Hitherto

"Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."  

         - I Samuel 7:12


Christmas Eve hike
 Front row: Faith with Eliza, Annie, Amanda, Kara (Bunter), Paul.
Back row: Collin, Laurel, Ben VW, Kristen, Ben, me, Tim, Andrew with Jenny,
We're missing Peter, Esther, and Jon.


As we put a wrap on 2016, this verse is the refrain of my heart. As all years, this one has included plenty of joys mixed with some trials and sorrows. On balance, this year has had more joys than difficulties, but even in years that the opposite is true, this verse is every bit as true.

Here are some of the ways the Lord has helped us in the past year.


Kristen and Ben VW
Joy and Love

At the start of the year, neither Andrew nor Kristen had yet met the ones they would give their hearts to, but now at the end of this year they stand on the brink of marriage to these two future spouses. How we give thanks for Esther and Ben, who love the Lord, the church, and Andrew (Esther) and Kristen (Ben)!

Andrew and Esther










Changes, changes

Jonathan graduated from IU and took a job as a software developer with Amazon in Seattle in May. He's setting in there, but was able to spend Thanksgiving week with us in Indiana, a time for which we are thankful.


We sent another daughter off to Purdue this fall, and here again we have so much to be thankful for. The Lord has given Amanda and Faith a wonderful, solid church family in Lafayette, and they are both growing and having a place to serve others. Both are enjoying their studies and grateful for the opportunity to be at Purdue.




Travels, travels, and more travels

Snow in March in Kentucky!
We've been on the move this year more than usual. In April, Tim and I and the youngest two boys spent a weekend in Red River Gorge.














In July we took the four youngest offspring to North Carolina for a wonderful time white water rafting on the Nantahala River and hiking in the Smokies.
A screaming good time!

Andrew and Jenny  during our camping trip
August found our clan gathering at Chain O'Lakes Stare Park in northern Indiana for a group camping weekend. We're hoping to make this an annual event.





And in September. Kristen and I made the trip of a lifetime as we spent a week exploring the Andes Mountains in Peru. We fell in love with the Peruvian people (who didn't mind that we spoke only a smattering of Spanish), and we were thrilled to be able to mountain bike from 14000 ft. to 9000 ft., hike around Macchu Pichu, attend church in a little village, and buy textiles just about everywhere we went.


An Ever Elastic Household Size

Most days there are just four people running around our home. It's quite a change from the days when we had eight or nine children at home! But then - whoosh - some or all descend for a weekend or a holiday - and it's super lively around here again!

Our family is growing through births and marriages these days, and we've found ourselves scrambling to come up with enough beds to house everyone. We had 16 folks living here during much of the Christmas holidays, filling our seven bedrooms and more. So Tim built a "Cupboard Under the Stairs" a la the one of Harry Potter fame. Hopefully ours is a bit cozier. (Paul has plans to turn it into his algebra study center.)

I've been adjusting to teaching only two students and working hard to give them solid instruction but also plenty of latitude so they will continue to grow in independence and competency.


Youth

No, we haven't found any fountains of perpetual youth. And I can't exactly say either Tim or I are feeling any younger. But it has been a year where we were blessed with more opportunities to work with the young people of our church, and that has been a real joy!  


Cycling and ... Running (?!)

In October Ben and I participated in a lovely 20 mile bike ride on the new Milwaukee Trail (Lawrence County, IN) "Howl at the Moon" event.







But I've been doing less cycling this year than in past ones because this I took up jogging after something like a 26 year hiatus. I now go slower than I thought it was humanly possible to go and still have both feet in the air. But I tell myself that's ok; at least I'm giving it a go.
After the Reindeer Romp
One of us looks worse for the wear

Peter and I ran in our first event together in December. He ran 8K at a 5 something pace. I was almost twice as slow, running a 5K at a 10:11/mile pace. Peter won the whole thing. I finished third in my old-lady category. Haha! It was a hoot!


Business

It's been a good year here, too. As a self-employed contractor, we never take God's provision of work for granted.



Loss and Trials, too

Of course, all has not been fun family times and endless delight. We've also experienced sickness and the sad results of sin.

Tim's mother, Sally, went to be with the Lord in May. She's struggled with declining health for some time now, and had been longing for heaven.

But in these hard times, too, or even especially, the Lord's help has been ever present. While I can't write about all that has taken place this year, I can publicly give thanks for His mercies which are sufficient.


The New Year


As Charles Spurgeon says, though, hitherto doesn't just look backward.
But the word also points forward. For when a man gets up to a certain mark and writes "hitherto," he is not yet at the end, there is still a distance to be traversed. More trials, more joys; more temptations, more triumphs; more prayers, more answers; more toils, more strength; more fights, more victories; and then come sickness, old age, disease, death. (Morning and Evening, Dec. 29)

What will 2017 bring?

We know a few things this new year should bring, Lord willing. We're planning for a wedding in March and one in May. In July Peter plans to move to Minneapolis to take a corporate job as an accountant. Kristen will move to Atlanta after her marriage, and then we will have children in five states. So much change will certainly be coming. But beyond these expected events, we know little. I'm so thankful that as I look to the unknown future, I have the past year, and in fact decades of past years, of memories of God's faithfulness to recall.

Yes, hitherto hath the Lord helped us, and He will continue to help in the days to come.













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