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Saturday, November 30, 2013

2013 - Wow! Really!

If we are on target, you should be receiving this letter during the 1st week in Advent.  I (Ric) love this time of year!  But I also get frustrated.  It is a great season to prep ourselves for celebrating Jesus 1st coming and remember its significance to us today and for eternity, but it is also meant to cause us to stop and prepare for His 2nd Coming.  Unfortunately, both often get caught in the hustle and bustle of the secular holiday celebrations!  For this reason, we still open gifts on St. Nicholas day!  We love being free for the rest of the month to worship and celebrate and not be stuck in shopping.

Anyway, enough about what's coming up, what about the past year?  The highlight of our year
At King Solomon's Copper Mines
together as a family, including my Mom, was a 14 trip to Israel with a group from several congregations here in Orange County.  We followed the story of David, beginning in the Valley of Elah where the Lord defeated Goliath thru him, and the Caves of Addulam where he hid from Saul's armies.  We travelled to the south visiting Beersheba, a Biblical Safari Park, Snorkeled in the Red Sea, visited King Solomon's Copper Mines, and a replica of the Wilderness Tabernacle, before heading north.  We stopped on the way to spend the night with Bedouin's in a large wool tent to escape a Haboob (sand storm).  The next morning we hiked Herod's Masada fortress and took a float in the Dead Sea before heading up the Jordan Valley to the archeological wonder of Beit Shean beneath the ancient ruins of Gilboa where Saul and Jonathan's bodies were hung after their defeat We spent the next few days exploring the shores of the Sea of Galilee which dominated the  ministry of Jesus, including sites like Capernaum, Dan, Caesarea Phillipi, Gamla, baptisms in the Jordan River, a boat ride on the Sea, among others.
The Garden Tomb

Before heading south again toward Nazareth, we hiked the Horns of Hattin on Mount Arbel and the trail Jesus would have walked to Capernaum.  After a quick stop in Nazareth, we toured the water tunnels of Megiddo and headed to Jerusalem.  Jerusalem can't be covered in a few sentences, but among the highlights were the Western Wall Tunnel, a tour of the newly excavated David's City (including the Great Stone Structure believed to have supported his palace and the recently discovered Pool of Siloam -Magnificient!) and a wet walk through Hezekiah's Tunnel.  We held NATHAN'S BAR MITZVAH at the Southern Temple Steps (we had planned on a Bat Mitzvah for Keziah, but it wasn't permitted).  
Nathan's Bar Mitzvah

Archeological Dig at Tel Maresha
Our final days included hikes through Herod's newly discovered burial site at the Herodium, and ironically on the same day participated in an archeological dig at the town of his birth.  So many stories to tell and literally thousands of pictures.  Come over some time and we would love to show you.  Nathan did a 3.5 hour presentation to a class of 5th graders and held their attention.

Since we spent all our vacation money in Israel, we decided to go camping for our summer vacation, never expecting we could actually find spots at Yosemite, but we did and had a blast.  We biked, tubed, hiked and had a great week together.  This was largely a success due to Nathan's deep involvement in Boyscouts where he is mastering knot tying, packing, and preparation skills that made him a super valuable asset in prepping to go.

We also had a couple boy/girl split trips this year:
Nathan and I went to Boyscout camp just outside Yosemite for a week following our family trip, so needless to say, I was excited to see my bed.   I was also a chaperone for his 6th grade science camp near San Diego.

Carolyn and Keziah travelled to Washington DC and New York with Keziah's 8th grade class for a week in October.  What an amazing opportunity to see monuments to our nations history.

We travelled to Colorado over Labor Day weekend as I was invited to  speak at a Family Camp at a beautiful resort there.  It was a great and unexpected way to end the summer.  I am so grateful they asked me to bring my family with me.  On the way, we had a last minute reunion with a long lost cousin who lives just off the road from where we were heading, and his wife and sister.  I look forward to reestablishing that connection.
Fly fishing on the Rio Grande
We were blessed with some great visits this year including Cousin Hannah Leverich this summer after her high school graduation.  In November, her younger sister Clara and her Dad Brian came out for a week as well.  Hannah got to camp with us at El Moro.

Both Keziah and Nathan continue in orchestra at school playing violin and bass respectively.  Keziah took a significant role in her school play this last year in the Seussical Jr. and has already landed a part for this next year.  She also has been playing piano and guitar in her spare time and knitting like crazy.  Nathan's sport seems to be Lacrosse, which is a winter sport, so we are just getting ready to dive into that for a few months.  Fortunately, their activities don't overlap seasonally.

We are grateful for the opportunities God has given us and realize that this is a season to be slow and intentional with as our children are both now in middle school.  We hope to spend every moment we can with them.

Please pray for us if you get a chance.  We are trying so hard to not be so preoccupied with activity that we miss God's best for us.  It is hard in this culture.  How can we pray for you?  We are getting better at praying together as a family and we could use some fuel for the fires.

Thanks for the role you play in the life of our family!  We do appreciate you!
Love and blessings,
Ric, Carolyn, Keziah and Nathan

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