Our Dear Friends and Family,
Let us start out by wishing all of you the Lord’s richest blessings as we look to a fresh new year with 2018! As we look back on 2017 we see so many of the Lord’s kindnesses and are thankful that His mercies are new every morning (and every year). So much has changed in our home over the course of the last couple of years, I (Jenny) always say life seems to be in fast forward and it continues to be so. It seems like yesterday the children were all so little and the days of diapers and Duplo blocks have been exchanged for diplomas and dating (courtship-style of course :))
So where to begin… as many of you know after 16 years of homeschooling and graduating two of our children, after a lot of prayer and consideration we put the 5 middle children into our local Christian school in Fountain Inn. We did not see ourselves in this place years ago, but have been so blessed by the Lord in His providential direction. As you can imagine, this was a huge shift for us all. We all love it! It is a small school so much like a big family. Some of the teachers were former homeschool moms themselves and we have been so pleased at the amount of parental interaction we can have. Jenny actually teaches music to the students once a week. She is not sure who enjoys it more, the children or her because she has a blast with it!
Joseph (20) worked for a good while at UPS but now is very happy to have an excellent job at Granger. With full benefits and being able to drive a forklift around all day he loves it. He is also still doing his college from home, enrolled at Thomas Edison University working towards his Bachelor/s in Computer Information systems. His favorite thing to do in his spare time is to work out at the gym. J still lives at home with us.
William (18) is a machinist at Meyer Tool. He loves his job and is thriving at it, quickly becoming a favorite at the plant. He has become a Dave Ramsey expert and we have been very proud of him as he plans out his finances. He paid off his car very quickly and very soon hopes to buy a house. His favorite thing to do in his spare time is to be with his girl Ariana. Ariana is the sweetest young lady and we are thrilled to see their relationship growing. They seem perfect for each other. Tuesday is “Ari night” around here, so we always know she will be hanging out over here with us then, which we enjoy. She fits right in with our family and is a delight. William is still living at home at this point, but realize that could change quickly.
Rebekah (17) is in 11th grade and loves school! She LOVES playing volleyball with her school and we have had the most fun as a family going out for their games this past fall. She is also a cheerleader with the school. Rebekah stays very busy with her studies, sports and now a certain young man. She has known Ren since they were both 8. He has had her eye on her for years and finally a few months ago Steven gave them permission to date/court. We love Ren and he spends a lot of time in our home. He has truly become like a son to us and we are excited for what the future holds for these two.
Emily (15 ) is just as dear as ever. People say she is my mini-me, only she is my size now. She is in 9th grade, and also very involved with volleyball (captain of her JV team), and cheer. Just a few weeks ago it was Emily’s turn to go to Arkansas for a week. She flew by herself and absolutely loved it. Will came later and was his cousin’s escort for her debutante ball. They both flew home together. Emily is still very artsy and always using her hands to create. She loves to draw and her favorite YouTube videos are either about cake decorating or hairdressing. She is considering doing something with hairdressing in the future.
Daniel (13) had his manhood party this year, celebrating at Saskatoon with several special men in his life. They enjoyed elk, bison, antelope, and kangaroo. As is tradition, several men (including his grown brothers and his two grandfathers) spoke into his life giving him words of wisdom. Daniel has really flourished under the productivity of school. He has worked really hard and was able to skip a grade this year, catching up beautifully. Daniel is playing basketball in school this year and was so thrilled a few weeks ago when he shot a three point basket right as the buzzer was going off. He is still is a huge animal lover and is fascinated with watching documentaries about them.
Hannah (11) is almost 12 as she reminds us. Hannah is, well, Hannah! Everyone loves Hannah! She has more energy than can be contained. She is the social butterfly and has a zest for life that’s hilarious. She forgets though that she’s not the same ages as her older sisters and so she thinks she’s 18. She did volleyball this fall as well, but her main passion is cheerleading. As a flyer for her cheer squad there is not a cuter cheerleader around. Everything Hannah does is with gusto. I remind her to not grow up too quickly, since it seems everyone else is, and she assures me she is happy to remain a little girl for awhile longer. She is known at church for her peanut butter cookies.
Matthew (6) is a young man now. I can’t believe how much sending him to school has matured him. He loves school and has surprised us with how he’s taken everything in stride. He is now in first grade and he loves Mrs. Baldwin his teacher. His little mind is constantly working and drawing conclusions. He has cursive that is absolutely beautiful and I love to see how the world is opening up to him as he makes discoveries. Just recently he started being able to read and follow along when we sing the Psalms.
And then there is Jedidiah (5), sweet, lovable Jed. This letter is being typed actually on his birthday. Where has the time gone? The baby of the family, he is doted on (probably too much) by us all. One of the most precious things about having a large family is seeing the older siblings interact with the younger siblings. Just the other day Jed was helping his big brother wash the tires on his car. He is being homeschooled by me still this year (K4) and then will enter kindergarten next fall. His favorite things in life right now are monster trucks, cars and anything he can take apart or put together. He is much like William was, very mechanical and wants to know how everything fits and works. He goes around the house through the day very busy- he’d rather find out how something works then play with it, it seems.
Jenny is doing well. She continues to be so grateful for the renewed strength and health after so long of a battle with adrenal fatigue. Even with the children in school Jenny is busier then ever. Her blog gerdtfamily.com is still a hobby she enjoys. We have a family home business in the wearable technology field so she does most of the work with that. She has been able to go to Miami, Sacramento and Las Vegas in the past year and this month. Both she and Steven both will go to L.A for their business convention the end of January, which is very exciting. Along with that she has begun to share her online social media marketing expertise with others. Hosting a live program on facebook once a week called Mompreneurs UnLimited she mentors women who desire to stay with their families and work from home. This past year Jenny was able to lose fifty pounds and so she also health- coaches those who also desire lose weight and incorporate healthy habits in their lives.
Another big addition is that Jenny is fulfilling her lifelong dream and getting back into the birthing field again. (Those that have known her since childhood know that she had plans to become a midwife as a teenager). She is beginning Doula certification and talking to two doula groups, deciding which one she wants to work with.
Steve has been blessed to work for Caterpillar nearly 10 years now. He continues as a Senior Design Engineer and loves every second of it. He has an office just a couple of miles from where the children go to school. It is very convenient for taking them to and from each day. He also has very flexible hours so can even come home for lunch if he wishes. Many days he is able to work from home, much to his wife’s delight. Once a quarter he has to travel to Georgia for two nights. He takes Jenny with him and it is a nice getaway with some quality time. We celebrated our 22nd anniversary last April. Steven is also very busy as a deacon in our church. If he has downtime you will always find him in the shop, but many times he is on the floor playing with his boys.
Steve’s parents are still in Arkansas and are in good health. Jenny’s parents live in a cottage on our property. They recently put an addition on and welcomed my niece Lily-Ann (17) to come live with them from the UK. Lily is often up at our home and just fits right in as one of the gang.
As you can imagine, as our children are all growing up, our home is the teen hangout. Between family, girlfriends and boyfriends, best friends and neighbors we have a revolving door. Jenny refers to herself often as the teen-whisperer because there are lots of heart-to-heart talks throughout the days (and nights). It is a busy and sometimes quite chaotic household, but a house full of laughter and love.
We are trying to savor the moments that are changing so fast and hope that you are doing the same.
In closing, we would like to share a beautiful New Year’s Prayer from one of our favorite devotional books,The Valley of Vision.
A PRAYER FOR THE NEW YEAR
Length of days does not profit me
Except the days are passed in Thy presence, in Thy service to Thy glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains
Sanctifies, aids every hour,
That I might not be one moment apart from Thee,
But may rely on thy Spirit
To supply every thought,
Speak every word,
Direct every step,
Prosper every work,
Build up every mote of faith,
And give me a desire
To show forth Thy praise,
Testify Thy love,
Advance Thy kingdom.
I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
With Thee, O Father, as my harbour,
Thee O Son, at my helm,
Thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
My lamp burning,
My ear open to thy calls,
My heart full of love, my soul free.
Give me Thy grace to sanctify me,
Thy comforts to cheer me,
Thy wisdom to teach,
Thy right hand to guide,
Thy counsel to instruct,
Thy law to judge,
Thy presence to stabilize.
May Thy fear be my awe,
Thy triumphs my joy.
From: Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
Much love to all of you,
The Ervin Family