This December, Chance has been teaching our Sunday School class using the Advent Conspiracy curriculum. We have been reminded what the advent season is all about; it is a time when we are to prepare our hearts for celebrating Christ's birth. Unfortunately, we have made it into a time to buy the perfect presents, bake scrumptious cookies, and visit every one of our family members. While there is importance in giving, baking, and bonding, we must remember the real reason we celebrate. If these other additions to the season distract from our ability to worship Christ, our priorities must be realigned. All that to make an excuse as to why this card wasn't in your mailbox the week after Thanksgiving!
Actually, we seem to become busier every year - between Chance's responsibilities as he continues to serve as the Associate Minister of Athens Christian Church and Ginger's work with her (sometimes crazy) Developmental Therapy clients. We've also done a few things with a not-for-profit, In His Hands Orphan Outreach, throughout the year.
One of our biggest and most time-consuming activities this year has been our pursuit of adoption. We began the process in February by taking classes to become foster parents. We have come upon some dead ends - Haiti and Philippines, but we are finally at peace with our journey. We are currently working with Crisis Pregnancy Outreach of Tulsa, OK. (We've come to the conclusion that if we cannot complete a foreign adoption at this time, a baby from Oklahoma is the next closest thing!)
In November, we attended a conference to learn more about CPO's philosophy of ministry. We have absolutely fallen in love with the program. We appreciate the fact that Christ's love is demonstrated to every one of the birth mothers. Also, this organization only participates in open adoption. In other words, our child's birth mother will become a part of our extended family. We hope to be able to minister to her through our relationship with her.
Our homestudy should be completed shortly after the first of the year, so we will be ready to take an infant as soon as a birth mother chooses us. Our lifebook (a digital scrapbook about our lives) is already being shown to birthmothers who desire to place their children in a loving, two-parent home.
Other than work and adoption, we've filled our time with family and friends (and their children). We've started keeping 15-month-old Joel (Ginger's college friend's son) for at least one long weekend every month. We have decided to make the normal first-child mistakes on him so that our children will be perfect! (Isn't that how it works?!)
Ginger's mother and father have decided they are finally getting old because they've been faced with a few health issues and some minor surgeries this year. They both continue to keep up with their various interests though, so they must not be getting too old!
Ginger's brother married Heidi Johnson in February this year. The wedding was perfect as it took place in a restaurant with windows overlooking the Fox River. It even began to snow during the wedding! It's hard to believe they've not even been married a year because Heidi has fit right in to our family! We enjoyed traveling to Louisville and attending a conference with Brian and Heidi this past summer.
Chance's family continues to have good health. It's hard to believe his youngest sister, Liberty, turns 12 next week. She was only three when he left for college!
This letter wouldn't be a proper summary of our past year if we don't include our favorite four-legged friend. Our dog, Allen, continues to keep us laughing. He has recently learned how to communicate that he wants us to wrap him up with a blanket! We're trying to remember which one of us is supposed to be trained!
We literally pray over our Christmas cards before mailing them (so there's another reason they weren't in your mailbox at the beginning of December!) This year, we are asking that the magnificence of this Christmas season doesn't just remind you to shop for the perfect gifts or bake more sugary sweets, but that the splendor of this season reminds you of Him who is worthy of all our praise.
Chance , Ginger, & Allen Newingham