Dear Family and Friends:
Thanksgiving Day is a now a memory. The Advent Season is upon us, a joyful time to reflect back on another year in our lives. Days used to seem like years, but now years have become like days.
JOSHUA, 12, is in 7th grade. Mom has become his tutor more than his teacher and he is rising to the challenge by making straight A’s! He achieved the rank of First Class in Boy Scouts, and continues to press forward with a vision for higher ranks ahead. His favorite past time is playing video games and skyping with his friends. He attended a Boy Scout day camp in June with a friend, earning several merit badges and starting several others. He took up archery at Camp Ransburg, the week-long Scout camp near Bloomington, Indiana. He is now in Trek, AWANA’s Jr. High group and loves the challenge of reciting Bible verses word perfect. He earned his Timothy Award for completing 4 books in 4 years. A night owl, Joshua enjoys hosting all-nighters with friends, X-box parties, and chess and monopoly matches. We are holding on to our wallets as he enters his teen years and growth spurts. He doesn’t cook as often as he did in the past, but definitely still has a flair for good food as well as colorful plating.
NATHANIEL, 14, is in 9th grade and has risen to the challenge of self-study, making straight A’s. On November 9th he achieved the highest honor in Boy Scouts by becoming an Eagle Scout 2 ½ years after joining the scouting program. For his project, he organized 40 people to restore a prayer path and build two wooden benches for our church. In April he became a member of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s National Honor Society. The sweltering July heat did not deter him from conquering the high ropes course at Camp Ransburg and he moved ahead to become a Woodsman in the Firecrafter program. The highlight of his summer, however, was getting his own room and coming home from Camp to a new bed! Like his dad, he has an amazing ear for music. He has come a long way since last December when he started playing the cello. Upon passing his Eagle Board of Review, we gave him an acoustic guitar adding to his collection (bass and electric). He plays guitar in two bands at church. He earned his Meritorious Award in AWANA and is now in Journey, AWANA’s High school group. In late December he will attend the grOve (church youth group) winter retreat, his second retreat this year. His love for people and serving is exemplified by his volunteer service hours and desire to minister to others. Attending Engineering Day at IUPUI campus for homeschoolers, he is exploring early options for college.
DAVID’s business, Tru VoIP, just entered its fifth year. He picked up one new client and has many new challenges with the current clients he serves. Making several trips to Springfield and Cincinnati has made him appreciate the remote access he has to fix most computer issues. He is now the director for Pioneers, the 5th and 6th grade AWANA boys and has a heart to love and serve those who are a part of this ministry. Always looking for opportunities to bless others, he especially takes time to bless his family! He surprised Camille by having two chairs reupholstered. His faith in Christ never falters and the time he spends with his family is just one of many side benefits of being self-employed.
CAMILLE continues to homeschool and takes primary responsibility for household chores which is probably why the house is always a mess! In April she was chosen to participate in a year-long blind test of four different high-end washers and dryers, with the reward of being able to purchase one pair at a greatly-reduced price. Three pairs into it, the top-load washer appears to be her favorite! Once again she is the director of Chums, the 3rd and 4th grade AWANA girls which exploded into a ministry to over 80 girls and 20 adult leaders. She is currently assisting her sister, Pam, who is creating a cookbook of our mom’s recipes which will be available next July for our Stefan family reunion in Wisconsin. Her food blog, Meals by Camille, continues to be her passion and with Dave’s purchase of Dru’s DSLR camera for Mother’s Day, she loves honing her photography skills.
For a few months, we sweltered in heat after our A/C broke. We finally found someone who would replace the broken part rather than sell us a new HVAC system! We’ve learned not to complain about the cold weather!
Thanks to Camille’s niece Angie, Dave and Nathaniel received an invitation to play piano and cello at the retirement home where she is employed in Milwaukee. Pam welcomed us into her home as we celebrated the 4th of July weekend together with her family. In October, we spent a night in Cincinnati and visited the Creation Museum compliments of a friend who has four lifetime passes to the museum.
Dru ,who had lived with us for a short time, moved to Tennessee in May. Her help and inspiration are greatly missed and we wish her God’s blessings as she moves to Washington to live closer to her daughter, Abigail, and family. We were blessed with a visit from Jacob, Abigail, and their girls when they stopped in for a few nights on their way from Japan (via Tennessee) to Washington. Jacob ran circles around the boys playing chess, monopoly, Super Smash Bros., tic-tac-toe, and every other game they played! Cousin Chris Warlick and Mary Jo blessed us with visits and Melissa and Bob stopped in to drop off gifts from Nancy just before Thanksgiving. In December, Pam and Tim traveled to Indy and we enjoyed shopping, fellowship, and good food. They showered Christmas gifts on our boys as though they are their own grandchildren!
The older we get, the more we appreciate the simple things in life. Friendships, old and new, have become the source of much pleasure. Family time laughing and eating home-cooked meals around the dinner table are cherished. Christmas traditions, like opening stocking gifts on St. Nick’s Day, thrill our hearts. Singing and playing songs around the piano lighten any burdens we carry. Relationships, love, and caring for others are what make our lives complete. Yes, more money would afford us more luxuries, conveniences, and perhaps less worries. We might travel more or take vacations, but in the end, none of those things satisfy the deep longing our hearts have for love, peace and joy.
In November, Camille spent 30 days writing about things for which she was thankful:
Day 29: Once again I am so thankful for my husband and my two sons. They are truly a blessing in every way. They have made my life rich and have showered so much love on me. They are an answer to prayers that I prayed for 20 years. I lived a full and happy life as a single person, content to stay single for the rest of my life, but God poured His blessings on me when he brought me to Indiana, allowed David and my paths to meet, and, then, gifted us with two precious sons.
Day 30: I saved the best for last because I am most thankful for Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I am thankful that God sent his Son to Earth and that we can celebrate this event at Christmas. I am thankful God's only Son willingly died on the Cross and we can celebrate His resurrection. He did all of this for me and for you so that we could stand on His Righteousness before a Holy God. I am nothing without Christ. Life is meaningless without Him. I am thankful that He chose me and I cherish my relationship with Him above all things.
What are you thankful for this year? If you cannot say your relationship with Christ, then you are missing the best part of Christmas. Jesus did not stay a baby in the manger. He became a man, who willingly died on the cross for you and for me. Knowing Him and serving Him are the only ways to fill the void and satisfy the longing soul. We pray you will know Him and the power of His resurrection this year. We pray you will cherish this above all else in the year ahead. Merry Christmas!
The Cantwell Family
Joshua, Nathaniel, David and Camille