We gave up sending Christmas cards several years ago. With the popularity of Facebook, blogs and Twitter, it was one of those traditions that just seemed easy to discontinue along with our home telephone landline. Instead, I like to use this blog to catch up with our friends and family who might be interested in a quick synopsis of our year.
The Lord is always better to us than we deserve and 2013 has been no exception. The absolute highlight of our year was the arrival of sweet Ellie, our first grandchild. Her debut was in April, and after putting mom through 33 hours of labor, she was well worth the wait! Justin and Megan are wonderful first-time parents and we love the fact that they live not far from us which allows us regular Poppy and Mimi time. She has the best qualities of both her mommy and dad and at this point, has zero…I mean ZERO bad qualities. :-) I’ve turned into “that grandpa” and find myself scrolling through my own facebook photos just to look at her.
Other than her arrival, we actually had quite a quiet year — and we’re not complaining.
Julie continues to be the best mom ever to our two remaining homesters. She taught a Bible study at our church, Life Fellowship last Spring and this Fall. She spends a lot of time on the road shuttling two teenagers back and forth to work and to their other activities. She loves it when Justin and Megan have to work out of town together and she gets to be Mimi for a day or so keeping an eye on Ellie. She’s definitely the favored grandparent on the Burrell side and if I’m holding Ellie when she walks by, there is a sudden (and sometimes loud) request for a transfer of possession. But once she gets old enough to spoil……things will be different!
I continues my work as Executive Pastor at Life Fellowship Church and as a Professor and Faculty Mentor for Liberty University. Working two full-time jobs doesn’t leave me a lot of spare time, but that’s a good thing as I’d get in trouble if I didn’t stay busy. I was asked to develop a couple of classes for Liberty and did an on-campus course last January. The church is in the middle of a $6,000,000 construction project which I’m overseeing so 2014 promises to be busy as well on the church side. I enjoyed taking missions trips to Cuba and Vietnam this year and will visit Cuba again in 2014 as I enter my 12th year of working with national pastors there. I’ve been invited back to Vietnam to teach for two weeks in 2015 and am already looking forward to that. I had a few minor health issues this year mostly due to age and not enough exercise (who has time for THAT), but other than a few aches and pains from aging and an “old man fall” I took in the driveway last fall, I’m doing great.
Nathan has returned to Charlotte and gotten off the road for work. He has his own place in town and works in a nice restaurant in Ballantyne. We enjoy seeing him regularly though he’s putting in a ton of hours. He still likes to hoop it up when he gets a chance though he’s starting to realize that middle-age can sneak up on someone quite quickly.
Megan and Justin’s business, Gambol Photography has really exploded this year and they do a lot of weddings and family photography. They’ve won several awards for their work and are in the process of hiring a couple of assistants so that they can double their booking schedule. They traveled with us to Missouri for the 4th of July holiday and have made several trips to Lynchburg to see Justin’s family. They are active at our church and so it’s good to catch Sunday lunch with them many weeks.
Katie is seventeen and still working at Chick-Fil-A. She took Driver’s Ed this year and we’ve located a special college in Wisconsin she’s hoping to attend in a year or two if everything works out for her. She often does volunteer work at church and stays pretty busy socially with a few very close friends. She’s a master at Facebook and other social media connection points and likes keeping in touch with her friends and family that way.
Josh is sixteen and continues to home school via Liberty Online. Every afternoon, he goes to work at a local dry-cleaners that is close enough to our house for him to walk to it. He is Mr. Personality and knows just about every neighbor for blocks around. The good part of that is that he often gets hired to do odd jobs for them. He also volunteers at church and takes a big load off of dad every Sunday by helping him get everything set up and organized.
We took our bi-annual trip to Missouri last summer to visit my family. It’s always great to see my mom, sisters and their clans. We do a big cook-out and fireworks thing on the fourth and spend a lot of time eating, fishing, shooting and enjoying country living. In June, I was invited to return to our former church in West Palm Beach, Grace Fellowship, to be a guest speaker as they are without a pastor at this time. Julie and I had such a great time seeing old friends and making new ones. We returned to WPB in November for the wedding of a dear friend and I was able to reconnect with some friends whom I first met 20 years ago in Albania and who are now all U. S. citizens and remain wonderful parts of our lives. I was asked to stay over and speak at Grace Fellowship again and to help with the dedication of their new campus expansion property which we prayed for when we lived there in the 80′s and 90′s. It felt like home and we truly enjoyed it. From time to time, we spend a few days at our lake house in Lake Lure, but it is difficult to spend as much time as we’d like there due to the kid’s schedule and work.
As we reflect on God’s goodness to us this year and throughout our lives, we are humbled to be part of His family, to enjoy so much in our daily lives and we anticipate the future with absolute confidence in His Sovereign plan for us on this earth and in eternity. We’d love to hear from each of you as you are able. We are all on Facebook, I am on twitter and I will warn you up front, putting nonsense on my social network is a bad habit of mine, so brace yourself if you decide to connect.
May the Lord bless you and your family in the year to come!
Dan, Julie, Katie and Josh