Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Wiebehaus 2014 - Christmas Letter

I just finished stacking this winter’s store of firewood. I realized a couple of weeks ago that we were getting low, and wanted to get it taken care of before we got any serious snow. It’s  a couple of weeks until Christmas, and a few days less than that until we get to see my side of the family for a few days. Mark and Jocelyn will come in from Lubbock with my first niece, Margot. Becka and Daniel, who live north of Little Rock, will swing through Fort Worth to pick up my dad. And then they’ll all converge on us for a long weekend. It’s been too long since we've all been together, and we’re very much looking forward to this time!
It’s coming up on the 2-year mark since I started with Church At The Ranch (CATR), and has been a little over 2 years since we moved here to Denver from north Dallas. Between my job, Amy’s job, other church activities, and our 3 kids, the last 12 months have been very full. When we started with CATR, we knew that I’d be spending a period of time training and being mentored to plant a church, and that at some point, we’d really start actually doing the work of that church plant rather than just dreaming about it. That transition time began in the late spring of this year. One of the last and perhaps most important phases of my training took place over the summer. My pastor and his wife planted CATR about 15 years ago, and they got to take their first sabbatical from mid-July until mid-October. It was my first real taste of what it would be like to oversee all aspects of ministry for a church for a longer duration, and although it was a very busy 3 months, I also learned a lot, and got some great hands-on experience that I’d never had before.
I would add that it was also a learning and experience time for Amy and our kids as well to have a taste of what life might look more like in the upcoming years as we start a church together. After all, this is going to be a family affair. Amy and I strongly believe that God is calling US into this work, and that he’ll use both of us in a variety of ways to accomplish his purposes as we start this new work. As of the beginning of November, we have been blessed to help start a new community group with another CATR family – Solomon and Amy Madron - who live in the area where we plan to start the new church. Through a community organization we are starting to partner with, as a group, we have adopted a couple of families for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. These families joined our community group at the Madron’s home for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal (complete with an oven fire!) We’ll be doing the same again before Christmas in addition to being able to help supply them with some gifts. Our hope in all this is to begin to build some long-term relationships with some families in this new area that our burgeoning church can come alongside of and love in the name of Christ. We’re getting our kids involved in this process because we know that God can and does use little ones in unique ways to show his love to people in ways that adults cannot.
Amy’s job continues to go well. For the first year that we lived in Denver, she was in a time of transition with PwC, holding a few different roles. It was a crazy time that resulted in much travel for her. In January, she was blessed to start a dream-role of sorts. She is now involved in the creation, development, and implementation of strategic planning for the Assurance arm of PwC’s finance division. (I don't know what that means either, but it sounds impressive.) It is really a fantastic fit for her skills and passions. She enjoys a certain degree of flexibility in her hours, a much reduced travel schedule, the challenges and tasks that are part of this role, as well as the people she works alongside.
Ellie is now 8, Emma is 6, and Nathan is 3. The girls are doing very well in school. We continue to love our neighborhood for how many children it has, and our kids spend hours a week playing, riding, screaming, and running up and down our friendly street. Ellie and Emma have been participating in cheer and gymnastics classes this year and have enjoyed those a lot. Ski season will soon be upon us, and they’re looking forward to getting back out on the slopes. We’re also planning on introducing Nathan to skiing this year as well, so he’ll take some lessons at Arapahoe Basin for 4 consecutive weeks this winter. One other Nathan update that I’ll add is that in just the last couple of weeks, we have reached a major milestone: Our last child SEEMS to be fully potty-trained and out of diapers. For any other parents out there who have been there, you know how exciting that is. We've had a child in diapers for almost 8 1/2 years!! And for any of you who are looking out to that distant horizon, your day will come!
I’ll wrap up with one more thought. Over the last year, there have been some really high highs, and few valleys as well. God has spoken to us and led us in some very exciting ways and directions, but I also believe that he has used some hard experiences to both toughen us and to prune us in some ways. God’s pruning is never comfortable, but it always for our good. It has also given us some great experience in dealing with people - who, as we all know are imperfect. With a church plant, we anticipate the high highs as well as the valleys to be a part of the process. It is easy to be thankful in those moments of excitement and blessing. It sometimes feels impossible to be thankful in those hard moments. However, the promise of God is that he is always with us. My heart for this upcoming season in our lives, as we look toward Christmas, and beyond as we head into this next season of planting a church, is captured in Paul’s encouragement to the church in Corinth from 2 Cor 4:16-18 when he tells them that in the midst of his great struggle, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
Blessing on you all at this time of year, as we set aside extra time to celebrate the momentous occasion of Christ’s birth!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Updated Elf on the Shelf for Underachievers and Advent Kindness Calendar

Here are some updated calendars for this year for both Elf on the Shelf (with the hard stuff saved for the weekends) and our Advent Acts of Kindness calendar. Enjoy!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Disney World 2014

We’ve been planning this trip for years – pretty fun to see it finally come to fruition. My parents have a time share at Orange Lake Resort in Kissimmee, FL – about 15 minutes from Disney World. We met them along with my sister and her family for a week ‘o fun. With 7 children ages 8 and under sleeping in a 3 bedroom condo, what could go wrong?! In all reality, we didn’t spend much time with all 13 of us in the condo anyway, so it turned out to be a great time.

On Saturday the 5th, our family got up at 4am to get to the airport for our 6:30am flight to Orlando. Meanwhile, my parents had departed from Dallas on Friday and were making their way to Orlando by car. My sister and her fam were also making the trek from Detroit by car and left Friday evening and went all through the night. We were the first to arrive and were able to check into the condo. Jennie and David made it soon after and we got all of our luggage unpacked and headed to CiCi’s for lunch. We went back to change for the pool, and were just about to head out when Mom and Dad arrived. We spent some good time at the pool and got some rest for our first day at Disney on Sunday.




Our first full day on Sunday was spent at Hollywood Studios. We didn’t intend to make it a long day, but we had some folks that wanted to get there at the opening to make sure we got on the Toy Story ride and others that wanted to stay for the Fantasmic show. So, it turned out to be a lengthy first day for the later group! We had a great day riding Toy Story, Star Tours (a group favorite), watching the Indiana Jones show and the Extreme Stunt Show, seeing Muppets 3D and then the older kids enjoyed the Tower of Terror and the Aerosmith Rockin Roller Coaster. We also picked up some jedi light sabers which is always good for 7 children staying in a 3 bedroom condo.





Monday was our day at Epcot. We did a little later start and took the boat over from the Yacht Club resort. We spent the morning riding rides including Test Track, Mission Space, Nemo and Friends, Talking with Crush and also spent some time in the Innoventions buildings. We got the Norway and Mexico boat rides in before squeezing in our Fast Passes to Soarin’ (one of my favorites) and then rushing back to Germany for our dinner reservations (that turned out to be about an hour later than when our reservation was). Dinner was good, though, and then we enjoyed the Reflections of Earth show before taking our very tired crew back to the condo. Apparently, I only took photos of our babies that day. Oops.






By Tuesday, I admit. We were pretty tired. We knew we just had one more day to get through before our rest day, though. Plus, the kids wake up at the same time regardless. We went over to Magic Kingdom for our only day where rain was in the forecast. It wasn’t too bad, and it make the crowds bearable. We left before my sister and her fam, so we were able to hit up a couple of princesses (something we tried not to do when all the boys outnumbered the girls). We did It’s a Small World, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, Space Mountain, the Barnstormer, Monsters Inc., Lilo and Stitch, Buzz Lightyear, the Speedway, Pirates of the Caribbean, and of course Dad’s favorite – the Enchanted Tiki Room. I may be missing something, but we were able to cover a lot of ground that day. I thought the Buzz Lightyear photos were pretty hilarious.




















From there, we took the monorail over to the Contemporary Resort for our one character dining experience at Chef Mickey’s. It was really good food, and the kids really seemed to enjoy the characters.











We then decided that we had enough energy left to head back over to Magic Kingdom to enjoy the Electrical Parade and the fireworks show. I’m glad we did – they were both really good.






On Wednesday, we had planned for it to be a sleep in day followed by a lazy day at the pool. Thanks to the rain the day before, though, it wasn’t QUITE warm enough for swimming. David had the idea of checking out Old Town which has a carnival-like amusement park. I had thought we’d check it out for a few hours and go back and nap the littles, but we had so much fun! We ended up staying until dinner, meeting Mom and Dad (who enjoyed some down time in the condo during the day) for dinner and then all heading BACK to Old Town in the evening. Not quite as restful as we’d intended, but such a fun day. This day was a little more catered to the babies which was nice since Disney isn’t as much. This was the point at which Jennie and James decided to do the SkyCoaster. The rest of us put the kids on the bumper cars while they got ready and then we had a great vantage point to watch them. Only issue was, they got ready WAY too fast, and we missed the whole thing! So sad. All in all, super fun day, though.










Thursday was our day at Animal Kingdom. We had really great luck with there not being bad crowds until this day, and this day was pretty crowded. I’d say our crew was just a little off that day – we weren’t amused by the crowds. We still enjoyed Expedition Everest, the Boneyard play area, the Kilimanjaro Safari, the Kali River Rapids and the jungle trek. The Lion King show was closed for renovation, and the Dinosaur ride while our group was in line. Sad. We decided to make it a shorter day and head to the pool in the late afternoon.







Our last full day there was another day at Magic Kingdom. We did Buzz Lightyear, Monsters Inc and Space Mountain again and also added in the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (which was closed on Tuesday). We enjoyed the Country Bear Jamboree and the Hall of Presidents as well as the Pirates of the Caribbean Treasure Hunt before also making it an early day in favor of one last trip to the pool.











We enjoyed a nice mexican dinner in Old Town that evening and got everyone to bed at a good time before our departure on Saturday. We all left around 10 and the road trip families headed on their way. Our flight wasn’t until 3, so we had just enough time to get the girls’ hair wrapped by the pool before we left for the airport. They were SO happy they got to do this.




It was a great trip. So blessed that we were able to do it, and very grateful to Mom and Dad for the use of the condo. Great cousin memories were made for sure!