Friday, December 18, 2009

Putting Down Roots - Christmas Letter 2009

Putting Down Roots 2009

2009 has been a year of the Stilp Six putting down roots. Newberg is nestled in the heart of Oregon’s picturesque wine country. Our neighbor went to a local vineyard and repurposed some pruned vines from the garbage pile. To the naked eye they looked dead, but she dug deep holes in the soil by her fence (apparently grape vines grow down before growing up), shoved those sticks in the ground, and VIOLA! By the end of the summer, she had flourishing vines, complete with baby grape clusters, climbing her fence.

In the past year, our roots have pushed down in little ways like learning our neighbors’ last names, discovering the back road to Costco, and actually bumping into familiar faces at the library and the park. We’ve felt the impact of deeper growth as we developed friendships that passed the one-year mark, expanded our level of ministry at Solid Rock (our church), and settled into a second cycle of the same school and the same jobs. We survived the pruning of dramatic change and life is becoming less foreign and more familiar as our family begins to flourish, much like our neighbor’s vines.

Grant (8 ½ years) has matured so much this year. His style “preferences have changed” and he’s been developing his inner rock star with guitar lessons, skinny jeans, and Chuck Taylor Converse hi-tops, “the unofficial, most popular shoe” according to his first-day-of-school “informal survey.” The Lego designs he creates and constantly refines are intricately detailed and well beyond my level of comprehension. Grant is very responsible and structured in his daily routines, loves 3rd grade, and made his foray into creative writing when he had a story published in the local school newspaper. His description of swimming in a lake vs. a pool, “It’s like swimming into a black hole of darkness” and his brain block on a creative writing assignment, “My brain is out of idea toner,” were gut-busters for us. He takes calculated risks on his bike and skateboard, broke his wrist when he fell out of a tree, and along with his sisters, competed in a 5K and kids’ triathlon. Grant is learning how to practically apply God’s Word to his life and we love his honesty and desire to do what is right.

Katie (7 years) blesses our family with her sweetness, kindness and flair for the dramatic. She is a wonderful mix of girly girl and tough chick and she often impresses us with her high pain tolerance, as long as it’s not inflicted by one of her siblings. She rocked her races this summer, flies across the monkey bars, and looks forward to her weekly jazz jam dance class. Katie decided to go by her “fancy name” (Kaitlin) in her 2nd grade class this year and we were pleased to learn that she is a leader among her peers, a role she doesn’t often play among her siblings. She loves to read and emphatically declared, “I LOVE to read. I was born to read. Right Mom?” Katie also loves animals, particularly horses and dogs, and every year she asks for “five acres and a horse.” To date, we have been unable to grant her wish but she was thrilled with a birthday riding lesson from Grandma and Grandpa. Katie has a tender heart to things of God and shares her love for Jesus with those around her.

Alli (5 ½ years) is a fireball of determination, zest and compassion. No guesswork is involved in figuring out how she’s feeling at any given moment. She told her whiny sister to “zip it and throw away the key,” and on the first cold day of fall asked me to “turn on the hot air conditioning.” I laughed when I overheard her practicing a Bible verse she memorized, “Devote yourself to prayer being watchful and thankful. Fust John 3-2-1-Blastoff” and was touched by her summary on prayer, “If you pray and talk really quietly God can still hear you. He has REALLY good ears.” Alli is finally old enough to start Kindergarten, is on the cusp of learning to read and has intentionally chosen the path of good behavior at school because “it’s more fun to be good than to be naughty.” Alli lets nothing stand in her way, taught herself how to jump rope, tie her shoes and blow bubbles with the gum she’s always chewing, and is very organized and helpful. Our lives would be much duller without Alli around and we love how her infectious laugh so often fills our home.

It took Paige 3 ½ years to discover that she too can join the ranks of Very Naughty Children and we’re somewhat relieved to find she’s normal and not 100% angelic. Her attempts to shed her babyhood, develop her independence and personality, and cement her place in the sibling ranks have been really fun to watch. Her three-year-old phrases and labeling have kept us laughing all year. She wears her “raining boots,” says “shu-ah” (sure) as an affirmative answer to most questions, mixes up her pronouns, and came downstairs to inform me that “Someting broken in the play room. A drawer. I not broken it.” Paige learned to sit on her bike and pretend to pedal so she could “compete” (I use that term loosely) in her first Splash, Pedal and Dash and was thrilled to finish 19th out of 24 competitors in her age group. On July 21st, after some intense evangelistic efforts by Katie, she prayed and asked Jesus to forgive her sins and lead her life. To have all four of our children know and love Jesus is the best gift we could ever ask for and we rejoice as Paige wraps her mind around what walking with Jesus looks like. Her recent prayer, “Dear Jesus. Fank you that house church was so much fun. Help me not to call anyone stinky face. Amen,” shows she has some room to grow!

Curt is settling in nicely at OHSU and at Hope Orthopedics. In May he was commissioned as a house church leader at Solid Rock and has capably led our house church that meets twice monthly in our home from that point. He very methodically trained for and completed two Olympic-distance triathlons this summer and rejuvenates by fishing with a friend. Fall is his favorite time year. What’s not to love about a fresh chill in the air, playoff baseball, college football and hunting? This fall, Curt enjoyed a trip to Wisconsin and Minnesota where he shot ducks, caught up with family and friends, and took in the Brett Favre-led-Vikings vs. Packers game at the Dome. He hopes to make it an annual tradition.

The Lord has taught me a great deal this year about waiting on Him and trusting His timing. I lost my entire running season to a torn meniscus that I ignored for six months before coming up lame in a half-marathon in June. I had my knee repaired in August and have been learning to meander during the long recovery process. While recovering, I conquered my fear of being underwater and learned to swim. My Dad joined me on my first post-surgery outdoor run and I have my eye set on a May marathon if the surgeon gives me a green light to start training. I spent a girly and relaxing weekend in Colorado with my favorite “sister” Sonja and was really blessed by a book club I led and hosted for Solid Rock. To stay up-to-date with the Stilp Six, follow or subscribe to my blog (

Merry Christmas. We hope you have a blessed year putting down roots in your neck of the woods.

Much Love,

Curt, Jodi, Grant, Katie, Alli, and Paige

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful Christmas letter Jodi... I enjoyed reading each and every word. You have a beautiful family!