the dog, Amy, probably because they bonded on our trio walks! He laughs and is a good friend to us all.

Mom and I have become five thirty a.m. walking partners. We have a lot of fun together and enjoy the early morning briskness. She, among the rest of us, had a very full summer, with nonstop guests including her newest sister-in-law, a Talish girl from Azerbaijan (whom us all loved dearly), who spoke very minimal English. Mom’s favorite thing to do is spend time alone with Dad; she still is dated for breakfast every Saturday. She loves to be at home, and faithfully guides us in our studies. The only problem with Mom is that her lap is not big enough for nine people. Thankfully her heart is!

Dad likes to play the organ, and teaches the children how to play recorder. His trumpet is brought out as a means of welcoming us home or sometimes waking us up (on one occasion he was play “O When the Saints Go Marching In” to awaken us and one of the children thought that it was Gabriel announcing the return of Jesus!). Dad had his favorite family vacation in March when we all went for a couple days to Plimoth Plantation. What Dad likes to do best is to talk to Mom. Dad still works representing the poor in Poughkeepsie; however this summer he took on a lot of farm work when Henry had to rest. Through Dad’s leadership we experience great peace in the home. All of us love our Dad.

May you experience the glory of God’s Kingdom this Christmas, Sarah Angell