Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Parkers!

Christmas 2012
Dear Friends and Family,

Grace and Peace from our Lord Jesus Christ at the celebration of his birth!  Another year come and gone? Either I’m getting older or time is actually speeding up; wasn’t it just last Christmas a few weeks ago? My!  Well, what’s to report?  I think the theme this year is “Steady and Sure”.  This year, we only traveled to two countries as a family, we didn’t move, we had no other children, and we aren’t expecting any, either.  That’s kind of a banner year in the Parker family lately?  Instead, everything was just “steady and sure”.  Some of the highlights below:

Trip to Ireland.  Amelia and I made good on a lifelong dream and finally visited the Emerald Isle this past Easter.  With kids in tow, we drove to Liverpool for an overnight stay, stopping at the Beatles museum the next morning before jetting across the north of Wales to catch our ferry across the Irish sea.  By the end of the day, we made it to the west coast, just outside Galway to a cottage on the seaside.  We spent Holy Week there, picking shells and sea animals from the rocky shore, bracing ourselves amidst the ferocious winds, popping into Galway (traditional musicstreet performers; spotting live seals in the waterway next to us; at a local pub sipping my pint of Guinness beneath a local snapshot of Bono), driving along the narrow country roads of the Burren behind (slow) flocks of sheep, ruins and ancient tombs, and peering over the Cliffs of Moher, before finally ending our visit with a 3-hr church Easter service at a charismatic Anglican church in Dublin. A whirlwind of delights.

Receiving Visitors.  In April, David and Fran Roseberry from Christ Church Plano came to see us in Durham.  What a delight to get to show them our home and city, praying with them in the cathedral, spending time together!  We appreciate the love and support from them and from the church, so very much.  Later, in July, Amelia’s mom, Janet, came to stay with us for five wonderful weeks. It was packed full with both active and leisure time.  Highlights: visiting Chatsworth, the Lake District (the boys rode their 1st treetop zip line), Alnwick Castle, and seeing the Queen (60th Jubilee tour).  While she was with us, Amelia got to go with some friends to the Olympics!  (BTW, between the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics, one could feel the British swell with appropriate pride, somewhat despite themselves.)  She saw American beach volleyball, endless tennis, hung out in Hyde Park, and had some much needed time away from her 4 boys (refreshing!).  Later that August, my parents came to see us, and we made a week-long trip to Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands, including the Military Tattoo, Eilean Donan Castle, Loch Ness, dolphin gazing, and trout fishing (all from our cottage-base outside Dingwall/Inverness).  The boys especially loved Landmark adventure park, and we were all impressed by the Culloden Battlefield.  Nothing matches time with all the grandparents: hugs & kisses, snuggles & laughs, and making memories makes for rich living indeed!  In October, our dear friend, Leon Fillyaw came to see us, too!  We had great visits to York, Whitby, & London (National Gallery, Westminster Abbey, celebrity sightings in Leicester Square!), and hours of unbeatable conversation.

Back at it.  After such a busy summer, our whole family went back to normal with full force.  Amelia has taken up some part-time transcription work, on top of her weekly, free, intense exercise class.  Ewan (9) has markedly matured in his attitude and thinking over the year, is progressing in a much tougher gymnastics class (at Deerness gym), and is lately fascinated by space science.  Isaac (8) has taken up the violin and continues to devour books and stories (audio or written; often both at the same time!).  Graham (5) is in school 5 days a week now and is learning to write & read and is our resident artist.  Jude (2) has exploded with words in the last few weeks and is obsessed with Mommy’s new iPad, which, of course, he can navigate with a flourish.  All the boys are involved in our church kids program, for which we continue to be exceptionally grateful.  My part-time teaching has dropped off while my research (p.179) and dissertation-writing have increased.  The job search is on since I hope to graduate in 2013,but whether we move into church ministry or academic Bible teaching, here or elsewhere is all undecided.  We are praying and pursuing every lead at this point. Prayers welcome!

By His Grace Alone,
Jon (for Amelia, Ewan, Isaac, Graham, and Jude)

The Parkers (Ewan, Isaac, Jon, Graham, Amelia, Jude) at Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland
(August 2012)

And at Whitby Abbey (Isaac, Ewan, Graham, Jon, Jude, Amelia) (October 2012)

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