We are hoping this letter finds you well and feeling safely held in the hands of our Heavenly Father. Sorry that our “holiday” newsletter is arriving more like mid-January. 2011 was a very eventful year for us and December certainly continued the trend. Maybe this will start a new January tradition. . .
The year that was 2011 was indeed a full year, full of many blessings. It is hard to believe that this year already marked the five year anniversary of both Lisa and Fred becoming widowed. We are thankful everyday for the way our redemptive God has brought us together and continues to work to blend our families and the hearts of us all to be one big happy family.
2011 will always be memorable to us because of all the major events that took place throughout the year. Among other things, we’ve had kids graduate, get “big boy” jobs, get married, move away and have a baby; except for that moving away part, all very good things. As for Lisa and Fred, there have been no major changes in status. Our health seems to remain good, for which we are thankful. Lisa is still working a few days a week for Paddling.net and has just wrapped up a very busy holiday season with them. She continues to volunteer as a Kid’s Hope mentor impacting a little boy named Konnor in innumerable positive ways. She also finds the time to manage our household amazingly, while still cutting hair part time. Fred continues to work for Monsma Marketing. He was acknowledged at the recent company Christmas party for having been there for 20 years and counting. He volunteers at church as a sound tech and spent many hours this past year helping daughter Amy and son in law Pete gut and remodel their house. One memorable moment from the year for Fred was catching a “good sized” bass on our lake while trolling with his remote controlled boat. Fortunately, the boat eventually won the ensuing tug of war with the fish, but it was quite the epic struggle.
After a quiet January, February started with Kevin moving out of the nest and heading to Boulder, Co where he now lives. He is an avid climber and outdoor enthusiast and finds the mountains there irresistible. We think he finds his girlfriend Beth equally irresistible and with that combination he is absolutely thriving in Colorado. He is working for Boys and Girls Clubs of America and other part time jobs while continuing to look for a full time teaching position. We were happy to spend time with Kevin and Beth over the holidays as they took some time off to head back home for a week or so.
In February Lisa and Fred took a very enjoyable trip to Georgia to visit Fred’s daughter Sara and son in law Josh. Sara is a nurse in the Army Nurse Corp. She is currently an operating room nurse at Martin Army Community Hospital at Fort Benning. Josh works as a salesman and gunsmith at a retail gun store/firing range there in Columbus. While there we got a chance to explore Fort Benning and enjoyed day trips to Atlanta and some Civil War battlefields. We had a great time. The other exciting news from Sara and Josh is that they are expecting their first child in July of 2012. We get to be grand parents again, what a blessing! They were not able to join us for the holidays but we look forward to visiting them again in the warm(er) south this February and definitely again when the baby arrives.
Also in Feb. Fred’s son Matt was offered a fulltime position with Jimmy Johns (yes the freaky fast sandwich place) corporate office. He is a business coach/consultant for them. The job came at a great time for him and we are thankful for it but it did require him to move to the Chicago area. So of our six, Kev, Sara (and Josh), and Matt (and TJ) are the out of towners.
May was a milestone month for two more of our “clan”. Raidel Leon, Fred’s Cuban son, after much hard work and dedication, graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary. We were so very proud of him for completing his goal after moving to this country from Cuba in 2002. Raidel was then eligible for a call to any of the CRC denomination’s churches. Toward the end of the summer a call from Chandler CRC in Chandler MN was extended. Raidel and Marcy visited there and felt the Holy Spirit leading them to accept that call. On Labor Day weekend they packed up all their belongings and their precious, little cutie pie, 10 month old daughter, Celia, and moved to south west Minnesota. The Chandler church will learn how blest they are to have Radel and Marcy be a part of them. Along with Raidel and Marcy we were excited to learn that they are expecting their second child in May.
Bryan, Lisa’s middle child, also graduated in May. He received a BA degree in business from Calvin College. After working for a time at a marina in Holland, he was offered a paid internship at Gordon Food Service in Grand Rapids. He moved from one position there to another as it became obvious that they liked him and were trying to keep him until a full time position became available. In mid December his patience paid off as he was indeed offered such a position and began it at the start of Jan 2012. Bryan lived with us at Shore Way for much of the summer before joining some friends in renting a nice home in the city of Grand Rapids. He still enjoys basketball and plays any chance he gets.
Summers remain our favorite time of year. Since moving to Shore Way, we have enjoyed lakefront living. Almost every weekend we can be found hanging out on our beach with family and friends. Fishing, kayaking, swimming, campfires, fireworks, it’s all good. This summer also included the, once every three year, VanHarn reunion. For a week in July the VanHarns all gathered at a beautiful log cabin lodge on the Pine River. Great fishing, great food, great conversation, great times were had by all.
In September Fred and Lisa took another amazing trip. This time we went west. We were able to stop at Raidel and Marcy’s new home in Chandler. We went to church with them and met nearly everyone from their church. We then went on to the Black Hills area of S.D. and stayed in a KOA Kamping Kabin. It was kind of chilly but fun. We thoroughly enjoyed the area. Lisa particularly enjoyed all the up close encounters with the wildlife in Custer State Park. We then moved on to Boulder where we could see Kev’s apartment and meet his friends. We did some hiking and rock climbing with him and Beth and had an absolutely wonderful time. One of the emotional highlights was being there for a birthday party thrown for Kev by his CO friends. What a joy to see how he is so loved and how much he has become an integral part of people’s lives in the short time that he has been there.
Also in September Lisa’s youngest, Kelli, defined her future a little more clearly. She began as a student at Excel Academies of Cosmetology. She has taken to it with gusto. We are convinced she is a natural (of course she comes by it naturally). She has also taken to something (one) else with gusto. She and her boyfriend have been going together for nearly a year and seem to make a wonderful young couple. Kelli lives at home and so we see her and Alex a fair amount and that is a blessing.
November started out with another huge family event. Matt and TJ’s were married on Nov 5. They had been going together for some time so after Matt took his “big boy” job with JJs it didn’t take long before he popped the big question to TJ. Their wedding was great and we love TJ. It is a blessing to see who God brings into our circle through the relationships of our children. Matt and TJ live in Aurora Il so not too far from home but we still miss them. TJ works full time for a day care facility in their area.
Okay just so we can say December was the frosting on the cake; on December 21 we became grand parents!! Fred’s oldest, Amy and her hubby Pete had their peanut. Benjamin James was 9lb 15oz, 22 1/2 inches long and one of God’s most precious gifts. Mommy and Daddy are doing well and trying to take it all in along with the business of the holidays. Benjamin can enjoy his new bedroom because of all the hard work his mom and dad did on their house in 2011. In late 2010 Pete and Amy bought a “gut it, treat it for mold, and start over” type house in Cutlerville. They, with the help of others, worked on it for months and where able to move into it in the spring. We are very proud of them for the hard work they did. Amy is planning to be a stay at home mom and we are planning to be “spoil the grandkids” type grandparents.
Thank you for sticking with this long letter. I told you up front it was a full year. Hopefully you’ve noticed a theme. We feel extremely blessed. To have such great kids, to have such great relationships, to have each other, and to be held so dearly by our Father, we are blessed.
Our wish for you is that 2012 brings you much happiness and joy. May you see, in new ways, that we serve a God of Love and that His grace is sufficient for any thing that may come our way.
Fred and Lisa