December 24, 2010

{ Christmas Greetings from the Koch’s }


When you get this card this Christmas Season, its not just because youre on a list. Its sent to you because you are a special part of our lives. As we sign our names below, and address an envelope just for you, we send up a special prayer, thanking God for you and asking that He bless this Christmas for you and those you love.

We recently received a card with the above sentiment, and I am “borrowing” it to pass on to each of you. As our stockings are hung, our favorite goodies are baked, the gifts are wrapped, snow is on the ground, the tree is aglow with its beautiful lights, it seems we are pretty much ready for Christmas. Our hearts are ready, too, to receive the true gift of Christmas, God’s gift of Jesus. I have been making a point to say “Merry Christmas”, and pray that all will come to realize the true reason we celebrate this wonderful season. This letter comes with joy and thanksgiving, as we send our greetings and wishes for a beautiful Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.

Reflecting on this past year, we pause to give thanks for the many ways God has worked in our lives. We rang in the New Year, and our 33rd (!) Anniversary, in snowy Chelan, enjoying the company of friends as we relaxed, played lots of games, toured a few wineries, ate lots, and found fun shops to explore amid the wintery wonderland…a beautiful getaway!

As January unfolded, the girls and I kept busy with plans and practices for another fun Junior Miss program with a great committee, and a hard-working bunch of girls. On the night of the program, I was honored for 20 years as a Director…what a sweet surprise! As I recall the many past Junior girls, themes, music, and committees, I realize the many blessings that have come through this wonderful program over the years. It’s been such a joy in my life! Marcie and I will be passing this opportunity (co-directing) on this year, and I’ll be stepping back in my responsibilities. I know better than to say I’m retiring…!

Bob welcomed in the new year continuing to work hard adjusting County budgets, and dealing with more and more cuts and hard decisions. In his 6th year as a County Commissioner, he also sits on a variety of other committees and boards (32!) throughout the County and State, and even National, and is committed to giving it his very best. He will be traveling to Olympia in January, working with Legislators on behalf of important County issues. He finds fulfillment in serving in this way. Bob squeezed in a fun fishing trip with friends on the Clearwater River, and enjoyed several long weekends at Priest Lake. Visits with Tara & the kids, Janelle(16), Tyler(11), & Alex(10) are too far and few between, but all is well with them.

A 2010 highlight for Bob was attending his 50th (OMG!) Class Reunion in Minnesota…it was a momentous occasion! It was held late in September, just as the Fall colors were changing. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Minnesota, seeing the sites, catching up with family, friends, and of course, reminiscing with old (!) classmates. Bob was honored to be a “Wise Man” in our community’s recent Living Nativity. A friend’s little boy said that he didn’t know Jesus had a Grandpa!

Marcie’s job as a Counselor at CHS is always full of new challenges – it’s a perfect fit for her quiet, common sense approach, her natural ease in relating with teens, her organizational skills, and ability to deal with pressure. She was honored for these attributes last year at the annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet as “Educator of the Year”…a well-deserved honor, for sure! In her “spare time”, she spends football season coaching the Cheer Squad (with Melissa this year!). How fun to cheer the Connell Eagles on to State for the second year in a row! 2009, State Championship title, 2010, 2nd place after a very hard-fought championship game at the Tacoma Dome! Marcie also has been co-directing the Junior Miss program with me, serves as a Youth Leader for our church’s Senior High Youth Group, and looks forward to taking them on another Mission Trip this summer. She played a key role in organizing our Beta group’s annual Craft Get-Away last February. A new creative talent was discovered last year, as Marcie taught herself to sew and quilt. She pumps out beautiful quilts and table runners in no time, and is very generous in gifting others with her beautiful creations. Her greatest blessing this year was having Lasik eye surgery…no more glasses, perfect vision, and as she says…she’s enjoying a collection of fun sunglasses! We recently had fun helping celebrate her 30th Birthday…wow, how can that be?!

Melissa continues teaching and inspiring second graders at Connell Elementary. It’s a more demanding job each year, but the rewards are many. She usually shares a cute “quote of the day”…oh, kids do say the darnedest things! She adds Cheer Coaching to her busy days, passing on her love of cheer and dance to hard-working squads for both Football and Basketball. She is also called upon to choreograph the Junior Miss Fitness & Poise routines, and does an outstanding job working with the girls. After much planning and preparation, Melissa’s dream of opening a dance studio came true this Fall, as she welcomed 28 students to her “Just Dance” tap dance studio. (Bob even helped her build a portable dance bar for the dancers to hold on to as they learn their steps.) These new dancers brought great joy to parents, grandparents, and friends last weekend as they showcased their new abilities in a little holiday presentation. Melissa adds such fun to our lives. I love her sense of humor, her sense of style, and seeing her faith grow amid the trials of life.

After struggling with various health issues and terrible migraine headaches, Melissa was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and is thankful for slow, but sure, successful treatments. We’re praying for a much healthier year ahead for her.

Speaking of a healthier year, I am very thankful to report that I am doing amazingly well after my surprise Aortic Dissection in April of 2009. I have a new doctor in the Tri-Cities that I really like; between him and the awesome U of W staff, they keep a pretty close eye on me. I’m humbled by the miracle that was mine, and am so thankful for each and every prayer offered on my behalf. I know each day is a gift. It’s so hard to “slow down”. Even though I try, life just seems to be so “busy”. The thing that relaxes me the most is beading. I love handcrafting jewelry and sharing it with others. While spending a month at Priest Lake, ID this summer (the place I enjoy relaxing the very most!), I created lots (30+) of necklaces and bracelets in every size and color. It was also great to be able to Jet Ski again, after recovering from “my ordeal” last year! What fun we had enjoying the beauty of the Lake with lots of friends and family…I call it “doctor’s orders” to slow down, relax, and soak up the spirit of peace there. It was the perfect way to unwind before starting my 20th (another wow!) year in August working for the North Franklin School District. I enjoy the challenges and rewards of my job, teaching Reading to primary students…I often have cute stories to compete with Melissa’s! It is such a joy to share life with Marcie & Melissa at this time in our lives…we know it may not always be this way, but for now God has them placed here, and I thoroughly enjoy our times together!

I have also been blessed this past year to attend several retreats…two fun crafting retreats, and a Walk With Christ (formerly Emmaus) weekend, and a weekend in Grangeville, ID with dear Washtucna friends. I also love participating in a bi-weekly Bible Study with a special group of friends.

2010 involved several fun trips for me! Marcie, Melissa & I escaped to Seattle for a few days during Spring Break, enjoying all our favorite spots! In June, Mom and I traveled to Los Angeles for a quick visit to see my Uncle Larry, and enjoyed our time there. We definitely became an expert on LA Taxis! Then…to celebrate everyone’s long-passed 21st B’days, Marcie, Melissa, my niece Lisa, Mom, and I took a long-awaited trip to Las Vegas…we had a ball together shopping, seeing the sites, dressing up, attending several shows, and even touring “The Strip” in a Limo! Fun memories!! Thank you Allegiant Air for cheap, direct flights!

A concern for our family this year has been my Mom’s eyesight. Late in the summer, she discovered she was having more and more difficulty seeing, especially reading. Knowing she had Macular Degeneration (dry) in her right eye, she suddenly developed Macular Degeneration (wet, which is worse) in her left eye. She has since been receiving monthly shots in her eye to try to stop the effects. She is so brave, and tries to keep a positive attitude, but it’s changing her lifestyle in many ways. The Edith Bishel Foundation in Kennewick has been very helpful in assisting with various needs…what a special place for the sight-impaired. She uses a special reading machine to read her mail, etc. and is no longer able to drive to the Tri-Cities, or at night. She may be moving to town (finally!) in the coming year. We pray for the shots to help restore some of her vision, and for God to direct and guide her in her many decisions. As always, her faith is strong and she stays involved in church & community as much as possible, as well as her family’s lives & activities. Her telephone ministry is her life line (!), sharing her love with everyone! She’s amazing!

We are reminded daily of God’s blessings, and are so thankful for the friendships and love that surround us. It has been such fun receiving all of your cards and pictures and hearing of your family’s lives…it’s one of the special gifts of the Christmas season! God bless each of you.

May the coming year be filled with the best of health, joy, and peace…and especially the amazing love of Jesus, whose birth we celebrate with awe and thanksgiving.

Merry Christmas!

Bob & Connie

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