I am sending this out to family and friends and wanted to share it here as well. Bonus for blog readers, you get to see pictures and get links to other posts! I haven’t written anything in a long time. I wasn’t sure why the severe writers block. Wasn’t journaling or writing letters or even basic things like writing in my planner. I missed writing but couldn’t seem to bring myself to write a thing. I finally sat myself down at my desk and told myself “I’ll just write whatever comes to mind” and hoped I’d get enough for a “Christmas letter”. I typed out four single space pages. Four. I severely and painfully got it down to two pages…to which you are about to read. I hope you enjoy it!
Happy New Year!
This year to save on the stress of December we decided to do a Happy New Year greetings to all our friends. What better way to say hello than at the beginning of a fresh new year?!
2016 was a year of extremes. We had extreme highs that were so awesome it’s hard to believe they happened. And we had some lows that we still do not wish to speak on.
If there was one word that could wrap up 2016 for the Dykstra family, it would be BUSY. Two words would make it INSANE BUSY. I considered just taking a photo of one month of our life and just saying “Well, that should explain it all.”
January, February and March were months filled to the brim with Odyssey of the Mind. All four boys were involved. In March we found out we were headed to Iowa for the OM World Finals with Abe’s team. Also in March, Denise also baked a pie on live tv with Fox 17.
In April the farmhouse sold. That was a day of mixed emotions. The new owners were a building duo who split the property in two, did a flip remodel on the farmhouse and immediately put both houses up on the market again. In December of this year, both of those houses sold. May marked the one year anniversary of us living in Martin and after one year all we can do is continue to rave about how much we love being in town.
We began May with two weekend competitions for Andrew’s woodworking project, a Christian Shively inspired cabinet. He placed first in his age group at the competitions and won a prize for being the best of all projects overall in his age group. He also brought his cabinet to the State Capitol to be shown off and in June our state representatives arrived in Martin to look over his and other class mates wood working projects. He was awarded a document from Governor Snyder.
Also in May we loaded up a rental car and we took Eli and Abe to Iowa State University for the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. We had more fun then we could ever put into words on that trip, and it helped being with so many great friends there as well. Our school isn’t just a community, it’s a family.
Over the summer, Andrew worked for his wood shop teacher helping him build a new home. Isaac spent most of the summer gearing up for football and selling gladiolas. Eli and Abe had a bunch of adventures as only boys can seem to do over a summer vacation. We were ecstatic to have the Gates family visit for a few days. In July, Denise took a train to Chicago to spend time with friends she has made over the years blogging. The whole family fit in one camping trip to Fort Custer in August and we managed to get family photos taken. The boys fit in as many tractor shows as they could with Denise’s dad. Summer ended as it has the last few years at Family Camp where we had a prank filled weekend with friends.
Fall brought the return of school and lots of football with Isaac and Abe playing.
Abe also won a reading contest and Denise drove him and Eli up to the State Capitol for a day with Representative Mary Whiteford. That was a memorable day for us all!
Fall brought a big new change to our family. Over the summer, Denise’s brother Dan and his family nearby. Levi, in first grade, and Hunter, in young 5’s, began attending Martin schools with their cousins and after school they spend their evenings with us. On any given evening, this house is one loud hopping place but it sure is fun.
With winter, Abe began basketball (new for him), Andrew got a job selling Christmas trees at Badger Tree Farm in Martin, Isaac caught the hanging bug and Eli had his first play at school with the drama class. Denise worked her first presidential election and that will be one election year we all won’t be forgetting.
We began 2016 with a few deaths of friends loved ones. Then we had some real health scares with dear friends and relatives that we prayed big prayers over. In our little village community we have had some real losses and we have also lost three mothers this year.
Their children are in class with ours and we see them and our hearts still feel stabbed with pain. The losses have marked the year. We have had amazing good things happen and we thank God. We have had hard losses and we have questioned God. In all of this, our faith in God has been tested and we have become as a family stronger and our faith more personal.
In 2016 we also left the church we have been attending for many years and were overwhelmed by how many great people there are, how many churches are doing amazing things, and have settled into a community we feel hope in. All the changes these past two years have been quite the adjustment and have been difficult at times, especially for Abe. These weeks of Christmas have been at time of rest and gaining our balance in our new world.
2017 has some good things going for it already! Denise’s parents got all the kids and grandkids tickets to the Creation Museum and Ark for Christmas and we are very excited to plan that trip.
Some things to know about the family this year is…
Andrew is loving his VoTec class for AIS. He is almost always in his shop working with old wood tools to craft some amazing bit of something or being a mechanic on his tractors, his truck, his friends trucks, his friends tractors and so forth. This summer we never knew how many extra would be joining us for dinner around the nine foot long dining room table and bench Isaac built us and it was a fun summer with everyone dropping in.
Isaac enjoyed the camaraderie of football but was glad when the season ended. He took to hunting this fall and harvested himself a nice doe. He is nearly as tall as Andrew now, but Andrew fully denies that. He is enjoying working at Hilltop Designs HD along with Andrew. He has a countdown for when he can begin Drivers Training in the spring.
Eli has become quite the flyer with RC Airplanes. We are so thankful to Dr. Harnish, our school superintendent, who has begun a fly club at school. Eli lives for Odyssey of the Mind, we are thankful his team is back in place this year. While he groaned with disgust when he found out he had to take Drama class, he loves it and I enjoy hearing the stories coming out of that class.
Abe carries a football with him wherever he goes and that means that yes, he even sleeps with one. He enjoyed a great football season with some of his favorite team mates. He is still a big fan of Legos and it’s fun to see how he creates with them all the time.
Jason is still truck driving for Midwest Industrial Lumber. He had a huge garden this year and was so happy to be able to keep up with it.
Denise has him hooked on audio books and he no longer can tease her about her love of reading.
Denise is still at the library (six years now!). She also is involved with her Praise and Coffee group that meets twice a month.
May 2017 be a year that finds you hugging your loved ones just because you can, laughing with friends that you have gone out with and finding ways to spread hope to your communities.