Merry Mid-January
(See... I'm early.  It's not even mid-January yet!)

2002: The Blur in Review

Greetings family, friends, loved ones, liked ones, and strangers in the night.  We trust you had a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and have been eagerly awaiting my birthday.

Part of this letter's delay is due to the difficulty of the subject matter: 2002.  Honestly, it was a tough year on us.  Way back in January we were already saying we couldn't wait for '03.  I know that when the time comes for looking back, 2002 will basically be a blur in my mind.  We've spent much of it dazed, holding tight to those things we know true.

As most of you are aware, the year kicked off with us losing our daughter Eliana.  This was promptly followed by a miscarriage.  In the midst of all the swirling questions and unknowns, a handful of 'knowns' stood out in stark contrast:  God is Good.  God is in Control.  And He is full of Grace.  How wonderful to have a Father who actively cares for His children...  We love Him deeply.

Early in the year, other big changes came along too...  I started a new job doing graphics work for a company in Grand Rapids that produces safety-training materials.  Although the commute takes tooooo much precious time away from family, I do work among a Fantastic group of people, and you'd be amazed at how much I now know about the dangers of Hydrogen Sulfide, the operation and maintenance of Forklifts, and the various types and uses of Respirators.

On the art front, I've been teaching art lessons to Isaac and a little buddy of his.  I've also participated in a wonderful writer's/illustrator's critique group which consists of local celebrities in the children's book world.  It's very inspiring and will hopefully spur me toward getting some projects up up and away.

As for Amity, this past year she has become obsessed with Lori Wick (the author), Taquitos (the Mexican wonder food), and Legolas (the elf).  Our family vacations this year took us to Northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Niagara Falls.

Ah, the kids... Isaac and Gracie continue to be great sources of joy.  They're hilarious.  Here's a typical dinner conversation - a recent one over ham and pasta:

ISAAC: Ham comes from pigs, right?

DAD: Yep.

ISAAC: Where do noodles come from?

DAD: Where do you think?

ISAAC: (looking at his noodles) I think they come from worms...

a little later...
DAD: Isaac, why aren't you eating your ham any more?

ISAAC: I don't like it.  It tastes like pigs.

GRACIE: (with a big spoonful)  Mmmmmmmmm! I love pigs! (Chomp!)

To give some examples of how different the two of them are, Isaac gets the "Quiet Seat' prize in his Sunday School class.  Every week.  "I got the Quiet prize again!"  They keep giving it to him over and over and over.  On the other hand, Gracie's teacher came up to us after the Christmas program and said, "I love Gracie... She's just got so much...... (loooong pause)......'spirit'."  I believe she was referring to her 'performance' in the program.  I've seen antsy kids before; I've seen kids looking at stuff around them.  But then there's our kid.  A hundred children singing, standing perfectly still through 2 songs, while one little girl on the front step slowly, slowly turns around and around in circles - over and over and over....

The last bit of news is the biggest bit of news.  And although it seems like we announce this at the end of every Christmas letter, yes, we are expecting again.  A little girl, due date end of February, temporarily named 'Pumpkin.'  With what we've been through of late, this is both a great joy from God in the midst of it all, and also another chance to learn to trust Him.  From the start, this pregnancy has been peppered with problems.  In the list of problems, the biggest appears to be with her umbilical cord.  It didn't have spirals as it should have, which puts the arteries (although okay now) in danger of damage at any time.  But our trust is not in cords, rather in the Cord-Maker.  (Who, by the way, started putting in a couple spirals at our last ultrasound!)

If there's anything we've learned over this last year, anything that is really important, it's these things:  Boy, life is short.  No matter how long you live, it's still short.  And this world ain't what it's all about.  The Lord is eternal.  And Life with Him is really the only thing of value.  So as we've been praying for our newest little one, we remember to pray that whether her life be short or 100 years long, whether her life take place just within the womb or both within and without, that each and every day of it would bring great glory to God - that He would get as much glory from her life as He can.  And that's my prayer for each member of our family.  That's my prayer for me.  We've learned that God is worthy of every ounce of glory we can give!  That's what we're here for.  That's what she's here for.  For you pray-ers, we'd be honored if you prayed for her in this way with us.

Well, that's all from us for now...  We'll be sure to keep you all updated.  Thanks for your importance to us!

Much love,

Aaron, Amity, Isaac, Grace, and Pumpkin Zenz