Dad turns 70

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January brought a milestone year for Dad.  He started a new decade with his 70th birthday!  Happy birthday, Dad!

Early this month, a whole bunch of his friends packed out Mom and Dads’ house to wish him well.  There was a lot of yummy food, good conversation, and laughter.  It was a comfortable and easy going party, kind of like Dad’s personality.  At one point, Daddy had to read all of the “Happy Birthday” appreciation notes that everyone wrote for him during the party.  It wasn’t difficult for people to come up with something to say.  There were a lot of comments about his role as a Sunday School teacher, his calm and sure personality, and how he is so loving and supportive of others.  But I think my favorite description of the night came when someone wrote that he had “kind wisdom.”  That’s perfect!  Just imagine if we all had Dad’s “kind wisdom.”  Oh, what a world this would be.

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We had a great time visiting with Mom and Dad’s friends.  As one of their children, I’m really grateful for the circle of friends that they have surrounding them here in Bend, especially at their AMAZING church.  In fact, sometimes it can be a  challenge keeping up with my parents.  They’ve always got something going on.  But that’s not a bad thing. It’s probably just the opposite.  In truth, a life filled with family and friends and service is the greatest kind of life.  And I love seeing my parents live it out.

One of the best parts of the night was seeing my sister, Tessa.  She surprised us all and drove down from Seattle to be there for Dad’s party!  That’s about 6 hours of driving just for one night!  But it was so great for all three kids to be able to be there for Dad.

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Congratulations, Daddy, on your 70th birthday!  We’re looking forward to you having many more birthdays in the future.  And hopefully more of your “kind wisdom” will rub off on all of us.  We love you.

P.S.  I apologize now, Nancy Gill, for posting a picture with you putting food in your mouth.  It just could’t be helped!  Sorry!

Christmas cousins

Before we run out of January, I should probably share some highlights from the holiday season, right?  For me, one of the best things about this last Christmas was watching all of the Hofen cousins spend time together.  Everybody easily finds someone close to their age and spends hours upon hours playing and adventuring together.  The Alva cousins are: Madison, age 18, who is doing lots of planning and pondering about the next stage of life that will inevitably come after she graduates from high school this spring.  Braden, age 11, who gets taller and more athletic every time I see him.  He’s always up for some kind of competition, whether it’s basketball or nerf guns or anything.  And there’s Brooks, age 10, who has probably never met a stranger in his life and loves to have a good time (and make sure everybody else is having fun, too).

Of course, the first thing we said when we saw these kids in December was, “Wow!  You guys are so tall!”  Which is true!  For some reason, they just don’t stop growing.  But it’s also great to see how they’ve grown in other ways, like manners and maturity, and for us to be able to observe their personalities develop.  I guess there’s nothing like the next generation to remind us that change is always happening.

Another great cousin highlight was talking with the India cousins.  Thank God for Skype!  Cassia is a charming and outgoing little girl.  We loved watching her give us a tour of her bedroom and chatting back and forth.  Then, a while later, we were able to see our newest little cousin, Candace, who was born the day after Christmas.  Again, thank God for Skype!

As we were skyping (not sure if that’s a word) with our India family, I could’t help but think about all of the overseas missionaries that have served over the centuries.  Many of them had only one way to communicate with their extended families back home- regular mail.  Some didn’t even have that option depending on their locations.  I just don’t know how they did it!  And I especially don’t know how their families did it!  I can’t imagine having to endure such lengthy amounts of time (sometimes years) without seeing or even hearing from your loved ones.  Their sacrifice and perseverance amazes me.

We had a very merry Christmas with our Oklahoma (and India) family.  There’s no doubt that it takes a big chunk of time to get down there, but the people are always worth it.  I don’t really want to think about how much all of these beautiful cousins will have changed by the time we get to see them again.

Lauren and Brooks staying busy during Church

Lauren and Brooks staying busy during Church

Cassia is a Skype expert!

Cassia is a Skype expert!

in Church our first Sunday in Oklahoma

in Church our first Sunday in Oklahoma

Christmas candlelight

Christmas candlelight

two peas in a pod

two peas in a pod

the older girls, Madison and Emma

the older girls, Madison and Emma