Christmas Letter 2003

Denise:

Hello!

Well, it’s hard to believe we’ve lived in Maryland for a year now! This year has gone so quickly! I still can’t believe the “speed” in which we left North Carolina! In October of 2002, Terry was interviewing for his job here in DC, in November he had accepted and moved up here, and in December we were living as a family just north of DC, in Frederick, Maryland! It took me MONTHS to get over feeling like we’d left in a rush! I still feel strange! I think in part, due to because we left the church in Greensboro in such a rush, and without Terry as he was already in DC. I, for one, really needed that closure I guess. But that’s all behind us, and we’ve adjusted well!

Terry is the Executive Director for the national organization of SHHH, and really loves his job. He also completed his doctorate this last year, so he’s been very busy and has had more “change” than the rest of us! He rides the MARC train each day (Maryland Area Railroad Corporation) to the subway station in Rockville. He then takes the subway into Bethesda to the office. He loves the commute because he can relax and do his devotions on the train in the morning, and then works on email, and “work” on the way home each evening. I’m “at ease” at home since I don’t have to worry about him driving on the roads! It’s much cheaper to commute this way also! It does make for a very long day for him, however. He gets up around 5:30 and heads to the gym for about 30 minutes. He catches the train around 6:30 and gets to work around 8:00. He leaves work around 5:00 and gets home around 7:00 p.m. So Monday-Friday he is really tired, but the kids pitch in more than ever before, so he just comes home and relaxes for the most part during the week. When we have things at church or through our homeschool group during the week, he meets us at church as it is only about 1 block from another subway stop…….”Shady Grove”. So that is a real blessing!

I am teaching the kids at home still. This is our 6th year. I can’t believe how it gets better and better each year! Educating the kids at home has really been a plus in every aspect. The kids not only get a great education, but we are able to pursue a great deal of their “interests”, that we normally would not be able to do if we were a two income, public school family. It really “works” for us! Kyersten is in 8th grade this year, and Chris is in 6th. Kyersten is 13 and will be 14 in February. Chris will be 13 in January. Two teenagers! Pray for me?

I am also teaching in the high school program called “Chieftain Institute”. I have 16 students and am really enjoying teaching American Sign Language. The students are wonderful and really want to learn. They ask great questions! I’m am very excited about my class, and hope I transfer some of that enthusiasm to my students. As my hearing has deteriorated during the past few years, I enjoy discussing real-life problems hearing impaired people face also. I pray that God will allow me to teach for many years to come.

Kyersten really enjoys the Jr. High ministry at our church and has made some wonderful friends. Her youth leaders are all WONDERFUL, and we are very thankful for their influence in her life. She has also been interpreting all the music for our deaf ministry in our church. She has come a long way in this, and I hope God will continue to use her in this way. She also fosters for the animal shelter in Frederick County. She knows a great deal of information about small critters. She’s practically an expert!

Chris is in his last year of AWANA, and is looking forward to earning his “Timothy” award this year. He really enjoys AWANA, and most “group” things. He is the most outgoing one in our family and just enjoys being with people. He has had some wonderful opportunities to really live his faith since we’ve moved here. Most of the neighborhood children are his age, and are boys. I don’t believe any of them are saved. We try to “live” Jesus every day, and Chris has had many opportunities to witness on the basketball court, the park, and our cul-de-sac. We are praying God will use his testimony and his life to win some of these boys to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

We still have our Akita-mix dog, Max. He turned 9-yrs.-old this year. He’s completely “retired” now from any “help” in helping me hear. However, he still alerts me to the door. We’ve have several wonderful gadgets around the house to help me hear better now, and I think he knows it! He doesn’t even budge when the phone rings now! I have a special ringer alert, and a couple of different phones that are either amplified or have captions, or both. However, I still hate the phone! Grin. It’s very intimidating! However, when I can’t handle something via email, at least I can indeed use the phone now!

We also have 3 cats! Kyersten had “Mandie” when we lived in NC, but she adopted another one when we moved here. “Kiki”, is a British short-hair and is gray and white. “Mandie” is a long-haired orange and white HUGE cat. Chris also adopted a kitten as an early Christmas gift. “Sonya” is a gray calico. They are all females and all……….. “stuck-up”! But they each have their own individual personalities, and are fun to have around the house. Kyersten also has 1 mouse, and 5 rats of her own, plus “whomever” she may be fostering at the time! Right now she has 2 dwarf hamsters, and 1 Syrian hamster.

I still enjoy crocheting, and I love being a stay at home mom. I love housework, chores, yard work and doing the bills. Smile! So I enjoy the work God has called me to do! I guess that’s a good thing!

My parents moved to Florida after my dad retired in August, and my mom in June. They seem very happy. We haven’t been to see them yet, but they’ve come to visit twice here. It will be strange going to visit them, as it isn’t going “home” to Colorado anymore. I noticed this morning that the weather “there” was 72 degrees for the high, and it is 36 degrees for the high here, and we’ve 4 inches of snow on the ground! I can’t wait to see their new home, and they are very happy. They are very BUSY retired people though! They do a little bit of everything!

My two brothers still live in North Carolina. Lee and Michelle have two kids, Seth and Krista. My youngest brother, Doug also lives in North Carolina. My sister lives in San Antonio with her husband and baby boy, Ethan. I haven’t been able to “see” Ethan yet, and it grieves me that I live so far from Diane. Now that we are older, I am really missing my sister.

Terry found our new church on the Internet! He found it before the rest of us even moved up here, too! We simply love it! Derwood Bible Church is in Gaithersburg, Maryland. DBC is an answer to prayer……… we may have had to leave NC quickly, but as soon as it was apparent we were moving, a church home was the #1 priority on our prayer list. God answered that prayer with DBC. We have a wonderful homeschool group also. We are blessed!

I recently had my hearing evaluated again and had a number of tests run as the doctors were concerned as I’ve lost so much of my hearing in the last 3 years. Every test turned out “normal”, so the fear of having an acoustic neuroma is at least been put to rest now. I am profoundly deaf in my left ear, and have a severe loss in the right ear. I was told by my otolaryngologist and my audiologist, that I have amazing speech reading skills. I find that amusing I guess, as it isn’t something I’ve “learned”, but rather picked up through the years without my knowing I was even doing it! I have some frustrating moments when trying to communicate sometimes, but over all I believe I have adapted very well. The whole family has made some adjustments. Unfortunately, it affects everyone, but I am loved……. and no one complains! I have too much to be thankful for, and don’t like to sit around belly-achin’ for what I don’t have! The “good news” of the recent tests I had, showed that the audio-nerve on BOTH sides is intact, so when and if a cochlear implant is needed, I could conceivably have one on either side.

Terry:

We are trying to keep our family website updated so people can look in on us from time to time, www.lightkeepers.net. We have enjoyed living at the foot of the Catoctin Mountains near the Monocacy River. It is very scenic with many great places to shop and eat. We also have been able to visit many places like Gettysburg, the National Aquarium, the National Art Gallery and other places we probably would not have visited had we not moved here.

I have had the opportunity to meet many nice people across the country this year. Even though I had a tornado strand me during one trip, and a blizzard on another one, it has been a great honor to meet so many of the people that support the work of helping people with hearing loss.

With the time I spend on the train each day, I have read more books this year than I have in many years. I have especially enjoyed reading historical books like the ones by Jeff Shaara and David MacCullough.

Judging by how large our cats are now, I would say they are doing fine. They are getting so big that I am starting to be afraid of them, and wonder if we are allowed to have felines this big without some type of permit. Thankfully, I still can sit by the fireplace with our dog and hope the cats leave us alone!

Denise has been busy teaching both our own children and now other peoples’ children as well. She has started a local group for people who are hard of hearing and it looks like it will help a lot of people. With Denise’s continually worsening hearing, email and the Internet has become more important than ever. She is working hard at our church to grow our ministry to deaf and hard of hearing people. When I travel to other parts of the country, people always ask me where Denise is. She has become quite respected in the hard of hearing community and has encouraged lots of people in the last year. I think she does not realize how many people she has helped even in the midst of struggling to adjust to her own severe hearing problems.

Kyersten is very active in fostering animals. I do not really remembering OK’ing this venture, but I am she must have asked while I was watching a football game. She loves her new youth group and leaders. We are very proud of her strong testimony and the way she interprets part of the service at church now for the deaf.

Chris is enjoying making new friends, and has been a strong testimony in the neighborhood among other boys his age. We are thankful that he was able to continue in AWANA’s here in Maryland, even though it is his last year. He has memorized hundreds of Bible verses and we will be proud to see him receive a Timothy Award at the end of the school year. Chris and I tried to be Washington Redskins fans, but they make it really hard. Maybe we will be Baltimore Ravens’ fans and wear purple around in January.

Kyersten:

Hello family and friends! This is Kyersten and mom wanted me to write about myself so that she could put it in her family newsletter.
I am in 8th grade this year and we have been homeschooling for six years. I love homeschooling and hope to do it all the way up to collage. Can you all believe that I will be in high school next year? Makes some of you feel old huh? By far, my least favorite subject is math. This year I am starting algebra and I despise it, but not as much as I despise geometry. Strong word, despise is. But I really do not like it, however, I do love my math teacher and she is the best! Language…it is okay. I don’t adore it but I don’t mind it. But did you know that “ain’t” is not a word? How wrong is that! We should stand outside wherever they make up words with signs and protest! Literature is awesome! I adore books and reading, so I adore that. Science is good as long as it is about animals…other wise, who cares about molecules and that mess!? History is great; it is really interesting to learn about America’s history, especially. Sign language, geography, spelling, and health are some other things we do. For poetry, we memorize a poem and learn a little bit about the author. I like Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” for this cold, northern weather. On Fridays, we would go to something called Adventure Club for more Literature, P.E., and Wilderness Survival. In Literature, we got to read The Hiding Place. It is a wonderful book about a marvelous woman named Corrie Ten Boom. If you’ve never read it, you should. In P.E. we learned the basics of soccer. I don’t like soccer, but it was good for me to learn the basics. In Wilderness Survival, we learned how to survive in the wilderness, DUH! It was fun, we got to learn how to make fire, shelters, find food, being prepared, etc.
On Sundays I get to interpret the music for my mom. Sign language is fun and it is nice to be able to practice every Sunday even though I am not the best interpreter. But I am getting better every week. Hopefully, someday, I can do more than just the music.
Jr. High, yes for you North Carolina people, we don’t call it middle school here but Jr. High. Anyway, Jr. High at church is awesome. We have the best leaders and have the most fun. Plus we get to learn a lot about God and they really encourage devotions every day. Derwood Bible Church, the whole of it, is wonderful. We were really blessed to find this church.
I have started fostering for the Frederick animal shelter. I love it! So far I have found homes for ten hamsters and two rats. (One rat I adopted myself.) Right now, I have a hamster that is working on her people skills and two dwarf hamsters. (One of them is diabetic) It is nice to be able to save these animals. It is great to see them go to a new home and have a second chance at life.
We have ten animals of our own. (Eleven if you count the fish….) Max is our Akita/Border Collie mix, male dog. He is the absolutely best dog ever! Mom is definitely his human. He adores her. Chris has a kitten named Sonya, who is not very pretty, but the sweetest thing ever. Mandie is my big, orange and white, moody cat. She has some…unusual habits…but I love her. Kiki is my slightly plump (some people call her fat…not so!), gray and white cat. She is the softest cat ever and sweet…when she feels like being sweet. Then I have five precious, sweet, fun rats. (no really…they are wonderful!). I also have a blind, deaf, and old mouse named Moose.
Our new neighborhood is a lot different than our old one. At our old one, there were hardly any kids. At our new one, there are a lot! They all really need Christ and my brother and I are working hard to get it across to them.
Well, merry Christmas everyone and everyone have a great year!

Chris:

Hey family and friends! My mom asked me to be a part of the yearly Christmas letter so I wanted to let you know how my year has gone.

This is my sixth year of homeschooling. On Fridays I go to something called Adventure Club. There with other homeschoolers, I take classes like “Wilderness Survival”, “Literature”, and “P.E.” In “Wilderness Survival” we learned how to make things like fire (of course we did this outside), make a shelter, find food and water, and other survival techniques. In “Literature” we read and discussed The Hiding Place. It is a true story about Corrie Ten Boom, a girl that decided to hide Jews in her house during the World War. However, the Nazis come in and take her and her family away to a concentration camp. Luckily, they did not find the Jews in her house. Throughout the rest of the book Corrie gets through trials and it helps her realize that she can always trust in God. In “P.E.” we are learning soccer. We went over dribbling, passing, shooting, and other soccer stuff.
In school I am learning Math, Language, History, Science, Cursive, Geography, Sign Language, Literature, and Spelling. We are using mostly ABEKA schoolbooks but also Saxon Math. On Sunday night I go to something called AWANA clubs. There with other club members we participate in things like games, memory verses, and council time. In game time we split up into four colors: red, yellow, blue, and green. I am on the blue team. Then we play games like Dodge Ball, Tug of War, and other relay races. Then we go to a different room and say Bible verses we were suppose to study during the week. We say them from a book. There are different books depending on which grade you are in. I am in my last book. When you finish your book you get an award. When I finish my book I will get the last award called the Timothy award. In Council Time our leader tells us a Bible story or lets a missionary talk about what they did. They also give us awards on what section we did in our book. At the end of Council Time they add up the points we made and tell us what color won and they give that color team a prize. Then at the end of AWANA our parents come and pick us up.
We have lived in Maryland a whole year now. It is hard to believe that we have lived here for that long. I have made some friends and practically everyone is named “Kevin”. It makes it easy to remember names the only other friend I have is named “Chris”! I have had a great year in Maryland. I hope you all have a merry Christmas!

Love,
Chris

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