Christmas now upon us, our thoughts and energies have been focused on Christmas parties and programs, trips to or visits from friends and family, shopping, cooking, decorating, celebrating, and a host of details in between. We pray this letter finds you and your family well, reflecting on the blessing of God’s faithfulness the past year with anticipation for the next. We pray that this letter finds us on the ski slopes of Ruiodoso, NM, our fourth “Ski Christmas” extravaganza. We wish you were here. Really.
It really wasn’t so long ago that I visited with you, telling you of Melody’s birth in the van along side the road. None of us should be surprised by how quickly the year has gone by, yet we always act as if startled by the fleetness of weeks, months, and years. A year truly is an abundance of time. But when abundantly filled with the duties and pleasures of family, it certainly becomes a short time.
The Hurd’s are certainly no exception to the case. In a few short weeks Lindsey will be fourteen years old. Fourteen!! Gads!! I don’t care where the past year went, I want to know where the past fourteen went!! Lindsey is more than Carrie’s right hand, she is a partner in the operation of our home. From planning the meals and cooking, to schooling and training the younger children, Lindsey is as capable of running a household as anyone else I know. In fact, and much to the chagrin of Evan, Allison, and Melody (who were probably banking on getting lost in the crowd thereby escaping the same discipline training of their older siblings), Lindsey has become our resident expert on child training. She is Miss Consistency, reminding Carrie and I that we should not let them (Evan, Allison, and/or Melody) get away with their sundry misbehavior. Lindsey is about as steady as anyone comes: Soft spoken, a woman of few words, creative, dependable, unobtrusive.
Yet beneath that mild manner of a lady lies a monster that is known by few and constrained at all times. At all times, that is, except on the ski slopes. Cloaked from identity by ski mask and armed with anonymity she flies by me at break-neck speeds. She dares me and anyone else around to follow her down the toughest black run. She longingly peeks over the “other side” of the mountain where no man has gone. She cuts in line at the chair lift and trips little kids so she can get in line before them. Amazing, huh?
Lindsey’s not the only one who makes the monsterly transmutation. But Wesley tends to be more obnoxious anyway. Poor lad. I tell you this every year: Wes reminds me more and more of me when I was that age. Pray for him. J Like Lindsey around the house, Wes is making a bigger and bigger impact around the ranch. Having learned to drive the tractor, Wes takes care of the mowing and small jobs for me. If you have been to our farm, you probably know how bad the roads to the house can get when it rains. Wesley is the resident mud puller. Mowing, towing, and minor maintenance can keep Wes pretty busy. But he has more than that on his mind: Laundry, internet, ham radios, internet, electronics, internet, piano lessons, internet, school studies, internet. You get my drift. Too many things to think of at once by Wes is exemplified by this recent telephone conversation he had with Mr. Driggers (the names are left the same to indict the guilty):
Mr. Driggers: “Wes, I need your dad’s work telephone number.”
Wes: “Hum. (Long pause) I know it’s here somewhere. Just a minute.” (Minutes of paper fumbling, mumbling to himself & talking to Micah hunting for my work number)
Wes: “I can’t find it. You’ll have to ask mom later.”
Mr. Driggers: “OK. I’ll call back later.”
Wes: (Just before Mr. Driggers hangs up) “Wait! I’ve got it!! Let’s see - it’s (um)831-4(um)24(um)5. I forgot I had it memorized!”
No kidding. Is that compartmentalization or what? My computer’s hard disk isn’t partitioned that well!! Be assured though, once skiis are strapped on, focus will be on one thing and one thing only: displacing as much snow as possible on unsuspecting tourists and family members.
Monica, on the other hand, is our gentle skier. Conservative and kind to others. She is the animal lover of the household (perhaps why she gets along so well with her younger brothers & sisters). Like Lindsey, she will celebrate a birthday in just a few short weeks. Is it just the girls I have this problem with them growing up? While Monica will turn eleven in January, she’ll always be five in my eyes (or at least that’s what I tell her). Monica, although 3rd off the starting line, is catching up quickly both in physical height and emotional maturity. In fact, we think Monica will pass Lindsey up this year in height and give Wes a run for the money. She is at a curious crossroads, comfortably at home playing play with the younger children, yet able and willing to relate to those older than herself. She, too, is not far from being able to run the household singlehandedly. But she’s not satisfied with that, she’s pressing Wesley for tractor lessons. And she has taken up where Lindsey left off in the nightly dessert area, insuring that her father will eventually (some say sooner than later) be as wide as he is tall.
While we are very satisfied with the older three’s piano instruction, Monica continues to excel in her age class above that of Wes and Lindsey. Her happy-go-lucky, fun-and-play countenance expresses itself nicely from the keyboard. Plus, if she holds her mouth just right, she gets extra resonance from her mouth. Yes, it’s braces time and Monica is a full fledge metal mouth.
Micah (8 1/2), on the other hand, is all boy. Preferring a good wrestling match to anything else, he challenges every new person he meets (boy, girl, man, woman) to a session of arm wrestling. Look for Micah to be wearing some stars on a uniform one day. Training is already underway. One day last summer, Micah was patrolling the woods with his trusty BB gun. Encountering a swarm of unauthorized bumble bees, Micah went on the offensive, killing several bees with the sharp shooting accuracy from his trusted rifle. Like any other faithful covenant child (e.g., David or Sampson) he was bringing one of his victims back to the base (home) to make his report when he encountered my mother in the back yard. After debriefing mom of his exploit and the fatalities he inflicted on the enemy, mom suggested that perhaps God would not be pleased with him killing the bees. With no pause, Micah answered that God has commanded man to take dominion over the world and that is what he was doing - taking dominion. With case closed, Micah marched in to triumphantly display the spoils of war. Keep your eye on this kid (for more than one reason!). I wonder what dominion means to him on the slopes.
Clarke (6 1/2) You recall this time last year Clarke was copying on paper everything he saw. Now he is tracking our future plans. “Where is church at next week?” “Who will be there?” “Do you have to work Saturday?” “What time will you be home?” “Who did you eat lunch with?” “What did you have?” “What did they have?” Clarke will ski for the first time this year. “When are we leaving to go ski?” “What time?” “When will we get there?” “No. I mean what day?” “Will we ski when we get there?” “Why don’t kids have poles?” “Can I have poles?” . . . ad infiniti . . .has taken his organizational skills to the next level by developing this “need” to know all the details of our upcoming schedule.
No family can go long without a dependable and responsible family scribe. Evan (5) has taken up that role for Clarke very nicely. Always remember, whatever the older children do in moderation, the younger ones will do in excess. I have never seen a kid go through so much paper and staples than Evan. That’s right. Everything must be stapled. At least 100 times. Surely he’s going to grow up to be a book manufacturer.
Allison (3) has not slowed down one step since hitting the scene. She is Miss Personality with bright blue eyes and an accompanying bright smile that is irresistible by all. She has to yet meet a stranger and has the talk to engage anyone in a conversation, albeit lengthy and one sided. Yes, she’ll talk you to distraction since it doesn’t take long to figure out you will never get a word in otherwise. As of late she has taken an attraction to bugs (thank you, Jamie Treadway). Her favorite for this time of the year is daddy-longlegs (we have an ample supply hanging around). She likes to catch them, play with them, put them in your hair, pull their legs off, etc.... Nice, huh?
Melody has grown quickly her first year. She is walking and talking (a small vocabulary but a vocabulary nonetheless). She joins in with the other children when I come home, crawling over to my feet and looking up with a mostly toothless smile, “Hi da.” But will she let me pick her up and hold her? Not on your life, especially if Carrie or Lindsey is within eyesight.
Speaking of Carrie, yes, we’ll let you know in a few weeks if she is pregnant. But then, what’s new? What isn’t new is her steady faithfulness that keeps this home running on an even note. She seems to have adapted well to schooling the 3 older ones in conjunction with the next 3. She has a schedule for errands that is pretty predictable and keeps her and the kids at home for the most part. While there is no doubt she couldn’t do it without the help of the older 5, she keeps the home clean, orderly, and quiet making it an inviting atmosphere for me to find refuge from the world. She keeps the laundry going, the meals coming, the house warmly decorated with her unique style and touch, and does so without (for the most part) losing a lot of hair or sense of humor.
As for me, well I have the awesome privilege (coupled with some sense of responsibility) of watching all this take place right under my nose. In some sense, in spite of me. This year has been a busy one with its share of changes. I changed employment, taking a controller’s position with a large plumbing contractor in Fort Worth. I continue to have the privilege of writing for a national homeschool publication, Home School Digest. Writing for the Digest has opened the doors to meeting a vast number of people across the nation. I’ve had the honor of speaking at some local homeschool support group meetings as well as a homeschool conference sponsored by the Southern Baptist at their Glorieta, NM encampment. I look forward to being back at Glorieta in late May as well as speaking at the New Mexico State Homeschool Conference in late April. I have the humbling honor of serving as pastor of our small church who provide us the support and fellowship of our closet and dearest friends.
As for you, it is our prayer that you look forward with gladness and hope at the upcoming year. We live in a time when the doomers and gloomers are gathering their tares from a widening source of world events. From the mystic event of the calendar year 2000 (see you at the Great Pyramid?), the technological plague of Y2K, the rise-fall-rise of Communism, the United Nations and One Worldliness, to the Republicans of Texas, Heaven’s Gaters, wars and rumors of wars, the message is one of destruction and devastation in this our post-Christian, post-American America of the United States. But then, if our hope is in our computers, our societies, Hale-Bopp, or any other such thing, then we are to be pitied most among men. Rather, our “hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” May your hope for the years to come be built upon such a Solid Rock.