Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Stilp's - 2012

My favorite Christmas tradition is the giving and receiving of Christmas cards, letters, and photos.  There are people on our Christmas card list that we've been exchanging cards with the entire time we've been married - which will be fifteen years in three day!

Since Curt and I moved frequently in the first decade of our marriage we have a pretty extensive Christmas card list.  We have demographics from our college years.  Our time in Minnesota as newlyweds.  Our time living in Chicago.  And now the friendships that have formed from our time living in Oregon.  Every year our list grows and without fail, I order too few cards the first time around and have to come up with a Plan B for all the people I want to add to the list.

While it's a boatload of work to coordinate a family photo, order the photo card, and a write a yearly letter, I cherish every part of it.  If your labels are crooked or upside down on the envelope, your letter is folded lopsided, or your picture is bent, it's because the kids love this tradition as much as I do.  For the past two years they've "helped" me with the Christmas cards.

This year our family celebrated Hanukkah for the first time - thanks to my Jewish friend who gave the kids their very own menorah and Hanukkah candles.  I addressed Christmas cards by the light of the Menorah while the rest of the family watched Polar Express.  Talk about a merging of winter holidays!

Of course our favorite part of the Christmas card tradition is when you all start sending cards and letters and photos to us.  Our entire family looks forward to getting the mail each day.  We rip open the cards, pass the pictures around, and ooh and aah over how much kids grow and families change.  We finish by taping the photos up on the wall.  Your photos create a cacophony of chaos, color and joy on our pantry door and the surrounding wall space.  We cherish them all year round.
our Wall of Fame is taking shape nicely.  Give us another week or two and there will be no wall space left at all.
You guys are awesome!!!!

I'd love to send a real Christmas photo and letter to all of you, but it is a little cost prohibitive.  So here's our family Christmas photo and our year summed up in one page or less.  We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Grace and peace from our family to yours,

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

December 2012

2012 was characterized by change. Grant started junior high, Paige is a gone-all-day first grader, and Sarah (our “fifth child”) spread her wings and moved out. Curt transitioned into a new role at OHSU and I earned my first paycheck in eight years. Through it all we have felt grace and peace from God.

Grant (11 years, 6th grade) embraces each activity he participates in with gusto. In the past year he has tried and “LOVED” water polo, football, Lego robotics, and beginning band (percussion).  Grant paid his way to two summer camps by working as the sole proprietor of Grant’s Car and Lawn Care Company and learned the value of hard work in the process.  The bio he wrote in 5th grade reads, “Grant wants to play water polo at MIT.  He plans to major in aeronautical engineering and hopes to work at NASA designing a rocket that will send an astronaut to Mars.” We love his big dreams and uninhibited ambition.

Katie (10 years, 5th grade) is in her final year of elementary school and enjoys her job as library assistant.  As a result of this job she expanded her list of potential careers to include “actress, golf cart driver, or librarian.”  Katie played and loved soccer and softball.  She keeps us entertained with her “shows” that include choreography, costumes, siblings, and any visiting friends. Katie paid her way to a week of girl’s summer camp and her proudest camp moment was licking slugs.  Katie committed to read the Bible cover-to-cover this year and is a handful of pages away from finishing her goal.  We are so proud of her.

Alli (8 years, 3rd grade) attacks life with gusto and wears her heart on her sleeve. She gets bored quickly but found a sport she loves in gymnastics and is already in Level Three.  God continues to grow in Alli’s heart a love for the orphan and those who are suffering.  When she grows up she “wants to be a hair stylist, adopt two daughters from Haiti, and run an orphanage.” She recently received an invitation from a Pastor who oversees several orphanages in Zimbabwe to come and be “the first small girl missionary to the orphans there.”  With no hesitation, she responded, “YES!  If my Mom and Dad will let me.”

Paige (6 years, 1st grade) is very studious and will sit for hours reading, writing, coloring, and creating books that are “o-some.”  Paige (player) and I (assistant coach) made our soccer debuts this fall.  By the end of the season we actually knew a little about soccer and want to play again next year. Paige’s current career aspirations are to “be a farmer, mom and PE teacher.”  She plans to “hire a housekeeper to take care of the farm when I’m PE Teaching my kids.” Her birthday wish is “to go to Disneyland… oh and the place where Jesus died.” In January she donated ten inches of her thick, beautiful hair to make a wig for a child with cancer.  We love her delightful, generous spirit.

In January, Curt led a medical team from our church to Haiti.  He also officiated two weddings this summer.  I’m thinking we should all start calling him Reverend.  He has a new job title at OHSU - Clinical Coordinator - but when he grows up he really wants “to be a vacuum tinkerer.” We relayed a half-iron triathlon this summer with his cousin Sonja, which would have been more fun if it wasn’t snowing.  This fall Curt and Grant shadowed my brother Shane on a deer hunt in the Montana wilderness.  Judging from their huge smiles, this will be the first of many “man dates” the three of them share.

I (Jodi) tiptoed my way back into the part-time work force this year, picking up where I left off eight years ago with the McGahey Group. I’ve continued to write about life on my personal blog and occasionally for the women’s ministry blog at Solid Rock.  I also started co-writing for a faith-based fitness blog - My fitness highlights this year were shared with people I love: relaying the triathlon with Curt and Sonja, running every step of a marathon with my non-biological brother Jon, backpacking the Sisters Wilderness with Curt, hiking with the kids, and running a half marathon to honor our friend we lost to cancer.

This year we learned that peace is not simply “the absence of conflict.”  True peace is the “fullness of delight and all-encompassing joy.” One of the last things Jesus told his followers before he was arrested was this:  I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27) It’s our prayer for you this year.

Grace and peace from our family to yours,

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

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