HOPE is defined as a desire for something good in the future with belief in the possibility of obtaining it.  Our 2016 began with many hopes for our family, friends, work, life, and faith.  We saw several of those desires realized, including the gift of great teachers and an amazing care provider for our kids, camping trips with our family in God’s awesome creation, special time with extended family who live far away, provision of a new building for our growing church family, deepening of old friendships, establishment of new friendships, and continued refinement in our walk with the Lord.  God even fulfilled our desire for me to have more time for ministry and family by blessing TripleCord with two more incredible real estate agents.  This growth allowed me to slip into more of a management and mentorship role for the agents in my brokerage. It is with joy I get to witness the ways the Lord has used them to bless our clients and friends in their home buying and selling experiences. 

Though we saw many hopes realized, we saw several shattered as well. We walked alongside a new friend whose husband was killed and whose dreams for her marriage, life, and children were rocked in the void of his absence.  We felt disappointment as a row of open doors on a rekindled dream unexpectedly slammed shut. We wept over a friend’s miscarriage, were burdened by our nation’s political tensions, buried my grandmother, said goodbye to our dog, watched cancer and sicknesses tear down our friends’ earthly  bodies, struggled with discontentment in our circumstances, and saw selfishness try to gain a foothold in our marriage and with our kids. 

But the beautiful thing is that out of the ashes of these dashed hopes rose our increasing assurance that there is only one hope that can never perish, spoil, or fade.  And unlike other hopes, this hope is not an uncertain desire but rather a confident expectation, “which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2).  This hope is Jesus, our Savior, who we rejoice to celebrate this Christmas! Even though we were dirty, unworthy, and entangled with the garbage of this life, God who is all powerful and completely holy, humbled himself so low as to come to us as a baby, to live as a child of a family without riches or status, to walk out a perfect life, to teach and preach God’s truth, and then to die an undeserved death in order to pay the penalty for our sins.  But His story did not end there, for if it had, why would we celebrate His birth and life and why would we trust in His promises or put any hope in Him at all?  What we celebrate is that He rose again, just as He promised, that He is who He said He is—the true God who saves!  He conquered the greatest hope killer—death—which is what we deserve, and He gave in return the greatest gift of hope—eternal life—which is His free gift of grace to all who will accept it.  “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings…let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:22-23). 

One thing God has used repeatedly this year to point me to the assurance of that hope are the writings of my friend whose husband was killed in May. In the wake of losing the person in whom many of her hopes were set, she now knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that her only secure hope is in the Lord and His promise to love her, provide for her, shower her with grace, and give her eternal joy in His presence. When I find myself hoping Luke was home more, the kids were more obedient, or I was more content, I have been reminded “to set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure…He makes known to me the path of life; in His presence there is fullness of joy, at His right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:8-11). 

With great joy, Luke continues to work as a fireman with the Boise City Fire Department.  As those of you who know him can attest, he is an optimist at heart and thus generally hopeful.  Some of his desires that were fulfilled this year were receiving a permanent firehouse assignment at Station 7 and also becoming proficient enough with his bagpiping to join the fire department’s pipes and drum band. He delights in his children and cherishes the wrestling matches, creative outbursts, and outdoor fun he gets to enjoy with them. He was especially excited that camping finally became a “fun thing” to do as a family this year and is looking forward to packing in more trailer trips in 2017.  Amidst the good in this year, Luke also recognized misplaced hopes, which were illuminated in the persistent snares of selfishness and pride. These tended to flare up most in parenting and marriage, but as with all of us, plagued other aspect of his life as well. His prayer is that God would continue to help him “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourself” (Philippians 2:3).

Hadley will turn 9 in January and is in 3rd grade.  She is helpful and kind, with a silly sense of humor and a beautifully creative mind. She loves riding horses, swimming, reading, gymnastics, talking about the big questions, and spending time with friends. This summer afforded her the opportunity to mix many those loves while attending her first week away at Camp Perkins. It was definitely her highlight!  And, since Luke and I met Jesus and each other there, watching her experience camp was a highlight for us as well. Jealousy, a spirit of unthankfulness, and a self-centered perspective are still areas where she struggles. But we rejoice in the work God is doing in her heart and the ways He is making her more like Himself. We are assured in our hope “that He who began a good work in (her) will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Taylor will be 7 in March and loves being in school all day as a 1st grader.  She enjoys reading (especially Junie B Jones), swimming, gymnastics, playing house or ice cream shop, puzzles, games, cooking shows, Barbies, and as -much one-on-one time as she can get! Her tender heart and Spirit-led care and concern for others are gifts we cherish and love seeing her use to bless those around her.  Her primary struggle this year stems from placing hope in familiar situations, desiring to control her surroundings, and seeking the approval of others.  When these things are threatened, debilitating anxiety is quick to follow.  She is making progress here, but we pray she will continue to place her hope in the Lord, who will never leave her or forsake her and that she will be able to “say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6).

Hutch turns 5 on the 21st of this month and will start Kindergarten next fall.  He continues to charm us with his soft heart, dimpled smiles, and sweet hugs.  His favorite things are still wrestling with Dad, dancing to every tune he hears, anything Superhero, playing games on the Kindle, and spending time with his friends and sisters. His greatest struggle this year has been with sneaking things for fear of being told “no” if he asks for them and lying to us for fear of getting in trouble if he tells the truth.  Our prayer is that he would be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ to remember “whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Ellie will be 3 in March and has developed a spunky, cute, often loud, and often silly personality.  She definitely brings a great deal of smiles to her parents and siblings.  She loves to wrestle with her brother and Dad, play baby dolls with her sisters, read books, talk about everything, and delight us with her funny phrases, faces, and expressions.  Despite her usual cuteness, she has an ugly, loud, and unabashed way of communicating that her hope is to get what she wants right when she wants it.  Our prayer is that she will grow in the grace and knowledge of her God and that He will give her “the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Thank you for staying connected with your Christmas cards and updates. We rejoice in what God has done and in the unfailing hope He has given us.  May your New Year be marked by the knowledge of this hope that will never spoil, parish, or fade--Jesus Christ our Savior!

With much love, Luke, Katie, Hadley, Taylor, Hutch, & Ellie

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