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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Merry Christmas ... 2018 Style

If you are here by way of a paper card, it was handmade courtesy of Louise Cruetz. Thanks, Louise! She graciously sent me some handmade soap as well, to deal with my ... ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

If you are here by way of a FB link ... this could be redundant.

MERRY Christmas! The gift of Jesus causes us to be grateful and merry (or the ancient meaning of the word ... strong).

What a mixed bag of challenges and blessings 2018 was!

January had us traveling to Florida to celebrate our 41st anniversary. We did something we'd never done before...went swamp sailing and saw more than a few gators!

February saw Anthony and Tony Evans with Mark in the middle. During a WYLL gathering.

I (Rhonda) was privileged to spend time with the four grandkids who live nearby, volunteering some time at their Classical Conversations community day each week. They concluded their homeschooling at the end of May 2018

Dad turned 88 in March, with Don and Diane by his side at a memory care unit. Dementia began catching up with him quickly, and the decision had to be made for his safety.

Last Christmas, we surprised our oldest granddaughter (Ashley) with a trip to California in April.

God's timing is perfect. We arrived on a Saturday, visited with Dad on Sunday, and was told we'd better say our goodbyes. I promised Dad that we would visit again on Friday, but we got the call on Wednesday the 25th of April that he had slipped into eternity. We were so grateful to have much of our family there. 


Time with the kids and grandkids in CA. 

We got to take Ashley to K-LOVE to visit our friend, George Rath, and met Lauren of Air-1.

Mister Dad greets Lara at the new Apple complex.

Danny, Rhonda, Diane. We missed David! Gathering to go over memorial arrangements in Grass Valley and Dixon, CA.

These handsome imps: Linus and Oliver.

A trip had already been planned for me to spend a week with Oliver and Linus while Adam and Britany celebrated their 15th anniversary getaway. So we planned Dad's memorial to coincide with my time in California. His military memorial was poignant. Dad's only surviving brother, Jerry, (and Aunt Gladys) was a part of the ceremony.

At this point in the narrative, we were anticipating results from a mammogram and biopsy. On July 3, we got the bad news and the good news: You have breast cancer. But it is treatable. 

Mastectomy was scheduled for July 18, and the ever-serving-trooper-sister Diane (seen here giving Pepito a bath) came to help out for the first two weeks while I recuperated. With pathology results looking good, we are super grateful that I did not need either chemotherapy nor radiation. My new normal is just fine!

Nana (me) with Drew and Ava and their Grandma Williames.

Four of the grandchildren (the local ones) are now in a Christian school and finding their new normal as well. Ashley and Amberleigh are on the cheerleading squad.

Ingrid has the opportunity to work at the kids' school as the "hot lunch lady" and preschool aide. It keeps her hopping, but allows her to see the kids in their new environment. 

Andy continues to minister to the "up and outers" in Illinois politics and with cohorts around the world so that they will know Jesus.

Adam and Britany have started homeschooling Oliver and Linus. Kudos! New normals all around! Adam's heart for ministry has him antsy to try new things. He continues to manage the Granite Arch climbing gym. Both he and Britany do art in their "spare" time.

Marshall's job with Apple has literally taken him around the world this year. When she can, Lara hops on the global visits. But when she is home, she is busy with her job helping couples maintain strong relationships when they bring a baby home. Or she is training the trainers. 

 Mark is busy each and every day communicating via "Let's Talk with Mark Elfstrand" on WYLL in Chicago and around the world online and on the app. (AM1160) Go, Mark!!!

Kids, grandkids, friends. It's been a full year of blessings and challenges. How about you?

I know that so many of you have been through your own literal and personal storms this year. Hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, cancer treatment, loss of loved ones, and on and on. 

We are reminded that "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

It is THIS ONE we remember as our gift each year. God has been gracious and merciful. All we have to do is unwrap the gift. We trust you have done so. It's the best gift of all!

Merry Christmas 2018 
from Mark and Rhonda