The Gift of a Year

In continuation with "The Gift" theme, focusing on the priceless gifts of life, I wanted to take a moment to share our annual Christmas letter with you.  The first Christmas letter we sent out was for our very first Christmas in 1999.

My sis-in-law, Nicki and I were discussing how much we enjoy reading others Christmas letters and how we pray that we always have something to write about.  Writing at the end of the year provides a moment to reflect back on the joys and fulfillment God blessed our family with; the gifts contained in each year.

Thank you for allowing me to share it with you!

From my heart to yours, Merry Christmas!

“Another year has gone by…..”

Those are the lyrics to a beautiful Christmas song that so accurately describes the sentiment of the season.  Every year seems to pass with increasing speed, and although we’re having tons of fun, there’s a somber emotion for how quickly this treasured time is passing.  As in Moses’ prayer, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 NLT—our take away is to simply soak it up, each and every moment.  And no season emphasizes those special moments greater than the one that celebrates The One.

Embracing the present, and in anticipation of what 2014 has in store, we reflect back over the precious time we shared in 2013.  Our great gift is that of our family, friends and co-workers with whom we shared many memorable moments.

One of those times was this past February when we lost my Grandpa, whom the kids called Papa Cecil.  He passed away two days after his 91st birthday.  It was a privilege to have him living so close these last few years, giving the kids a unique opportunity to truly know their great grandpa.  He was my last living grandparent, and I can only hope to inherit such longevity coupled with his strong sense of independence.

The summer months brought intense heat and delightful use of our new splash pad.  Adding a pool to our backyard was such a blessing.  We enjoyed parties and get-togethers with family, church family, neighbors, family friends, school friends and work friends.  We hope for many, many more, in the years to come!

Our year included a most joyful event, the birth of our nephew Charles Allen Barr on August 17th.  Going by the adorable name, Charlie, this is Aunt Nicki and Uncle Brandon’s first baby.  The distance between Tulsa and Chicago stretched our patience as we had to wait until October to see him and love on him for the very first time. Although we wish we were closer to see him often, we’re cherishing those special times we do get to spend with him and his mama and daddy, especially his 1st Christmas!

October rolled around and we took advantage of the kids’ school fall break.  We took them out of school for an extra two days and headed south to sunny Orlando.  We spent a day at Universal Studios, then cruised with Disney on a four night Bahamian cruise stopping in Nassau and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay (pronounced Key), came back to land with a day’s visit to Kennedy Space Center and then concluded the trip back in Orlando with a day at Sea World.  We came home on empty, but with a “boat load” of treasured memories—pun intended. ;-)

Some of the highlights are featured on the back of our Christmas card. As you’ll see, we took Grandma along for the fun.  What a delight for all of us to get to share our very first cruise together.  However, it seems that Grandma was most excited of all since she had wanted to go on a cruise for the last 37 years.  It was quite the treat to get to share that highly anticipated trip with her.

The kids are all trucking along with activities and interests of their own.  Brooklyn turned 12 March 4th.  She participated in two horse camps this summer and eagerly awaits the day when she has one in her own pasture.  She started 7th grade this Fall participating in Cross Country for the first time.  She shaved three minutes off her time from her first to her last meet!  She is playing trumpet in band and still taking piano on the side.  Her most joyous occasion for the year was getting her braces off in November.  Her smile is gorgeous- it beams from the inside out!

Jaron is quickly approaching his 10th birthday, coming up December 23rd.  He had a big moment this past spring when he was chosen as his school’s Student of the Month.  He was treated to lunch with his principal, received special recognition in a school assembly, had his name on the school marque and in the town paper, and received a framed award.  We couldn’t have been more honored if the award would’ve had our own name on it!  We experienced inexpressible pride in his achievement.  We feel the same when he sits down to play piano or when he steps on the basketball court, baseball field and soccer field.  He’s quite the athlete.

Caden is following in big brother’s footsteps.  He has a “ball” every time he steps out to play any game.  Caden brings such joy to whatever he’s doing; basketball, baseball, soccer.  He is a true representation of what it is to have a good time.  Caden turned 7 on the first day of first grade, August 15th.  His teacher made it a very special day with singing, prizes and even some birthday spankings!  We took cupcakes and candles and celebrated a big boy in a big way!

Gavin turned 4 on July 13th and it’s wonderful to report that he has indeed finally found his friendly box.  Our shy and abrasive personality child has warmed up into a sweet, sometimes even conversationalist individual.  We loved watching him on the cruise greet and visit with the cast members and other passengers.  He is back at WEE two days a week for preschool and we are anticipating a full time Pre-K program next year for our second boy with the summer birthday.  It’s comforting sending him off as an older student, rather than as the baby of the class; an importantly sensitive category to avoid for the baby of the family who is determined to be big.

Brandon and I are trucking along with the kids’ schedules, oh, and we work too!  Did I hear an, “amen” from those of you in the same season of life?  Brandon passed his 1year anniversary with Quanta Services in August and I marked my 1year in the NICU at Saint Francis in July.  We are both so grateful that we get to do what we love.  We never want to overlook that huge blessing!

Another blessing has been the response to an unanticipated calling and vision for ministry, and that is the one at  The Lord has been faithful to provide for the material and open more speaking opportunities through that door.  But here is the challenge He has placed on my heart; to humbly ask for your support to grow this endeavor.  It would be a blessing and honor to have you share Heather’s Blessed JouRNey with your family, friends, small groups and coworkers and prayerfully consider me as a speaker for any special events or services the Lord may direct in that way.  These are steps of obedience as I don’t know the entire plan, but I know Who does.  And we’re taking it at that, one step at a time, seeking Him with every one.

In this inspiring time of year, may we consider one of our most precious gifts, our time.  It’s a commodity that is spent and can never be regained; nevertheless is always invested.  May we be intentional to invest our time into the priceless value of others; our children, our spouse, our families, friends, coworkers, and community.  Christ came to invest His all for each of us who are priceless to Him.

Love and Feel Loved,

Brandon, Heather,

Brooklyn, Jaron, Caden, & Gavin Meadows

and Daisy Mae too! please help us in our efforts to improve the health of babies by reaching our $500 goal for the Spring 2014 March of Dimes Walk


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