2007 Christmas Letter

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us 

— Aaron

Dearest Family and Friends,

We have been struggling to write our annual letter this year, and that’s why it is arriving after Christmas. When we started composing this letter, we thought, “Nothing really happened in 2007. Do we really have anything to write about?” We eventually had to bring out the calendar so we could remember all the things that transpired this year. Boy, were we wrong…what a busy 2007! Where, oh where, do we start?

Our dear friend Jerry has lived with us for over a year now. It has been such a blessing to have him live under the same roof as us. Our lives are continually enriched because of his presence, and we are truly grateful to have him living in “The Kangi Commune” (as some people call our humble abode).

In the first few months of the year, Dana used every spare moment to teach her sister math, so that Danise could graduate from her home school program before June. They finished the class by the end of April and, for everyone, it was great timing. A few weeks later Dana had a number of gallbladder attacks that sent her to the emergency room, which eventually led to the removal of her gallbladder. While that may sound scary, it was really a blessing in disguise. She has felt better than ever before! A number of health problems have disappeared and she is really on the road to recovery and near perfect health. Praise the Lord!

While Dana was still recovering from her surgery, we held our first annual “Lagome Party”. If you don’t know what “Lagome” means, you’re not the only one. It’s a Swedish word (we don’t have a perfect translation for it in English) meaning “just the right amount” or “the perfect amount”. This party was part yard sale, swap meet, charity event and dump run. Basically, everyone brought things they didn’t need anymore…so they could “lighten their load”. We had everything organized on our lawn and separated into different categories. Every item was free to those who needed them and the stuff that was left at the end of the party went to local charities in Spokane. Any items that the charities wouldn’t take ended up going to the dump at the end of the day, at no charge to the people who originally donated the items. The goal was that everyone would have “just the right amount” of stuff in their life and that material things would no longer weigh them down.

A week after Dana’s surgery, she was feeling well enough to go to Northern California to visit her grandparents. What a wonderful vacation! We visited wineries, observed picturesque landscapes, and shared memories and stories (and Dana napped in between the daily excursions). We eventually returned home…just long enough to unpack our luggage and leave for the East Coast. In June, Aaron’s company hosted a conference in Kentucky and we had the opportunity to travel together for 2 weeks. The first week, Aaron worked while Dana relaxed at the hotel and continued her recovery after her gallbladder surgery. Once the conference was over, we traveled to Connecticut and stayed with our friends, Devin and Tamara Busse, for the remainder of our East Coast vacation.

Just when we thought we had had enough vacations for one year, we took some more time off work in July to drive (a nice change of pace after so many crazy flights) to Hood River and Portland for a couple of weddings. What a beautiful time of year to be driving across the state! When we finally returned home, Dana realized she was enjoying all her time off work, so in August she decided to quit her job at EDMO. This extra time allowed her the freedom to start her Freelance Graphic Design business and spend more time doing church bookkeeping. Originally, Dana thought she would quit her job so she could go back to school and get her teaching degree (to become a Graphic Design Teacher), but that dream will have to wait a few more years. We are so close to becoming a debt free family, and we are desperately trying to get out of debt before we have children (except for our mortgage). Basically, college loans would set us back a few more years and we are looking forward to starting a family! The Lord has been so faithful to provide for us financially since Dana quit her job, and through this experience we have really learned what Jesus meant what He said in Matthew 6:30-32 “And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”

The months of September and October were one big, busy blur for our family. It was a period of time where we learned how to re-adjust our priorities, our spending habits and overall how we used our time everyday. After traveling for most of the summer, we were overwhelmed by all the tasks that desperately needed to be completed. It’s amazing how quickly those things can build up when you are on vacation for weeks at a time! So, those 2 months were spent crossing things off our to do list and learning more about the Lord and each other. One of the highlights in October was the “Weekend to Remember” Conference, held at the Coeur d’Alene Resort (we were able to stay at the Resort for a few days and we really enjoyed our stay there). This conference was an amazing encouragement to our marriage and it truly blessed us as a couple!

At this point in the letter, we find ourselves in the latter part of the year…beautiful November (autumn is our favorite time of year). Dana’s sister had the chance to compete in the Miss Washington pageant in Seattle. So off we went, again, to the other side of the state. We were her “chaperones” and “chauffeurs” for the first few days of our trip, and then she was all on her own for the remainder of the week. We took this opportunity to explore the Kent/Des Moines area and visit some new locations that we’ve never seen before (since we had some spare time while Danise was practicing with the other girls for the Saturday/Sunday performance). Dana’s family eventually joined us, just in time to see Danise on the last day of this 2-day pageant. Danise did a phenomenal job on stage, and we were all very proud of her! She didn’t win the crown, but you almost have to be crazy to win – and we’re glad Danise isn’t crazy.

Unfortunately, at the end of November, we had to weather the challenges that seem to come when someone passes away, once again in our marriage. Aaron’s maternal grandmother passed away, and although Phyllis Lytle knew the Lord as her Savior and friend, it was still difficult for those of us that loved her here on this earth. We are still going through our time of mourning this recent death, but we continue to find comfort in knowing that she is with Christ. The Holy Spirit continually reminds us of this scripture verse…found in 2 Corinthians 5:1-5. “We know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven–God-made, not handmade–and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move–and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.”

Overall, we realized that our letter shouldn’t just be a list of circumstances and events that happen in our life this last year. So when you read all these “things” that took place, know that we’ve been able to weather life’s ups and downs better than ever before. It’s only because we are walking closer with the Lord in 2007, and we are convinced that that has made all the difference in our life! The Lord is such and amazing Provider and He continues to bless us financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually…even though we don’t deserve it.

So, here we are at the end of December, eagerly anticipating 2008. We have no idea what’s in store for us, but we do know that whether it’s difficult or easy, any circumstance that the Lord has for us will bring about better character changes and draw us closer to the God of the Universe – the same God that was born on Christmas Day as a little baby in a manger. Fully God and fully man, this baby grew up and died on the cross for our sins, and we are forever grateful for this sacrifice. Our prayer is that you will grow ever closer to the Lord in 2008 (right along side us) and learn what it means to be a child of God! Grace and peace to you and your family this Holiday Season…