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Happy New Year from the Collins household.

DSC00834 - Version 2Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

I remember, like it was yesterday, asking my mom, “How long till my birthday?  It seems like I have been five . . . FOREVER!”  Her reply did very little in brining comfort to my heart and soul.  For you see, I was exasperated to find out that it would be another three months before I would escape the endless cycle of “Groundhog Day” in being five years old over and over and over again before getting on with my life of six and beyond.

Well now that a few birthdays have come and gone, it seems like time just flies by.  Fast enough that Leann and I are surprised to recognize that rarely do we have time to just sit and smell the flowers or better yet, as Psalm 90:12 says, “Number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

That is where annual Christmas letters come in real handy.  They force us to sit, stop and consider the events of the past year.  They ask us to consider for a moment and ask if we can or are willing to gain a heart of wisdom.  Wisdom from the good moments of life that give us reason to rejoice in the “fruits of our labor.”  Wisdom from the sadder moments that visit us like an unexpected rain shower with no umbrellas to repel the midst.  Wisdom from singular moments along life’s journey that give us pause to reason, reflect and yes, even remember that God does in fact control all things start to finish, top to bottom, sparrow to sons and daughters.

For this past year started with Alisa getting engaged to Peter Georgeff in December, married in March, graduating in June from The University of Washington Nursing School and moving to Monterey, CA.  Whew!  Try saying that real fast on one breath of air.  That one sentence took six months of our year. One in which Alisa planned a wedding for herself in March and then raced over to Idaho to be in a wedding for one of her bridesmaids, Iassica Bass, in June.  It was non stop action to be sure, and that was only chapter one.

Chapter two, Noah.  Graduated in June from Washougal High School and Clark Community College with his High School Diploma and Associates Degree, all with top honors.  June through August he worked at Trout Creek Bible Camp as a Boys Counselor.  Now he is taking pre-requisite classes at Clark Community College, so he can be a Junior in the Computer Science program at WSU Vancouver next year.  Whew!  Tired yet?

Chapter three, Grace.  Sophomore at Washougal High School with top grades.  Top girl on the golf team last spring as a Fresham.  Worked on crew at Trout Creek Bible Camp all summer.  Rotary Student of the Month in the fall.   Now she sings in X-Tet and Chamber Choir and still finds time to help tutor other students with their studies.  Whew!  Makes me tired just running them around to all their activities.  But wait . . . there is more.

Chapter four, Meri.  Competed at Science Olympiad Nationals in Orlando in May, where she won several top medals.  This Fall she is a Freshman at Washougal High School with top grades.  Broke the Girls Freshman Cross Country record in the Fall.  Now sings in choir and enjoys a little time away from running till it starts up again with track in the Spring.  Whew!

Chapter five, Levi.  Competed alongside his sister, Meri, at Science Olympiad Nationals in Orlando last May.  Levi has two more years on the Excel Science Team.  He hopes to do well this year.  He is our last homeschooler and is doing great.  In his spare time, he builds defensive forts on the property with every spare piece of lumber he can scavenge from here and abroad.  Whew!

Chapter six, Leann and I.  Leann is working at JDA, running the Science Olympiad Team for Levi and is a loving wife and mother to the family.  I am working at Morgan Stanley, learned to blog and stared a men’s group at church called, “Raising a God Fearing Generation” and have learned to run laundry through.  Whew!

I kind of feel tired just relating it all, but really, when you look at it all, it really is . . . just . . . the “news.”  I guess the idea that Leann and I are pondering over more and more is not what has “happened”, but what does it “mean” and what have we “learned”?  What are the golden nuggets to be gained from “numbering our days” as Psalm 90:12 tell us.

It is here, that I find the “newsy” moments are becoming more and more, the “teachable” moments.  Moments that Leann and I look back on this past year and think, “Wow, raising kids is sometime easier than releasing kids.”  “When you have four teenagers in your home, someone is always crying and often for no reason at all.”   “Are my parents and in-laws just an acquaintance or close friends?  How do I upgrade if possible, after all these years?”

These are some of the teachable moments that we have encountered at a more in depth level this past year.  Through it all, Leann and I have learned so much.   So much so, that there is no way we could begin to talk about such things in such a short “newsy” Christmas letter.  So please, let this be our invitation to encourage all of us to reach out and talk to those we care about in 2013.  Less “chat” and more coffee.  Less “texting” and more time spent.  Less “Facebook” and more “Face Time.”

For as I think about it, some of the greatest memories of 2012, came not from the accomplishments to put on a “newsfeed”, but from the friendships that were enjoyed face to face.  Friendships that have true value because they encourage us to “number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Friendships that reminds me of a quote by Samuel Jackson, “He that hopes to look back hereafter with satisfaction upon past years, must learn to know the present value of single minutes, and endeavour to let no particle of time fall useless to the ground.”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Collins Family,

D. Mike, Leann, Noah, Grace, Meri and Levi Collins.

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