Because I spent some good, much-in-demand time working on it...
And because I feel like some sort of general update is due to blogland, as a result of my extended absence...
Ta-dah! Coders' 2014 Christmas Letter! Not for the faint-of-heart, length-wise. (But I do believe my blog in general doesn't qualify for those readers.)
The steadfast love of the LORD never changes,
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning –
New every morning.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O LORD;
Great is Thy faithfulness
Mumsie must have sung this song constantly when I was little, because I still hear her voice, praising slowly and reverently, whenever I ‘sing’ it in my head. As we come again to a year’s end, as we prepare again our hearts to celebrate the incarnation of our mighty God, as we look again in retrospect upon the last 12 months of life, we see afresh the many changes of the year. There are new friends, new jobs, new ideas, new sorrows, new joys – and yet, through all the changes, we clearly see God’s mercies and compassion which are paradoxically ever the same, and ever new. Great is His faithfulness!
What’s new for the Coders in 2014? I’m so glad you asked! Settle back with a cup of tea or a mug of cocoa, though, because we do still have 10 kids (as incredible as that may sound to those of you who know Zachary) and this could take a while (but I’ll do my best).
New Reasons to Celebrate:
In March, Gregg and Keri celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary! Actually, that’s a slightly misleading statement. Mom and dad’s 25th anniversary was in March, but they have been celebrating all year by disappearing for a weekend a month. Sometimes to the beach, sometimes to the mountains – they keep in touch enough to make us jealous by pictures of sunshine, snow, and sea.
That’s not all we’ve celebrated this year, though! School landmarks are always good reasons to have a party, and we had a giant triple-graduation bash in July, as Ben finished WSU with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Emily graduated from the community college with an AA in Business, and Rachel graduated from high school! Pie, pie, and more pie was consumed, which – of course – made the celebration official.
New Travels: (note: for pictures and more details, check out the travelers’ blogs!)
Ø At the beginning of the year, Ben was working as an intern at Hewlett-Packard as he finished up his degree. Even in his not-yet-a-full-time-employee status, he had the amazing opportunity to go to China for two weeks in February to oversee the production of a part he designed! Chongqing being famous for its spicy food, Ben’s only time venturing out alone resulted in a meal of many tears, LOTS of water, and huge grins from waiters. Nonetheless, he considers it a great experience and can’t wait to go back! (Plans for another business trip are set for January 2015)
Ø Shortly after graduation, Ben enlisted the companionship of Joshua on a three-week European jaunt. After visiting family in Loches, France, they traveled on to sight-see through England, Scotland, and even a brief 48 hours in Ireland!
Ø We have only just welcomed home our most recent world-traveler, Rachel! She struck out on her own at the end of September for a two-month absence in Ufa, Russia, where she enjoyed playing with and caring for two adorable twin boys recently born to some friends of ours!
Our pastor constantly reminds us that “God is always good, all the time.” The evidence of this comes most powerfully in times of pain, of fear, and of uncertainty, and so we share these challenges to testify to the goodness of our LORD. We see the proof of His love and provision while in the midst of trials, and although we are not often told “Why?” He always shows Himself to be the “How.”
At the end of August, Megan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Having a 9-year-old suddenly insulin dependent, being required abruptly to count every carbohydrate she consumes, learning all the emergency signs and responses for high and low blood sugar readings – these things have composed our greatest challenge. And yet, we have truly “seen the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” From His providential hand in causing mama to notice Megan’s symptoms (which seemed coincidental and normal), to Megan’s beautiful and grace-filled response to her life-long diagnosis, we have been in awe of how our King has marked the way.
If you had been a fly on our wall one particular night – only a few days after learning about her diabetes – you would have been touched by Megan’s attitude, as she discussed possible reasons God has allowed her to have this disease. “Maybe I’m supposed to be an encouragement to another little girl who gets diabetes!” “Maybe I will grow up to be a doctor for kids who get diabetes!” – she was joyfully ready to look for God’s purpose in her trial, and the enthusiasm and willingness of my wee sister humbled me. Yes, God is good.
Ø Work: After graduation and Europe, Ben became an official employee of HP right here in Vancouver, and continues to enjoy his job immensely. In June, I also started a new part-time job at a local tea room!
Ø School: Joshua began classes at the local community college this fall through the running start program. At this point, he plans to study for a degree in mechanical engineering.
Ø Play: The youngest three of the Coder clan have now been added to the ranks of costumed volunteers at Fort Vancouver. Beginning in January, they will be taught the skills and hobbies of young boys and girls living at the Fort in the 1840s, and will be trained to share this knowledge with visitors.
Ø Music: Intrigued by the art of shattering glass and destroying good hearing, Joshua decided to learn the bagpipes this year. It was several months before he received the actual instrument, but now we are often serenaded by strains of “Amazing Grace” or “Scotland the Brave” floating through his closed door, down the stairs, around the corner, into the great room, and arriving in our ears at a loud-and-clear volume. (We love it.)
Amidst the ever-changing newness of life, some things have remained the same year-to-year. For example, Mama is still home-schooling the younger children around the kitchen table, while our two high-schoolers (Grace and James) watch classes online through Bob Jones University. I continue to teach violin and piano lessons to about 30 students, and thoroughly enjoy my time with each of these aspiring musicians. Dad is still working at Home Depot, and will celebrate two years as an employee of ‘the Orange Life’ in April! Besides the bagpipes, music continues to be a major part of our lives, with the youngest 5 taking lessons and practicing the days away (mostly)! J
This Christmas season, we pray that you all will be blessed with a fresh awareness of who our God is as you celebrate His birth. May we all continually learn new lessons from Him, praise Him with new songs, and wonder at His ever-new mercies.
~Sarah (for the Coder family)