Monday, December 22, 2014

Sloan Sweet Home ~ Christmas 2014 ~ Highlights of Our Year


"Your life will be bound securely
in the bundle of the living
by the Lord your God.”
(1 Samuel 25:29)

Annual Christmas Letters -- you either love receiving them...or  you don't! You either read them...or you don't! I personally love receiving and reading Christmas letters, and I really enjoy looking at the pictures. Since I love receiving them, I also love sending them! 

It has become our tradition to send an annual Christmas letter with our Christmas card. The letter shares our highlights of the year. It is our highlights reel, so to speak. It is not all of the bloopers, the outtakes, the scenes that had to be done over time and time again, and not the clips that thankfully ended up on the editing room floor. Thank God for His grace. We got stuff. And He covers our stuff with His grace. 

In our Christmas letter, we reflect on the blessings the Lord graciously showered on us and thank Him, giving Him the glory and praise for every good and perfect gift that comes from Him. We love looking back and recounting all of His blessings and acknowledging each one has come from Him.

Our only hesitancy in sending a Christmas letter with highlights of the year is that it can seem pretentious and quite incomplete as we share all of the good stuff. It is not our heart or intention to paint an incomplete picture. Sometimes God's blessings and mercy comes through the most difficult, painful and growing seasons in our lives and hearts.  

To honor God and those into whom He has breathed His precious life, we choose to share our highlights and not to share in our annual Christmas letter the details of our painful seasons He has seen us through this year, they are written on our hearts and are personal treasures between us and Him. We know we there is no good in us apart from Christ.

"You are my Lord; 
apart from You I have no good thing."
Psalm 16:2

So, these are our highlights. Thanks for visiting!   


Jesus Christ - Our Wisdom. Our Holiness. 
Our Righteousness. Our Redemption. {1 Cor.1:30}

Dear Family and Friends ~

            Cheerful Christmas greetings to you and yours! We pray your hearts and homes are filled with His perfect peace. We would love to hear from you about your happenings and see your pictures! We love the mailbox in December filled with festive envelopes, fun pictures and letters. Thank you for sharing your lives with us. You are each a blessing from God. “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”  (1 Thessalonians 2:8)

            2014 has been filled with memories, milestones and movement! We’re thankful for God’s perfect love at “Sloan Sweet Home”! We have had the blessing of trusting God and strengthening our faith through changes and challenges. With this faith as an anchor for our souls, we have watched Him as He daily fulfills His purpose for our lives. We are thankful for an unchanging God, whose character is consistent and trustworthy. "Your life will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God.” (1 Sam. 25:29)

            This summer we enjoyed two great vacations at two of our favorite places with two treasured families! For the 11th year in a row, our family enjoyed a week at Camp of The Woods in the Adirondack Mountains of New York on Lake Pleasant.  Chapel in the mornings, afternoons on the lake tubing and swimming, and evenings by the camp fire…the simple pleasures of COTW we love most. Joshua and Gabrielle each invited a friend (it is just not camp without Andy D!), and we enjoyed the week at camp relaxing, refreshing and fellowshipping with sweet family friends, the TerKeursts. In August we were delighted to spend a week with friends we hold dear, the Shileys, at another one of our favorite places on earth…Ocean City, NJ. Bike rides, beach, basketball, watermelon and Kohr Brother’s. The Beals gals blessed us with a visit for a day, and we also enjoyed beach time with the Feather Family. Topping it off was the blessing of seeing my dear friend, Laura, and her family. In July, Joshua and Gabrielle also enjoyed their annual summer visit at Pop Pop and Nana’s in the Poconos.  

            Jim and I crossed the threshold together and we each turned 50 in March. Jim insisted on no special celebration for him, apart from a little family celebration and a dinner date for us.  I, on the other hand, said “Let’s party!” In addition to celebrating with my peeps at home, I celebrated my 50th birthday with a limousine filled with girlfriends and a lunch at Max Brenner’s in Philadelphia. (Hello chocolate!) This was Jim’s gift to me. ♥ Earlier in March, I was blessed to have some very dear, refreshing, loving, faithful, turtle-shell girlfriends host a surprise birthday brunch for me. Leopard-print napkins and Cheetah Chip Cookie jars filled the table with fun and joy! (Thank you, Erika!) I was hushed and humbled by His tender faithfulness to me through the sweet and ever-present love of girlfriends. ♥ Also, my girlfriends from work blessed me with a wonderful Mexican celebration filled with laughter, food and fun! I was so humbled and blessed! (Thank you Mary and Dee for planning that!) ♥ Jim and I celebrated 22 years of marriage in May. We are so grateful to the Lord to have each other to share life’s blessings, disappointments, trials and victories! "Remember your journey...that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD." Micah 6:5

            Jim accepted a position as Chief Technology Officer at Prime Technology in King of Prussia in February. We are grateful for God’s plan and provision for our family during this season of life. Jim traveled on business to India for two weeks in August! He had personal drivers and hosts while he was there. (Thank the Lord! Jim said the drivers were a thousand times worse than New York City drivers, and it was common to see women sitting side saddle and holding children on the back of motorcycles, cows meandering in the streets and chickens crossing the road…literally!) His company graciously afforded him the opportunity to do some touring while there, and he saw the magnificent Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Charminar and other sites. Jim is blessed to be part of a Tuesday morning men’s Bible study that meets at Chick-Fil-A at 6:30 am. He is encouraged by the teaching, fellowship, prayer and accountability. He also continues to serve in the Junior High Youth Ministry and Sports Ministry at church. Though his work days are long and demanding, Jim seemingly effortlessly makes our family his priority by his presence and his care.

          Sharon - Serving my family is my greatest and most humbling blessing. These roles keep me on my knees before God for wisdom and strength. ♥ Most of my free hours are spent with my sweet mom at Shepherd’s Crossing. Some of my sweetest time is worshipping with her on Sunday mornings when I join her at her chapel. Though we had a bit of a scare in March, she has been doing very well. She is immobile now but enjoys daily activities. ♥ After serving for 16 years on staff at church, I prayerfully resigned from my position as administrative assistant to our senior high youth pastor, whom I love. It was an honor to serve him for many years. Giving him several months’ notice of my resignation, my last day was August 25th.  Wanting to be able to say from the depths of my heart “Jesus is enough” and not be dependent on a next step, but rather only dependent on Him, I asked the Lord to please wait to show me my next assignment of service until I had finished my job well and passed the baton on with joy. God is faithful and understood my heart. In mid-September I was serendipitously offered a position to serve Him as a ministry assistant at another place I love and for another great boss. Sometimes God moves you from one place to another because you will be told you are an answer to prayer at the other. Humbling...in the best way. I am thankful for God’s perfect plan and provision. ♥ I was honored to have two small contributions in a book released this year ~ “Everyday Confetti” by two lovely friends, Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer (see pages 35 and 53!). Visit here: www.everydayconfetti.org

          Joshua started high school this year…wow a 9th grader! Joshua attended his first week-long camp this past summer – Defenders Basketball Camp at Baptist Bible College. Of course he loved it – unceasing basketball playing along with Bible lessons, devotions and fellowship with his friends and teammates (and late night runs for smoothies and Chinese food). Joshua served again in inner-city Philadelphia this summer on a week-long missions outreach called “Mission Philly”. He was humbled to be able to touch the hearts of some young boys with the love of God (and he loved playing gaga ball with them, too!). Joshua worked for a bit in the summer with his friend and friend’s dad in New York. They worked hard during the day and played hard (basketball) in the evenings. In September, Joshua’s good buddy invited him to try out Brazilian Jui Jitsu. Joshua loved it and has been taking classes ever since. He enjoyed the senior high student ministry Prayer Retreat Weekend in October. Joshua was excited and thankful to make the JV basketball team as a freshman for CCA and LOVES playing basketball. During the summer and autumn, Joshua took basketball lessons at the NAC from a retired pro basketball player. He was chosen for the select choir at school. We are proud of our young man.

          Gabrielle graduated from 6th grade in June, and she was blessed to be asked to speak on behalf of her homeroom at graduation. She began junior high school in September and made the transition from elementary school to 7th grade beautifully. She is grateful for where God has placed her and especially enjoys math. At school she participates in choir, band (flute) and liturgical dance. This summer was Gabrielle’s first being able to serve the Lord in the inner-city through “Mission Philly”, and it was fun for her to serve with Joshua.  She loves young children and made a special bond with a girl name Cici. Gabrielle enjoyed a week at Raise the Praise Camp at church (vocals) this summer, too. Gabrielle continues to serve in children’s ministry by leading the children in worship. Gabrielle put away her Irish dancing shoes to devote more time to gymnastics this year. She prayerfully set personal goals, planned steps to reach them, worked really, really, really hard and…she made the gymnastics team at the Newtown Athletic Club!!!She is excited to begin competing in 2015 with the team. Gabrielle’s pretty hands reflect her perfectly – lovely painted nails and soft skin on one side, and callouses on her palms from working hard to reach her personal goals and contribute as part of a team. We are proud of our young lady.
We pray God brings you many blessings, healing and peace in 2015! 
Love from Sloan Sweet Home ~ Jim, Sharon, Joshua and Gabrielle




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