Our family--Christmas, 2008

Our family--Christmas, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Updates on Our Family, Episode Three--Our First Wedding!

Bethany & Ben
August 30, 2008

It was one of the best days of our lives...the years of praying for God to bring His perfect mate for your child, and seeing it come to pass. God is so good!!!

Their wedding was a celebration of God's love and faithfulness, the blessing of family, the gift of friends, and the joy that comes from knowing Christ Jesus as Lord. He is the center of Ben & Bethany's union and life together. He is the One who has redeemed them and brought them together. He is the One that will give them the grace to live lives that are pleasing to Him. We know they desire to glorify God in their marriage, and that His Word is true and trustworthy. Their joy in each other is surpassed only by their joy in God.

We love Ben and his family, and are so thankful to be entering with them into this new season of our children's marriage.

A few highlights from the day:

  • many relatives could be there, including all the grandparents
  • so many friends came and rejoiced with us
  • God provided many, many friends to help make the day so beautiful
  • all the details for the day were faithfully carried out by our loving God; even with the little glitches that came up, God worked everything out wonderfully
  • worshiping together during the service seemed the most natural way to thank our great God for His lovingkindness
  • our joy was so full, we could barely contain it!
Some funny moments:
  • At the beginning of the ceremony, Cindy and I couldn't get our candles lit with the adult-proof torches; we almost burst out laughing when we finally got them to work
  • Ben trying to light the unity candle with the torch instead of the family candle; Bethany had to tap Ben's hand to let him know he needed to grab the lit candle instead
  • Bethany getting swatted on the backside by the Marines who announced their marriage at the reception
  • Jesse hiding in the back of Ben's SUV and as Bethany and Ben started driving away, opened the back window and waved good-bye to everybody
Some touching moments:
  • During the bridesmaids processional, Susanna, who was the last to enter, was quite overcome with emotion and was fighting back the tears; that got Tracy, grandmas, and twins Charity and Amy teary-eyed then
  • Because Chris couldn't walk Bethany in during the processional, she asked her brother Jesse if he could escort her in; it was a sweet moment to see that proud brother hand her to her father waiting up front

  • Bethany asked Tracy to sing during the Unity Candle lighting, and at one moment, she got kind of choked up singing about God's faithfulness; He has been so faithful!
  • Bethany and Ben dancing their first dance to Martina McBride's "My Valentine", a special song she picked out because Ben's birthday is on Valentine's Day

  • Since Chris was unable to dance with Bethany for the Father/Daughter dance, Bethany picked out a special song, "I Loved Her First", and our videographer put video footage and photos of Bethany and her dad over the years together as a special presentation at the wedding reception; there wasn't a dry eye in the whole hall! Shortly after, our dear friend Rick Boyer wrote a poem for Chris about his Father/Daughter dance with Bethany and the legacy of His life being lived for the Lord through much hardship with MS

We wanted to bless Ben & Bethany in a special way, so we set up a "Blessing Tree" where family and friends could share their prayers, wishes and Scripture verses with the couple. And from the wedding program, a couple of verses Bethany and Ben picked out to share:
I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever;
With my mouth I will make known
Your faithfulness to all generations.
For I have said, 'Mercy shall be built up forever;
Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens.' "
~Psalm 89:1-2
We are so happy for Ben and Bethany and the future He has in store for them. It's all good because of Jesus!

Updates on our Family, Episode Two--Bethany Goes for the Gold!

This past June, our oldest daughter Bethany received a much-earned award for four years of diligent, hard work--The Congressional Award, receiving the highest honor of Gold Medal. The Congressional Award program, started by Congress and partnering with the private sector, acknowledges students who have excelled through their activities and efforts in the areas of service, initiative, and achievement.

Bethany engaged in over 200 hours each of Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Exploration. From taking a two-week trip to a working cattle ranch in northern New Mexico building fences, moving cattle, cleaning stalls and the like, to putting together care packages for soldiers overseas and volunteering at a local school library, to improving her creative writing skills by authoring four children's books, Bethany has learned much about persistence, the joys of a job well done, and has blessed many people she has served.
While we are so proud of Bethany for earning the gold Congressional Award, we give even greater thanks for the way she acknowledged the Lord in everything she was doing. Her desire was to bring God glory in the various activities she was engaged in, and she sought to build friendships with the people whose lives intertwined with hers during those four years. God has blessed her greatly by helping her form a deep bond with her Congressional Award advisor and the family she stayed with in New Mexico. She has also been keeping in touch with the soldiers to whom she has written and sent care packages.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Updates on Our Family, Episode One--Megan Graduates & Heads Off to Liberty University!

Megan was determined to graduate a year early, since we started homeschooling her a year early, so this past June, she did just that. She was actually part of two graduation services, one locally with our homeschool group (her dad was sorry to be out of town for this). She shared at the ceremony both in a moving speech and a song giving tribute to God's faithfulness in her life.

Taking part in another, larger graduation at the HEAV homeschool convention gave her dad (and our whole family) an opportunity to be there and celebrate with Megan the successful completion of her homeschooling years. We give all the glory to God!

The event was extra special because Tracy got to sing the National Anthem and special music for the graduation service for almost two hundred students. Because it was the 25th Anniversary of HEAV this year, Tracy also got to direct her homeschool choir of over 20 students in two choral pieces as part of the ceremonies. It is amazing to look back and truly see God's faithful hand guiding the homeschool movement these past 25 years in Virginia! God is good!!!

Megan had applied to two schools, Grove City College and Liberty University. She was considering a double major of Biblical Studies and Psychology at GCC, and a major of Nursing at Liberty. After much deliberation, she decided to try the Nursing program at Liberty. She's been adjusting to 13,000 on-campus students, but has been making friends and is enjoying her classes so far. God is good.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Once Upon a Time...

God Writes Her Story--

Our oldest daughter Bethany, from early on, has loved to tell stories. At three, she could prattle on about some animal getting lost in the forest, and finding friends along the way to help him home. We loved to sit and listen to her imagination play out as she shared her lively, engaging tales. And all the while she was making up her stories, God was writing her story. She has grown up into a beautiful, godly woman, whose heart for Jesus is revealed in her devotion to His Word, her faithfulness in listening to Him speak into her life, and in her gentle, gracious love for others. Her life thus far has been a beautiful story of God's grace.

And now, God is writing a new chapter in her story. We rejoice to share the story of how God has brought Bethany's fiancee, Ben Arnold-Bik into her life. Yes, Bethany is engaged, and God is good!

How They Met
Ben and Bethany met just over a year ago at the March, 2007 Bluemont Contra Dance in Purcellville. I believe it was some friends of Bethany's who introduced Ben to her. Well, Ben took an immediate interest in her, but it was just an initial meeting. (He was the last guy of several to wait for the girl God had for him; the rest of his friends were already married or engaged).

Jesse begged Bethany to bring him to the April contradance and so Ben saw Bethany again (neither of them had been regularly attending, but God brought both of them two months in a row; His hand was clearly orchestrating things). They still didn't have a lot of time to talk that night and get to know each other, but Ben knew that he wanted to date Bethany and asked her if he could take her out sometime, to which she easily replied, “Yes!”

Getting to Know You
Things didn’t work out for them to get together until a couple weeks later when we had Ben over for the twins' birthday lunch so we could all meet him. I’m sure we overwhelmed him with our chattering, animated family of nine! Chris and I both took an immediate liking to him, so later that same week, we let Ben take Bethany out to dinner so they could just talk and get to know one another. And then Saturday of that week, Ben took Bethany to a formal contradance at our old church. This would be the last time they would get to see each other for awhile for the next day, he had to fly out to FL because he is in the Marines. (Ben had attended Bible college for a year, then got his four-year aeronautical engineering degree from Embry-Riddle and was now signed up for a 10-yr. commitment in the Marines; he just turned 27 on Valentine's Day).

So Ben took off the next day and Bethany and Ben just emailed and IM-ed each other for the next 3 months, after which time Ben knew he wanted to fly Bethany down for a week to spend some time with her in person getting to know her more. She went down in Aug. for a week before starting her first semester at PHC, and stayed with a married couple, good friends of Ben's.

In November, Bethany flew down for a week again, staying with Greg and Amanda, and then shortly after that, Ben asked us (we'd been in touch with him throughout the fall) if he could ask us in person at Christmastime for our blessing on his proposing to Bethany. So he was home for about 10 days and at the end of that time, asked each of us independently if he had our blessing (he didn't just want to email us and ask for that!)

Will You Marry Me?
So during her spring break last week, Bethany flew down and Ben proposed. Bethany very quickly said, “Yes!!!”

Ben is a wonderful, godly man, who loves Bethany very much, is humble, hard working (he's training with the Marines to fly jets), desires to please the Lord, and has a long list of things in common with Bethany (a big one being that they are both very interested in missions, Ben esp. in becoming a missions pilot). God is so good, and it has been very easy for us to grow to love Ben as we've gotten to know him more and more. We really do look forward to him becoming a part of our family, and Bethany a part of Ben's godly family (he has one sister a few years younger than him, plus his mom and dad).

We are especially grateful that, although they will be living in other states for some years while Ben fulfills his commitment with the Marines (we will be in much prayer for Ben's deployment to Iraq, mostly likely sometime in 2009), his family lives nearby in Lovettsville. We are so thankful that their visits home to see family home will not have to be a choice between his family and ours, but they'll be able to see us both!

Thank you for praying with us
We would so appreciate your prayers for Ben's training period, Bethany's continuing and completion of her college degree (she has officially declared herself as a Government major, and desires to specialize in Strategic Intelligence--in other words, spy research!) We still don't know when the wedding will be; sometime between the end of the summer and this Christmas (we're kind of hoping Bethany will be able to complete another semester on campus at PHC this fall and get married at Christmas time, but it's their wedding, so we'll see!)

Thank you for praying for them as the Lord brings them to mind. We give much thanks to the Lord for His great love and goodness in bringing them together!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Life on the Court

Yep, we've just spent more hours than we can count these past two and a half months doing

Court Duty...(basketball, that is!)

While I will be the first to admit that I am so thankful the basketball season is short (relatively speaking), I am also declaring the goodness of God in allowing our kids to participate in this sport with Christian teams. I have really enjoyed watching my kids play and could be heard often shouting out loud over their little victories! The opportunities for godly training and character building have abounded, and we have seen God do some really great things in our kids' hearts--

Jesse--is not only a great ball player, but he has a great attitude on the court; one of team playing, backing up other players, or reaching out a hand to be there for one who gets hurt; plus whenever his coach had to instruct or correct him, he received it well. I enjoyed the sheepish grin he gave Mrs. Christman during one game when she commented on his knocking down a smaller player on the opposing team by accident. There was no malice at all on Jesse's part toward this young man who got plowed into simply because Jesse couldn't stop in time to avoid bowling him over! I thank the Lord for his humility with his coaches, and his openness to their guidance. He's a better player for it!

Susanna--I saw a tremendous amount of growth in her character this season; she grew not only in her ability, but also in her confidence on the court. God helped her to put her whole self into the game and she was rewarded with not only greater skill, but also an ease on the court she previously has not had. She is blossoming into her own person, and her efforts to play better on the court are only complimented by her growth in reaching out to new girls to befriend them. Making new friendships has not been easy for Susanna, so I am especially proud of her for getting out of her comfort zone to become acquainted with some other girls!

Charity--I so enjoyed watching Charity on the court. She worked well with the other girls and made friendships quickly with them (she is actually still writing to girls from her Upward Basketball team from two and three years ago!). She was also 100% there whenever she practiced or played a game. I never heard her complain about being tired or in pain of any kind. This is one of our greatest blessings with Charity; she is cheerful often, even in situations when it would be understandable to not be so. She was attentive to her coaches, and while she gave every effort to the game, she was not negatively competitve toward teammates or opposing teams. A special reward was that she and her teammates had the distinct privilege of going through the season undefeated. I am praying God will give her an opportunity to play with a Christian team next year since she loves to play but will be too old for Upward Basketball.

John--I saved my little man for last. The Lord loves to glorify Himself in our eyes, and sometimes uses the most interesting ways to do it. One of the ways He has amazed me this year is through John's participation in Upward Basketball. John started out the season wanting to play, but quickly experienced doubts about playing ball with boys he didn't know. I prayed for and with him, and it was encouraged to see how God answered prayers for him. He not only overcame his shyness and hesitancy, he quickly made friends with the other boys on his team.

John & friends--the littlest Lynx
Now, I must point out that John was the 2nd shortest boy on his team; there were actually 6th graders over a foot taller than him! It would have been easy for John to feel intimidated or insecure, but the guys all hung together with a great team spirit, fostered in part by an incredible coach.
Even still, it would have been natural for John to feel insecure, yet, seeing him out there buzz around on the court with that ball, zipping in between players (a distinct advantage of being a short player!) as he made his way to the basket was just an amazing thing in my eyes (not just because I was his mom!) I could only marvel at how God made our human bodies to work so well!

I came away from this season thanking God for His great love for our children, and for how He cares for the "big things" in their lives and the "little things" in ours!