Weber Family Christmas Letter
Stephen, Brooksyne & Ester Weber
495 Kraybill Church Road
Mount Joy, PA 17552
For a text only version of this newsletter see here.
"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son,
and they will call His name Immanuel which translated means God with us"
(Matthew 1:23 NKJV).
December 17, 2008
To our Family, Friends, and Faithful readers,
Joyous Christmas greetings to those of you who enjoy reading newsletters at this time of year. As usual I take my post as secretary for the Weber family. Thus Brooksyne is the "I" of which I write. So here we go with a bird's eye view of our past year, along with some of our own personal views. We hope you enjoy this part of life's journey with the Weber family!
In early January Stephen, Ester and I traveled to see Stephen's sister Genelle and her husband along with other friends in North Carolina. Then we headed to the Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The scenic grandeur and beauty that surrounded us in the mountainous landscape was truly breathtaking. It was unseasonably warm at the time so we took some nice hikes in the mountains and especially enjoyed our visit to a historical area known as Cade's Cove.
We also had the wonderful pleasure of staying a week at Myrtle Beach in February right along the ocean front. I felt like a rather well to do housewife while preparing our meals since the area for food preparation was laid out in such a way that I faced the massive ocean. We had guests over for a nice salmon dinner one evening and it was a special treat to eat together as we smelled the ocean air and heard the ocean waves splashing. On the fun side Stephen will always remember this site as a place where he had opportunity to show off his expertise with horse shoes. We attended a Dolly Parton Dixie Stampede where he, from the Northern team, was selected to compete with another horse shoe player from the Southern Team. In actuality the horse shoes were toilet seats so we had lots of laughter during and after that rowdy contest. Stephen's leaner helped him to win the competition! As you can see from our pictures he likes ocean sunrise and sunset photos!
We also continued our journeys throughout beautiful Pennsylvania and there's always a lot happening nearby. Although we were both raised in the Midwest we have now lived longer in Pennsylvania than anywhere else. As has been our custom for the past eight years Stephen and I continue our daily walks in the neighborhood. Most often we walk on the trail across the street that takes us alongside Donegal Creek and a duck pond. After we'd eaten supper on May 7th we took our usual walk and were headed back when all of a sudden Roxie came running toward us from behind. She cut me off as I was in full walking pace. Her sudden appearance threw me off and I fell over her which resulted in excruciating pain as I pulled ligaments and there was little doubt that I had also broken my left ankle.
We were near the house so Stephen came up with the bright idea of getting the wheel barrow to push me home. I outright rejected the idea and instead suggested our van. (In Stephen's defense he was beside himself in shock and was clueless in knowing what to do.) Soon afterward we waited for hours in the Hershey Emergency Room. Finally in the early morning hours of May 8, which was also our 32nd wedding anniversary, I had my ankle repositioned and casted. The pain was unbearable but the sweet memory I took away from that experience was Ester holding my hand and repeatedly quoting, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13). It really did help me to bear the pain as I thought on this Scripture. Over the last nineteen years since Ester was born with heart disease and has endured many surgeries and procedures it has always been my motherly role to hold her hand and quote pertinent Scripture. Ten days later the break required surgery which included the insertion of a plate and screws. Doctors advised me that it will take a full year for my ankle to heal.
Talk about a learning curve, not just for me but also for Stephen and Ester! Three months with no weight bearing on my left leg required crutches and a wheelchair to be my fulltime assistants. I received help from so many during that time which certainly was a humbling experience. Now when I see someone in a wheelchair I have much greater compassion for their ordeal and instantly give thanks for my mobility. God taught me so many rich truths in that three month period that I would never have learned otherwise. Experiential knowledge is a greater teacher than book knowledge. But I've told God that I believe I learned these things first time around so I hope not to repeat my experience in the future.
Ester has had a year of very good health which has been of great blessing to us all. On May 30th she completed her schooling at "School to Work". She took one extra year of school to better prepare herself for the working world and then received her high school diploma in early June. (She walked through with her graduating class last year but they withheld the diploma until she completed School to Work this year.) When her class was in procession I was unable to stand due to being in a wheelchair. Ester later gave me a big hug and said, "Mommy, I cried when I saw you sitting. It's the first time you sat when others were standing." Well, I think my difficult experience was a learning lesson for our whole family.
In August we visited friends from college and friends from our Daily Encouragement ministry on our way to the Steincross family reunion in Nebraska. Stephen met up with his two brothers and as always we enjoyed catching up on family news. We gathered at a beautiful state park for a time of reflection, refreshment and recreation. We all missed Uncle Jim who died early this year. He was always a part of the children's entertainment and headed up the yearly pancake breakfasts, though his children came through in a big way as they flipped many pancakes!
Within days of our return to Pennsylvania we received news that our dear friend, Hope Winchoba, went to be with Jesus. We'd kept in touch often after we left our pastorate in Taunton, MA and Stephen promised Hope years earlier that he would officiate at her funeral as he did her husband's while we pastored in Taunton. It was a memorable experience that once again reminded us of the most important events in our lives. She lived well and left a spiritually rich heritage for her family members. Our visit provided us opportunity to once again connect with many good people from our former church in Taunton. On the way back we stayed in Newport RI where Stephen took this sunset photo.
For over two years we've been meeting with about 12 others in a Care Group from our church. We've enjoyed our friendships and the privilege of studying Scripture together. Two babies have been born in this group since we started so Ester enjoys her babysitting opportunities at our get-togethers.
We continue to attend Mount Pleasant Brethren in Christ Church (the same church we've attended since moving to Lancaster County in 2001 with the exception of our interim pastoral roles in other churches.) We've made many friends in this loving congregation. I continue to be active musically, Ester with the youth, and Stephen fills in from time to time in the pulpit. We enjoy the illustrative and substance filled sermons Pastor Bob prepares weekly.
Since we have no grandchildren stories we often tell stories on our pets; Roxie and Dottie. They reminded us of the official start of the Christmas season the first night after we decorated our tree. About 2:00 A.M. we were sleeping comfortably when all of a sudden we heard Roxie scamper across our carpeted bedroom floor. She loudly bounded down the six stairs and then, after her claws slid across the ceramic tile, came to a screeching halt in front of the tree. Next we heard the noise of rustling tree branches as they were being shaken. Then Roxie would ascend the stairs and return to her pet bed. Within moments it was repeated again and again. We endured this noise making night in our sleepy stupor, but finally Stephen gathered enough wakefulness to explore the situation. Apparently Roxie kept being awakened by Dottie's repeated attempt at climbing the tree to remove ornaments that would make very good toys. Roxie played Watch Dog and tried to keep our tree in one piece which she did but the messy evidence at the bottom of the tree the next morning revealed that Dottie was winner in this annual contest.
Our main ministry focus continues to be the Daily Encouragement ministry over the internet, which celebrated its 12th anniversary this October. Each weekday morning we collaborate in writing these messages and distribute them using a variety of means such as email, website, blog and podcast. Generally this project takes us all morning as we work together. Most of you are familiar with this ministry and actually many know us only through this. However if you are reading this and aren't sure what we are talking about please visit our site, which we update with a newly written inspirational message each weekday! We both find great fulfillment in the many folks we meet via the internet who are devoted in their faith, who are looking for spiritual answers or may share a need with us seeking prayer, godly counsel or words of comfort. We hear from people all over the world, including many in closed countries, which makes us realize the awesome privilege we have of using this as a means of world-wide ministry.
Stephen also maintains three blogs:
A blog that merely contains each day's prayer from daily encouragement called "A Daily Prayer"
A humor blog that also may be satirical called "A Little Foolishness" (Although he hasn't posted to this for awhile.)
His newest has little content thus far but some big plans. It's called "Clear Minded" and will deal with more serious and lengthier topics.
We describe ourselves as purposefully multi-vocational. In addition to our Daily Encouragement Net work we serve together as corporate chaplains at several local companies. We have done this since 1998 even while we pastored. This work involves regular visits to the workplace to greet and get to know the employees as well as offsite visits such as hospital calls, funerals and counseling. In 2008 we increased our separate ministry opportunities in this regard by four. However we just received word that due to ministry budget shortfalls we will lose a ministry opportunity, a partnership with Transport For Christ where we branded our daily messages and staffed a prayer line. We now serve a total of nine companies and ministries we work with. We continue to seek additional opportunities in this field. We both find this to be a very fulfilling form of ministry and, along with our writing ministry, we keep quite busy.
This has been a pivotal year in our country politically and economically. I read a quote by Gordon Moyes which I posted at my desk that speaks volumes to me, "The ultimate measure of a man's wealth shows how much he is worth when he has lost everything. Naked we come into this world and naked we depart." Perhaps this is a thought we should all tuck away in the corner of our hearts. Should the Lord call us home in the next year we need to ask ourselves, "What do we leave behind?" Material treasures that diminish over time or heart treasures where we influence others for good, both now and for all eternity. It is our heart's desire to impact others for Christ, both now and for all eternity.
We want to wish each of you a blessed Christmas and a joy-filled new year in 2009.
Stephen, Brooksyne and Ester Weber