Friday, December 21, 2007

Beth's Christmas Letter 2007

(To save on paper, this is only being sent electronically. For a free, printed copy of this Christmas letter, just click “print” and enjoy!)

Friday, December 21, 2007
Dear Family & Friends,

A Christmas letter is generally a synopsis of the previous year, so I’m opening my calendar to see what went on this year. Oh boy, where do I start?

January—hmm, normal school stuff, making a DVD of Spirit Week, accompanying for Solo & Ensemble…

February—Colts win the Super Bowl! A week off for the Counseling Conference hosted by my church, during which we had the biggest blizzard in 30 years with 17 inches of snow. Thankfully my mom and dad came with a lady from their church in a 4-wheel drive truck, otherwise we would have never made it in because they barely plow these Indiana roads! And we only had to get out of my subdivision and across the street!

March—more school Fine Arts competitions, spring choir tour to lower Michigan

April— church Passion Play, Juju’s 1st birthday!

May—normal spring programs and graduation stuff, open houses, oh, and Mom & Rachel come for the weekend to surprise me for my birthday!

June—yay! Summer vacation starts! I do some piano things like the Monster Concert and teaching summer lessons. I hiked the Wabash Heritage Trail (about 15 miles round trip) with Juju. Vacation Bible School in Lafayette, during which we host 4 girls for the week during their Summer Missions Trip to help with VBS—and get TP’ed by the boys. My brother Tim gets married to Kristen Ahtila on June 23 in Portage, MI. Good family times!

July—Grand Opening of the Faith Community Center in Lafayette! Travel home to the U.P. for the 4th of July and for Vacation Bible School in Ishpeming. Back to Lafayette to run “hotel service” out of home: lots of friends traveling through: Stacy Quayle, Jeff & Debbie Parks & family, Warren Powers with my sister Rachel and her husband Matt who came to visit for the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis. We all went to the race then celebrated Matt’s birthday!

August—back to school! Start teaching piano lessons again (42 students), teaching Preschool music, accompanying for school functions, and doing PowerPoint. Buy new LCD HDTV for home.

September—busy school and church schedule with City-Wide Night of Worship, friends’ weddings, and a Teacher’s Conference in South Bend, IN.

October—Grandparents’ Day at school, more weddings, travel to U.P. to surprise parents for celebrating 30 years in Ishpeming, Fall Concert at school, school accreditation committee works very hard to get FCS ready for AACS accreditation, get a dining room table, and more company when Uncle Alan and Aunt Nancy come for the weekend!

November— Amazing Race (on CBS) starts and our regular AR company comes over on Sunday nights (Jeannie Wetzel). We take 22 high schoolers on a 4-day choir tour (to the U.P. so get to go home again), big piano stuff going on with the Elementary Fine Arts Festival and the Achievement in Music Festival, big Stewardship Banquet at church, celebrate Thanksgiving in Chicago with my friend Jackie and her family, another wedding, AND go to Chicago with Sarah to see Phantom of the Opera!

December—hmm, that just about brings us up to date! Three school Christmas programs, one choir sing at the mall, one church musical (that gets to be repeated once more next week because of the 10 inches of snow we got the day of), a 2-hour delay, a 1-hour delay of school, two piano recitals for my students, Living Nativity at church, and CHRISTMAS VACATION (which will mean traveling and getting to see family in Minnesota and Michigan)!

I am still enjoying my job at Faith Christian School, teaching piano, accompanying, and doing various and sundry tech/computer jobs. I also enjoy playing the piano with the Worship Team for church. My dog Juju (shepherd/chow/etc. mix ), who will be 2 in April, makes sure that I take time to come home for lunch and am home by 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening—and also that I get my nightly walk in! In my at-home time I enjoy watching movies (some favorites this year are Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Ocean’s 13, Ratatouille, & Bourne Ultimatum), reading, taking pictures, scrapbooking, or making DVDs or blogging on my Mac. Or taking the Never-ending movie quiz on Facebook.

For more highlights of the year, check out former blog posts--complete with pictures!

In the new year, Sarah and I look forward to housing a student teacher for about 9 weeks (Sarah Denney was one of Sarah’s roommates at Northland so she’s especially excited)! We like to have people over to the house, so we look forward to having more company in February and for whatever kinds of parties Sarah wants to throw again this year! Just give us a call before you come—we’ll put Juju on the welcoming committee, so be ready to receive lots of wet kisses and 55 pounds of loving sitting on your lap!

Sometimes it is so busy that we (I) neglect to remember that nothing is possible without the grace of God. Everything (our time and talents) truly is His and we are to be faithful stewards of what He has given. I am so thankful that Sunday comes once a week so I can be regularly reminded to keep my focus up on Christ. Pastor Viars spoke recently on heaven and there are so many trivial things in life that often take us off of that focus. I am so thankful for all that God has allowed me to have—including family and friends like you!

Hope your holiday season is truly amazing as we honor Christ’s birth.

Merry Christmas!

Beth Hill & Juju

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (or like it did in February).

We had 10 inches of snow Saturday into Sunday. I had time to shovel out Sunday morning since we cancelled the 8 AM service, but the 9:30 and 11:00 still went on as scheduled. Thankfully most of the choir and orchestra made it in since it was our presentation of the church musical on Sunday. The audience wasn't all that big, but apparently we may get the chance to do it for one more service this next weekend...

Juju & Donkey

Juju made some new friends the past couple weekends. Our church holds its annual Living Nativity for a couple of weekends before Christmas. Even though the weather wasn't the greatest (lots of rain the first weekend and snow the next) we still had 5 out of 6 nights as regularly scheduled. Since I had to take Juju for a walk anyway those nights, I made it a goal of walking through the 12 scenes every night it was open--which I accomplished! I was one of the first ones through the 1st night and saw them tearing it down the last night!

Juju loved the live donkeys and the sheep. In fact, on the Monday night after we had gone the last 3 consecutive nights she STILL pulled to go see the donkeys--even though they weren't there, of course! The picture is of Juju licking a donkey's face (apparently the donkey was named "Titus").

Monday, December 03, 2007

Worst Case Scenario Weather Weekend

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Sarah and I had an amazing time getting to see Phantom of the Opera in Chicago Friday night! We were able to make such good time getting to Chicago after work on Friday that we were able to check into our hotel before the show...yes, that's right. We actually got a hotel DOWNTOWN Chicago! That was because our original plans of staying with our friend Jackie fell through... I talked to Jackie Friday morning and she said that everyone in her house was down sick with the flu, so it probably would not be the best idea for us to stay there. Because we really wanted to spend some time downtown, we ended up splurging and getting a hotel room for the night. So Friday night was FANTASTIC.

Saturday morning was great, too, as Sarah enjoyed the workout equipment and I enjoyed the cable TV (gotta love TLC)! I had heard that there was supposed to be some severe weather (snow/freezing rain) that afternoon, but, hey, we're used to winter weather from being from the U.P., so why ruin a perfect Chicago day by leaving early?? We had a good time window shopping and trying Thai food from Wow Bao before it starting REALLY snowing! So we thought we'd head home. Worst case scenario? It might take an extra hour to get home, but since we were leaving at 3:00 p.m., we should be home by 6:00 or 7:00, right? I mean, how bad can the roads be? Ha ha ha. Ok, so we made it to I-65 in 2 hours (not too bad) and had about 7 miles to go until our normal exit for gas. Then traffic completely stopped. I mean, put-the-car-in-park-get-out-a-book stopped! So, 4 hours later, we made it past the icy spot and made it to the gas station. Then thankfully we had mostly clear (at least only wet instead of icy) roads for the next 2 hours home!

The next weather event took place Sunday afternoon at the Lafayette Christmas parade. I had been looking forward to taking Juju and my little friend 2nd grader Carter Knolhoff to the parade for a few weeks. So when they predicted warm weather but the possibility of rain, I thought, worst case scenario: it will be pouring. What's the chance of that? Okay, so it WAS pouring down rain, but they still had the parade and we still sat through most of it, although we had to leave early to be at church on time. The poor people with floats in the parade had to make do the best they could! Oh, and as I was getting up I forgot that the camera was loose in my lap, so I dropped my camera--uh, my SISTER'S camera--into a puddle of water (sorry, Sarah--it still works fine!) but everything dried out fine (I think). (It was hardly raining when our school marching band came through, thankfully.)
So despite all of these weather scenarios, I still had a fabulous time seeing Phantom of the Opera, staying in a hotel, being downtown Chicago, and adventurously attending the Lafayette Christmas parade!

Pastor Viars was traveling back from O'Hare on Saturday as well and it also took him 8 hours to get home. He made a good point in his sermon on heaven that, humanly speaking, in any big event or tragedy, from a human perspective, we tend to think of the worst case scenario as being death. But even in this worst case scenario, we as Christians can know that this isn't really all that bad, because we'll just be going to heaven! Is that the worst that can happen?