Hello to our family and friends; welcome to the story of our lives!
It’s been a busy time at camp the last week or so, and the writing side of my brain is turned off. Out of desperation for something to put on this blog, I remembered our holiday letter. The one I refused to write. The one my husband was gracious enough to take care of. The one that never got mailed or even printed because someone (me) was pretending not to be a responsible adult.
My excuse for never sending it was: we didn’t have a recent family photo to send with it. And isn’t the photo everyone’s favorite part of a holiday letter? We’re such absentminded slackers. Unless a photographer comes to us and says, “I want to take your family pictures for you,” we may never get around to scheduling an appointment. That actually happened in 2013 and here’s proof:
The pictures from this photo shoot aren’t Judah’s favorites (I think he became a man between then and now) but I love them. They are outdated though. I have a number to call and I’m going to schedule an appointment for the spring. Somebody remind me.
Anyway… here’s Roger. (And no, I didn’t tamper with the final paragraph. He really believes those things about me, poor deluded guy.)
We’re enjoying being together as a family these past 3 days since school let out for Christmas break. We’ve spent some good family time in the newly finished (or close to finished) living room. But… more about that later. The kids didn’t think that it was fair that they’ve had to work on their break, but they’ve been helping out lots with some projects we have going on here at camp and there is plenty of break left.
But…. let’s get back to where we left off last year… We were halfway through (or maybe less than halfway through) a building project here at camp. We had enjoyed the presence of Jim & Marie Byler who helped get us through the first half of building a new chapel and recreation room. The Boley family had also been here from August of 2013 and were planning to stay till March when the project was supposed to be completed. In October, about the time we were putting up walls of the 2nd floor, we were joined by Samuel and Jonathan Short. They had come down to help with some of the concrete projects and we were thankful that God put it on their hearts to help out on a full time basis.
So…. we put up the walls and the roof trusses and the decking on top of that. Then, the metal roof was put on top of that and the doors and windows went on (and in) and the plumbing was started and the electric wires were run and the insulation came and the drywall was hung and we waited on the interior doors cause I had not ordered them soon enough and the drywall was finished smooth and we tiled the bathrooms and we waited on the bathroom partitions cause I hadn’t got them ordered and ….. praise the Lord…. even with all the things we didn’t do quite right, God provided both people and provision of materials so that the project was ready for use during the first week of “overnight” camp. It sure is easier to write about that project in a letter than it is to do it. So many people worked hard (often in rough, cold, or wet conditions) so that it could get done.
And being in the midst of a building project affects our family as well as it does the camp – often in some really good ways. Our kids really enjoyed the Boley’s children. Aleisha was such a great big sister to my boys. Kris taught lots of things to Judah and Wesley and got them involved in lots of activites. And Avery and Malin spent countless hours with Anna. Anna couldn’t wait for them to get off the bus after school, and Malin and Avery couldn’t wait on Fridays (since they have a 4 day school week) for Anna to finish her home-school work. Ruthie had to remind me to remember that it was “only a building project” and building a home and a marriage is just as important, so we took a number of dates into town in conjunction with shopping trips or just to get away.
Summer camp was full of activity with 415 campers spending a week here and lots of staff members here for a week or two (or most of the summer for some). We were glad for the privilege to invest in the lives of all these people, and to be at work to give the opportunity this kind of temporary community at camp provides. It so often allows campers and staff to grow in their spiritual lives and give into the lives of others.
We took a family vacation in August right before school started back and went camping near Hot Springs, NC. We found a small campground near a cool mountain stream and enjoyed eating too much food, but we had fun cooking it over a fire. The stream provided exploration fun and I really enjoyed hearing the kids talk about the “waterfalls” they found and which ones were the most fun to float through. Judah is ever the leader and communicator between the four of them. Wesley provides “off the wall” ideas and a “stick to it” attitude that keeps him going when others give up. Malin thinks she is always right so she provides the “push back” against Wesley’s ideas. Avery is often brought in as the wittness to decide which idea is better and her opinion usually settles the argument. If not, Judah is there to bring order and logic to the situation. Ruthie and I enjoy listening to the conversations that come as they play legos together or figure out who does which dish chore.
The four kids are all still going to Riverside Christian School. Judah is a Sophomore, Wesley is an 8th grader, Malin is in 7th grade and Avery is in 5th. They all do well in school but have to work at the spelling lists and the hard math problems that provide the learning challenges that remind us of the fact that learning something new is never easy, but it does open up a new world when you master it. I guess that goes for Ruthie and I too. We are continually learning about ourselves and the challenges we face and how to best deal with them. So far, I’ve not found life to be a boring experience.
The three oldest kids ran cross country this year. They all put in lots of time running and really improved. I think Wesley cut close to 7 minutes off his time from the previous year. Judah qualified for state (partially because his mother promised him a pair of green converse all-stars if he made it.) And Malin, who was just learning how fast she actually was, came in 3rd in our regional meet and also qualified for state.
Avery has been in 3 plays this year and 2 in the past 2 months. They weren’t big productions, but she had lots of lines to memorize. She likes to keep them secret from her parents and doesn’t let us help her with her parts because she doesn’t want us to know what’s coming until the time of the show. Early in the school year she played the part of a princess who had suiters seeking her hand in marriage. Then, they had a fun Thanksgiving play where she was the the mother and explained Thanksgiving to her kids. And for the Christmas program at school she was the “bible geek” who knew all the answers to the Bible questions that came up in the “S-files.” I really enjoyed seeing her speak out clearly and then sing so sweetly. (Oh, and Malin got to sing a solo in that program as well which she spent many hours practicing and sometimes drover her brother Wesley wild.)
Ruthie continues to be the “word smith” in our family and often writes pieces for her blog or some poignant words on facebook to explain what she is thinking. She and a couple of other friends concocted the idea of having a writer’s retreat here at Bethel Camp to foster in-depth discussion about some of the challenges of writing and also to just give time for people to write and relax. I feel that that weekend really energized Ruthie, gave her some time to really talk deeply with some people and get some feedback on her writing. However, she said that she didn’t have the time or energy to put into a Christmas letter, so that’s why you’re getting this from my perspective, devoid of both the wit and clarity of my better half. If you want that, you’ll have to look up http://www.ruthievoth.com
Roger & Ruthie, Judah, Wesley, Malin and Avery