I have decided the Schreur family Christmas letter. We sent this out after New Years (Yeah, who says the Christmas letter has to be sent out BEFORE Christmas???). Enjoy!
To all who have been a part of our life,
Another year is over and 2008 has proven itself to be one that has given us many memories. You are getting this because you are a part of the memories that make up who we are. We are thankful that God has allowed you to be participate in our lives. This letter is our way of keeping in touch with some of you we rarely see but shows our desire to have you know that you still come to mind as we look back in thankfulness and ahead with anticipation.
Our family has grown in number only because we became licensed by the state of Michigan to be a foster family. I say it that way rather than foster parents because each one of us wanted to do this and all help serve whomever God would send our way. In February, Myah, a little 10 month old girl joined our family. Being half Hispanic, her beautiful big brown eyes and nearly black hair are a stark contrast to our mostly blue eyed blondes. After 10 months of caring for her, we have just invited Myah's mom Devin (15) aunt's Kaitlin (12) and Jena (7) into our home. They moved in Friday, December 19 and the plan is that they will be living with us through January at which point they will be moving to Florida. Myah will be going with them and we ask you to pray that God will protect them wherever they go.
Benjamin (4) is growing up to be more than a handful. God must have given me 5 daughters before him because he knew we would need many hands to keep Ben busy. Busy is an incredible understatement when it comes to describing him. When putting him to bed a while back he kept squirming until I told him to relax and lie still. After 5 seconds his foot started moving and I told him to stop moving. Another five seconds and his hand started to come to life. This time after being told to lie still he gave out a frustrated laugh and said he just can't stop moving. That is life with Ben. I love it, but his estrogen laden siblings aren't quite sure what to make of this beast. Also, mom is more than willing to let me take him to work whenever possible.
Elizabeth (7) is making it harder to be looked at as my little baby girl because she is growing up in so many ways. Her reading ability is amazing and every now and then beats me in Connect Four. She does more than her share of the farm chores and is in charge of a barn with about 10 goats, a 4 month old Jersey heifer, and one dog. Her chores also include gathering the eggs from 50 or so chickens and keeping them with fresh water. She loves showing goats and won showmanship for her age bracket at the MDGS show in May. In spite of all this, thankfully, she is still as huggable and snuggly as ever. She is looking forward to showing a Dog at the fair in addition to her goats.
Rebekah (12 on New Year's Day) is winning praise from Bethany and Abigail with her pen cleaning ability (actually, they are just thankful for any help). She and Rachel have relieved the "old" farm hands from this endless job. Her reading is coming along nicely and her math, is well, math. She loves our puppies and enjoyed going with Sandy to Family Farm and Home in Coldwater with them. She had 5 hours of holding all the puppies she wanted. She also helped with chores and gives Elizabeth the muscles needed to haul water to "their" barn.
Rachel turned 13 in early December which means we are now a family with 3 teenage girls. I wish all the people that say they feel sorry for me could read Psalms 144:12 - "May our daughters be like stately columns that adorn the corners of a palace" and verse 15 - " Blessed are the people who have these blessings! Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!" Rachel is very sweet and is so willing to help. She has adopted Buster, a 2 year old male Chocolate Lab that was given to us by some friends who had to move to Georgia. He has sired 18 puppies this year which has turned into a nice little side business for us. She took a dog that had no training and is able to literally snap her fingers and he sits for her. She will be showing him at our fair's dog show next August. She has also taken over Angel our Appaloosa mare. Rachel thinks this "blind in one eye, 20 year old gray mare who ain't what she used to be", is the greatest horse since Silver and loves to get out in the pasture to round up the cows. It is quite a sight.
Abigail (still 13 until February) finished up with her braces and has an even more beautiful smile than before. She had a new fair experience this year with Willie her steer and did a great job of learning about raising and showing steers. She is already working on Zeb for next year. She also bought Hoss, a Quarter Horse from Bethany and did a lot of riding with some other girls who have horses. She continued her work at Harvey's farm this spring/summer picking asparagus, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries but took Friday's off to help Sandy bake for the Marshall Farmers Market. She and Sandy spent Saturdays in May and June selling their goodies.
Bethany (15) has become quite the farm girl. She is taking some agriculture classes at the Branch County Career Center and hope to join FFA (Future Farmers of America for you city slickers). She has diligently gotten herself up every morning at 4:30 to milk our goats. We are developing a nice little business selling goat milk with people driving up to 1.5 hours from the suburbs of Detroit for Asher Acres Goat Milk. We are doing it legally using something called Goat shares which makes the people part owners of our herd. They do not buy the milk but rather pay for us to do the work of milking and caring for the animals. It seems a little crazy but it is what we need to do to make it legal. This summer she worked hard at the Harvey's and on our farm. During one 3 week period she helped bale over 1500 bales of straw and hay. She and Abigail are now able to go our baling on their own while I do something else. This same farmers daughter is also doing very well with her piano after moving beyond mom's lessons to a "real" piano teacher.
Sandy has been very busy with children, homeschooling, laundry, setting up at the Marshall Farmers Market, children, canning 600 quarts for the pantry, laundry, helping put hay up in the barn, homeschooling, laundry, 6-10 children, cooking, and laundry. Did I say laundry? One of her biggest challenges is knowing what to do with a 4 year old boy who doesn't like to sit in the same place very long. Sandy's paragraph may be the smallest but it is not because she has no life. No, she is merely experiencing God doing "far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think". The main blessing is when she knows it is "according to the power that works within us."
I have been enjoying my best year as far as work goes since we have moved down here (if you knew what the last 4 years have been like it would keep this in perspective, but we are very thankful). God is proving that he is bigger than an economic crisis. The real economic crisis is when we all have everything we want without thinking about who is in charge. We had a good year making hay with our "new" New Holland 311 baler. It is nice to bale almost 2000 bales with only 2 missed ties. We also were able to help a local farmer clean up a fence row of oak, hickory, and cherry trees. Going into winter as the world economy is teetering with your propane tank, pantry, 4 freezers and wood shed filled is a wonderful feeling. But, that pales in comparison to having our hearts and minds "filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work " (Colossians 1:9-10) It is my prayer that your new year will be filled with "the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" (Phil. 3:7).
Jim, Sandy, Bethany, Devin, Abigail, Rachel, Katelin, Rebekah, Jena, Elizabeth, Benjamin, and Myah