Tuesday, December 24, 2013

McGarvey Christmas Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

I don't know who "they" are, but they say a picture is worth a thousands words. We're going for a serious "word count" this year by letting a slug of pictures tell our 2013 story.

It all started by ringing in the New Year (no, our kids are not wine-bibbers...that's grape juice):

So, what did 2013 look like for us?

I don't know about your house, but oftentimes our kids are literally bouncing off the walls:

If you visited the kitchen, you might see this (thankfully, Ben has yet to have his evening bath via the rinse cycle!):

Or this:

Speaking of the McGarvey kitchen:

Okay, that was totally unfair. Beth is a great cook. And can you really trust this guy's taste buds? He's been known to have a propensity for pigskin! And toe jam! And garden tools!

Seriously, God provided our daily bread EVERY DAY in 2013! How easy it is to take that for granted! To simply take it as a given, as if it is a right and not a gift. Every meal is a gift. What grace to be able to say grace 3 times a day 365 days a year! We are grateful!

Ben started walking in early 2013:

We had TONS of interesting visitors in 2013.

Batman flew in...er, on.
Spiderman swung by.
It took awhile to clean up what the Webslinger's slung.
Sticky stuff. Goo Gone is the trick.

Darth Vader darkened our door.
He's much shorter in person.
This is Stan. He's a starfish. He's Italian (with a pretty strong accent). He's quite the globetrotter, but he periodically visits our kids on Saturday mornings if he's on the East Coast.

The Janho's came all the way from Seattle so Steve could get some Chick-fil-A.

Grandparents came to visit (YEAH!):
Ben typically plays pretty nice...

The kids love playing card games with Ama!

But here's what happens if you try to take his yellow truck. He flipped Papa Judo-style and pinned him in no time flat. Notice that Papa is no longer holding the yellow truck. Ben would like you all to know - Papa never tried that "Can I see your truck?" trick again.
Nana with the girls, when we visited Longwood Gardens
Enjoying a coffee date with my sweet momma

There were dance parties:

There were injuries:
Hannah. Bike chain.

Mommy's eye got a little too close to Ben's finger.

Be careful around the treadmill - esp when your 6 yr old brother is using it when he shouldn't be (we've got to give him credit though - he thought enough to shut the thing off before running to get us).

There were fortuitous discoveries:

Ben, Do you like beef jerky?

"Mmmm...Beef jerky!"
There were house projects:

Sam learned a little plumbing, and in the process started a new dance craze. It's all the rage.

There were epic battles and fell deeds:

There were arts and crafts:

Caption contest! What is Sam thinking and saying in this moment?

Beth is my "excellent wife [whose] lamp does not go out at night." In addition to trying to keep up with the perpetually rolling foothills of laundry and the incessant culinary demands of this growing brood, she has, among other things, enjoyed hosting her ladies Bible study group and coaching Hannah's basketball team.

Hannah is now in (and enjoying) youth group, loves volleyball, basketball, a variety of other athletic activities, as well as arts and crafts of all sorts. Along with all the other kids, summer vacation in Grand Haven, MI topped the "favorites" chart. She loves racing down the dune and all the fun on the beach. She did not love the deer tick we found one day on the base of her skull!

Sam is...Batman (see above). He loves action movies and Lego's and has grown in his appreciation for weapons and munitions of all sorts (he would LOVE to get his hunting license). For you Duck Dynasty fans out there, he'd love to hang out with Uncle Si sometime.

Lily is still our sweet, energetic, athletic flower. She can be found climbing a tree, planting flowers and garden varieties or tending the flora, role-playing the teacher in "school," roller blading, jumping, bounding, and smiling. She had been begging for awhile to play the violin, and finally got her wish this year!

Jono can oft be found sporting camo attire, gloves (we're not sure what that fixation is all about), and/or a superhero suit. In his own words, he likes "the Steelers (I did not prompt him!), Lego's, Sunday ('Why, buddy?' 'You know, cuz church!'), Jesus, candy, Christmas. Yeah, that's about it." I believe that was a stream of consciousness answer, not in order of priority.

Ben is a two year old, one man wrecking crew. He loves dirt, sand (esp in MI on vacation - his words were, "feels good...touch it...toes"), John Deere, cha-lock-a-late, big tractors, trains, and trucks.

All that and we've just scratched the surface! There was so much more in 2013. There have been lots of ups and downs and challenges and heartaches, but most of all there have been megatons of the mercy and grace and faithfulness of God!

It's hard to believe we've already been in DE four and half years. We are very grateful to God for moving us here. We love our church family. Chris is so thankful for the sobering privilege of being a pastor here. In that role, and in all we are and do, we've seen more clearly than ever our great need for the all-sufficient grace of our God.

We are SO thankful for the Lord Jesus! He is the only reason God's all-sufficient grace is ours for the taking. We have no right to it apart from his life and death and resurrection. He is everything to us, and so we love to celebrate the Advent (coming) of our Savior!

Why did he come?
John 10:10-11:
... I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Why did he lay down his life?
Isaiah 53:6:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--everyone--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Why did the LORD lay our sin on him?
1 Peter 2:24-25:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
What happens when we return to the Good Shepherd?
Psalm 23:1-6:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
THAT is "good news of great joy...for all the people!"

With much love,
The McGarveys
Chris, Beth, Hannah (13), Sam (11), Lily (9), Jono (6), Ben (2)

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