Blessings from the Williams! Last year’s letter left you with a picture of our sick children and our oldest, Drew, flying around his room on the rope swing. This year was spent healthy – thank you Lord! Our kids haven’t changed too much this year; they still manage to make giant messes, won’t sit still for pictures and make me giggle all day long. Our year was spent counting our blessings, thanking the Lord for His provisions and praying for grace as we learn to do life together. Not much has changed as I quote last year’s Christmas letter, “Life with littles is a delight; nothing goes as planned, comic relief just happens and life shoves onward as we try and measure the moments, memories, and minutes ….”
John – John spent the year of 2011 continuing to use his skills as a Special Education teacher with Fort Worth ISD, in a low-income, intercity school. He enjoys teaching his children non-traditionally through the medium of shop tools and physical workouts and dramatized literature like – My Side of the Mountain & The Hunger Games. John has also enjoyed the challenge to teach his children sign language, since many of his children are hearing impaired and have never been taught ASL. John loves his job and is thrilled with the opportunity God has provided for him to pour into the lives of his students. God also used this year to show John that his Cerebral Palsy is a story that was written to be shared; John went this summer to Hanoi Vietnam with our church and helped train parents and educators of special needs children. John’s eyes were opened to the many ways he could use his Cerebral Palsy as an avenue to inspire other parents, bringing hope and vision for their children’s future. John’s story of having a disability also opened doors to share how God uses hard things in our lives to draw us to Himself. He is excited to start preparing for the 2012 summer trip – so be looking for his letter sometime in March or April.
Melissa – 2011 was a wonderful year of resting in God’s purposes – home seemed to be a central theme for the year: homeschooling, working from home, canning, learning to bake bread, gardening, and keeping up with the house. It was a great year of simplicity - resting in the simple pleasure of family life and trying not to feel overwhelmed and instead “giving thanks in all circumstances.” Speaking of family life, one high of our year was a two-week road trip to Breckenridge Colorado. It was our first time traveling as a family of 5; the trip was wonderful, the mountains made us homesick for Oregon! The family enjoyed snow fights, sledding and riding in Uncle David’s monster truck up the big mountain while it hailed! Our trip to Colorado also required some new wheels, so we sold our beloved cramped Jeep and bought a gently used minivan. We have officially moved into the Mini-van phase of life!
Imaginative Drew - is almost 7 years old! I cannot believe how mature and responsible Drew has become this year. Drew is in first grade, he is learning to read and write. His favorite subject is science – he loves to create exploding volcanoes or messy experiments with vinegar and baking soda and dirt! Drew is also obsessed with animals and often is found flying around the house as a bald eagle or barking around on all fours. He also loves to build beaver dams in our living room with pillows and blankets and toys. Yesterday, I found him perched in the downstairs 1/2 bath, sitting in the pedestal sink pretending he was nesting. Drew competes with Gabe for “talk time” and a constant phrase in our house is “...don’t interrupt me!”
Drew’s big accomplishment was finishing his 1st grade phonics curriculum, which we celebrated with a family trip to the Great Wolf Lodge. Drew is motivated by rewards, so the Great Wolf Lodge was a huge goal he had been working for all year.
Peacemaker Gabe – Gabe just turned 4 years old, He loves to follow on the heels of his big brother and asks constantly if he can “do real school” like his brother. Gabe is a sponge~ absorbing and asking questions all day long! Gabe loves to build Lego creations, play hide and go seek, have tea parties with his sister and build giant train tracks under his bunk bed. Gabe may be a timid Nerf sword fighter, but is great at planning surprise attacks on Daddy when he walks in the door from work. Gabe goes to preschool 2 days per week and loves his teachers & friends – though he is quite worried that we will have too much fun at home without him. Gabe is the ideal middle child – always making us smile and laugh, yet in the same breath comforting his little sister with hugs and kisses. Gabe is just a joy to be around, always happy and singing and dancing, he loves to make up songs and may be the one child who shows interested in mommy’s ¼ Violin in the closet! She is so excited to give one of them lessons.
Joyful Abby - is going to be 2 years old! She looks so small that most people believe she is turning 1. She is a joy and her constant jabbering fills our home. Abby spent the year learning how to walk and talk and keep up with her brothers. We discovered Abby is allergic to some dairy and eggs, which once removed left her healthy and able to go months without being sick! The doctor doesn’t have us on speed dial anymore! Abby is all girl, she loves to wear hats and bows and changes shoes many times each day. She loves her little purses and baby dolls. She is determined though, to keep up with her brothers and loves to be in the middle of all their Nerf wars. Abby’s smiles will light up a room and are so contagious, especially when being tickled by her older brother Drew or being chased by her older brother Gabe.
This year brought many struggles, but resting in Jesus and clinging to His promises left us realizing that God only gives us good gifts. One book that God used to change us this year was Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts. This book changed our family’s perspective on trials and challenged us (mainly mommy) to write down our own journey to One Thousand gifts. It was a fun family activity counting gifts as we drove down the road, or while we ate dinner at night. You can read our One Thousand blessings at our blog listed above. It is a journey we will continue to walk - Eucharasteo - forced our family to take delight in all the missed moments, bad attitudes, hard questions of each day and stop ~ to give thanks.
"Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle."
~ A. Voskamp ~
John, Melissa. Drew, Gabe & Abby