Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The truth of these words, spoken by Jesus, has been like a balm to our souls this year. As we look back, we can see time and time again where the Lord has given us rest as we have given our burdens to Him. And, as we look ahead to the expectations or worries we have for the coming year or even those for this very day, there is great peace in knowing we can always come to our Father and find rest and peace in His arms. Jesus goes on to say, “Take my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (vs 29-30). If “yoke” is an unfamiliar term, it can be described as a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals so that they can pull a cart or a plow. And, to “be yoked” generally means to be in submission. Despite our tendency to want to believe we can throw off all yokes, the truth is we are always yoked to something. For us this year, we sometimes found ourselves yoked to our quest for instant gratification and fun, our striving for success in our jobs, our struggle to please everyone around us, our worry over how to fix division in our country and in personal relationships, or our discouragement and bitterness over unexpected losses, brokenness, or unmet expectations. But, Jesus invites us to put off our submission to those yokes, which can often be destructive, heavy, and burdensome, and to be yoked with Him instead. And, indeed, as we have done this, we have found rest and peace for our souls. His yolk has consistently proven to be gentle and appropriately weighted for what He has equipped us to bear. And, in the difficult seasons, as we have looked to Him to guide us, He has been faithful and kind to take the weight of our burdens upon Himself and to assure us that He will never leave us or forsake us, and we will never have to walk through life alone. As we reflect on that this Christmas season, we are so grateful to the King of the universe for humbling Himself so low as to come to earth as a man without riches or status and tangibly show us the compelling love of the Father. Then, despite our continual rejection of His humble and gentle yoke for more shiny and weighty ones, He died an underserved death to pay the penalty for our sins and to make it possible for us to have a relationship with Him—the One who is gentle and kind, who can carry our burdens, and in whom true rest and fullness of joy are found!
As he was able, Luke found time for a few of his “little joys,” such as fly fishing, playing bagpipes, whittling birds, beautifying our yard, and spending time on woodworking projects in our garage. Much of the year, though, was filled with his work for the Boise Fire Department (which he continues to love), his leadership role in our church (which is challenging but also a source of great joy), and his attending to the needs of our family (which are many=-). Amidst all these regular responsibilities, the Lord was also kind to help him complete the rigorous process of becoming a Captain. His promotion in March was a delight to experience, not only because I had witnessed God sustain him in the training and testing process during a difficult season in our lives, but also because I feel God has gifted and grown Luke greatly in the area of leadership. I’m eager to see how He will use him in this position both to bless our fire department and community as well as to continue to sharpen him in how to care for, love, and lead people well. Day by day, as he seeks to” take Christ’s yoke and learn from Him” (Matthew 11:29), Luke marvels at the strength the Lord provides in his weakness and the soul rest He provides in the chaos of life.
In the Lord’s kindness, I had the privilege of celebrating 40 years of life this summer with friends and family in our backyard. What a joy to look back on the many people God has lovingly placed around me and the many experiences He has used to form me. I’m eager to see what He does in the next 40 (or however many more I am given). I continue to be blessed by my work as the broker of TripleCord Real Estate. I love the agents the Lord has gifted me to work with and the clients each of them serve. I’ve also been able to help with the bookkeeping for church, which (and this may be nerdy) is something I get excited about every time. Walks with our dog Mazie and friends along the river continue to be a joy, as well as times of deeper conversation with Luke or the kids, and the quiet of the wee-early morning in our home before everyone else wakes up. This year, I’ve been growing in what it means to rest in the Lord when worry over relational tension or complicated circumstances creates a raging storm of thoughts and emotions within me. I’ve found again and again, that as I come to the Father through prayer and reading His word, He is faithful to speak “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39) over my soul and to trade my restlessness for His rest.
Hadley is in the 9th grade and will turn 15 in January. Perhaps it has something to do with starting her high school career and beginning to think about college, but she has often found herself getting anxious about her future. She knows deep down that though “her heart may plan her way; the Lord determines her steps” (Proverbs 16:9). So, she’s learning to release her worries and to find rest in the fact that her good God will direct her on a good path and will be by her side wherever she goes. Hadley continues to be a responsible teenager and loves spending time with her siblings and friends, baking, babysitting, playing her ukulele, serving in church, dominating Spanish on Duo-Lingo, and caring for her new pet lizard. She also started her own business, “Little Moments Photography.” It’s been fun to see her use her skills to bless her clients with some beautiful shots!
Taylor is rocking the 7th grade and will turn 13 in March—making us parents of two teenagers . She continues to enjoy playing the piano, painting, making bracelets, scrolling through Camp Perkins posts, good conversation, and a healthy dose of downtime. This year, she combined her creative capabilities to write two plays. In both, she designed the sets, cast the children of our family friends, and delighted us with a marvelous performance. Taylor continues to grow leaps and bounds in her battle with anxiety. We stood in awe of the Lord’s work in her as we watched her handle the potentially difficult transition into the world of junior high with ease. She has also been growing in her ability to release her worries to the Lord at night and has personally experienced the truth of God’s promise: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).
Hutch turns 11 on the 21st of this month and is doing well in 5th grade. His dimpled smile, jokes, and kind personality continue to bring joy to those around him. He was able to, once again, enjoy playing baseball with East Boise and began playing the trombone in band. He continues to love biking (finally on a bike that’s big enough for him), swimming, hanging with friends, playing video games, and finding things to spend his allowance money on. This year, we recognized that out of Hutch’s deep desire to please those around him, he often struggles to admit when he has done wrong. He is learning, though, to rest in the truth that he is deeply loved by us, and more importantly, by God—and that true love is not lost but strengthened by repentance. Indeed, “in repentance and rest is his salvation, in quietness and trust is his strength” (Isaiah 30:15).
Ellie will be 9 in March and is in the 3rd grade. She continues to love school, her teachers, and her friends. She tried out gymnastics last spring and participated in soccer again in the fall. Although gymnastics was fun, she enjoyed soccer most, and hopes to play in both the spring and fall in the coming year. Over the summer, Ellie was able to attend Camp Perkins for the first time. She loved it and can’t wait to go back! Other joys of Ellie’s include art, swimming, playing school or house, being with friends, reading, and writing new stories and songs. Near the end of this year, she started struggling with anxiety, which affects her both emotionally and physically. But, we have loved witnessing her eagerness to “cast her anxieties on the Lord, because He cares for her” (1 Peter 5:7) and to watch her experience the peace the Lord can bring as she looks to Him.
Brooks is 4 ½ and has been enjoying mornings with Mama Jo, afternoon pre-school, and evenings and weekends home with his siblings and mom and dad. He continues to be a great storyteller and has a smile that lights up a room. Although he still talks of being a firefighter with his daddy, he also dabbles quite a bit in being “Policeman Brooks” and has developed a keen interest in building and fixing things (and sometimes breaking things just so he can fix them;-). "Mr. Fixer," as he calls himself, has even volunteered his services to remodel a couple of homes—perhaps someday. We had the joy of having his birth mom, Amber, come to stay with us in May and have continued to foster a relationship with his birth father, Alfred, as well. We pray the Lord will continue to help Brooks rest in the truth that God's plans for him are "plans for good and not harm, plans to give him hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).
As for our family adventures, our highlight was a trip to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, with old friends. Although we never would have planned a vacation during that time had we known what would be going on in our lives, our good God knew all of it and gifted us with a much-needed opportunity to refresh and reconnect in the warmth of the sun. We also took lots of opportunities to rest and refresh in the outdoors this past summer with family camping trips in the Sawtooth mountains, Baumgartner, Challis Hot Springs, and a longer excursion to the Oregon Coast as well as the four oldest kids each getting a week to relish in the joys of Camp Perkins. In celebration of our 20th anniversary, Luke and I were able to get away for a 24-hour date, complete with a hike in Stanley, milkshakes from Smiley Creek (where we enjoyed our first date), a night at Camp Perkins (where we met), and paddle boarding on the lake. Each of these trips was a sweet reminder that, even though it can sometimes feel impossible to step away from the work or the worry in front of you, God designed us for rest. And, whether we are in chaos or quiet, there is always rest to be found in Him. Indeed, “it is in vain we rise early and retire late, to eat the bread of anxious labors—for God gives rest to His beloved” (Psalm 127:2). So, come to Him, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and find true rest for your souls in His arms.
Thank you for reading! We love you and are thankful for the gift you are in our lives! If you send Christmas cards and don’t have us on your list already, please add us, as we greatly enjoy staying connected with pictures and updates. And, if you don’t send them, we’d still love to hear from you if you have time to send a note! We pray that, no matter what joys or sorrows might be ahead in the coming year, you would come to the Lord and experience the joy of His rest.
Resting in our Savior--Luke, Katie, Hadley, Taylor, Hutch, Ellie & Brooks