A Christmas Card (2022)

Merry Christmas from the Asps!

Season’s Greetings from Kent, Ohio! We’ve never been good at the Christmas Card thing. We do, however, try to provide regular updates about our lives through other channels. So, please let us know if you’d like to be included on any of those other communications!

Anyway: we’ve loved getting other people’s Christmas cards over the last couple of weeks. So much so that we wanted to try a sort of “electronic Christmas Card” this year. To supplement all the prayer letters, and blog posts, and Instagram images, TikTok videos, and BeReal posts. To say, “Merry Christmas” to you. Our lives are so greatly enriched by all of our family, our friends, and our neighbors. So, even if this is the only thing you read from us in 2022, we want you to know that we appreciate you.

We’re happy to report that we’re all doing relatively well, here at the close of 2022. But we want to be careful to not create some overly-simplistic “postcard” of our lives, in this space for updates. Life is full of both sorrow and joy. But in any event, we want to share it with you.

Eric

Thanksgiving at the Farm

Eric is now in his eleventh year of working with the Leadership Team for H2O Church at Kent State University. He likes working with younger generations, and could see himself staying at his current position for the rest of his career. At the same time, he regularly has to remind himself that “Jesus is the Savior of the World, not Eric.” This has also been a year of trusting God with providing increased care for his father, Dave, who’s dealing with more and more complications from his Parkinson’s Disease. Fortunately, they’re just a mile up the road in Kent.

Outside of day-to-day life and ministry, he tends to take the driver’s seat on family trips — like the summer’s work in Colorado and vacation in Utah and Nevada — but he’s even happier bicycling, running, or hiking as recreational activities.

Eric doesn’t enjoy thrift stores as much as everyone else in the family, but his favorite discovery of the last year was a VHS cassette copy of the original Top Gun film, purchased from a second-hand store in Elko, Nevada. Without air conditioning in temperatures near a hundred degrees, we sweated while watching the 1986 film in the cabin of a working cattle ranch further east in Elko County… But that made the next day’s experience of going to see Top Gun: Maverick at the air-conditioned downtown cinema all the sweeter.

Marci

Cooling Down by the Stream at the Hole in the Mountain Cabin

This year, Marci established a new business called Fleta’s Cupboard: giving new life to old furniture. As a result, she spends a lot of time in thrift stores (and their online equivalents), as well as trash-picking items from the curbs of Kent. She has monetized the old adage that “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure,” and she’s developed a steady source of family income through her skillful renovations. She loves the flexibility that comes with being her own boss. And it comes in handy on the family level, too. We’re also in the process of losing her father, Ross, to Alzheimer’s Disease. But we’re trusting God in this.

As the kids have become increasingly independent, she developed a brilliant new rhythm for bringing the family together for Friday Feasts with Friends and Family (a.k.a. FFFF). She gets to show off her culinary skills and her gift for hospitality. And as a result, our house on the west side of Kent is loud and full at the start of most weekends.

Her favorite second-hand discovery was a set of 1962 Broyhill Brazilia chairs. They were actually left on the curb as trash, but it turns out that they are highly sought after collectors’ items. She’s finished renovating them just in time for the holidays, allowing more places for guests to sit when they visit our home.

Elliot

Thanksgiving in North Royalton

Elliot is now twenty years old, in his second-to-last year of studying Business Marketing Management, with a minor in Digital Media, at Kent State University. He’s a dominant basketball player, a creative presence in online media and musical spheres, and he’s recently been learning the ropes of the dating world. The summer of 2022 was especially epic for Elliot. He got to participate in an all-expenses-paid learning experience in Israel in May. And then he spent June, July, and part of August at the Collegiate Church Network’s Leadership Training program in Estes Park, Colorado.

For the summer of 2023, however, he’s hoping to find an internship in the music industry. This could combine his people skills, his business education, and his love for music. He’s been teaching himself how to play piano, as well as more frequently singing and collaborating with friends on songwriting.

Most of Elliot’s wardrobe these days is retro-1990s clothing, so he’s a regular at all of the local thrift stores. He got his start in thrifting under the tutelage of his sister, Olivia, but he contends that “the student has surpassed the teacher.” In any event, his favorite secondhand scoop from this year was a USA Team Olympic Jacket from 1996.

Olivia

Smoky Mountains Retreat: Olivia on a Sun-Soaked Rock

Olivia is now eighteen years old, in her first year of studying Visual Communication and Design at Kent State University. She graduated from Kent Roosevelt High School in May. And then, she spent the majority of the summer living independently in Kent. She held down three jobs, while the rest of the family traveled west for June and July. In the middle of July, she joined her church youth group to learn about (and help alleviate) homelessness in San Francisco. Then afterwards, she narrowly dodged a COVID scare to rendezvous with her parents and younger brother in Las Vegas for a little bit of vacation time before making her way back to Ohio for the start of college.

Now that she’s living in the dorms at Kent State, she’s carving out her own niche within the H2O Church community. And she continues working at the Great Harvest Bread Company in Stow.

Olivia’s favorite thrift find of 2022 is a red leather jacket (as seen in the family portrait). She found it during a lunch stop in Nebraska. She may have the greatest passion and eye for fashion out of everyone in the family, and she uses it to assemble her own distinctive look — as well as to provide thoughtful consultation to her family and friends.

Cor

Towner's Woods with Cor

Cor is now fifteen years old, in his sophomore year at Kent Roosevelt High School. He’s still crazy about sports: especially the Cleveland Cavaliers, Amsterdam FC Ajax, and the Dutch National Soccer Team. He watched most of the 2022 World Cup, and felt like referees robbed Team Oranje in their quarterfinal loss to Argentina. But a silver lining in this year’s World Cup experience is that he has amassed about seventy percent of the stickers for the official collector’s album.

Interestingly, despite his ongoing love for the world’s favorite sport, he personally switched from playing on the school Soccer team to running for the school Cross Country team this fall — and he’s loved the switch. He also sings for the high school’s top choir. And within the next year, he should be driving! In the meantime, however, he loves the independence that he gets from using his bicycle as his primary mode of transportation.

Cor’s favorite thrift store discovery was an England 2006 World Cup jersey. He doesn’t actually care much for English footballers, but the jersey is a really clean, crisp, official replica.

Merry Christmas!

During this Advent season, we regularly try to pause after dinner, with lighting candles and reflecting on the power, the peace, the light, and the hope of this holiday season. God made a choice to include us in His family, through Jesus. And now, we can choose to participate in the blessings of that inclusion! What a miracle! It’s hard to wrap our minds around all the implications. But it’s worth contemplating. And celebrating. After our Advent reflections, we close with singing a song together. One of our favorites is “O Come, O Come, Immanuel” (even though it’s really hard to harmonize with this one). It carries a haunting sadness in the recognition of our day-to-day darkness, pain, and brokenness. But it concludes with words of hope: “Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come…” And we pray that you will find Him and rest in Him this Christmas.

Much love,
The Asps

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