This year, Luke spent several hours in our garage skillfully building a new Christmas decoration for our yard—a simple wooden manger with a sign above that reads, “Come and see what God has done!” These words express so well the joy, excitement, wonder, and awe we feel as we contemplate what was done that first Christmas night when God’s love came down to us in the form of a man—our Savior, Jesus. Even though we were dirty, unworthy, and entangled with sin, our all-powerful and completely holy God, “emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). He dwelled with us and displayed for us in visible, tangible, and documented ways the very character of God. And then, as he bore the full weight of our sin and shame, he died to pay the penalty we deserved but could’ve never paid on our own. You may ask, “Why would the King of Kings who is all-powerful and who lives in perfect harmony, glory, and joy step down from His throne to do such a sacrificial act for His people?” The powerful rulers of this world would never do such a thing, but God did! He did it out of His great love for us, so that by His mercy we could be made clean, be freed from the bondage of sin, and live in a right relationship with Him—our Maker and our only source of true joy! This Christmas season, we pray you would again or perhaps for the first time, “come and see what He has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!” (Psalm 66:5). And that in so doing, you would “taste and see that the Lord is good; and blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8). As we reflect on this, we rejoice in what God has done for the world, and we also rejoice at what He has done for us personally. This past year, we have felt the weight of broken relationships, been enticed by sinful desires that promised joy but left us empty, felt overwhelmed by the schedules we packed too tightly, and been discouraged by God’s silence or confused by His “no’s” and “not yets.” In the midst of this, however, He has shown mercy and been kind to shower us with His grace and fill us with hope. “Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth. And, praise be to God, He did not reject my prayer or withhold his love from me!” (Psalm 66: 16-17, & 20).
For Luke, the Lord’s kindness has been felt in his ability to continue in his “dream job” as a fireman with the Boise City Fire Department. This year, he was able to spend three months training new recruits—a role which utilized both his gift of teaching and his passion for firefighting in a challenging new way. Also, he was given the opportunity to study and teach God’s word through intentional time with friends and occasional preaching at our church. With greater responsibilities at work and in his leadership role at Table Rock Church, there were occasions throughout the year where his load felt exceptionally heavy. This led to frustration, discouragement, and exhaustion that sometimes bubbled over in the form of a short temper or a defensive attitude. Amidst this struggle, however, God was faithful to help--quickly sending the Spirit to enter in and enable Luke to admit his wrongs, ask for forgiveness, and keep short accounts. In those times of stress and temptation to sin, the Lord graciously nudged him with this reminder, “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11-12). We praise God for this reminder as well as for the gift of refreshment, which was given to Luke through evenings at home relaxing with family, playing his bagpipes, running with Mazie, fly fishing, and spending time on wood working projects in our garage.
June 15th was my birthday and the 1-year anniversary of my last transaction serving in the real estate “agent” role. Though I have sometimes missed working first-hand with our clients, I have greatly enjoyed managing, mentoring, and training the incredible agents God has given TripleCord Real Estate. I am amazed at what He has done in our company, thankful for every person He has allowed us to serve, and humbled by the skill, dedication, and genuine love for people He has placed in each of my agents—three of which are new to our team this year (Rich, Benj, and Savannah)! My role as broker has been less stressful and has afforded me more margin to spend time growing relationships with friends and neighbors, being present with Luke and the kids, making dinner (which I’m not great at but am getting better), serving in the areas I believe God has called me, and saving room for times of rest. I still struggle with the temptation to seek freedom, peace, and satisfaction by “getting things done on my checklist” rather than turning to the only real source for such peace—Jesus. Too often, I make productivity the focus of my life and bite off more than I can chew, rather than taking hold of the grace and rest extended to me by my Savior. How I need His help daily to “put to death what is earthly in me” (Colossians 3:5), namely my American-encouraged obsession with productivity, and to “let the peace of Christ rule in my heart” (vs 15). How thankful I am that when I come to Him, even when it takes me far too long to realize that I need Him, He is always faithful to welcome me with open arms and to refresh my soul!
Hadley will turn 12 in January and is now in 6th grade. She is ever growing into a more mature, responsible, and God-fearing young woman, who delights in her friends and family. She enjoys crafting, basketball, swimming, playing her flute, plucking on her ukulele, listening to Disney music, and white-water rafting. As has been the case since her first visit, our girl still revels in every moment of her annual week at Camp Perkins where she adventures in God’s creation and grows in her knowledge of Him. At the beginning of the school year, she was asked by her teacher to pick a word that described something she wanted to work toward. The word she chose was “perseverance.” Like her mom, she has struggled with impatience, frustration, and a propensity to want to give up. But, we have loved what God has done this year in “strengthening her according to His glorious might so that she may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11).
Taylor will be 10 in March and greatly enjoys being in the 4th grade. She loves to read, play piano, run, swim, bake, and express her creative mind by writing stories, plays, and poems. She is known by those around her to be an eager and kind helper with a witty sense of humor and a bubbly personality. Attending her 2nd week away at Camp Perkins was a definite highlight for the year. She’s already counting down the days to next summer when she can go again! Though she still questions her value at times, gets trapped in the comparison game, and battles anxiety, we have been amazed at the Spirit’s work to grow her confidence. He has been helping her to begin understanding what we have always known about the wonderful ways God created her. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:13-14).
Hutch turns 8 on the 21st of this month and is in the 2nd grade. He enjoys school, is a kind and faithful friend to his classmates, exhibits abounding curiosity, and desires adventure. Those who know him will agree that he is silly, tender-hearted, and quick to share his signature dimpled grin (though we saw less of his teeth in his smiles this year). He keeps his hair shaved short and loves that it entices people to rub his head. His favorite things are spending time with friends, playing baseball, listening to music, gaming on electronics, roller blading, riding his bike, learning card tricks, and running with Dad. Fear of disappointing people and feelings of injustice with siblings and others have been the root of his struggles this year. “He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you—to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). We rejoice in the ways God is already helping Hutch do just that and pray it would only continue.
Ellie will be 6 in March and loves learning and socializing in her morning Kindergarten class. She is silly, sassy, and sweet—full of joy, life, and character. She enjoys coloring, painting, writing letters, dancing, playing with dolls, and spending time with friends. While she loves being at school, she equally relishes in her afternoons at home, particularly when Brooks is napping and there’s opportunity for one-on-one time with Mom or Dad. Like most of us, she struggles with wanting her own way, which rarely happens in a household of 7. This results in yelling at impressive levels and extreme displays of stubbornness that often embarrass her parents. She’s still learning, but we rejoice when we get to witness the Spirit at work in her, softening her heart enough to hear reason and to be tender toward correction. He is indeed giving her “a heart to know that I am the Lord, they are my people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7).
Brooks is 1 ½ and is the source of much joy in our home. He has an infectious smile, hilarious facial expressions, a love for being around people (especially his siblings), and a delightful enthusiasm for life. He is into everything and can pretty much reach the edge of every counter surface. You’d think with 6 older people in the house to keep their eyes on him, he would never get into trouble, but he’s ridiculously quick to evade our eyes and grab things he shouldn’t or escape to places where we can’t find him. Luckily, we know the things he is most attracted to—cars, remote controls, items that make messes, and stairs—so, we usually know the first places to look for him. Our prayer for this sweet son of ours is that He would continue to grow in knowledge of the Lord and would always walk in God’s light. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
As a family, we are grateful for the Lord’s provision and undeserved kindness toward us this year. He gave us the privilege of having our dear friends live with us for a month while waiting for their baby to be born, allowed us to enjoy quality time in the mountains with our closest compadres, blessed us with the joys and conveniences of being two doors away from Luke’s parents, and delighted us with a camping trip to Challis Hot Springs with my parents along with brothers from both sides of our family and several cousins and friends as well. We also were able to take a trip to Georgia to spend precious time with Brooks’ birth family and make a stopover in Orlando for a couple days at Disney World. Perhaps the biggest highlight though was the finalization of our adoption! On April 2nd, in a courtroom jam packed with incredible friends and family, Brooks Avery officially became a Miller! It was a day of much rejoicing in God’s goodness and praising Him for the gift of our new son.
This Christmas, we once again stand in awe of what God has done, in His coming, living, dying, rising, and securing for us a lasting hope “that can never perish, spoil, or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). We pray you’ve enjoyed reading what God has been doing in our lives, and we look forward to your Christmas cards and updates so we can hear what He’s been doing in yours.
With much love--Luke, Katie, Hadley, Taylor, Hutch, Ellie & Brooks