The 2015 Christmas Letter

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              We send greetings of comfort and joy on a Sunday afternoon in December to all of our friends and family around the world. Another year to watch for miracles and to spread the good news of salvation is before us. We’ve been blessed in the past year and wish to recount them here.
            In January, Elv was ordained for the work at Grace Bible Church, our home church for the last 14 years. He had been helping in the leadership for several years prior, but the way the ordination came about made it difficult. Elv handled everything much better than I did. God faithfully pulled us through this process, as He always does when we wait on Him and trust. The church was packed out with supportive church folks and family and friends the day of the ordination. It has been almost a year and though we still have a lot to learn; we are blessed.
            Also in January, Lance began courting.  He married Kristine Peachey in July.  I tell him that she is the best thing that has ever happened to him. They are settled in Hayward in a nicely remodeled home that Lance has been living in for the last two years. She works for Miller’s Market and he still works with Elv for Warder Logging. They stay busy with work and NBCC (children’s ministry), as well.
            So, we saw a lot of these two because they liked to use our living room for a place to spend time together. We liked that, of course. She finished up her last teaching job in May and they began to plan a wedding.
            In June Elv and Lance were moved to a job two hours west of us in the red pine plantations. They parked the travel trailer in a clearing there and stayed on the job over the week. Never at any other time in my life would I have “been okay” about such an arrangement, but for whatever reason, it worked for us. We stayed busy here at home with each our jobs and the weeks flew by. Weekends seemed more special, though, I’ll have to say.  
            In August, we went to the Kauffman reunion in Idaho. We made a road trip out of it and took our time traveling. Fun times. We were blessed by hearing other stories like our own and the victories and lessons similar.
            Asking Amy here what we did in September and she answers, “Worked.”  She’s right. Brad had odd jobs that kept him plenty busy all summer: repairing golf carts for Arlyn Martin, and mowing the cemetery in Hayward, and other things. He also built himself a shop; learning as he built, from a CLE carpentry book. It’s a cute, well built little shop.
            Amy finished her first full year of working for Miller’s Market in November of this fall. She quickly caught on to deli work and they seem to like her there. This past summer was very busy with making deli sandwiches for the folks of Haywardby the hundreds a day sometimes. Miller’s Market has caught on here in Northern Wisconsin.
            My work at Northwood Outdoor has been fun and fulfilling for me again this past year. I really enjoy all aspects of my job: restocking gifts, sales, and even cleaning.  Thank you again, Ruthie, Rosie, Susie, Patrick, Mary Jo, Elvie and  Liz for work and happy times together.
            I have been walking with a friend, when I can, through breast cancer this summer.  Cancer is a wicked and nasty ordeal for a woman to go through. Why mince words! But cancer cannot destroy our souls or our spirits. Cancer does not take away our eternal life. It feels threatening, though, to a lot more than our health and beauty.  We spent hours during her chemo treatments visiting together.  She will live, praise the Lord. But we are both changed. We do our best to use illness to grow in eternal ways.
 I have also learned that hardship does not necessarily make us better. I am disappointed in myself about this anyway. We become more broken and faulty. It should make us more humble, more aware of our need of a Savior. I am learning. But I am not becoming angelic, unfortunately. One of the children said to me the other day, “I cannot let my struggles define who I am.” This is true. I hope I am kinder as a result of discovering this, at least. Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  That’s past tense there, and I’m banking on this. It’s all we have, but then, what else do we need?
            Lisl came all the way from Thailand with her littlest one to spend a couple of weeks with us. She deeply regretted having missed Lance’s wedding and endeavored to make it up to herself and us by coming later.  We had a lovely time of visiting with her and we met Rennie for the first time who is a year old now.
            Amy went home with her. I drove them down to O’Hara to fly home. It is hard to leave loved ones at the curb to fly away half way round the world. Amy stayed to help out for five weeks. They got their list of things to do, done, including moving to a new house and helping Lisl with her homekeeping through the first trimester of her summer baby coming up.
            Winter has barely set in and we are almost to Christmas. The winter promises to be short and mild so far. God bless you all.
                                                                        The Grabers of Hayward

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