|The family in River Park, October 2010|
As I (James) type this, I’m sitting comfortably on the couch on my weekly day off. The girls are napping and Christina is running a few errands. With some light rain and temps in the mid-40’s, it was very mild for a Wisconsin late-November, but the first snowfall made up for lost time, giving us 12 inches in three days, along with a big temperature drop and 50mph wind gusts.
Time has seemingly flown a bit since our last letter, even though it was an atypical 18 months ago. I know I say this in each letter, but this year was even more adventurous, with more unexpected surprises. The good news is that we also have made successful strides toward a settled, normal life for our family. Hopefully, our next Christmas letter will be a lot more boring.
When we last wrote you (June 2009), James had just graduated from seminary and was moving the family (Abby and pregnant Christina) to live with Christina’s parents in northern Delaware. Christina served as a substitute teacher while James transferred to a nearby Starbucks and continued his search for a church position. This search, while proactive, only resulted in second-round phone interviews and two visits (Virginia Beach and Denver).
However, in November, Bill Heider, Christina’s former youth pastor and now senior pastor of local Crossroads Church, took interest in James’s qualifications and hired him as an intern. We were able to raise support (thank you to all who gave!) and even rent Mr. Heider’s mother’s nearby house (as she was on an extended vacation in Arizona). It was wonderful that we were able to house our growing family! We lived and hosted Thanksgiving, Christmas (’09) and church parties there while James worked three part-time jobs (Crossroads, Starbucks and TwoFish) and Christina regularly babysat. Though we were busy, we were able to have lots of fun family time and take advantage of our time on the East Coast (e.g. touring Boston and
On January 6, Kaylee Joy Gilliland was born in the same hospital as her mother, St. Francis in Wilmington, DE. After another overnight trip the hospital, Kaylee was born just 13 months after her older sister. She kept us up many nights, but her playful smile and energy is a blessing to our household.
In March (’10), after James had updated his public resume and done some more networking, he was contacted by the Evangelical Free Church in Sheboygan, WI. After several phone interviews, James, Christina and 4-month-old Kaylee (who was cared for by visiting Grandma Gilliland) were flown from Philadelphia to Milwaukee as James was a candidate for the church’s new Pastor of Worship Arts. The Elders unanimously
voted to hire him the day we landed back in Philadelphia. For the past six months, we’ve lived in a quiet and peaceful historical-downtown outside the city known as Sheboygan Falls.
James has been busy at work, overseeing the production of three different types of services each Sunday (traditional, contemporary and evening) as well as special events (concerts, fundraisers and dramas). He’s attended conferences in central Wisconsin and in Denver, and has done everything in church this year from hospital visits to dancing a polka as Martin Luther. James has also made some more initiative with going on creative dates with Christina or outings with Abby and Kaylee. He also is trying to make more time for video games. Don’t talk to him about any of his favorite teams of any sport, though. He’s a bit crabby about them this year.
Christina did very well to tackle head-on the daunting double-duty of pastor’s wife and mother-of-two. Both in Delaware and in Wisconsin, she’s connected with other other mothers, and here in Sheboygan, she’s initiated a weekly “play-date” with other young moms that’s familiarized some with our church community. Christina, in addition to being a good homemaker, also has started her own piano/voice studio (visit the site at www.mrsgstudio.com)! On the side, she’s joined the prestigious Lakeshore Chorale and has already gotten two solos. She also likes to read, and has enjoyed a variety of literature this year, from devotionals on the Sabbath to Ted Dekker.
Abby just turned two years old, and stands at the 91st percentile height and weight. She is very energetic and independent. She loves fruits and vegetables, still likes to read, quote the TV shows she watches to herself (mostly VeggieTales and Winnie the Pooh) and is starting to form her own sentences when she talks. Abby also seems to have a strong liking of music (we did not prompt her in any way, we promise you!) and will sing, dance, and/or react positively to most any type of music she hears. This next month, she’s signed up for her very first music class at the local recreation department.
Kaylee is about to turn one year old. She is very playful and extroverted. She’s on the threshold of walking, having taken almost five consecutive steps frequently. Her desire for something has seemingly pushed her into learning a consonant (e.g. she taught her self “pah” for puffs and “ba-ba” for bottle). She has almost four teeth, but can serve herself those fruit/vegetable/grain puffs with the best of them. Kaylee is still a crawler, but she curiously climbs everywhere, including the stairwell. She’s not trying to sing yet, but she does wiggle in a rhythmic fashion when music starts playing.
Other adventures of our family this year include a ferry trip across Lake Michigan, James playing a Christmas Eve service at a homeless shelter, our purchasing a minivan, Christina’s college house reunion in Malibu, lobster on Thanksgiving and a blizzard canceling church and almost stranding us our own house!
We feel we’re finally on a road to getting settled and less adventurous. We do feel very much at home in Wisconsin, and back in the Midwest, only two hours from Wheaton, our alma mater. We do wish we could travel more, though, and see all of you! We’d love to hear from you. Hope you have had a blessed year from the Lord. Thanks for reading and a merry Christmas and a happy new year to you!
Grace and Peace,
www.mommadaybyday.blogspot.com (Christina’s blog
has been reposted by EFCA Communications online!)