Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas letter 2009

Dear family and friends,

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Incredible. “The Son of God. . . divested himself of heavenly wealth and became an impoverished child so the fragile flesh of humanity could be taken up into God’s embrace” (Miroslav Volf). What lengths God went to to ransom His children—in the incarnation of Christ and in His substitutionary life and death. What joy to realize God’s adoption of us making us heirs with the risen Christ Himself!

Last year we told you of God’s leading us to adopt a child, and He indeed added to our family this year! February 3rd we learned of the five-day-old baby girl who would become our daughter. We excitedly gathered (more) paperwork, signatures, fingerprints, baby clothes and diapers and hurried to Alabama to meet our sweet Hannah Elisabeth (her middle name is after her mommy—Julia Elisabeth—and after her great, great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Cole who persevered in faith through much adversity). The foster family placed Hannah in our arms February 7th and we stayed in Alabama (with Nathan’s Grandmother Lane who made her home ours) the next week waiting for interstate paperwork approvals. Finally, we brought our two little girls home and re-entered “normal” life with our precious new gift and a lot less sleep.

Abigail devoted herself to her long-awaited sister with much love and affection. The biggest challenge we had was keeping our grown-up three year old from picking up her infant sister whenever we turned our backs. She was really very gentle and careful, but three is not old enough to carry Baby up the stairs! By three months old, Hannah loved Abigail back and showered her with smiles and coos and the first real laugh. We were grateful to finalize Hannah’s adoption back in Alabama on May 11 (with several grandparents present) and soon afterwards to receive the new birth certificate for Hannah Elisabeth Garner—officially and permanently our daughter!

Last week Abigail turned four and was delighted to receive several “dress-up” outfits. She loves to pretend—especially that she’s a mommy or a bride. She has learned most of her letters and can write her name and Hannah’s. Hannah is ten months old and trying hard to keep up with big sister. She’s petite, strong and loves to pull up on things, clap, play peek-a-boo, bounce and jabber. We’re blessed with two exuberant, affectionate, and very funny little girls.

Nathan completed four more graduate classes this year and has just the MBA capstone class remaining for the spring semester. We’ll be celebrating his achievements, God’s grace, and more time together come May 2010!

Many of our activities and responsibilities have continued: Nathan’s begun his eighth year working at the airport. Julia keeps friends’ children part-time at home. We still teach the second grade Sunday school class and are involved in a Shepherding Group at Heritage Bible Church. And we travel—mostly to visit our families who live in four other states. Happily, Tom and Lydia and their eighteen-month-old daughters are back in the state after a job-related move to California.

Early fall we listed our townhouse for sale, hoping to buy a “real house” while interest rates were low. Two months later, we received a contract for the condo and scrambled to find our next home. After some disappointing searching, the Lord led to us the house we were hoping for—a roomy brick ranch in a quiet neighborhood. Of course, the repairs and updates it needs were what put it in our price range—and will keep us busy for several years if the Lord keeps us in town (Did Julia say she never wanted to buy a fixer upper?). We moved in three weeks ago and are excited to have another bedroom (for guests and future children), more living/entertaining space, and a back yard! Please e-mail if you want our new address (

We hope to update the blog again soon. . .

May your celebration of Christmas be filled with the joy of redemption in Christ!

With love,

Nathan, Julia, Abigail & Hannah Garner

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Buying, selling, and moving (but not far)

Real time update: I'd love to fix the pictures that aren't showing up (thought it seemed so easy loading them through Picasa, but I must've done something wrong), but now's not the time. Last week we got an offer on our condo (for sale since August) which became a contract Saturday. We move out next month! So, we've been busily searching for our new home. The search had been somewhat discouraging until late yesterday afternoon when we found, saw, and put an offer on an older brick ranch on a nice yard (a place for children to play!) in a good location! Negotiating now. And lots of other stuff going on too - radon monitor placed and termite inspection here today (while babysitting =). Lots more to happen at both homes! We're excited to see what the Lord has for us and grateful to trust His sovereign care for His children!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Love those little people!

"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Allow little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." (Luke 18:16)

In case anyone was concerned about Abigail suffering from withdrawal or loneliness after we took Laoise and Gavin home, relax. I immediately resumed child care and the next day Caeden and Tirzah were with us. Traded two five year olds for two one year olds.
Abigail is an amazing helper (when she wants to be, at least). She loves practicing her mommy skills on real babies.

Two babies up from naps playing with their babies

Life with four

Our few days with Laoise and Gavin ended all too quickly. We loved having them with us at church Sunday. Monday morning Mommy Julia managed grocery shopping with four (we'd been gone a week so it necessary) and that evening we all made an ice cream run. In between and Tuesday we were home (did I mention mountains of laundry?) and I found out that we own way too many toys. They were ALL out.
Cousins on Sunday
We all scream for ice cream!
Our house - Yikes!

Seven months old and busy!

That weekend (August 29) was the seven month marker for Hannah. Afraid it's a bit of a blur (hey, I'm not used to four kids yet!) so I'm glad for picture reminders.

Hannah loves her baths

That Sunday, Hannah pushed up on all fours for the first time. . .gonna crawl before long!

These chair pictures with the dolls are getting harder - she doesn't just sit and smile anymore!



Cousins and Carowinds

On the way home from Grandmother Lane's, we met Stephen and picked up Laoise and Gavin for a few days (Lane and Patrick had a turn last year). The next morning, we headed out for the next adventure. The airport hosted a "family fun day" at Carowinds, all expense paid - an opportunity not to miss! Why not make it more exciting and take along some extra children so we could have two five year olds, a three year old and a baby? Craziness. But we survived - and had fun (though Nathan didn't get to ride any coasters. . . we stuck with the little kid rides, bathroom breaks and free drinks).
Carowinds here we come!
Flying jets is serious business
Lemonade break
Our crew
Hot and happy
Don't forget cheery Baby!
Abigail's first driving lesson
One tired Hannah

Georgia family

After leaving Talitha's we drove across to Georgia and spent two nights with Mom and Dad visiting (Great) Grandmother Garner on the day between. The next day we drove south to see "Grandpap" Garner and Ann for the day and then back to East Alabama to spend the night with (Great) Grandmother Lane. Wonderful visits and food - all of Nathan's grandparents spoiled us with yummy meals! And spoiled our girls too, to their great pleasure. =)
At Granddaddy's upholstery shop
Little girls, little chair
Nose kisses with Grandmama
Fish hatchery
Fun with Granddaddy


Alabama family

Last chance before MBA classes resume (hmmm. . . I seem to remember doing this last year)! August 23-27 we visited Nathan's parents, grandparents, and sister and family in Georgia and Alabama. First stop, Talitha and Stephen's farm. Lane, Patrick, Laoise, Gavin, Abigail and Hannah loved being together (parents did too) and "Aunt Julia" took lots of pictures (so what's new?). We celebrated Patrick's 8th birthday a couple of days early. Six children are definitely enough to make a party! =)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Our girls sleep on occasion and I couldn't resist pictures of two recent unexpected occasions. Abigail has a "rest time" most afternoons during Hannah's nap time. Usually she reads books and plays quietly on the guest bed. One day I looked in and didn't see her. . . until I checked the narrow space between the bed and the wall. She was hiding and fell asleep (We'd been to the zoo and she was unusually tired).

And Hannah woke up "early" one evening fussing and so Nathan decided to hold her for awhile and she relaxed right back to sleep! So sweet.

Together again with our friends from California

Our dear friends Brian and Lai and Rose Marie (4), Autumn (2), and Havilah (1) spent time on this side of the country in August. On the 11th, the girls and I visited them at Bing and Andy's "farm home." So much fun to be together again. . . and to see the goats and chickens! =) And the Sunday evening the 16th, our friends visited us. The girls had a blast together - and so did their parents. How we thank the Lord for His gift of friendship (Over ten years with Brian and Lai and six since we were in each others weddings! And five sweet daughters too!)

Lots more pictures (including the goats!) on Picasa if you follow this link.

Great Grandma Johnson's visit and Caleb's birthday

Mom (aka GramMee) brought (Great) Grandma Johnson for a visit August 6-8 and we got to celebrate Caleb's birthday together! (Uncle) Caleb brought doughnuts to help celebrate the day and we all indulged. . . except Hannah who put forth a valiant effort.



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Friday, September 18, 2009

Six months old!

As of July 29! (Happy third anniversary to GramMee and Grandpa!)

At her six month check-up, Hannah weighed 14 pounds, 2 ounces and measured 24 ½ inches long. She’s tiny, but the doctor pronounced her strong and healthy. . . and commented on her enthusiasm and her evident love for her big sister. This month’s physical milestones include getting her toes into her mouth, cutting a third tooth, and sitting alone for few minutes at a time. Hannah finally decided she likes solid food since trying sweet potatoes and her tummy seems rounder (and, by the way, that umbilical hernia she had at birth, is nearly gone now). Our baby talks, sings, laughs (even while eating her peas at lunch today) and squeals lots . . . I think we’ll have another chatterbox. ☺
Love that grin! Hannah felt very big sitting in the rocking chair.
Hannah still LOVES to be on her feet! This was also her first time to wear blue jeans. (Thanks, Aunt Lydia!)We had a table full of little ones that evening (call it a six month birthday celebration!?). Since we're not experienced at keeping three children under one in addition to a two year old and a three year old, we opted for carry out pizza (along with all the baby food)! ☺
Watch out! Hannah can be rather fierce. She's got a mean growl for a fourteen pound baby! Of course, laughter (hers and ours) usually follows the growl and so she does it again.