Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013

  Christmas Letter 2013

                                                                                                         December 6, 2013
Dear Family and Friends,

As I sit down to write the annual recap my mind is drawn back to a year ago. Last December was a blur laced with emotional turmoil, despair and grief. Our family is in such a different place this December and for that I am truly grateful. Not only have we survived through the first year, but also I feel like there has been immense growth and strength developed in our family. Our faith in the Savior has made that possible. There is healing and understanding in His atonement. The sealing powers of the priesthood give us the promise of a glorious reunion with Scott someday. We hold fast to our covenants and have a renewed commitment to faithfully keep them.  This year we have truly learned what it means to trust in the Lord and to throw our burdens at His feet. We have watched as miracles have unfolded as He has watched over, directed, and taken care of our family. We feel so very blessed! We know that Scott is still very much a part of our family and feel his stewardship on a daily basis. I am grateful for the legacy he left our four children and me. We have much to accomplish and learn during this short stay in mortality. As we are learning to turn our will over to Him, His plan is becoming more and more apparent in our lives. It is not the path I would have expected, but I am learning that it is exactly what our family needs. It has been amazing to watch the refining process at work and I am excited to see the end results. This next year is sure to bring many new and exciting changes in our family. Sometimes those changes seem a bit daunting and scary, but we know "that in the strength of the Lord we can accomplish all things."
Here is a little recap of this past year. I would also like to encourage you to visit my blog at not4naught.blogspot.com. I have openly shared about many of our experiences and the things that I have learned. My hope is that by honestly sharing, my experiences can be of benefit to others who are going through trials and difficulties.
We are still in Springfield Missouri.
Our plans to sell our home and move to Omaha did not come to fruition, but we have found that the Lord had a purpose for us in remaining here this year. I really changed my focus starting in August.  I spend much more of my time spiritually studying and finding opportunities to serve. Those things take priority, and then I fill the rest of my day with taking care of our home and yard. I have found great fulfillment in helping others through my blog, posting on facebook and in my young LDS Widows/Widower group, and individually checking on people who I am led to contact.  I have been blessed with many new choice friendships locally and through my W/W group as I have reached out to assist them.  It truly has been amazing to live each day prompted by the spirit and to watch miracles happen all around me. I also started oil painting; I have been typing Scott’s missionary journals; and I have been working on catching up on scrapbooks.  Currently I am serving as the children’s primary chorister at church.  
Alex received his mission call to serve in the Chile Concepcion mission back in March. Our family was thrilled that he received a call to serve in Chile where his grandfather, Patrick had also served, and in the mission that his father had always predicted he would be called to. Alex graduated the end of May within an IB (International Baccalaureate) diploma. He received a scholarship to attend BYU, and will do that after his two-year mission. He was able to work for a computer repair business for the month prior to entering the MTC (Mission Training Center) in Provo. Starting the beginning of July, he spent six weeks in Provo learning Spanish prior to going to Chile. Alex LOVES his mission and is learning wonderful things. He is positive and upbeat and feels the presence of his dad on a regular basis. We get to email him for an hour once a week, and he gets to call home Christmas Day. That will be the best present of all for me!
Cooper began working for the Mercedes dealership last spring. He loves his job and has earned the title of Assistant Lot Manager. Cooper started his senior year this fall. Other than a high school English class, he is taking all his classes at MSU while he continues to work part-time at the dealership. He is excitedly preparing for a mission and plans to turn his papers in the beginning of February. Cooper has been doing everything he can to get the young men around to follow suit and serve missions. So next year at this time I will be awaiting two Christmas calls! I am so excited for him to go, but I feel sadness as I watch our family dwindling in numbers.
Eric spent the summer helping me take care of our acreage. We did a lot of pitching mulch together after I sold our tractor last spring. Eric started his freshman year this fall.  Eric is undergoing a lot of physical changes this year, and it has been fun to watch another man emerging in our family. I know that he will fill the shoes of his two brothers. He has taken on a new dedication to school this year for which I am very grateful. He enjoys the new social aspects of being 14, attending youth dances and having boy/girl parties.  He earned his Eagle Scout award this summer. He still loves to read and take care of his parrot Captain. He and Rachel are great friends.
Rachel is a little mini me! She is super organized, and all of her teachers love her! She is still doing gymnastics and she's on student council. She cut back on music lessons, but still loves to sing. She also enjoys various craft projects. She is so excited to turn 12 in February and enter Young Women's at church. She is such a delight and is always happy.
We have cut back a lot on extracurricular activities in favor of more time together as a family. Those relationships are of uttermost importance to us now. We are all very close, and I can honestly say that my children are my best friends. I don't know what I would do without them!
Our house goes back on the market the end of January. This time I have no concrete plans. We will see if it sells and then go from there. I made the necessary provisions to stay here for another year if it doesn't. We are confident that the Lord has a plan for our family, and we are patiently awaiting that direction. I feel an excited anticipation for this next year. Changes are coming, and we are in a good place to accept them and move forward in faith.
Thank you so much for all of your love and concern this past year. We have felt your prayers, and I'm truly grateful for those who have mourned with us and comforted us. We are grateful that the Lord has put you in our path and that we can help and aid each other through all of the vicissitudes of life. We are grateful for this time of year and the opportunity to reflect on our Savior and all of the many blessings that He has given us. Merry Christmas and God Bless!

Love, Veronica, Alex, Cooper, Eric, & Rachel Clarke

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