christmas letter

“Oh, Mr. Bennett, God has been very good to us.”
“Yes, so it would seem.”
Pride and Prejudice

Dear Family and Friends,

It has been a blur of a year! I feel as though I just wrote last year’s letter and now we are at Christmas time again. A decided advantage to aging is that due to time’s flying faster, so Christmas comes sooner!

We have had a good, uneventful year; despite that, this is going to be a long letter, so prepare to dig in and read or feel free to skim!

Winter and spring consisted of slow daily living with an Easter trip to visit my parents, who live outside of Destin, Florida. Tuan finished his second year at Twin Lakes and continues to love his job as Hosting Director. It has been neat to see how God has grown him through his daily work. Tuan has felt especially blessed this year by the quality of his staff and their service--many thanks to the fabulous Twin Lakes hosting staff!

Johnny turned one in May and we had a fun “sock-monkey” theme party with lots of family, friends and honorary family in attendance. He started walking right around that time and hasn’t stopped since!

Although, I am mostly a housewife and mommy, I still love summer camp, and after last Christmas, I signed on for another summer as the program director for Twin Lakes. I spent a good bit of the spring preparing for this summer’s theme: Noah. It was quite a challenge to figure out how to present Noah’s story over five days and how to build an ark at Twin Lakes. Noah had 120 years and lots of resources. We had a week and a tight budget, but God truly blessed the program this summer and children came to Christ through it. This was my third summer in this capacity and my seventeenth in camping. What a joy it is to get to work at a job I love so much and have Tuan and Johnny so close by! Johnny especially enjoyed camp this summer: he liked to watch the campers sing and would clap along with them. He also thought the lake was fun. Sitting in his float, he’d laugh at the campers and staff playing on the water trampoline.

The second week of camp, I felt sick and exhausted--lo and behold, we found out that I didn’t have a strange tropical disease but instead, we were expecting number two! Suffice it to say, we were pleased and excited.

Tuan and two close friends spent a week during camp backpacking in North Carolina. He slept on top of a waterfall and enjoyed 40 degree temperatures in the middle of summer; to quote Tuan: “can it get any better than that?” At the end of his trip, I was given several unexpected days off and Johnny and I met Tuan on his way back and enjoyed some time with friends in North Carolina and on our own in Atlanta. We were truly innocents abroad--particularly when it came to navigating the MARTA, but once we figured out how to purchase tickets, we navigated the downtown area like natives and had lots of fun at museums and the famed Varsity drive-in. Johnny had a lot of fun at the Georgia Aquarium--he loves fish! It was a blessed break from camp and we returned truly refreshed.

Once camp ended for me, Tuan’s busy season kicked in. Twin Lakes hosts many, many groups between the time our camps end and Labor Day. This summer’s busyness was compounded with readying our house for renovation. We live in the original caretaker’s cottage at Twin Lakes which dates back to before, well, Twin Lakes! It has a lot of character, but character can only go so far with no laundry, one bedroom, one baby and another on the way! After much prayer, God provided the means for our house to be renovated and enlarged. In August we moved into one of the guest lodges since our house would be uninhabitable during renovation It’s been exciting to see the house progress and we are so very excited about moving back into our home and getting settled before the baby comes.

By the way, the “baby” is a girl. Aubrey Sue La is due on February 1st, 2008. Judging by the ferocity of her kicks, I think she may not be as much like Tuan as Johnny is. In fact, I fear another strong-willed little version of me is on the way! Johnny has learned to say “baby” and says it all the time. Sometimes he points to my belly and other times to his. His pronunciation is more like “be-be” which I love to hear. He’s developed quite a vocabulary and it is so fun to hear him talk. In a few days he will turn nineteen months and every day with him is a blessing. Some of his favorite things include talking on the telephone with his “Nana,” playing with his animals and going on golf cart rides. He is excited about the trappings of Christmas this year--the Christmas lights and giant inflatables at Wal-mart are a very big deal to him, which makes the season even more fun for us!

As I reflect on this year, I am grateful for the uneventful, common life we’ve enjoyed. We are deeply satisfied in marriage and family and vocation and could ask for little more. Tuan and I are especially grateful for the grace that God has given us as individuals and in our marriage---grace so underserved and yet so plenty! I think of the proclamation of the Angels to the shepherds in Luke 2:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men, on whom his favor rests.”

By Jesus’ coming so long ago, by his death and resurrection, true peace--peace between God and us!--is possible. I wish for you, friends and family to know that peace and joy that comes through trusting in Jesus. I am reminded of verses from two of our favorite hymns:

Let us wonder; grace and justice join and point to mercy’s store;
when through grace in Christ our trust is, justice smiles and asks no more:
He who washed us with his blood has secured our way to God!

Comfort, comfort ye my people, speak ye peace, thus saith our God:
Comfort those who sit in darkness, mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load.
Speak ye to Jerusalem of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover and her warfare now is over. .

Grace and peace to you all this Christmas!

Tuan, Paula and Johnny

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