Tuesday, December 27, 2005

2005 Christmas Letter

Wow! Life never seems to slow down for the Emerson family, and 2005 was no exception. This year we bring you greetings from Montgomery, Alabama. However, reflections on the year begin in Memphis, Tennessee. In January, Brett took a job with Memphis City Schools as a Reading teacher. He was placed at Longview Middle School in inner-city Memphis. On his first day of work, instead of starting his Reading job, he was offered the position of Digital Photography and Computer Technology teacher, and he accepted. April continued to sub for Memphis Harding Academy in the elementary classes.

Skip past February (although something probably happened that we’re forgetting) on to March when we took a much needed Spring Break trip to Denver, Colorado. We enjoyed spending time with friends from Harding University (the Staples and Carrs). Brett surprised April with a few days to ourselves at a cozy cabin just outside of Estes Park near Rocky Mountain National Park. We enjoyed lots of snow and God’s beautiful creations. April especially enjoyed relaxing by the fireplace in our cabin while Brett went exploring in the mountains. This was also our last trip together as a couple since we found out just days before leaving that we were expecting our first child (more about that in the October section).

Knowing we would be in Memphis a while longer than we had expected, we began looking for summer jobs. April began hers on April 1st at Sycamore View Church of Christ as the Secretary for the Youth Office. This was a familiar job for her as she spent several summers during her college years working in that office with her youth minister, Joe Godley. Brett joined the youth team in May after he finished teaching and we became the youth interns for the summer. We were blessed to serve alongside the many amazing brothers and sisters at Sycamore View.
In June, Brett attended Memphis WorkCamp while April, being 18 weeks pregnant, continued working in the youth office. Later that month, we were able to spend a weekend in Gatlinburg at an amazing cabin in the Smokies with our dear friends Mike & Ann Baur (thanks to Mike’s relatives). We also enjoyed spending time with the Gulleys and Luchauers. On the 22nd, we went to the doctor for our first ultrasound. We had decided not to find out if our baby was a boy or a girl. The ultrasound was exciting nonetheless, and we learned that we had a healthy baby due on November 7th. As if June wasn’t exciting enough, we received a call from John Land, an elder at the GracePointe Church of Christ in Montgomery, AL, informing us that they were willing to make a commitment to be our sponsoring congregation for our work in Togo, West Africa! Many of you know that we spent an entire year looking for a church to partner with us in our mission work, and when we finally learned to fully trust Him, He provided. We praise the holy name of our faithful and true Father for His provision!

July brought us two weeks of church camp and a mission trip to Albemarle, North Carolina with the teens. Brett celebrated his 28th birthday at camp and enjoyed a surprise visit from his parents and our nephew, Nathaniel. April’s pregnancy continued to progress with her feeling great and enjoying life…her’s and the baby’s.

August is the point where life became almost overwhelming. We spent nine days in Israel and toured the Holy Lands with classmates from April’s experience at Harding University in Greece (HUG). Thanks to Monte Cox for setting up this special reunion. April was a real trooper, trekking all over Israel with her 27 week belly. April traveled home and left Brett in Europe for a few extra days of exploring. Brett learned first hand that being away from your wife that is carrying your first child is a lot harder than expected. After everyone was safely back in Memphis, we began packing up for our move to Montgomery, AL. Brett secured a job at Lighthouse Christian Academy as a 9th-12th English teacher, and he taught a few days before returning to Memphis and moving all of our belongings.

We celebrated four years of wonderful marriage on September 1st. We combined April’s 27th birthday with our anniversary and spent a night at a bed and breakfast here in Montgomery. September also found us attending childbirth classes as April’s due date approached. Betsy, our sister-n-law, took beautiful maternity pictures of April at 32 weeks pregnant. Along with a friend, Betsy has started a photography business, and they do wonderful work. You can see more of their work at www.amephotography.net.

The Together for Togo conference was in Richland, Washington the first weekend in October. Brett was blessed to be able to attend the conference this year and build relationships with friends, family and missionaries of Togo. We praise God for taking care of April while Brett was away and not letting her go into labor. Then on October 25th, April’s water broke while she was in the doctor’s office for a regular checkup. We took a quick ride next door to the hospital, and approximately six hours later and after only 15 minutes of pushing, we welcomed our sweet little BOY into the world! His name is Caden Darrel, and as you can see from the photo, he is beautiful. His middle name comes from Brett’s dad, and we were honored to pass on the name of a man we both admire so much to our own son.

November and December have been about learning to be parents and learning about life with a baby. Please feel free to view regularly updated pictures of Caden at http://theemersonfamily.blogspot.com. He is a healthy boy and a great baby, a blessing in so many ways. At the writing of this letter, he is six weeks old and weighs over 9 lbs! He is beginning to smile and coo a lot (which is fun for Mommy and Daddy too). We ask you all, as our loved ones, to pray for Caden and for us as parents as we raise him up in the Lord and dedicate our son to a life of service to Him.

We couldn’t end this letter without telling you about our church here in Montgomery. GracePointe church has been absolutely wonderful to us. They have taken us in from day one as a part of their family. We love worshipping with them, and we can see God’s plan and timing in bringing us here. Clearly, God’s timing IS perfect. Another blessing of living in Montgomery is being able to spend time with Brett’s brother and his family. Our nephews, Owen and Dawson, love spending time with their Aunt and Uncle and cousin, “baby Caden”.
As we celebrate the holidays this year as a family, we pray the Lord has given you the wisdom to see all the blessings He has sent you. We love you all! Lord willing, we will be leaving for Africa at a time to be determined in 2006. The Lord loves to keep us guessing, so you’ll have to bear with Him as He continually reveals His plans for us as His children. Please keep us in your prayers as we make preparations for that transition, and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Thursday, June 30, 2005

It's Official !!!

Grace Pointe Church in Montgomery, Alabama has agreed to be our sponsoring congregation. We received a call from John Land, the missions elder at GP, saying that the missions committee and elders have agreed to make this commitment. The details are still being worked out. We plan to move there in August/September. Thanks to everyone who has been praying for the past year and a half for this. God is faithful and He does provide! July is an extremely busy time in youth ministry for us, leaving little time to make moving decisions...much less baby Emerson plans. Please continue praying for us as we make plans for the move to Montgomery.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Prayers needed

We will be traveling to Montgomery, Alabama Memorial Day weekend. We will be visiting family as well as a congregation that has shown some interest in our desire to work in Togo. We are very excited about meeting their missions committee and sharing with them our vision. Our prayer is that we would continue to be patient until God reveals his will to us and that He would speak through us this weekend as we share our hearts.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

That's right...we're pregnant! You're supposed to take the pregnancy test, put the cap on and leave it for several minutes...we didn't even get the cap on and we had our 2 pink lines. I has suspected I might be pregnant and had prepared cards to give to our parents to announce our special news. The front of the card had presents stamped on it and the words, "A GIFT FROM THE LORD" and the inside said, "IS LIFE" and pictures two little baby feet (made with the end of my fist). Our parents and family were very excited and very surprised. The baby is due November 9, 2005 and will be born somewhere in the states. I've felt great and had basically no morning sickness. The Lord knew what this little body could handle and blessed me with a great first trimester. As we finish out week 13, my belly is starting to show just a little. And the buttons on my fitted pants don't come close at all. I am down to the drawstring and elastic waistbands.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Middle School

Lots of things have happened since January 1st...the biggest news has been Brett taking a job with Memphis City Schools. Mom was watching the 10 o'clock news one Saturday night and noticed that there had been a job fair where they had interviewed reading and math teachers. Brett called and found out they were still hiring teachers. He accepted a position as a reading teacher. He was placed at Longview Middle School. Now, most people don't know where Longview is because it's in the ghetto (the southeast corner of the I-40/240 loop). He went through one day of orientation and then received his classroom. However, when he arrived at Longview, they said, "Well, we really need a digital photography teacher. Do you know anything about that?" Even though Brett was hired with "No Child Left Behind" money to teaching reading...he is teaching digital media to middle school, low income students. He did an attitude interest survey and discovered that of all his students, only about ten of them had ever taken a photo with a digital camera. His classes vary from a typing class to learning to use computers to create presentations (microsoft word, powerpoint, etc.) His school has been challenging yet exactly where he wanted to be teaching. This middle school was the lowest achieving school last year and was therefore declared a "fresh start" school. This means that they fired all the teachers, sent their best principal there, and gave him the authority to rehire only those he wanted. He chose four teachers to return. Also, the school is participating in a program sponsored by Apple computers known as "One to One." Each student has an apple ibook (a laptop, for all you pc people). One of Brett's biggest challenges has been overcoming what the previous teacher left behind disciplinary wise. He was a favored teacher among the students because he basically let them do whatever they wanted. Brett has faced many different discipline problems but has full support of his principal, Mr. Harris, and that makes all the difference. Several days Brett would come home physically and emotionally tired. He discovered one day on the way to work that God would not have given him this job if he could not handle it. This thought has helped him deal with the strains of working in the inner city. And we praise God for the job and the stability it provides.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Family Pictures

We finally convinced Mom and Dad to take family pictures while Allen & Sarah were here. Here's one of Brett and I. (my favorite pic)