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Christmas Letter 2010

By Sherri @ GreenFlash Productions Photography

 

We hope this letter finds you well as we celebrate the love of Christ during this holiday season!  It seems the older we get the faster the years go by.  This year has proven to be a year of many changes for our family.

Sara has graduated high school and moved to Campbell University in the fall.  She is loving college and has made friends easily.  To celebrate her graduation, Sara and I took a trip to NYC with two special people in her life–her cousin, Elizabeth, and her mentor, Amber.  After graduation, Sara was busy with camps and mission trips to Belize, Uganda, and Islamorada, FL this summer and is currently serving again in Uganda during her Christmas break.

William and Tyler have moved to a public school (Broughton HS).  It has been quite an adjustment but they are making friends and trying to get used to the large class size (they’ve gone from approx 100 in their class to over 600 in their class). They’ve also been hunting with their dad a lot this year and tried something new this fall—hunting with a bow and arrow.

William had an opportunity to serve at our Joy Prom for those with special needs in our community, and the privilege of going to Peru with a team from our student ministry. It was a great experience for him as it was his first international mission trip. William has probably changed the most physically in our family as he has grown about 8 inches in a 15-month period.

Tyler celebrated his 15th birthday this year which meant it was time to get his permit in August, and he has been driving every chance he gets.  He started high school this year and has become quite the guitar player.  Tyler takes advantage of every opportunity he has to serve others and lead worship.

Steve started working on his PhD in Family Ministry at Southern Baptist Seminary in KY. He also changed positions at Providence BC to Pastor of Parent and Family Discipleship Ministries. He has had many opportunities to speak at conferences and encourage pastors, lay leaders, and parents to make the gospel the center of their homes and parenting.

I went to Belize this year with Sara’s senior SS class. My mom and Aunt Gail also joined us in Belize and did their own mission work on San Pedro Island. I was sitting at the table when our Belizian friend of 11 years, Lionel, proposed to his bride-to-be.  Steve and I had the privilege of going back to Belize this month for Steve to perform the ceremony!  What a sweet time of celebration it was with their families.

As we reflect on all the things mentioned above, we know they are evidences of God’s grace.  Steve and I are humbled to be blessed with such a precious family and to serve with such godly, caring people in our church community. We pray that you will join us as we celebrate this Christmas season God’s grace and Christ’s humble birth and sacrificial life.

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Cor 1:3

Steve, Tina, Sara, William, and Tyler Wright

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The Wright Family calendar for this past year signifies another year of God’s grace.  The color-coded calendar consists of important dates for each of the kids—Sara, William, and Tyler— and church, school, vacations, events, appointments, birthdays, sickness, milestones, and so much more.

We have been doing a family calendar for over 20 years, and each year is like a journal of God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives each day.  We have saved all of them, and how humbling it is to look back through the years and see God’s mercy and what a great Savior we serve!

As we reflect on this past year, we see evidences of God’s grace through milestones we have celebrated as a family. Steve and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in April, and I turned 40 years old in May.  Sara started her senior year; William got his driver’s license, and Tyler went on his first mission trip to Belize.

We enjoyed a family vacation in West Palm Beach, FL with my parents during Thanksgiving week, and we look forward to being with Steve’s family for a week during the Christmas holidays.  We are so blessed and are so grateful for our family, church, friends, and most of all ~ our loving Savior!

It is hard to imagine God loving us so much that He would send His Son, who would live a sinless life and give His life for us and three days later rise victorious over the grave.

Merry Christmas!

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Steve was invited to speak at a youth leader’s conference in Kiev, Ukraine at the end of October.  After some last-minute planning, I was able to go with him.  When our host found out that I was coming, they asked if I would do a couple of seminars for the ladies.  It was an honor to be a part of this wonderful conference where over 200 youth leaders from all over the country of Ukraine gathered to be encouraged and equipped.  Oleg and Lena of Radooga ministries were so gracious in giving us a tour of Kiev and giving us a glimpse of their culture and ministry.  Fortunately they spoke very good English and have hosted many Americans.   They knew just what to do to help us with jet lag and get adjusted to their time zone quickly (they picked us up from the airport and kept us busy until their bedtime…..we were awake for almost 30 hours before we finally fell in the bed and slept for 12 hours!).

Steve leading a seminar w/ Sasha translating.

Steve and I had never spoken through translators before while speaking in front of a group.  We had wonderful translators, Sasha and Leysa, and they put us at ease and helped us communicate with the attendees.  I spoke twice to two different groups of ladies about serving with your husband in ministry. One group were all young single ladies who wanted to know what to look for in a godly man so we had a lot of fun discussing this topic.  I also led a seminar on Biblical motivation.  Steve spoke to all the attendees in one session and then led two seminars about family ministry and helping teens find balance.  Most of the youth leaders in Ukraine are lay leaders and have such a passion to reach students.  They were so hungry for direction in leading youth and knowing how to minister to their families.  The conference was a special time for them to fellowship and be encouraged.

Leysa was my translator.

After the conference and saying our goodbyes to our new friends, we started our 2 day journey home.  We had a layover in London so we took advantage of our time there and did a quick tour around the city.  It was already dark by the time we got there but we made the best of it.  We walked the streets and saw Big Ben, Westminster Abby, and rode the Eye of London.  It was beautiful at night with all the lights.  We had to take a taxi ride and Steve told the driver, “Take her to Harrods!”  It was amazing….I bought Christmas ornaments to remember our short trip to London and Harrods.

We were so grateful for the opportunity the Lord gave us to be a part of the conference and meet so many wonderful servants.  We will continue to pray for the people we met and their ministries.

View from the Eye of London

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A Whirlwind Summer

Marcos speaking at camp

Marcos speaking at camp

This summer has been filled with a lot of activity and travel for the Wright family.  As soon as school let out, we found out that we would have some very special guests coming to stay with us for a month.  Marcos (18) and Jacklyn (13) are from Belize, Central America and arrived in Raleigh on June 20th.  Steve and our senior mission teams have been ministering to their family for over nine years.

Steve first met their older brother, Lionel, in 2000 on our first mission trip to Belize.  Lionel was only 12 years old.  He comes from a large family that lives in a refugee camp in the jungle of Belize.  Steve fell in love with the boy and began to encourage him in his studies and walk with the Lord.  The Lord made provisions for Lionel to continue his studies through high school (they do not have free public education for middle school and high school grades).  We invited him to spend a month with us here in Raleigh in 2004.  Lionel was also given an opportunity to attend the University of Belize for 4 years and he graduated the day his siblings arrived in NC.  Their mother rejoiced in Lionel’s accomplishments and how he had overcome so much to make this dream come true.  She was also equally excited about the opportunity Marcos and Jacklyn had to come to the United States.  Lionel and Marco’s dad passed away 4 years ago.

Jacklyn at camp

Jacklyn at camp

When Marcos and Jacklyn were first told that there may be an opportunity to come to the states, they both thought it was a joke and later dreamed for days about the possibility while they waited on their Visas to be approved.  After 9 hours of traveling and their flight being delayed, they finally arrived after midnight at RDU where we were anxiously waiting for them.  When we saw their faces, we could tell they knew their dreams had become a reality. They had a short night of sleep after they got settled and before they had to wake up for church.  On Sunday morning there were a lot of anxious teenagers and adults from past mission trips waiting to welcome them to Providence.  After lunch we were off to shop for clothes and supplies for our youth camp which started the next morning.  We literally shopped until we dropped!  There was no rest for the weary because they had to pack for camp when we got home and get up early the next morning.

After an exciting week at camp, all seven of us headed to GA for a family vacation.  We stayed with Steve’s parents

Family Prayer before 4th of July feast!

Family Prayer before 4th of July feast!

where there is always room for one more….two more in our case.  There are already 9 teenage cousins so we added our two guests and other friends and family that would stop by, so it was definitely a happening place to be.  The week was full of swimming daily, shopping, a trip to the zoo and a Braves’ game, a 4th of July celebration, and a lot of eating!!  The following week Marcos and Jacklyn stayed with a church family in Raleigh who so graciously opened their home to our guests.  We stayed in GA to prepare for the first grandchild’s wedding (Brittany).

We drove to Valley Springs Lodging in Rabun Gap, GA to spend the weekend for the wedding .  We stayed in cabins and helped where needed with preparations.  Steve performed the ceremony, Sara greeted guests, William and Tyler were ushers.  I ran around acting like I was doing something all the time except when I had to sit behind my sister-in-law during the ceremony to keep her in line. 🙂

Sunday morning I drove Sara to the Atlanta airport to send her off on her first solo flight to meet a school mission team.  I think I was more nervous than she was.  She acted so cool and collective right up until she was standing in line to board the plane and then I think she finally realized what she was about to do (and I was about to lose it).  I ran all over the airport trying to follow her plane down the runway and watch it take it off.  That was one of those moments that I had to solely leave her in the Lord’s hands and trust Him with her.  She made it safely and met the team leaders who were taking her to meet the rest of the group.  I drove back to Steve’s parents to meet him and the boys so we could head back to Raleigh.

When we returneJuly 2009(3) 033d, Steve left the next morning for a pastors’ retreat and I picked up Marcos and Jacklyn and brought them back to our home for their last week.  We had a fun filled week visiting the mall, Build-a-Bear, bowling, going to the movies, buying gifts for their families, back-to-school July 2009(3) 062shopping, and hanging out with their friends from church.  Probably one of the most memorable highlights for us and Jacklyn was when she was baptized in the lake in front of our church family the day before she left for home.  We celebrated with a trip to Goodberry’s (a famous local creamery famous for their frozen custard). After giving them each an additional suitcase to get everything home we still had to sit on a few to get them closed.  🙂  We relunctantly sent them on their way back to Belize early in the morning on July 20th.

063Before completely recovering from a crazy month, I decided to make a quick trip to TN to visit my parents before school started back.  So Sara, her friend Kelsey, Tyler and I loaded the car a week later and went to Townsend, TN to visit my parents at their “Riverhouse”.  It was a quick 3-day trip but I’m glad we went.  My mom and dad are doing well from their recent health issues.  Mom is feeling good although occasionally overdoes it at work a074nd feels some pain in her chest where the incision is from her open heart surgery.  Daddy has finished rehab while recovering from his stroke and has been released to drive although he isn’t 100% recovered.  He still gets tired easily and is having some pain in his hip and tingling in his right hand.  He is a very determined man and walks several miles twice a day and faithfully does his “at home” exercises as he continues to recover.

014I forgot to mention the reason William didn’t go was because he had just turned 16 and gotten his driver’s license two days earlier and wasn’t ready to leave his jeep (a 12 yr old jeep w/ over 300,000 miles on it that his papaw gave him and he loves it) and his new found freedom of driving himself places (although those places were very limited at the time….golf course and fast food only).  Steve stayed with him because he didn’t need to take anymore time off since he had been out of the office for almost a month.

I’m not sure how it fit on the calendar but we also threw in several baseball and golf tournaments in the midst of craziness of the summer.  So here we are a week from school starting back.  Backpacks are packed and ready, new school clothes washed and ironed, and the kids are anxiously waiting to see their friends and class schedules at Open House this week.  Sara starts her senior year, William will be a sophomore, and Tyler will be in the 8th grade.  May the Lord give us wisdom and discernment as we manage our time and schedules.  I pray that we will keep our focus on the things that really matter…on heavenly matters and not things of this world.

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Do you remember sitting in class thinking you would be in school forever?  The next best thing to graduating was completing another year of school.  There was always something special about the first day of the school year and then the anticipation of the last day of school.  What would it be like not having any more homework and to sleep in?  Ahhhh…  My kids just finished this school year and are thrilled!  Even as a parent, I look forward to the change of pace and daily routine.

I can’t believe this school year has gone by so fast.  It is so hard to believe that Sara will be a senior next year, William will be a sophomore, and Tyler will be in 8th grade!  But for now, we will look forward to enjoying a wonderful summer and spending time together as a family!

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Dad Had a Stroke

Mom and Dad at their Riverhouse

Mom and Dad at their Riverhouse

A few weeks ago on Tuesday, April 28th my dad woke up not feeling well.  His speech was slurred and he had some numbness in his arms and legs so his balance was off.  My mom had noticed he wasn’t feeling well the day before, but she thought he was still recovering from a bad cold he had the previous week.  However, on Monday morning she decided she better take him to the doctor.  After his exam, the doctor determined that dad needed to see a neurologist.  Unfortunately, after the nurse called seven different neurologists and told them they had a possible stroke victim, the earliest appointment available was in 6 weeks!

Mom took dad home with prescriptions for medication and she was told to take him to the emergency room if his symptoms didn’t improve.  So Tuesday morning she noticed the same symptoms and knew she could not wait 6 weeks to find out the diagnosis, she drove dad to the emergency room.  Of course, when they arrived dad refused a wheel chair and stumbled into the emergency room until the nurse insisted that she was getting him a wheel chair.  🙂 They took him back immediately and began tests.  His blood work and Cat Scan came back clear but the doctor wasn’t satisfied because it was obvious that something was wrong.  He strongly suggested an MRI, which we are grateful my dad agreed to have done, because they were able to determine that he had a stroke in the middle of his brain.  The location explained why it didn’t show up on the other tests and why both sides of his body had been affected.

After mom called to tell me dad had definitely had a stroke, I was on the next plane from Raleigh to Knoxville so I could be there with them.  My oldest brother, Rusty, drove in the next day.  I stayed at the hospital with my dad so my mom could go home and rest each night.  Most of you remember me blogging about my mom’s open heart surgery last fall (she had a mitral valve replaced).  She had finished her rehab from that surgery only 2 weeks prior to my dad having his stroke.  She had also taken a trip overseas to visit one of my brothers and had just returned on Saturday prior to his stroke.  Needless to say, she was exhausted and overwhelmed with all that was happening.

We are so grateful that further tests done in the hospital came back clear and there was no major blockage in his neck nor in his heart.  We also received encouraging news from each of the therapists (occupational, physical, and speech) that came by to evaluate him.   They were all amazed at how well he was doing and how strong he was.  They agreed with the doctor that dad should make a full recovery after a few weeks of therapy.  Although he experienced some numbness in his left arm, his right side was mostly affected.  Dad was very determined as he fed himself with his right hand and didn’t want any assistance getting in and out of bed.  For the most part, you could understand everything he was saying and would never know he had had a stroke by looking at him. However, we did notice his words became more slurred when he was tired.

He was able to go home on Friday (only 48 hours after being admitted), so I was able to help get him settled at home before returning to Raleigh on Saturday evening.  He started therapy the following week and only has a few more sessions left because of his progress.  Mom said that he is very diligent doing his exercises at home that the therapists assign him to do each week.  Dad says the hardest one is putting pencils in a plastic cup without knocking the cup over.  I’m anxious to see him again to see his progress and give him a big hug.

Again, we are reminded that life is so precious and just how special our parents are to us.  I praise the Lord that my parents have assurance of their salvation in Christ and when their lives are threatened by sudden illnesses or surgeries, no matter how dire the circumstances are, I know if anything happened to them that they would spend eternity in heaven with Jesus!

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A friend sent this video to me recently.  I thought it was a wonderful reminder of why we do what we do, even when no one seems to notice or care.  Hope you enjoy and are encouraged!

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