Greetings from the herd of Hurds!† We pray that this letter finds things well with you as you look forward to the upcoming year.
Retrospectively, our year has been fairly routine with the exception of a couple of events.† First, we experienced our first (and last, we hope) range fire in February (just like Little House on the Prairie).† The fire (which originated a couple of miles away) swept though our land and burned about 60 of our 73 acres.† By Godís grace (evidenced as well as testified to by more than one fire fighter) our house was spared.† But we lost the peach orchard ; and a lot of trees. We also lost a lot of thick underbrush ( and the grass came back very green once we began to get some rain.
Second, and shortly after the fire (but unrelated, I think), Carrie was discovered to be pregnant.† Learning of her condition so early in the pregnancy made it seem as if she was pregnant the whole year.† Over the years I have discovered a consistent trend related to all of Carrieís pregnancies: there is a race with every due date to get some type of major remodel work done before the baby is born.† This year was no exception.† We were glad to be able to add two more bathrooms (the wait for bathroom time was becoming prohibitive) and some living space before the baby was born.
The baby was due November 4th. By the 11th we were all running out of patience. Like I said, having known of the pregnancy so early made it seem as if she had been pregnant forever! Surely this one wasnít going to miss the December 31st deadline like the last one did!! It got to the point that we were just sitting around waiting for this baby to be born. Plans had already been made for our church to meet for a weekend at a coupleís home about 75 minutes from our home. We thought we would carry a newborn to the outing, not an unborn.† Regardless, I was determined that we were going to be there.† I was tired of sitting around and it would be good for Carrie to get out and do something.
After all, should Carrie begin labor, we would have plenty of time to make it home.† But alas, the best laid plans of mice and expecting parents.† Needless to say, Carrie did go into labor and we didn't have plenty of time to make it home.† After a few moans from the seat behind me, Carrie advised that it might be a good idea for me to pull over and catch the baby.†† It was still dark, but getting some light and pretty cool outside.† When I pulled over and stopped, we were joined by three ladies (Shelley, Shonda, and Jenee, a.k.a. The Labor Chasers) who had been following behind in another car.
Upon opening the van door, I had a view of the children: five, all in a row, in the very back seat of the van, Allison was half asleep in her car seat, and Lindsey was in the front seat with me.† They had not said a word during the whole drive.
Micah, 7, was the first eye I caught.† Micah is our deep thinker of the group.† He will ponder things for days and then ask you about some issue out of the clear.† Though he has hit a stage of silliness as of late, he can be quite serious too.† Micah is also our deep eater.† Combine contemplative thinking with a never-ending appetite and you have trouble.† For example, Carrie woke me up in the middle of the night saying that someone was in the house.† I could see a light coming down the hall from the front of the house.† Who do you think it was?† Micah and Clarke and the refrigerator light. Seems that Micah had discovered that if he lay in bed until everyone had gone to sleep, he and Clarke could get up and raid the frig for a midnight snack.† I guess we were starving the poor lad to death.† Micah and Clarke: partners in crime.† As it has always been: where you find one, you will likely find the other.
Standing next to Micah was blonde haired, freckled face Clarke.† Now 5 1/2, Clarke has made some big maturation leaps the past year.† He is ever as much the hard worker he has always been.† He is quite detailed and meticulous in everything he does.†† Perhaps you recall that Clarke was at a maddening stage of repeating everything that everyone said and did.† Well, Clarke has moved to the next level, leading us to believe that Clarke may be destined for a career as a scribe or court reporter.† He busily and meticulously copies on paper every piece of written material he can get his hands on.† Heís really getting quite good at it (for whatever its worth).
We instructed Lindsey to get the birthing materials (we went prepared) from the bag and began preparing for the delivery.† The next contraction evidenced that the baby was very close.
Meanwhile, Allison had awakened but was being quiet.† This was very unusual for her.† Allison will be two in January.† Remember?† She was the one due in December (in time for that coveted tax deduction) but waited until January.† Well, she may have been slow out of the gate, but she has more than made up the time.† I think Allison has crawled, climbed, walked, ran, and talked sooner than any of our other children.† She has walked and talked our patience to the breaking point. I donít know what to attribute it to, unless thereís some connection with granddad and grandma being right here to spoil her rotten right before our eyes.† Could it be that sheís following her motherís footsteps?† Whatever the case, we have great confidence in Allisonís future, but she is definitely a long way from marriage material yet!
Evan, on the other hand, is our quiet one.† He will be 4 this February.† In contrast to his younger sister, and perhaps based on sheer survival, Evan just became articulate this year (2 talkers in one year!)† Evan has proven himself to be a very attentive young man.† Since the fire, he is quick to point out smoke on the horizon.† He is also quick to inform Wesley of hawks and vultures that might be lingering around the chicken coup.† There is no telling where the next crisis might arise, but you can count on Evan to sound the alarm.
The second contraction produced a head.†† Lindsey handed Shonda the bulb syringe who suctioned out the mouth and nose of the baby.† So far so good.† I could hear Wesley in the background talking to Micah and Clarke about what was happening.
Wes, 11, continues to increase his value around here every day.† This year he has learned to drive the tractor and has helped with mowing the pastures and the such.† One of Wesís strong points is his levelheadedness in times of crisis.† Wes was remarkably matter-of-fact during the fire, calmly taking care of the business at hand when evacuating the house, loosing the animals, keeping the young children rounded up and calm, and helping me put water on top of the house.† This fall, Wes has rescued a number of cars from our rain glutted, muddy road by pulling them out with the tractor.† If you ever need some help during a tense time, Wes is the guy you want.† If we could only get him to be so matter-of-fact regarding his kitchen and laundry duties, too.
Then there was Monica Joy† (age 10 in January) back there, dying to get in on the action up front.† Monica has certainly lived up to her name: she is the bouncy, smiley, happy, singing, lets just have fun one of our group.† Though Lindsey, Wesley and Monica have done very well with piano lessons this year, Monicaís style and interpretation of music is certainly influenced by her happy and upbeat countenance.† In spite of her previous tendencies toward all play and no work, Monica has proven herself to be an integral and invaluable part of the workforce around here this year.† You just canít beat the work ethic Monica has developed when coupled with her cheerful and bright countenance.
The third contraction quickly followed the second and produced for us a complete birth.† Shonda wrapped the baby in a towel, stroked the back a little to stimulate some breathing, and placed her on Carrieís chest.† Cheers mixed with groans came from the back when it was announced that it was a little girl.† You see, there was a lot of partisanship associated with this pregnancy.† The boys saw this as their chance to shore up their majority while the girls saw this as their chance to even the numbers.† With Carrie and the baby adjusted and ready to go again, the Labor Chasers back in their vehicle, a prayer of thankfulness, a sigh of relief, and we were back on the road toward home again, all in a matter of about 15 minutes.† Lindsey and I looked at each other as I pulled onto the highway.† Boy!† Was she ever glowing!
Lindsey will be 13 in January and just had her 3rd baby.† Not literally, of course, but they might as well be hers.† She is definitely Carrieís right and left hand lady when it comes to running the house. Lindsey is more inclined to enjoy a spirited debate (like her mom) or settle in with a good book or sit in on the adult conversation than play with other kids.† If you know Lindsey, you know her to be much more of a peer than an adolescent.† In fact, we honored Lindsey last January for her 12th birthday by inviting the women and young ladies who knew her the best for a time of recognizing Lindseyís passage from childhood to adulthood.† Lindsey has always been artsy and craftsy (like her mom) and those skills have really shown forth this past year in the sewing classes she has taken.† She has advanced enough to be the teacherís assistant in another class of students and she enjoys sewing enough to share her skills with the other girls in our church Sunday afternoons by teaching them what she has learned.
So, Melody Hope was born November 17th, about 6:55 A.M., eastbound I20 on the south shoulder at about mile marker 387.† It really went quite well.† Though Melody burst from the womb on the run, she has been our easiest baby yet.† This kid has only three missions in life at this time: sleep, eat, and, uh, well, you know.† Sleep is her highest priority right now.† Itís been great!
And Carrie?† She did exceptionally well.† After all was said and done, she even thought it was fun.† But thatís pretty well how Carrie handles everything that comes to her plate - matter-of-factly whatever it takes to get the job done.† Her plate does seem to stay fairly full: a constant stream of small children, constant stream of construction work, constant stream of schooling, piano lessons, sewing lessons, grocery shopping, runny noses and soar throats, and endless stages of training and discipline for a houseful of kids.† But itís not all work and drudge for Carrie.† She still manages to get out of the house occasionally to hit some garage sales or to the resale store or perhaps even an antique store every now and then.† Of course, these activities carry with them a dual purpose.† Carrie not only enjoys looking around these places for lost and hidden treasures, but she also finds pleasure from clothing us and our score of children with nice clothes at cheap prices.† Recently, due in part to Lindseyís increased sewing skills, Carrie and Lindsey have tried their hand at buying nice clothes that donít cost much money and altering or rebuilding the garment to fit them.† Both of them have a nice dress or two in their closet that they have reworked themselves.† Carrie still enjoys interior design and decorating.† She has done an excellent job on the most recent addition to our house.
I could reminisce with you for several more pages but there is much in the upcoming year to focus our attention toward.† We live in a time when news spreads very quickly on a world-wide basis. So much is the fascination for bad, bloody, scandalous, and exotic news that most of what is good and virtuous happening in our families, communities, and nation goes unnoticed and unrecognized.† The media message is so persistent that even the Church, the only true reservoir of hope and vision, is inclined to say more about what the Gospel wonít accomplish in the third millennium than what the Gospel will accomplish in the third millennium.
Our prayer for each of you is that you and your family may face the new year with the confidence, hope, and joy of His calling, knowing that you do so on behalf of a once born baby, who is now a King, who rules heaven and earth on behalf of his kingdom citizens and to the glory of God the Father.