Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Dear Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas and Glad Tidings to you from the Homfront.  As Christmas and the New Year approaches we look back on our year 2015.

The Force is strong with Dacia Grace!  At 10, she continues to grow fonder for all things Star Wars especially in anticipation of Episode 7.  DG reminds me a lot of my exuberance when the original movie went into hyperspace some 37 years ago.  I’m proud to remind her that “I… am your Father” which drives her absolutely crazy.  When not in a galaxy far, far away, Dacia Grace enjoys reading, swimming, cooking, baking, archery, and church.  In her 4th/5th grade year she relishes ancient history, science, American Sign Language, and Bible.  She enjoyed her last year at the church’s Kids Camp but really loved the 5th Grade Girls Getaway.  She went as a girl and came back a Tween.  I am thinking of the famous Chinese saying, “Oy Vey.”  As Dacia Grace puts it, “they fed us candy, popcorn, pasta dinner, got spa treatment, made necklaces, watched movies, and stayed up past midnight every night.., not to mention that we got to go into a fancy, dancy swimming pool and we were just 5 minutes walking to the beach!”  In the famous Jewish saying, “Aye Ya”.

Mary Lou continues to train up her prized pupil in all subjects at Fanno Creek Academy.  She feels blessed watching DG learn and grow and doubly blessed as her teacher.  As Iron Chef Mommy, she challenges herself to cook egg free, dairy free, soy free, and now gluten free for the family at the Fanno Creek Lodge Bed and Breakfast.  It’s no easy task but she wins the prize after every meal.  After a long hiatus, she returned to enjoy some of her hobbies including biking, swimming, and hand sewing.  Much of her time involves mentoring other homeschooling mom’s via Facebook groups and she likes to dabble in blogging.

Arthur’s work as Controller at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Hotel in Portland Downtown grows increasingly consuming as he continues leading the financial success of the hotel.  Who would have guessed that he has been with Hilton Hotels now for 24 years?  He had a medical scare in July where an unknown, severe, allergy attack and staph infection on his face threatened his life.  Think of the scene from the movie Hitch where Will Smith accidentally ate shrimp and his face ballooned into a grotesque, disfigured portrait and you have the idea only worse.  Thankfully, through antibiotics, steroids, and God’s healing power, his disfigured mug returned to normal without any permanent side effects.  Praise the Lord!  While we didn’t determine the exact cause of the allergic reaction we decided to put ourselves on a self-imposed gluten free diet which has made a huge difference for us.  It reduced the inflammation that caused Mary Lou’s joint troubles for years.  The gluten free diet also reduced Arthur’s muscle tightness in his legs as well as the circle under his eyes.

With the aid of his sisters, Arthur continues to help from afar care for his elderly parents in their 80’s.  His father requires dialysis three times a week while his hearing and comprehension slowly diminishes.  His mother struggles with a form of dementia that progressively steals her short term memory.  Although a professional caregiver helps them throughout the day in their own home, Arthur tries to demonstrate to Dacia Grace what “honor your father and mother” looks like as adult child… not an easy task but an honorable one.

We went on two great vacations this year.  In June we explored the National Parks of Utah including Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon, Grand Escalante, Arches, and finally Zion.  It’s something Mary Lou always wanted to do ever since photographs from National Geographic and Arizona Highways magazines captivated her in childhood.  In Mary Lou’s words, “They were amazing to see in real life and all that God did to create them”.  Along the way we rested a few days along the pristine Animas River, weeks before the huge toxic spill, in Durango, CO.  In Las Vegas, we indulged in the sinful world of the Hershey Chocolate store, fell into the pit of evil at M&M World, and drank into a foolish stupor at Coca Cola World where we reveled in the debauchery of Coca Cola from around the world (some laced with floating balls of frozen cream).  Oh, yes, we need to repeat… I meant repent.

In November, we explored San Francisco getting around using the city’s famous transportation system like a local…well almost like a local if you don’t count the cable cars.  We visited Arthur’s friend from camp 30 years ago as well as attended church with his former youth leader who is now a pastor in SF for 24 years.  We visited Arthur’s Aunt, Uncle, and cousin Sydney who just turned 5.  She barely greeted us in her shyness but by the time of our good byes, I could hear her yelling “BYE DACIA!!!” while blowing kisses from her car seat.  The childlike screaming of “farewells” from the 3rd floor of the parking garage to the street level brought smiles to Mary Lou and Me.

It’s our 13th year at Athey Creek Christian Fellowship.  After getting forced out of the middle school and then the leased warehouse where we met for the past 5 years, God led our church to resume building on the church property acquired before the Great Recession.  We moved into the new building at the end of June to continue our verse by verse, chapter by chapter study of the Bible.  We were blessed studying Exodus but even more blessed studying the unpopular books of Leviticus, Numbers, and currently Deuteronomy.  The Law really is the schoolmaster that leads us to God’s grace.

May you celebrate the Light of the World and the gift of Grace given to us in Jesus Christ… Emmanuel – God with us.

The Homs