New Leaves

Flat wants to drive but Art says "No!" as we prepare to get on the road again.

Gray, TN

Christmas Letter 2015

Dec 20, 2015 by Arthur

It hardly seems possible that another year has gone by. This brings us to almost three full years since retirement when our new adventures began.

With all that has taken place over those three years, God has blessed us above and beyond all that we could ask or think.
We’ve had the privilege of traveling around the country seeing the glories of God’s creation, visiting old friends and family, and making new friends. And at this time of year we pause to reflect upon some of those memories that were made in 2015.

Borings and Joyces
An unexpected meeting with our friends the Borings in Bellaire, Michigan
Enjoying a visit with our Brooks cousins
Three Nanas
The three Nanas: (r-l) Bonnie, her cousin Judy, and her sister Dot enjoying a rare moment together
Family Picnic
An impromptu picnic near son David's home in Michigan

We spent the largest part of the year (around six months) in Michigan helping to prepare for the arrival not only of our son, Bryan and his family arriving home from Russia for their year's home assignment (building a kitchen in Dave's basement, long story), but also for the arrival of our 12th grandchild. David and Amy's second child Leah was born May 11, the day after Mother's Day, and we were blessed to be there. We now have six grandsons and six granddaughters!

In June we traveled west from Michigan to Kansas City, Missouri for the wedding of our grandson, Andrew and his bride, Alisha. To get to Kansas City we traveled Route 66 from Chicago to St. Louis. What a hoot to have our memories taken back to the 50’s and 60’s as we traveled the “Mother Road.” The wedding was a delight, and almost our whole family was there. 

Amy Leah Bonnie
Newborn Leah enjoys a little dip with mama Amy and Nana Bonnie
We visited a chocolate factory in South Bend, Indiana. Bonnie plays the line leader.
Andrew & Alisha head out as husband & wife.
Wedding Group
The family at Andrew & Alisha's wedding: 23 Joyces and 3 Gardners
Cooking Out
Art prepares supper in a nice park along the river in South Bend, Indiana, where he proposed 49 years ago!

Our plans to travel further west after the wedding were revised when we found ourselves victims of a man who blatantly stole our entire computer system and backups while we ate our supper just about 75 feet away in a very large St. Louis park. As a result, we spent a couple of months getting new credit cards, bank accounts, and passwords for financial sites we used. It set us back somewhat as we recognized our vulnerability to events like that. But we also recognized that our lives were held in the hands of our Lord and we needn’t fear what may come.

We spent several weeks back in Michigan trying to sort out our losses and then took a Lake Michigan circle trip: back to Illinois, north through Wisconsin, and then across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and back down the west side of Michigan to Grand Rapids before heading back toward Tennessee.

Art's Birthday
Art enjoys pictures from each member of his family
Art's 70th Card
Art's 70th Birthday "Card"

When we got back home to Tennessee the year was already three quarters gone. We needed to take some time to do needed work around our house. But we also just needed some time to relax, reflect, and recall what we had done and the blessings God granted to us as we traveled. Since it was September, we traveled to Georgia for a birthday celebration. I (Art) had turned 70 and my children and grandchildren had prepared a wonderful greeting for my birthday. When you spell out "Happy Seventieth Birthday!" you have the exact number of letters for each of our children, their mates, and their children and mates to each hold one of the letters and have a picture taken. In the picture here, I'm enjoying that display of good wishes for my birthday and how God has abundantly blessed Bonnie and me with our family.

While we didn’t write as many articles on our New Leaves blog site as we did in the last two years, you are still welcome to take a look at what we’ve been doing over the course of the year.

Knob Creek Church of the Brethren
Knob Creek Church of the Brethren, where we attend church when we're at home in Tennessee.

We send our best wishes for a very Merry Christmas as you celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. While we’ve received much joy from the beautiful works of Jesus in creation, nothing can compare with the glories of Jesus coming to earth to be our Savior. Christmas is a time of remembering the angels shouting out praise to God for His unspeakable gift and His plan to redeem mankind from our sin, so that through His grace we have the opportunity to spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

May God bless you with a holy and happy Christmas and growth in His grace in the year to come.

Art and Bonnie