Unconventional letter delivery

Christmas comes every year, so why does it always seem to sneak up on me? Every year after Christmas, I come up with my good intentions for the next year?and at the top of that list is send out a bona fide Christmas card.

Our family is so blessed each year in the weeks leading up to Christmas as we open card after card of smiling, beautiful families. Sunday alone we received four in our church mailbox.

It?s so fun. And it?s totally something I want to do?and yet, here we are a week away from Christmas, and until Sunday, I didn’t even have a recent family photo to use.

I realized, however, that I can still meet my card goal?albeit in an unconventional way.

So imagine, if you will, pulling a white envelope from your mailbox and opening it to find the newest Just family photo (which you can view on my blog: justswritehere.blogspot.com) accompanying this letter:

Greetings from the Just family! Another year has come and gone, leaving us with many memories, including our family vacation in Florida.

We spent the week with Malinda?s aunt and uncle and enjoyed relaxing on several beautiful beaches. We also visited an aquarium where Jemma touched a sting ray and Gracelyn touched a sea star.

On one boat outing, our family saw a shark right off the side of the boat, and on another, we enjoyed watching a family of dolphins. It was almost hard to come home.

Gracelyn turned 5 in April and started kindergarten in August. She is in Mrs. Boldt?s class and she looks forward to P.E. and recess on Mondays and Wednesdays.

And, in October, Gracelyn learned to read! Though she still enjoys being read to, and right now we are working our way through the ?Little House on the Prairie? series. Mommy is proud to say that Gracelyn seems to love the books as much as she does.

Jemma turned 3 in May and was able to start gymnastics this fall. She has been quick to learn many of the skills, including skipping, a beginning cartwheel and forward rolls. She also has taken to doing headstands on the couch. Maybe the 2028 Olympics are in our future.

Jemma is a happy, bouncy little girl who keeps Daddy and Mommy on their toes, but is always quick to dish out hugs and ?I love yous.?

Case turned 1 in August, and despite being the youngest, can no longer be called a baby. He has mastered walking, climbing up and down stairs, and is quickly picking up speed in everything. His language skills never cease to amaze us, and he has added a couple three-syllable words to his repertoire, including ?baa-ke-baw? (basketball). However, his favorite word by far is ?wights? (lights), and with all the Christmas decorations everywhere, he has plenty of opportunity to communicate his knowledge.

Brad is in his third school year at USD 410 as the director of technology. In his spare time he enjoys helping his dad on the farm, especially during summer and fall harvest. He tackled a bathroom remodeling project in our upstairs bathroom this year, and he hopes to build a kitchen pantry in the near future. For the last two years, Brad has taught first and second grade Sunday school, and Gracelyn is excited to move to ?Daddy?s class? next year.

Malinda is a stay-at-home-mom in her fifth year. She is also in her sixth year at the Hillsboro Free Press, and her fifth year of writing Lipstick & Pearls.

Last spring, Malinda took on a new role as an assistant track coach for the middle school and high school at USD 410. She loved stepping into her role as the jumping coach (long jump, triple jump) and was honored to accompany two jumpers to the state track meet. She looks forward to continuing that role this spring.

Additionally, our family has experienced a tremendous amount of spiritual growth this year, including both Brad and Malinda attending Men?s Encounter and Women?s Encounter. In light of our faith, we wish to extend God?s blessings to you in this season of Christ.

We pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith and that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

?Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!?

Merry Christmas!