Dearest Family and Friends,
The Barrett Family wishes you a holy Advent, a joyous Christmas, and a blessed New Year in our Lord Jesus Christ! May His Spirit, comfort, and abounding love fill your hearts and homes this season and always!
2011 has been another challenging year for our family. We have definitely experienced highs and lows, but throughout it all, God's goodness has been very evident, and we are very thankful for His many blessings. 2011 has been a year of prayer, and although not easy, deep in prayer is always a good place to be.
We celebrated Benjamin's 12th birthday this month with an evening of ice skating at the nearby outlet center...which was quite an adventure (and I have the pictures to prove it!). Benjamin is in 6th grade this year as we continue to educate the three boys at home. He is taking classes in Chess, PE, and Art at our co-op Class Days with Heritage Christian School and is in his third year of studying German. Benjamin is extremely artistic, and we always find him working on some project or another. And if there's laughter in the house, Benjamin is usually instigating the hijinks.
Starting high school in 9th grade this year, Jonathan, who turned 14 in June, continues to study music, mostly guitar. He is in his fourth year of guitar lessons with the Free Teen Guitar Class, a ministry of Alpine Anglican Church, but his and his teacher's busy schedules meant dropping piano for this year. Jonathan plays guitar on the last Friday of each month at the FTGC's Guitar Jams in the Starbucks parking lot in Alpine (while I hole up in the coffee mecca to write). This year he is taking a double-period Geography class called “Mapping the World by Heart” plus PE at Class Day, and he and Timothy continue learning higher math from “Auntie Jo,” my dear friend from college, Johanna (if he doesn't drive her absolutely insane!). He's also more involved in the high school youth group at Lake Murray. Quite popular at church, Jonathan is definitely our “cool kid.”
In 11th grade this year, Timothy will be 17 in March. He continues to enjoy learning art techniques, and we usually find him with a pencil or pens in hand, sketching something from Lord of the Rings or working on another drawing of some sort. He is taking a double-period Chemistry Lab and PE (with Jonathan) at Class Day; he's been asked numerous times to join the high school basketball team, but he prefers playing for fun over competition. Biking over several times a week to the garden site, Timothy remains very much involved in our town's community garden project where he has taken on a lot of responsibility. He's very involved in the Pine Valley community.
Now 19 and taking a year off from college at Point Loma Nazarene University because of financial aid difficulties, Elizabeth took one class at Grossmont Community College this fall but is mostly working in housekeeping at the Pine Valley Bible Conference Center. Elizabeth truly misses being a literature major in my former department at PLNU and living in the dorms during the week and hopes to return next year. She's considering a change in her major, but has much prayer and research ahead before deciding. The down-time at home has allowed Elizabeth to continue with her jewelry business; her products may be seen on her Facebook page. She has also been housecleaning for my parents since my mom has been plagued with chronic back pain all year.
And, as always, I'm crazy-busy. In addition to schooling the three boys at home, I'm teaching Intermediate Writing to high school students and Medieval History to 4th-6th graders (with an excellent team) at Class Day. I'm also teaching online courses during my 10th year at BraveWriter.com in literary analysis, MLA research, grammar, poetry, and Shakespeare, and I've started my own essay grading/editing business at http://www.susannebarrett.com/ Published at Easter this year, I also assisted in editing a new edition of the Book of Common Prayer revised by Father Acker of Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity where the kids and I worship on Fridays. I also celebrated my 5th anniversary of blogging at Meditative Meanderings.
In his determination to make ends meet, Keith continues to work very hard, mostly doing handyman work for various clients. He continues to work in the office with his dad on occasion, designing one custom home this year with a second in the works. Keith also created a beautiful art deco-style stained glass window for clients who saw his two windows in the Ademas' home, and he's also working on a mosaic floor for my parents' elevator. Keith and I continue with the Scripture Reading Team at Lake Murray Community Church in La Mesa which we have attended for over 18 years. Although he's had a couple of health challenges this year, one of which resulted in his losing a good deal of weight, Keith continues as Head Chef in our household, creating new and exciting dishes that the kids are always happy to make disappear...far too quickly.
Our family wishes you a joyous and healthy 2012 as we all go forth in the love and grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior! Come let us adore Him!
With love and prayers,
The Barrett Family
Keith, Susanne, Elizabeth, Timothy, Jonathan, Benjamin, and Dash, too!
And the annual Christmas family photo on the hearth:
And the silly version of the annual family photo:
Wishing you all a holy and joyous Christmastide (all twelve days!!) and a blessed New Year in the grace of Christ our Lord,