Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas, from the Howertons!

I’m up early, and it’s still dark out. The only light on in the house comes from the Christmas tree. The Howerton house is peaceful and calm. Even the dog is still sleeping (which is how I like him best). I mention the peace only because it’s so rare. Chaos is closer to what everyday looks like, so moments like this one I try to celebrate, and remember, when the volume level goes north of healthy.

In a few minutes I’ll wake my daughter, Alex, so she can get on the bus that will take her to her morning violin practice at school. She loves playing Soccer (a fierce mid-fielder), she’s School Vice President (which she won on the slogan of “I’m organized, kind, and I like puppies”)…I’m very proud of her. She does a great job with friendships, and with being a judicious big sister. She’s got a great sense of humor too, and a growing familiarity with pre-teen “sass,” I believe it’s called.

My son Caleb is an early riser. He’ll probably get up when Alex does, just so he can spend time reading before he has to launch into the day. He destroys books. I mean that literally. I don’t know what he does with the books in addition to reading them, but my guess is rugby. Caleb’s stepped out into Basketball for the first time this year, and dad doesn’t even pretend to know how to coach him. Everything in his life is high adventure, including Lego creation, skateboarding, and his zany third grade friendships. He’s also adjusting slowly to his role as big-brother. He seems to approach it from a love-hate perspective, which might be fairly common among siblings. Fortunately, there is a bit more love than hate, and Caleb has discovered that his younger brother, in addition to being competition, might also be his biggest fan.

This morning, I’m guessing that Duzi will sleep in as long as mommy will let him. He’s our snuggler, who can’t quite snuggle with mommy and daddy without kicking them. Hard. Sometimes in the head. Of course, the big news from our clan this year is his arrival, and the trip over to South Africa in July to pick him up. Adjustment has been good. Hardly pain-free (read: many tears and anxious moments), but honestly, good. One of things he’s noticed is how BIG Americans do things…he knew what Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were before coming here. But each holiday, he was wide-eyed at how MUCH Holiday was enjoyed. Oh buddy, just wait until Christmas morning. Prepare to be amazed.

Jodie is incredible, as always. I’m blown away by how she manages to stay on top of a very active family schedule, work a bit from home, feed her family gourmet meals on a budget, and hit the gym regularly. She’s my hero (which I repeat to myself when we’re at each other’s throats). And she’s hot. I’m just saying. She could be a part-time model.

As for me, life seems to be cranking along, meaning I turned 40 this year. I’m still not the person I want to be, but I’m one more year along on the journey. I love my family, I love my wife, I love my life. Ministry at OCC is a hurtling roller coaster (read: equal parts thrill and terror), with folks breathing deeply the joy, hope, and love that Jesus came to bring. In fact, that’s really the reason for this letter, and for any Christmas cheer it offers…I’m just one more finger pointing to Jesus. One more seeker pursuing the infant king, born in a stable. One more heart shattered and reformed by his arrival, heralded by the wisest men. One more life undone by the grace of our Christ, illuminated in the darkest night by a celestial light. One more voice adding my flat and tremulous melody of praise to join in with the choir of heavenly hosts.

We love you dearly. We’re amazed by Jesus’ love. Merry Christmas,

Mike, and the whole crazy Howerton Clan

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