Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Long Family,

I hope this letter finds each of you and your family under God’s gracious blessing and in true appreciation of this special time of year. I wanted to take this opportunity to express just how much you mean to me and my family.
The Longs have had an incredible year. There is never a dull moment in our home between three very active, ambitious, and healthy (PRAISE GOD) children under the age of six! As I reflect back over the last year, I am amazed at how much they grow and change in so many ways that a picture will not show. Their questions, personalities, desires, fears, concerns, and joy are always changing and are always an easy way for mom and dad to stay grounded in a world that moves faster than we often desire!
Sarah Elizabeth is now six years old and in the first grade. She is reading everything, including anything mom and dad spell to each other which is forcing us to come up with a new code to communicate – any suggestions welcomed! Sarah Elizabeth is now two years post chemo and is doing fantastic! She visits the clinic every three months for labs and a check up. She is maturing so quickly and is fully aware of how God healed her and gave her the strength to beat cancer. She loves school and loves to read! Sarah Elizabeth enjoys ballet, jazz, and has started tennis lessons. Her love for art has continued to blossom. I am so pleased with what a nurturing, caring big sister she has become. Sarah Elizabeth asked Jesus into her heart this summer and is really growing in her understanding of God and His love!
Stuart is now four years old and is attending Pre K every day. This has been a year of Stuart coming out of his shell. His personality has really exploded over the last year and is very evident in the picture on the Christmas card. Stuart also loves school, loves his classmates, and has developed a strong sense of independence and personality… (wonder who he inherited that from?) Stuart fell in love with sports – all sports this year. I was able to enjoy several nine hole rounds with my little caddie, cart driver. Swimming with no floaties, jumping off the diving board fearlessly, and the removal of bike training wheels were all firsts this summer. This fall I coached Stuart’s first soccer team (which meant his first uniform – real cool)! Stuart had a blast and does not understand why the season ended. Stuart is trapped between a big and little sister but remains a strong, fearless brother who cares deeply for the girls.
Catherine is now eighteen months old. If you took every strong personality trait from Sarah Elizabeth and Stuart and multiplied it ten times over… you would be close to describing Catherine. She seems to be a constantly moving blur of energy and excitement. She is the center of attention and lets no one or nothing get in her way. Catherine loves being outside, loves chasing after the big kids, loves to approach strangers with a book. She shows no fear or reservation and naturally has an appreciation of life that only someone who went through so much at such an early age can demonstrate. Amanda and I are constantly reminded of this as we change diapers and get a glimpse of the scar that is all that is left of the that early chapter in Catherine’s life. She has a clean bill of health and is becoming a beautiful little girl.
Trip (our Jack Russell Terrier) is now ten years old. He has lost the spotlight to the kids but is an ever ready companion for an evening on the sofa or a quick toss of the tennis ball outside. Trip had a few brushes with authority over the past year with some barking fits that attracted the HOA and Sheriff’s Department. He takes every poke in the eye, tail pull, and abuse the kids dish out in stride. His hair is turning gray and belly is growing… (Trip, not me!)
Amanda and I are blessed. We know exactly how lucky we are to have each other and share a family that is committed to serving our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We will celebrate our ten year anniversary this year. As I look back over the last ten years I feel so lucky to have Amanda at my side. And, I know just how special the kids are to have a mother who loves them so much. Each night before bed, I make the rounds and check on each of the kids as they sleep. They look so peaceful, innocent, and beautiful in their father’s eyes. I wonder what they are dreaming about, what the next day holds for them, and what I can do make it better for them. It’s amazing to think that our Heavenly father holds the same thoughts for me and my family! I pray you have a year committed to enjoying that same love. Thanks for your friendship and what for what you mean to me and my family! I wish you the very best this Christmas Season and throughout next year!

In God’s Love,

Chad Long

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