If you didn't receive a Xmas/New Years letter from the Joyners this year, it means that either I don't have your address or I see you often enough that you don't need an update.
We use our Xmas cards and letters to keep relationships and connections with people who we don't see as often as we'd like. People who we've crossed paths with. People who's lives have intersected with ours in special but perhaps distant ways. This is our attempt to close that distance a bit.
And that includes many who read this blog.
So here's a late Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Joyners.
"O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth...”
Stephanie: I shuffle into the kitchen in the dull morning light. I wear a scruffy, once- white, fleece robe that is the definition of unflattering yet I simply cannot resist the warmth it offers upon waking to the world. Leftover breakfast is strewn all over the table, boys playing invade my still awakening senses, the baby begins to cry and the dog needs to go outside but the leash is nowhere to be found. It’s my first day “back on duty” with Noah at work since having our little girl a week ago. And suddenly I am feeling unwell and unsure that I am healed enough to handle this. I’ll just call my husband and ask him to come home. Then I notice that the phone isn’t getting reception for some reason this morning. The dog’s whines of desperation are escalating and so are mine as tears begin to flow.
Noah: We walk in the doors of our house after midnight with our newborn only 6 hours old. Even in the dark we can see that Shepherd, our 3 year old is quite sick. He snuggles with his mimi, trying to find rest in the midst of fever and the struggle to breath. The next morning, I awake from the few minutes of sleep I have accumulated to bring him to the ER, where he is diagnosed with pneumonia. I spend the next week trying to care for all 5 people in my home-all needy, weak, and vulnerable, looking to me for aid. I would stay out of work longer but the role of provider is a heavy one for a man with a family.
Just days ago, a broken young man marched into a elementary school and took the lives of 20 precious young people while they sat in their classroom. Parents grieve as if the earth has stopped spinning and the sun has ceased to shine and for them it has.
2,000 years ago a young woman marred by scandal gave birth to a child named Jesus. He was prophesied to be King. Upon his birth, the reigning king, Herod, had all boys in the area under the age of 2, snatched from their parents arms and massacred .While their earth stopped spinning and sun ceased to shine...something was being done about all of this brokenness.“Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth."…
We are all in great need of a savior. For this world is not how it is supposed to be...And our Savior has a plan, a great rescue plan for those living in this brokenness. Yes, sin and brokenness will still be present. But because of His rescue plan,those who trust him can endure with hope for they have the promise that He is with them now, and preparing a place for the future,where tears will cease to flow and the sun will forever shine.Stephanie: That same morning, I cried out for help to God and crawled up into bed. Moments later, 3 little boys crept into my room with breakfast in bed. They each held one end of the giant cutting board, filled with a package of saltine crackers, a tub of peanut butter, a ziploc with a block of cheese in it, and a container of apple sauce. Not to mention a wine glass filled with sparkling grape juice. God had heard my cry and rescued me in that moment through the hands of 3 young gentleman.
Noah: God met all of our needs and healed our son without having him hospitalized. The boys, along with my in-laws, helped me take care of my family and let Steph rest and heal. We were so grateful to have an out of hospital birth and be at home resting together as a family. I can trust that God will provide for my family both through me and without me. I cannot always be in all places but He can.
If you are human, you will face good days and bad days;things you can handle and things you cannot. At some point in your life, you will come face to face with your weaknesses and find that you simply “don’t have what it takes” and to do it right all the time. You will find yourself in need of a Savior. And it is my prayer that you will find him near. This Christmas, may the God of the bible be a real and present hope in an age filled with hopelessness.
UPDATE: To say this year has been eventful for our family is indeed an understatement. In January, we had the privilege of traveling to the Arctic. Noah,myself, and the boys all flew to Alaska,the place of my childhood, to be a part of my cousin’s wedding. Noah officiated the ceremony while the buys were ring bearers. Almost my entire family joined the trip and it was a highlight of our year to reconnect with family and friends and celebrate two people we care deeply for. The only downside? We are now forever trying to figure out how to get up there again. The following month,February, we found out we were pregnant with our 4th child! In March, our precious Shepherd finally got his trach out 2 days before his 3rd birthday, and has recovered wonderfully. So wonderfully, in fact, that his specialist were fine with us going as a family to the Dominican Republic for the summer. We left in June and came back in August. We had a great time learning more about both Dominican and Haitian culture, while gaining some clarity for the future of HaitiLove’s work on the island of Hispaniola. It confirmed that we do, indeed, want to spend 6 months out of the year there, working among Haitian immigrants doing theological education and training. We returned to the states and were home 2 months before giving birth to our fourth child and first daughter, Johannah Bethlehem Joyner. She weighed in at 7 lbs 1oz and 18 1/4”. Her delivery went better than we could have imagined during our first out of hospital birth. She was born only a few hours after our arrival at the birth center and we were home that night in our own beds. That brings us to the present. We are enjoying the holidays and adjusting to another person in our little home. The entrance of Joey into our lives means that though our time and energy is once again divided, our affections are multiplied. It's as if our whole family's heart has swelled once more,making room for another remarkable person destined to leave us never the same. Our days are full with both the demands and joys of managing a home and nurturing a family, but we are confident that our Savior is ever ready and near to meet us in our needs. Noah is currently working part time with his brother, as an electrician. In January, we will focus once again on raising missionary support for our 6 months overseas. We anticipate heading to the DR in April next year and staying on through September. We are savoring our time here in North Carolina with all of our friends and family and yet eagerly anticipate the 6 months in the DR. It has proved to be a very fruitful and productive time. We hope to raise the funds to get a vehicle to use there, along with a home that has enough space to house teams that travel there to work with us. This will open up many opportunities for us as a family. We’d love for you to stay in touch with us and keep up to date on whatever this next year holds for our family. The website for the work of HaitiLove is www.haitilove.net. Our families personal website, where I keep our day to day happenings is www.nothing2bring.blogspot.com. We will keep both sites updated more frequently as we head overseas. We simply seem to have more focused time there than in busy American life. Thank you for being part of the story God has written of our lives. To God be all of the glory.
Noah, Stephanie, Aslan, Haddon, Shepherd, and Joey