A Hearty and Warm Merry Christmas to All of You!
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Christ is the greatest gift of all time. Jesus is priceless. We could never secure Him or His benefits on our own. Jesus is wonderful! He is the source of life, hope and peace. Jesus is love. No where can we find ourselves more loved than when we come to God through Him. His love stays with us forever. Sometimes I react to the commercialism of Christmas but then remind myself again and again that gift giving and blessing others is a good thing. God gave us His best and certainly we can bless others that we love. Earth's celebrations will one day cease without living with Christ in one's life.
There are always many things going on with the Bucknell family. Relationships in a large family grow exponentially. We become grandparents this year! One new little addition-grandson Joshua, created lots of uncles and aunts. All are thrilled with the new little one.
Linda has been like a Circus ring master keeping all the activities in the different life arenas going. Paul is often amazed that he can regularly sit down to deliciously home-cooked meals touched with the intensive health readings that she has been engaged in since stepping into the world of the web. Homeschool gets more challenging as the children grow. We have reached our maximum attendance now that our youngest, Rebekah, has joined us. The Children's Ministry (CM) at church has been a blessing but also a great challenge. On the good side, Linda loves the team of sisters that she works with. On the down side, CM ministry demands are sometimes high when other events are occurring.
This fall Paul was far away for almost a month at the beginning of school and then soon after his return our grandson was born. Guess who was there grand (s)mothering the little one? God gives Linda extraordinary devotion to provide laundry and meals to both households. She regularly sees God answer prayer. Hopefully, this winter will wind down a bit.
Biblical Foundations for Freedom is becoming more challenging each year. This year we have finally transitioned to a government recognized non-profit. Paul tried doing this in the past but never could get through the government red tape. We have even applied for our 501(c)(3) status which we hope gets approved in the next month. These last seven years have been life lived by faith. We do not know how much might come in. Things seem to be changing as a couple of churches have put BFF in their mission budget. We are glad to see God's power really at work.
With increased requests to travel overseas, Paul is seeking how God wants to grow the ministry. Right now he wants to place a library of resources in each discipleship/Bible school training center. The places where Paul travels do not only lack training resources but have little or no money to purchase them. Our job is to get the best training material to them. This, of course, challenges our resources. We need to trust God for them as well as ourselves. Looking back, however, we have wonderfully seen God's faithful supply through the years for our family and the world.
This year Paul finally spoke on the important topic of marriage and family. He has been very cautious of doing this overseas without being familiar with other cultures. But we saw God's blessing. One bishop in Malawi (East Africa) kept telling me to speak more on the marriage and family. When I did, the crowd loved it. In India, two couples traveled several days to attend such a seminar because they said, "We have never had such teachings before." God wants to give each of us great marriages and families. If we only had confidence enough in this to seek Him for His grace and truth.
Elizabeth continues expanding her expertise in several areas of creativity. Most recently, she has been taking pottery classes at a local studio and is thoroughly enjoying it. At home, she joins in with many family activities, but is sure to enjoy spending her time around town with her friends, if not out of town. This is, of course, when she is not busy during the week while she's working at the doctor's office as a secretary.
Christy had an easy birth experience (by easy we mean real quick-like her Mom). She was attended by the same midwives as Linda. Since Elias and Christy live nearby, they still have the freedom to have their weekly dates. We have a whole houseful of eager babysitters here at home. The good little Joshua even sleeps in Paul's study while the ladies go shopping or out to tea. He does not mind. (He still is in shock that he doesn't have his own little ones in diapers.) Meanwhile Christy helped start and assists with the Youth Group.
Allison, 16, is out on the road. Be careful! Actually, she has only started practice driving. Dad always has some fun stories to share about how we almost …. We were greatly rewarded when she accompanied our carol singing the other night on the guitar. She has done very well without formal lessons. This is the homeschool drive of self-discipline. We equip them to be and do what God wants for them. She has dutifully been building up her drawing skills thanks to her aunt's donation of a photoshop program. To top off her quest for training, she has joined an apprenticeship program. (Actually she has been doing this unofficially for BFF for a number of years).
Daniel, 14, like Allison is enjoying our new church youth group. They love their friends as teens do. He still talks about all the fun at the youth retreat. He is working on his chess, especially his end game, where he still loses to Dad. Now if he only can improve that area, then onto victory!
Benjamin, almost 13, is stepping into the teen years next month. That will give us three teenagers. He is the one that looks around at a need in the home and quietly helps out. He also is the one that loves to make lots of weird noises! He likes to help with baking. He and Kathryn did quite a bit of Christmas baking for us. He went camping with brother-in-law Elias, his other brothers, and Dad. We also climbed high onto Mount Lincoln in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire. However, the girls insisted we return before reaching the top. Next year, we are thinking of going all the way.
Kathryn,11, and Benjamin have been great helpers in the BFF office. They willingly help process orders. Kathryn on her own time loves to knit with a Knifty Knitter loom. She also eager to use her new sewing kit. Most of the time she sets our home aglow with her sweet smile.
Isaac, already 8, enjoys reading and building with Legos. He readily volunteers to pray at family devotions. Rebekah, 6 years-old, is a real girl. She likes to play dress up, play for hours with her babies, and loves playdough creations. She loves to "help" in the kitchen. It is hard to believe. We have no more babies. Isaac and Rebekah play a lot together and have learned to do many things on the computer.
You can visit many of our family members on facebook and see many more 'uncensored' family pictures. Yes, even Paul has joined. It is a great place to learn things that you never knew about your children!
We must keep this long letter short or it will also grow exponentially. Our family greets you and hopes that you have a wonderful year by the love of God's priceless and awesome Gift, Jesus Christ!
Please do keep in touch!
Paul, Linda and family