Newsletter 2009

To our beloved family and friends,

Greetings in Jesus' name! We hope that this newsletter finds you and your families well, and at peace with God. We're thankful that this year has not been as eventful or tragic as the one previous one, but there are three main events that have defined the year that we'd like to share.

The first event was the accident that Clara's father had at the end of June. He acquired a brain injury after falling from a ladder, which required significant recovery and rehab, but thankfully no surgery. We're extremely thankful to God for his recovery, and very thankful to everyone who prayed for it. We traveled back to Rochester the first week after the accident, and Clara spent most of her time at the hospital while Ron stayed with Eleanor. While things were very hectic, Clara and I were afforded some time to have dinner together with Eleanor at Mario's to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary.

The second event happened not long after we returned back home to Lexington, when Ron was notified that he was being laid off from Lexmark. His last day with the company was October 1. Since then he has been looking for full-time work, and Clara has been looking for temporary (locum tenens) work. She has found a fill-in position at a clinic near Cincinnati for three days later this year, and for that we're grateful. In the meantime, Eleanor is very happy to have both Daddy and Mommy at home with her all the time, but we would covet your prayers that Ron could find engineering work soon. Right now there's really nothing happening around Lexington, so Ron has made the decision to extend his search nationwide.

The third and possibly most significant event to share is that Clara is pregnant again! We recently passed the twelve week milestone, and the baby is due June 20 (Father's Day!). We've been trying to conceive again for quite some time, and we're very happy that God would bless us in this way. We've been telling Eleanor that she's going to be a jie-jie (big sister), and she seems pretty excited about it. It'll be nice for her to have a little brother or sister to play with and take care of.

Those are the major highlights this year for us as a family. For individual thoughts and happenings, please see the sections below. Thank you again for your prayers and fellowship over the years. We pray that your upcoming year would be blessed.

In Christ's name,

Ron & Clara


Ron

Aside from work, for me, this has been a year of projects. I'm happy to say that my garage is a much more conducive environment in which to work. I was able to do quite a bit of woodworking this year. In all, I finally finished the workbench that I've been slowly working on for the last couple of years. That helped tremendously in being able to get things off the floor and out of boxes and better organized. I also designed and built a baby gate for the top of the stairs, finished a butcher block/knife drawer as a (very belated - ouch!) wedding gift, built a few small cutting board/chopping blocks, made a plant stand for Clara for our fifth anniversary, and made a wooden school bus toy for Eleanor.

I'm still active with the worship team at CPCC, playing guitar or bass 2 or 3 times a month. No new equipment purchases this year, but I have been playing around with the effects on my Zoom G1-X to hopefully get a nicer sound. Though it can be challenging at times working in a group of people with diverse personalities, it's also been a tremendous blessing to be able to serve God in this way. God has also blessed our church by allowing the progress of construction on our new building.

I usually close with books that I've read this year, so here they are:

Finished The Pathfinder by James Fenimore Cooper (JFC)
The Pioneers by JFC
The Prairie by JFC
(the above concluded The Leatherstocking Tales collection by JFC)
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green by Melody Green

Just a quick comment about that last book: Keith Green was somebody who definitely epitomized the correct definition of "music minister". After he became a Christian, he lived a life totally sold out to God. This book by his wife Melody tells of their spiritual journey in the 70s through drugs and eastern mysticism, to eventually finding the truth in Jesus Christ. This is an updated and expanded edition to the original book. I just finished reading it, and found it just as edifying and convicting as when I first read it years ago. There are many more references directly from Keith's journals, as well as additional thoughts, insights, and updates from people who lived and worked closely with Keith. Highly recommended reading for everyone!

Clara

This has been a challenging year for me. God has always been faithful to carry me through the challenges but it has not been a boring year, in any case.

I've found it difficult to find a life beyond looking after Eleanor, particularly since all of the activities that I thought I'd get her involved in seemed to fall during her naps. Still, she is a lot of fun, just like her Daddy. I also managed to injure my thumb and have been in a splint since June, unable to engage much in crocheting, calligraphy (or any writing by hand), or musical instrument playing. Thankfully, the thumb has finally begun to improve and I can crochet again, though it will be a while before I can play piano.

Thankfully also, the garden got a good start before the thumb got bad. We were blessed with an abundance of peppers, zucchini (finally found a use for overgrown zucchini—Zucchini Parmesan), and tomatoes, despite the over abundance of rain, and are enjoying a fall crop of kale and lettuce. We also tried our hand at dehydrating this year and have been pleased with homemade "sundried" tomatoes.

In the middle of this, my father fell off a ladder and sustained a significant head injury. Thankfully he's doing much better, though I think he's had some slight personality changes. At least his doctors are letting him drive and he's even been cleared for international travel.

One thing that our challenging economic situation did was gave me some impetus to learn how to shop using coupons. I probably save $5−$10 per week and lately I've been scoring some free items—tuna, tomatoes, pineapple, Ziploc bags/containers. Two sites I found very helpful are Money Saving Mom and Coupon Mom. It's also gotten me thinking about returning to work myself and how I would work that with our family. I spent 2 months babysitting a 6-month-old for a friend, which gave me the idea that while 2 children is busy, it's not as bad as I thought it might be—just what I needed since we're now expecting our second child! I am currently working locum tenens (basically subbing in for doctors who are on vacation or leave).

Eleanor

I am almost two years old, and I love life! I can climb up and down the stairs, run, throw a ball, blow bubbles, zip a zipper, use a fork and spoon, and pull off my pants all by myself! I love to do puzzles, "read" books—especially the Madeline series (Louis Bemelmans), fairy tales (anything adapted by Paul Galdone), Mother Goose, and anything about animals or nature (especially books by Lois Ehlert)—play in the water, and help Mommy in the garden and around the house. I love music and singing at the top of my lungs—"Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" (in English and Mandarin) is a favorite of mine as is "Hurry Up to the Potty!", a little song I made up to the tune of, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" (did I mention I'm toilet training?).