Our Christmas News Letter 2010Another year is past. And another year to look forward to. Another opportunity to love, laugh and live life to it’s fullest.
It’s amazing when you look back over a year how some things seem so long ago and yet other things seem like it was just yesterday! Such are our feelings over 2010.
This year we welcomed two Pauls babies to the farm. The first was in Feb. when our precious grandson Andrew came home to live with his daddy and mommy. We shared last year how he was born 10 weeks premature on Nov. 4th. After an extensive stay in the hospital we were so grateful for his homecoming! We have had the joy of watching him develop into a loveable little 1 yr. old. What a true little miracle he is! He can sit by himself now and is starting to talk the baby babble. He always has lots of smiles for everyone in our home (that’s a lot of smiles J). Josh and Rebecca continue to be a huge help on the farm. It is such a blessing to see a husband and wife who work so well together and who love doing so! We are so grateful to have them live right on the yard and we have been enjoying farming together with them. If you would like to see what new things are happening in Josh and Rebecca’s life you can visit their blog, http://www.jmrkpauls.blogspot.com/
The other baby we welcomed this year was our own little Jaden Issac. And a sweet little blessing he is! He was born on July 29, one day short of his big sister, Jennifer’s, birthday! Even though he was born at a very busy time of the year, as we were just starting harvest, God gave us the strength we needed, when we needed it. It is in times like that that you appreciate the many hands around here that make work lighter.
Jennifer turned 19 this summer and has chosen to stay on the farm to help out. She is the one who faithfully milks our 2 Jersey cows morning and evening. She, with her sisters Megan and Kerri alongside, also manages the calving in spring. She really likes to work with animals and she does a great job at it! She is also our family’s hairdresser. This year she had the opportunity to cut some friends and outside family‘s hair as well. It has been great for her to have this experience. Jennifer also likes to bake, so if there is a yummy smell in the house, it’s usually her who is tempting our taste buds. This year Jen, once again, has been helping me teach school to her younger siblings. As you can tell, she is a huge blessing to have around. We appreciate her heart as she joyfully desires to stay under the protection and direction of her dad until the day, that, Lord willing, God brings a husband into her life. If you want to get to know more about Jennifer, her interests, her thoughts and her passions check out her blog, http://www.smilesgoesmiles.blogspot.com/
Megan is 17 as of Oct. You will often find Megan behind her Pentax camera taking pictures of anyone that consents to let her do so. J We have enjoyed watching her learn and grow in the talent that God has entrusted to her. This year she has had the opportunity to shoot a wedding, take some family, baby and children’s photos, make thank you cards, birth announcements and recently Christmas photo cards. It is pretty handy having a photographer in your family, you just have to make sure you are always smiling! You never know when she might pop around the corner! She has had such a servant’s heart and is always willing to take someone’s picture when asked. She has also enjoyed putting together some movie clips, starring her siblings of course!! These have been a great source of entertainment to us! You can check out a couple of these clips and her amazing photography skills at www.megoophotography.blogspot.com
Kerri will be 16 in Feb. When I think of Kerri I think of singing. Why? Because she pretty much has a song on her lips all day long! Ever since she was about 2 years old we knew that God had given her an amazing singing voice. Her voice is strong, her harmony is accurate and her heart is full of worship to our God. I could listen to her sing for hours……oh wait…..I do, and I love it! This year one of her dreams came true when she and some of her family members were able to attend a Gaither concert while on holidays in Tennessee. She would tell you this was one of the highlights of our trip. Kerri is a big help around the home and has a very willing heart to accomplish the tasks set before her. A willing heart is such a beautiful thing J
Our next four boys are growing so much that we had to make a bigger skating rink to play hockey on!!!! So that’s what one of the projects was this fall…..a 130’ X 56’ rink. And we are excited to say that it was up and functional by early Dec. It’s always so much fun to see the anticipation on everyone’s face as we go out for that first hockey game of the season! It’s a great way to get some exercise and get rid of some boyish energy :)
Besides Megan’s, we have three other birthdays in Oct. Caleb turned 12, Zachary, 10 and Jesse 8. Nathan turned 6 in April. These boys are a bundle of energy and bring a spark…..no let me rephrase that…..fireworks to our home! Together they play board games, cars, lego, build tree forts, ride bikes, play in the sandbox, climb trees, explore, wrestle, play football, , hockey and baseball, laugh, debate J and so many other things. I can’t even imagine how much fun it must be for them to have each other to grow up with. They compliment each other so well. And every day they learn more about relationship, sharing, loving, giving, receiving, justice, mercy, grace, helping, leading, following, comforting and so much more. What a great opportunity God has given them to learn Godly character right in the safety of their own family!
Caleb is growing up so fast! Caleb is the strong silent type and often needs to be coaxed to share with us what he is thinking. He likes to work with his hands, drawing, working with wood, lego, and pretty much anything else he can create something out of. He has also shown a lot of interest in photography and so Megan has taken it upon herself to teach him some tips. Zachary is nick named Zippy Zee for a reason!!!
He is full, full, full…..did I say full of energy J We are happy to report that he has had no broken bones or stitches for quite some time now! Maybe the words we have been saying to him for years…”Think before you act.” have actually been getting through! But really, we love his zeal and ambition. Pointed in the right direction that determination has and will come in very handy. Jesse is our little farmer. He lives and breathes farming. When he hears a tractor start up on the yard, he is GONE! Many times this last farming season he woke up SUPER EARLY so that he wouldn’t miss his ride out to the field. We were finally able to reassure him that we would wake him up if he slept in!!! This year he also spent many hours with his big brother, Joshua, in the tractor. I heard reports that they spent many hours singing at the top of their lungs J And our Nathan…Nater Tomater as his dad affectionately calls him. I think it has something to do with Nathan’s love for tomatoes? Nathan has a very soft heart and yet can be so bold. It is a very interesting combination, a mix that none of our other children have. As with all our children, we pray for wisdom that God will show us how to steer his character into a direction that will bring glory and honor to His name. Nathan likes to play with his older brothers, but he is also often found playing house with his little sisters. He has such a sweet heart!
And this brings us to our little girls. Brooke……or Curly Sue as her dad likes to call her! You have to know her hair to know why he calls her that J Brooke is 5 years old and likes to laugh and laugh and laugh. I’m sure she will be a very healthy person because as the Bible says, “Laughter is like medicine”. She loves to go with her Daddy almost anywhere he goes. When they are together, they sing silly songs and make up rhymes that don’t make any sense! But oh they do they have fun! Of all of our children, Brooke reminds me the most of her Dad. She is also starting to help out more around the house and is often a sidekick to her older sisters in the kitchen. I tell them to teach her well, because one day when they have left home, Brooke and Mikaya will be the ones doing all the cooking…..for all those hungry boys! Mikaya, Mickie-ania, Fluffy….you choose! Mikaya turned 3 in April. She seems to think it’s her job to let us know when someone isn’t doing their job, or disobeys, or touches something they shouldn‘t…etc…..so we are teaching her that she needs to worry about her own heart instead of trying to fix everyone else’s! She likes to turn a simple statement into a whole long story, so when she comes around to talk, you know you are going to need some time to listen! She has eyes that sparkle…..you know…the kind that make it very hard to say no to!!! Mikaya doesn’t mind playing quietly by herself, but is most often found playing with Brooke, her brothers or her nephew. She has the knack of keeping babies entertained, which often comes in very handy. She also likes to hang out in the kitchen with her older sisters.
And then there’s our two youngest, Josiah and Jaden. We are looking forward to Josiah turning terrific 2 in January, on his Daddy’s birthday. Josiah is such a fun little guy to have around. He has a smile that melts your heart and just makes you want to give him a big hug. In fact most of the day he is being hugged….by somebody! He likes to be involved in everything that his older siblings are doing. His newest love is to take part in the phonics program that Nathan and Brooke are going through. He sits there with us and says a, a, a…b, b, b….c, c, c and so on. Who knows, we may have a baby genius on our hands….or maybe not J We are just getting to know our youngest, Jaden. He followed after some of his older brothers and has the infamous red hair. We always find it interesting that only our boys have the very red hair and none of the girls do! Maybe someday we will have a curly red haired little girl J If I would say anything about Jaden, besides being so cute and cuddly, I would say he knows what he wants…. when he wants it….and exactly how he wants it……enough said!!!! J For instance, on our trip to Tennessee this past November he knew that he didn’t want to be in the car seat and he sure let us know it! We are so grateful that God added Jaden to our family. Even though he has only been with us for 4 months, we couldn’t imagine life without him!
Mark and I are still enjoying life on the farm. We have said over and over that the farm is such a great place to raise a family! Lots of space, lots of work, lots of excitement! We were blessed with a terrific crop this year, so good that our bins were full and overflowing….well not literally….but we did have to look for more bin space! That’s always a nice ‘problem’ to have!!
Every day we live with our children we learn more about ourselves, our shortcomings and our constant need to rely on God. Many people think that by now we should be experts at parenting since we have done it so many times over. But we have realized, even though there are many similarities between our children, each one is different and needs to be treated as his/her individual self. I am sure God planned it this way so that we would never think we have it all under control…..and believe me, we don’t! Without God’s wisdom, we wouldn’t be where we are today. For more updates on our family and farm life you can visit our blog www.maprap/blogspot.com
We are enjoying so much this new stage of our life…the grandparenting stage. We are in awe at how we can love a little person as much as we love Andrew. He brings a lot of joy to our lives and we are so thankful for him! We hope that this will be only the start of many more little people to love on! Grandparenting is an amazing experience.
As we look back on this past year we are once again so thankful to God for the way that He has blessed us. Not because of what we have, but because of Who He is. It is especially at this time of year we reflect on the birth of His Son, His Son whom He sent to be the Saviour of the world. Jesus is Who this season is all about and we purpose to focus on Him. He is the greatest Gift that we could ever receive. We pray that you will know in your heart the love of a God Who would do this for you….and that you would experience the greatest gift this Christmas Season, the gift of a Saviour.