Hello friends and family-
If you were breathlessly checking your mailbox every day for a Christmas letter from Alex and Beth, you can breathe now. Here it is….in all its glory. Don’t get me wrong. I love sending people mail but I just bought replacement ink for our printer after months of us talking about buying ink for it so sending letters in the mail just isn’t going to happen.
2011 has moved so quickly. I mean, if I wrote checks, I would still probably be writing 2010 on the date and confounding the cashier.
I hate to admit this, but I moved to Dallas kicking and screaming. Literally- like a 3 year old who doesn’t want to move to Dallas. Alex and I wanted to have this grand adventure in places like Tennessee or Kansas but God gave us only one option: Dallas.
Okay, God, you win. We have really loved living here. God has taught us SO much about living life with Him. We have met fabulous people, had really great jobs, and have done really fun things. This year was no different.
At the beginning of the summer, we made the decision to fly the coop at Hidden Bend and move into this duplex that is owned by an 80 year old ball room dance instructor who drives a Smartcar. My, it has been a wild ride- a ride that involves pulling trash out of our air ducts and cleaning mold that looks like jello out of our kitchen sink. In fact, we just hosted a cookie baking/decorating party and, true to stupiduplex form, both ovens went out. We made chocolate chip cookies that took two hours to bake and definitively did NOT look like snowmen. Never a dull moment in the duplex. We have enjoyed having lots of space to host parties and such but we miss living next door to our best buddies at the apartment complex.
In March, I decided to leave the world of boogers and poop (AKA children) and joined the wonderful world of Adult Education (AKA adult hissy fits and inappropriate spitting). I’ve really enjoyed working with the refugees in Vickery Meadow and learning to not punch my computer when Microsoft Access is trying to destroy me. At the risk of sounding nerdy, I actually really like “running the numbers” and having all the answers. You should see me when I have a full semester’s worth of data. It’s almost embarassing how much I like playing with it in Excel. I’ve gained alot of professional confidence at this job, since the organization is so small and everyone that works there is super-vital to the mission. My only regret is accidentally giving that one student my cell number so that she calls me at 10:30 pm to ask about computer classes.
I also enrolled in school- part-time online at Virginia Commonwealth University. I’m going to get my Adult Literacy and Numeracy Certificate (half of a Masters) and then maybe go on to finish the degree. The class finished in mid-December and I aced it. Not too hard though, considering I figured out that the professor loves flowery, hippy teachers that sit in a circle on the floor and adjusted my papers to that (although, I love a good “love circle” in the classroom). I’m not sure what my next class in the circuit is, but I know I’ll enjoy it!
After graduating with his MBA from UTD last December, Alex started a new job at McKesson, the world’s largest healthcare company that you’ve never heard of (unless you work in healthcare). I went and visited a few weeks ago and the office entryway is so fancy that it looks like the set from The Devil Wears Prada. Alex’s “office” is in what he likes to call Cubicle-land but he has a window, so that’s a plus. His coworkers are crazy good about decorating their cubicles and Alex’s looked like a prison so his family and friends hooked him up this Christmas with a cool floating pen, new desk calendar, and a battery operated Zen fountain. Because McKesson foots the bill for lunch at least once a week, Alex always jokes that his company appreciates the “heck” out of him. Whatever, Alex, I daily get food that has been made in an only-God-knows-how-clean kitchen and is brought to me wrapped in a 99 cent only bag. So there.
Gracie’s had a good year. We’ve firmed up our theory that she has tiny people hands hiding in her paws that pop out when we leave. How did we discover this? I made some zucchini bread and, after eating a slice, left the loaf sitting on our table. When I got home, Alex accused me of eating it all, which I vehemently denied. You get the picture. Also, she likes to go rile up the three small dogs in the duplex next to us and narrowly avoid getting her nose ripped off by the vicious chihuahua. She has made friends with the neighborhood kids. In fact, she is the only one whose name they actually know. Alex and I are Mr. and Mrs. Faith but when they ring the doorbell incessantly during my napping hour, they always know to ask if Gracie can come out and play. Alex or I have to accompany them because the kids do not always aim well when throwing the tennis ball and sometimes it flies into the street onto the windshield of an oncoming car. Sorry, kids. She’s good but she’s not that good.
Our grandest adventure this year involves International students at UTD. As He tends to do, when you give God a little bit of time or a little bit of money, He turns around and blesses you beyond measure. We have been hosting a dinner and Bible study in our home for two Saturdays a month since September. We’ve introduced the students (who are mostly from China and Taiwan) to pancakes, pizza, pumpkin carving, Thanksgiving dinner, and Jesus. Even when we had 27 people here and you basically had to crawl over laps to get to the bathroom, we have a really fun time every time. We got to be an American mom and dad at a graduation for students’ whose families couldn’t attend (think aggressively shushing the people around us so that our video isn’t marred by laughing or cell phone conversations). Over the Christmas break, we have done alot of fun things- looking at Christmas lights (and having to explain that the houses in University Park are not hotels), making cookies (in our defunct oven), attending a Christmas eve service and learning how to play Mexican train, and watching American Christmas movies (which would be Four Christmases and The Santa Clause with Tim Allen). It has been a blessing to get to know these students and we’re looking forward to having most of them with us for another year and a half.
What can you expect from us in 2012? Well, we’re thinking/praying about buying a house closer to UTD. Many of the students don’t have cars so we’re shuttling people back and forth to UTD, which would be easier if we lived closer. We want to be more accessible to them, so they can come over whenever they need to sit on a couch or do some laundry. I’m also praying about making a trip over to southeast Asia next Christmas so that I can visit a non-profit that helps women that have been trafficked. I really want to experience this firsthand so that I can start advocating for them back here in the States. Alex is up for a promotion in April, and he’s a rockstar, so he’ll hopefully get to move into a job that utlizes his giant brain more. In Arabic, they often say enshallah which means “God willing”. I really like it because it acknowledges that God is in control, even in the minor things. That is how we are approaching 2012.
2011 has been a great year and we look forward to the surprises that 2012 will bring.
Happy New Year!