Dear friends and family,
As I’m writing these words this late November evening, the cold ground outside is covered with a thick white blanket of snow. It has been hovering around a mild zero degrees all day today, but the heat is on in the house. From where I sit in my easy chair sipping a cup of Earl Grey tea, I am enjoying the warm ambiance of the Christmas lights on the tree and throughout our living room.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” That opening line from Dicken’s novel A Tale of Two Cities is a fitting summary of this past year for me. This was the most challenging season so far in my 21 years of pastoral ministry, and the first time since I first stepped into the role of pastor where I ever seriously considered giving up and walking away from the call. However, I thank God for His amazing grace and for the loving support and prayers of family and friends who have encouraged me as we have navigated our church family through some stormy waters during these past twelve months. I have clung tightly to the promise from Jesus who said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” As we come to the end of this year, I feel a new season of joyful refreshing is just around the corner for us, and I am ready for it.
Another defining moment for our family came this fall as Caleb was in a car accident with three of his friends. They were on their way to a football game in Winnipeg when a driver at a stop sign pulled out in front of them, causing an accident that totaled the car. It was one of those moments that helps you to put life in perspective, to be reminded that life is precious, and to celebrate every moment of every day that we have together as a family. Earlier this evening, our family had the most joy-filled family outing, filled with much laughter as we headed to our local dollar store to pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. We are so blessed in our lives, and we want to be a blessing to others as well.
- You can read the whole car accident story here: Life is Precious.
In the summer, our family enjoyed camping at Wild Oaks with Liza’s family, and camping at Minnedosa with mine. This fall, our family started sponsoring a young girl named Angie from Costa Rica through World Vision Canada.
PHOTOS: Caleb is at the all-star midget bowl football game, where he won the offensive player MVP award for his team. Tori is playing her guitar—the first one she bought on her own. Austin is carrying his violin and school bag for his first day of high school. Hannah is holding up her certificate of graduation from her elementary school.
This year, Caleb played football for the Transcona Nationals in Winnipeg for his fourth year. He was chosen for the all-star midget bowl game, where he received the offensive MVP award. He also played in the Varsity Blue & Gold game, composed of top caliber players vying for a roster spot on the Manitoba Provincial team. Although he didn’t make the team, he did make it through the second round of cuts. In August, he celebrated his one year anniversary with his girlfriend Chelsea. He also plays basketball on his school team, plays drums on Sunday mornings with our youth music team, and continues working at the Co-op. It’s hard to believe that he’s in grade 12 and will graduate in June!
In February, Tori was involved in a local theatre company’s production of Seussical. She is currently rehearsing for their upcoming (spring 2014) production of Anne of Green Gables playing Rachel Lynde. She too played basketball on her school team, and in the spring, attended a school band trip to Whistler. She has a great love of reading books, and this year she bought her first guitar. She enjoys playing on our youth music team on Sundays at church. This fall, she took second place playing her guitar to the song Titanium (with Caleb on drums and two of their friends) in a school talent show. On November 11th, she played the last post on her trumpet at the school Remembrance Day Ceremony. She is in grade 10 this year.
Austin is involved in our local youth theatre company’s production of Charlotte’s Web, coming up in December. He is also an avid reader, and plays the violin in band at school. This year he is in grade 9. He helps out at the church teaching one of our Sunday morning children’s classes – in fact, all four of our children help out there.
In June, Hannah graduated from our elementary school, and for this year only, all four of our children are in the same school. (Hannah is in grade 6 in the middle school, and the other three are upstairs in the high school). She was also in the Seussical production with Tori, and she is currently taking Jazz dance lessons in Oakbank. She plays the flute in school band, and enjoys taking photographs.
Liza continues to work at the church as our office administrator and book-keeper, and she also leads our children’s ministry. She did another Vacation Bible School in the summer and right now is working on a children’s Christmas concert. In the spring, she went to BC for two weeks to help a friend who gave birth to her fifth child. This fall, Liza was the speaker at our church’s women’s conference and did a fantastic job at it, too! One of the latest hobbies she has picked up is crocheting. She is constantly playing the piano, which I enjoy listening to.
In October, we brought two new people into our home to stay with us – a single mom named Jaidan and her little baby girl Scarlet. We are so blessed and enjoy having a baby around the house again.
One of the highlights for me this year was seeing my favourite superhero come to the big screen in Man of Steel. And yes, at the age of 41, I still collect comic books. This Christmas I will be celebrating seven years of ministry as the lead pastor at Beausejour Community Church. Although there have been challenges, I still love doing what I do. Jesus has been tremendously good to me and our family, and I will faithfully serve Him from now until I see Him face to face in Heaven one day…
This Christmas season, we are praying that you and your family would experience the good tidings of great joy that the birth of Jesus the Saviour is all about!
With love and prayers,
Chris, Liza, Caleb, Tori, Austin & Hannah
Christmas Letter 2013 (pdf version)