Merry Christmas, 2019

Sitting by the fountain in the Soo Looks Park where we used to sit 50 years ago!

2019 has been an extremely happy year for our family for the most part, although not without some major sorrow and challenges! Alan has been feeling well and is continuing as the medical director at Pine Rest Christian Hospital. However, we will both turn 70 in 2020, so he’s beginning to think about retiring “at some point.” I’m guessing sometime this coming year, but he’s made no promises, so I’m not holding my breath! Besides, I’m happy as a clam writing and enjoying family, friends, community, and church life.

Aaron and Michael’s families joining us on a “Roots Tour”
in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Aaron and Carleen with their four boys continue to enjoy living in California, where Aaron is now a senior manager at LinkedIn. Carlie is still homeschooling, and the kids all seem to be thriving. They’ve been wonderful about visiting twice each year, for which I’m most grateful because it makes the distance seem not quite so far!

Michael and Grace’s family in Europe

Michael and Grace are now stationed in Belgium with their five children, so (very sadly) we don’t get to see them often, although they blessed us with a long, happy visit last summer. Michael has been promoted to “Major” Armstrong and works at the American/NATO dental clinics near Brussels, where they enjoy interacting with military personnel from 28 different countries! The children were enrolled in the Belgian public schools this fall (after previously home schooling), so they’re learning French and expanding their understanding of world culture.

Such a fun week with Jon and Gerlinde’s family at Disney!

Jonathan and Gerlinde are now living in Chicago, where (“Dr.”) Jonathan is a professor of biblical studies and directs the Center for Global Theological Education. Gerlinde is still homeschooling the children. We had an awesome trip to Disney camping with their family last spring and feel greatly privileged to see them pretty often now that they’re living so much closer than they used to! (Lived for seven years in Washington State.)

Daniel and Brianna with Samuel, Elanor, and Neil

Daniel and Brianna (like Jonathan and Kathryn) also now have three children, so Alan and I are the blessed “Papa” and “Nana” to eighteen grandchildren. Because Daniel and Brianna live in Grand Rapids, we get to see them the most often and delight in watching every little change! Right now, Nerf wars with Sammy and Play-Doh with Ellie are favorite games, whereas our new “Neil Armstrong” just likes to snuggle and coo! Daniel continues as the dental director at Exalta Health, a ministry in GR treating the medical, emotional, and spiritual needs of un or under-insured folks. Brianna’s father retired in May (in what seemed like perfect health) but was diagnosed with stage IV cancer in August. His 10 children, 6 in-laws, and 15 grandchildren were able to gather in time for his shocking demise, and he passed into eternal rest on the 21st of November. He has been terribly missed.

Stephen home for the Fourth of July and his birthday

Stephen is still hard at work on his PhD in musicology from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. He has now completed all his classwork for his degree and is writing his dissertation. Thanks to a scholarship, he spent part of his summer studying in the U.K. Stephen has presented at twenty conferences over the past few years . . . all part of becoming competitive for the job market as (hopefully) a college professor in the next year or two.

Joel at his office

We have the great privilege of having our youngest son living with us at this time. He works as an associate editor at Kregel Publications and adds much joy to our home! He is also actively presenting at writers’ conferences and is constantly working on novels.

Joel teaching a seminar at my Blue Water Writers’ Group

Joel (as a special gift to me) has even shared a couple of his presentations with my writers’ group!

Some of our family gathered for a Fourth of July celebration

There is so much I could say, but I appreciate your taking time to read this much! All the kids and grandchildren are healthy, active in their churches, and growing in grace. The bottom line to me is that God has been amazingly merciful and kind to our family. I’ve been memorizing psalms this year, and Psalm 16 just speaks my heart:

Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust. O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight. Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

Update on Joel: Impressions of Boston

Boston. Aerial viewBoston is one of the oldest and largest cities in America, Granery Burial Ground 1660 but it’s not because it was founded in 1630 Aerial View of Boston or because it has a commuting region of 6.7 million people that gives it gravitas.  Manhattan from the air copyNY’s Big Apple may be the financial and cultural center of the U.S., Harvard Medical School but Boston is the undisputed academic nerve-center of our country and really has been ever since the founding of Harvard (our first and still most revered institution of higher learning) in 1636.MA College of Design Today, there are 60 institutions of higher learning in metropolitan Boston Quincy Market enrolling nearly a quarter of a million students! Joel and Alan Just recently, our youngest son, Joel, swelled that number by one. Northeastern He’s beginning a 5-year PhD program in literature at Northeastern University, Bedroom and so Alan and I went out to visit for a few days. Writing Center Although Joel is studying and teaching at Northeastern, Longwood Medical Area he lives in a Christian community that’s part of the Longwood Medical Area. Backyard He shares a home with 6 other young adults who are all in the medical field. CourtyardAs a mother, I’d been praying for a safe environment with good fellowship for my youngest, Kitchen and you can’t imagine my delight to know that Joel now sits down to dinner on Sunday evenings in a “family” of 7 siblings, of whom he is the youngest Dining Room (as he was in our home as the youngest of 7 siblings). NEU Marino Center While we were in Boston, Joel not only showed us all around his campus, Boston LIbrary he also took us to visit the  Boston Public Library, which is the second- largest Boston Public Librarylibrary in the country (behind only the Library of Congress). Boston Library Study Area The Boston Public Library is one of Joel’s favorite places to write,Boston Library Courtyard and I can see why! MFA During our stay, we also spent an evening in the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts), DSCN7638walked the Freedom Trail, Massachusetts State House toured the Massachusetts State House, Cape Cod with Joel spent a day relaxing in Cape Cod, Boston Commons accidentally happened upon the “M” Fest (“Marijuana”) at the Boston Commons Sunday after church,Emerald Necklace and even discovered Boston’s Emerald Necklace. (Have you ever heard of that?) Northeastern Campus We had so much fun that it might keep me busy for a few weeks telling you all about it, and I’m going to make a new category for my posts Old South Meeting House called “Boston Adventures,” since I’m guessing that over the next 5 years  Alan will be doubly interested in checking out Boston medical meetings! Alan and Joel strolling on Freedom Trail  May the Lord bless and keep Joel—and the millions of young men and women who are away from home studying. If you are away from home in school, or have a beloved young person away from home, or know that before long your son or daughter will be needing to leave home for further training or employment, Strolling Harvard Med School Campus may I encourage you with Boston’s motto? Sicut patribus sit Deus nobis (Latin): “As God was with our fathers, so may He be with us.” DSCN8915 God is able; it’s our responsibility to trust and pray!Harvard Med School Campus“Preserve me, O God; for in thee do I put my trust…The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup; thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage…I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved…Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:1,5-6,8,11).