Carlson Family Christmas Letter 2017
Greetings Friends & Family-
Merry Christmas! We hope you have had a great year and are looking forward to the holidays and a new year come 2018. We know that we are.
It’s been another full and exciting year for the Carlson family. As always, some ups, downs and a lot of ordinary life. For spring break we went to the Disney resort at Hilton Head, SC, which was simple, relaxing and fun. We kept around the house for most of the summer due to Marcus’ knee surgery, but it allowed us to catch up on many things. We are enjoying the church, school, community and our property. We have moved through a bunch of travel, events and health stuff this year and have come out of it all in much better shape. We got to celebrate the marriage of Marcus’ sister and the expansion of our extended family. We have done some more work on our home and are trying to tackle a medium or large sized project each year. We find great joy in doing things together, whether something simple at home or enjoying time with friends. Attending various church and community events, including a Harry Potter Orchestra concert and hosting parties at our home was also a lot of fun for us this year. We continue to have a hobby farm where we have eggs, various jams, maple syrup and of course honey. Somehow we manage to get it all done and have some time together as well as time to relax. Next year our goal is to make sure we have family dinner more often together. Coordinating the schedules can be tricky! We are thankful for another great year and looking forward to 2018. We hope that you, your family and loved ones are well! We are thankful for each one of you.
Marcus continues to enjoy his buffet of life and activities at home, work and the community. This year was marked by a lot of travel (8 countries) and before the year is over will include three knee surgeries. He is looking forward to staying stateside for the next half a year and completing the work on his knees resulting from a genetic condition. Marcus continues to serve as the lead pastor at a church in Auburn, enjoying helping people grow in their faith and helping the church to reach and serve others along with a fantastic staff. Marcus is also continuing to teach graduate and undergraduate classes online with a large load for the fall semester. Last year, Marcus published his first book on confirmation and is working on his second book on the false gospel of guilt and shame to be published next year. Marcus got to work with Jessica on a special church video curriculum for parents as well as continuing to write for a magazine. Marcus traveled to Nepal and Bangladesh this summer to train and teach pastors and orphanage workers. Marcus is active in the community, but most of all enjoys time with his family.
Jessica continues to keep busy as mom and in her work. Jessica is serving her second year as an instructional coach at Garrett Middle School (where our kids go), a teacher leadership position. She loves supporting teachers, administrators and students and having no grading! She enjoyed helping with the pit crew for marching band this year, painting a majority of the large set and traveling to the competitions. She also continues to enjoy our hobby farm and working outside. Jessica is teaching one evening education class each semester at the local Purdue campus and continues teaching swim lessons. This year she also had the honor of being selected for a year-long teacher fellowship with the Teach Plus organization where she works with other teachers to influence education policy in Indiana, writes, publishes her work, speaks with legislators and more. Additionally, she was asked to continue an additional six months as a Senior Fellow. Jessica also is in the church choir, works in the nursery and helps with youth group and special events. She has a full calendar, but loves all she gets to do and most of all enjoys time with family at home.
Micah is in 7th grade and is 12 years old – time sure does move quickly! He is a lot taller, has feet the size of his dad’s and is sporting a new voice. Micah continues to be smart, funny and caring. In addition to home life, Micah is active in many things. He is in confirmation and part of the youth group at church, also serving on the tech team. Micah is in Boy Scouts and especially loves the camping trips. At school, he participates in CyberPatriots, a coding computer club, and he plays trombone in the middle school band. As a 7th grader was one of a handful to be asked to be in the high school marching band this year. That has been a great source of joy and life for Micah, and we have enjoyed watching him. He misses the season already, learned a lot and is making some great friends. Micah loves his school as well.
Abby has grown up a lot this year too, which makes our heads spin. She is 10 and in fifth grade, her last year in elementary school. She is in Girl Scouts again this year and enjoys having mom as troop leader. Abby loves the pets, especially Reeses after a struggle from losing Samantha. She has a ton of friends and is little miss social butterfly. Abby decided to do horseback riding lessons this year which she simply loves instead of dance. Abby is also active at the church where she is an acolyte and helps in the nursery. She is a very caring person and will make a great babysitter. Abby has also joined the band and is playing the flute.
Oreo & Reeses (The Dogs)
This year we had to say goodbye to our beloved dog, Samantha. She was around 16 years old, an abused rescue dog. Abby took it quite hard. We loved her and she lived the last 13 years of her life well. Having lost both our dogs that we moved here with in the last two years that we moved here with and have had for our married lifetime, we are thankful to have two wonderful, smart, beautiful, loving Border Collies. Oreo is our older border collie and he is very affectionate and smart. He sometimes has a hard time sharing with his sister as does she with him. Reeses is from the same parents, but a different litter so she is younger. Opposite of Oreo, she is female, brown and white and long haired. She is sweet, sassy, energetic and a bit cantankerous at the same time. They both love our family, friends, riding in the truck, playing fetch and doing tricks. They can each do 30-40 tricks and are certified trick dogs.
Cleo & Odie (The Indoor Cats)
Our indoor rescue kittens are now 4 and are as loving and fun as ever. They continue to be great mousers and pets for the whole family, though they do not like the border collies so much. Odie in particular likes to spend time in Micah’s room while Cleo prefers to hide under Marcus & Jessica’s bed when the dogs are running around.
The Farm Animals…
Rounding out the cadre of animals are those animals who do not reside inside the house. We still have our two barn cats Hailey and Samson who continue to be great mousers in the barn. We currently have many chickens, Micah has 4 outdoor rabbits and we have had four beehives this year for honey and love working with anywhere from 5,000-60,000 bees at a time. The honey is fantastic!
Kevin & Jose (Our El Salvadorian Kids)
We still have two sponsor children from El Salvador, right around the ages of our own kids. We hope to be able to go as a family and meet them together in the next 5 years. Marcus and Jessica have both met them.
In other exciting news…
This summer, Marcus and Jessica are dedicating some of their time to serve in overseas missions. They will travel to Kenya in June to work with the missionary from our church to serve for a little over a week. Then in July they will spend a week in Calcutta, India training pastors and church leaders. Jessica has applied for a Lilly Teacher grant for some of those activities and if she gets it, we will take a special vacation afterwards. We are trying to raise about $7,500 for our missions work, most of that coming to help pay for the conference for pastors who have little to no training and cannot afford to attend a conference. We would love your prayers and support and you can donate online through the church and get a tax deduction. Just visit the church website (stmarksauburn.org) and go to the bottom to the ‘give’ link and you will see the Carlson’s Missions category. We are trying to raise at least half by the end of February.
What a year! We look forward to staying connected to all of you and wish you a Merry Christmas and wonderful and blessed 2018!
The Carlson Clan