Dearest loved ones,
If I could describe this year in a word picture, it would be something like being loaded in a great, big sling-shot, drawn back to a respectable measure of tension, and finally released to go hurtling through the months at full speed. There were a couple of intervals of soaring and serenity, but mostly it was a frenetic attempt to avoid smacking into too many obstacles, while reaching out to grab at pieces of beauty, joy, and hope along the way.
As many of you know, the beginning of 2013 saw some significant and painful changes in the life of our church. As we, along with many others, experienced the sadness and distress of these circumstances, it became necessary for Jesse to begin transitioning out of youth ministry in order to take on some new responsibilities. We thank God for the miraculous willingness of our amazing youth staff to increase their already highly invested level of commitment and take the helm of the college, high school, and middle school ministries on rather short notice. Jesse has continued to be very directly involved in these ministries over the last year, but he will be stepping back into more of a support role in the coming year. It is balm for our hearts to know that the young people we’ve grown to love over the last three years will be in very good hands.
February brought a move. It was such a relief three years ago, when we first moved from Salem to the Portland area, to be able to rent Jesse’s uncle’s house in Gresham. It saved us from the stress of blindly searching for a home for our family in an unfamiliar city. But with our more recent move to southeast Portland, our commute to the church has gone from a thirty-five-minute drive to a two-minute walk. We have been able to make our home and our lives accessible to many more people in the church and in the neighborhood—and our family is so much the richer for it!
Other riches were added to our family this year as well. On March 19, I found myself in Honolulu, holding a perfect, one-week-old Nathaniel Steven Moore in my arms. My sweet, selfless husband set aside his 2012 Christmas bonus to put me on a plane to spend a week in Hawaii with Dan, Kora, Julianna (now 2), and brand-new little “Nate”. The family has settled well into both island and Coast Guard life, and we are so proud of them. I felt very loved by my guys back home who all pitched in and braved a momless week together so I could have this experience. They were all thrilled to meet Nate few months later when Dan and his family visited Oregon this summer.
Not to be outdone by a new baby, Kayla announced earlier this year that she will be furnishing an addition to our family as well. She and Ben (whom we are all very fond of) will be tying the knot on February 22, 2014. We get a new son-in-law! Jesse and I are so excited for both of them to be able to begin their new life together.
For me, personally, this mother-of-the bride season has been so very sweet and special in ways I’m not even sure I can adequately describe. I feel extra aware of what a privilege it is to be her mom. It is such a treasure and honor that I get to have a front-row seat to this beautiful and magical season of her life, as she plans for her wedding and looks forward to being Ben’s bride.
Max, now ten, is shaping up to someday take over for his dad as the family scholar, philosopher, and theologian. His penchant for the imaginary, abstract, and conceptual is downright fascinating at times. He’s a thinker and a dreamer. We love to see his eyes sparkle and dance when he hits upon some particularly delightful or captivating thought. Currently, his musings seem to be dominated by a science-inspired awe at the complexity and order of creation, and a contagious wonder at the possibilities of heaven. Then, there are the books—the frequency and volume of our library runs are never adequate to keep up with Max’s voracious appetite for books. When he’s not reading, he enjoys spending time with family, wrestling with his Dad, playing games on his Kindle, hanging out with his friends, and learning Tae Kwon Do with his brother. We were delighted to celebrate with him as chose to take an important step and be baptized by his dad this past Easter.
Soren is a very charming 6. He is a ham and an entertainer. Because of him, our days are filled with song and dance numbers, comic impressions, and exhibitions of strength and bravery. He’s got the biggest blue eyes you ever saw, and an almost caricature-like, heart melting, dimply smile that I’m pretty sure could have prevented several wars. He’s all heart and passion and sincerity, with a generous serving of mischief on the side. He loves pretty much everyone and assumes they will love him too. This makes him an excellent host. Most folks who cross our threshold are quickly invited to spend the night.
Soren is also our artist and engineer. He loves to build and create, and is constantly curious about how things work. It isn’t uncommon to find him looking into, under, or around some toy, tool, or appliance to try to figure out what makes it do what it does. He played on a flag-football team this spring, and is considering making it a career. During the season, he wore an angry, aggressive, football face for the entirety of each play, unless he had possession of the ball…in which case he grinned and skipped.
Though they have the usual sibling disagreements, Max and Soren are best friends. These two very different characters make quite the duo. It does our parent-hearts good to see how they love each other and have each other’s backs.
After 15 years of marriage,
Jesse and I are pleased to report that we are still taken for newlyweds. Recently, when the two of us were out on a date, sitting together on the same side of the booth, as we often do, we were approached by an older gentleman who had been watching us. He asked Jesse how long we had been married. When Jesse answered, “15 years,” the man was at a loss for words. It was clear he expected “six months” or maybe even “two years.” After an uncertain pause, he just put a hand on Jesse’s shoulder and said, “You’re doing good.” And he was right.
We were able to celebrate our 15th anniversary with a three-day backpacking trip in the Mt. Jefferson wilderness this summer. I’ve done lots of day hiking and a little car-camping, but I’d never done anything like that before. It might be because Jesse took a disproportionate amount of the weight in his own pack, and did way more than his fair share of camp duties…but I’m hooked! It’s such an unfettered and free way to enjoy the outdoors. We had a wonderful time exploring together and just enjoying each other’s company.
For our family vacation in early September, we spent a week camping in the California Redwoods. Jesse’s parents were home from the Azores for a visit, so they were able to join us, along with Kayla and Ben. The area is beautiful and awe-inspiring all on its own, but the otherworldliness of wandering in and around all those giant, ancient trees is amplified when you see it through the eyes of your kids. It was fun to let the boys show us the magic we might have otherwise missed. We also enjoyed campfire cooking and singing, hiking, skipping rocks in the river, sunset watching, and the discovery of a beautiful beach with unbelievable tide pools. Going on an adventure with people you love is one of the simplest and best joys in life!
After the flurry of summer activities, Jesse officially moved into his new roles at Trinity Fellowship and is now responsible for Sunday morning teaching and staff oversight. He dove right in, and is working diligently to serve with love and integrity in these areas. The kids and I are so proud of the man he is!
These changes do mean that the group of people we are trying to get to know and invest in has grown exponentially. Before, we focused on building relationships with a comparatively small group of young people and their families. Now our target investment is the whole church body. All of a sudden, we feel a couple hundred relationships behind! We are enjoying spending time with more people, having them in our home, and sharing meals with them. It keeps us busy, but it is fun and encouraging when we get to find out just how neat the people we see every Sunday really are.
As for me, I still get to stay home and homeschool my bright and interesting boys. I also meet with women throughout the week so we can share life together and to talk about what it means to love Jesus within our various contexts and relationships. I’m thankful I get to spend so much of my time doing things that are enjoyable, meaningful, and rewarding for me.
I can’t close without mentioning the newest member of our household. Kim is a PSU student who moved into our guest room in early October. It was basically love at first sight for us. She is a delightful, joyful person and a perfect fit for our family.
And that sums up where we’ve been and where we’re at! We trust that whatever ups and downs, heartaches and joys you’ve seen this last year, God has held you in his strong and loving hands through it all…and he will continue to do so in the coming year.
Love and blessings to you and yours,
Crystal, Jesse, Max, and Soren