Saturday, December 22, 2007

Our 2007 Christmas Blog

For the Short family, 2007 was a year full of very challenging and rewarding events that we will never forget. Looking back, we are amazed at how the Lord blessed and preserved us through it all …

Getting Reacquainted With Dad

The fun began in February, when Don and I, concerned about our Dad’s deteriorating living situation in Alabama, decided to visit Birmingham for a week. While we were there, our eyes were opened to how miserable and desperate his life had become.

He agreed to return to Washington with us, but Faye refused. The next four months the battle really heated up. Faye filed a lawsuit in court, alleging that I and my siblings had “kidnapped” Dad against his will. Dad countersued for divorce. In May I had to travel back to Alabama for a week to defend myself in court.

The case was settled and the divorce finalized, we sold my dad's house, and my brother Lee, along with Mandy and Alex, convened there in August with two moving trucks in an attempt to salvage as much of Dad’s possessions as possible. Mandy and Alex drove one truck with them as they moved to Bedford, Pennsylvania, and Lee and his friend Patrick drove the other (plus Dad’s car) out here. So we got to enjoy a brief visit with them.

In early September, Dad also moved from our house (where he had been our guest for seven months) to an adult family home in the area. It is a very nice place and he is enjoying the company of a small handful of residents there. He is in a fairly advanced state of confusion due to his Alzheimer’s, but otherwise is in relatively good health. Although it is a struggle to understand how to help him, we have enjoyed reconnecting with him this year.

We enjoyed a visit from my youngest sister, Kay, in April, and she and her husband Tom returned in August to look for a home in the Bellingham area. They are planning a move from upstate New York, possibly in February. Dad also enjoyed a visit to Sandy and Dave's home in Southern California in May.

Trips to Oregon …

We made a total of three trips to Oregon this summer. We visited Cannon Beach with both kids and their significant others in June; then in July Nathan and Larry participated in the annual “Seattle to Portland (STP)” bicycle classic, a 206-mile endurance ride through beautiful Pacific Northwest countryside. (Darlene and Becky were there to meet them at the finish line in Portland. They shaved about an hour off their 2005 time!) The six of us then again spent a weekend in Seaside, Oregon, later in July. We had spectacular fun playing with the seals at the Seaside Aquarium.

By the way, Nathan and Becky are doing great, despite having to attend lots of weddings this year. Nathan got promoted this year and is managing desktop and network systems for his company in Kent, Precision Direct. He works long hours and spends his spare time concocting new recipes in his home-built brewery. Becky is studying hard and doing her student teaching, and also working a part-time job right now as a caterer with the Pt. Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. They acquired a new kitty, Hobbes, which makes three for them.

And Idaho …

During the summer my Dad and I also undertook a road trip to Nampa, Idaho, to spend the day with his sister Joyce and do a little camping on the Snake River.

Don’t forget Pennsylvania!

Mandy’s move to Bedford was the result of a transfer arranged by her employer, REI, which built a new distribution center there. Darlene and I visited in October, during their famous Fall Foliage Festival, and enjoyed our time with her and her roommates. We even got to spend a day in a chocolate-consuming frenzy at the sweetest place on earth – Hershey, Pennsylvania. And we got to visit Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the site of the first big U.S. disaster, the Johnstown flood in 1889. This is where the Red Cross got its start. I have vivid memories of reading about that disaster when I was young.

Best of all, Mandy’s boyfriend, Alex Pittman, took us on a long walk around town for the purpose of asking Mandy’s hand in marriage. Two weeks later they were engaged. Date and venue not yet set.

And finally, Southern California

Larry’s team at work spent three days at a Web conference in Monterey, California, so it was a good excuse for Darlene to fly with me and we left Seattle a few days early, rented a minivan in San Jose, and drove down to Southern California for a delightful two days with her parents and other family members in the mountains above Los Angeles, before returning to the Bay area for the conference.

For Elim, It’s all About the Congo

Our big church project of the year was a short-term missions trip to Gemena and Tandala Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mandy and Larry had visited this beautiful country in the summer of 2006, and Larry was excited for the opportunity to work on an organizing committee for this effort, though he was unable to actually go on this trip. Elim will be extensively involved in the Evangelical Free Church efforts to assist AIDS orphans and widows in Gemena. We have sponsored Kokote Jures, a 5-year-old AIDS orphan in Gemena (our second sponsored child in the Congo). Working with TouchGlobal, Elim’s goal is to sponsor 1,500 such children during the coming year. You can help! Visit for more info. Also see the "Congo Blog" Larry created for this effort.

2007 Ride4US

Larry’s other big bike ride of the year was the 2007 “Ride4US” around the Puget Sound, designed to raise funds to purchase ultrasound machines for Pierce County Crisis Pregnancy Centers. The 60-mile hilly ride was more grueling, mile per mile, than the STP, but somehow I made it to the end!

Darlene Busier Than Ever With the Children’s Emergency Fund

Most of you probably don’t know that Darlene manages a nonprofit organization, associated with the Puyallup School District, called Children’s Emergency Fund. The Fund provides emergency help with food, shelter, clothing and medical care for children of local low-income families. That keeps her almost as busy as her three day-per-week school nursing job at three area schools.

In other Darlene news, she is recuperating at home after breaking her arm in a fall during our annual Christmas Tree hunting adventure on Mt. Rainier. We’re seeing an orthopedist next week for treatment options. In the meantime she’s resting comfortably here.

And Larry Promoted to “Web Guru” at World Vision

The Web program at World Vision is always changing in some way, Larry has learned after nearly 11 years working on the Internet channel there. And the latest change is a big one. In October a new team in his division was organized to upgrade World Vision’s internet presence and make it much more interactive, and his team of writers/web content providers is being integrated into that larger team. Larry is still managing the writers, for the time being, but is also serving as an internal consultant as regards some of the more technical aspects of the effort, such as production, analytics, and search engine optimization. He is also doing a lot of blog writing and developing a strategy for Web 2.0 (online social networking) for World Vision.

Darlene Goes Green

Several Short family institutions gave up the ghost this year, after about a decade of use -- among them, Darlene’s old Dodge minivan, and Larry’s old spa. So for Christmas gifts to each other we decided to go green: a new, high tech, energy-efficient spa for Larry, and a Toyota Prius (hybrid gas/electric) for Darlene. So far we’re getting 50+ mpg (in the car, not the spa), so eat your heart out, all you SUV owners!

Felicity Joins the Family

Felicity is a small black and white kitty who took up residence with us this summer. She was very bashful at first but is definitely coming out of her shell now. She spends most of her time either defrocking our Christmas tree or drinking from its water supply, or stealing our pens and hiding them.

A Visit From Our Hero, Aunt Dorothy

Dorothy Kalloch is my mom’s eldest sister, at 80. She left for a life of missionary work in Niger, at the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, the month before Larry was born. She finally retired last month, after more than 50 years of work with Serving in Mission (SIM) as an R.N. and a translator. She spent a week with us in November, and we had a wonderful time catching up with her. Right now Dorothy is in Southern California, considering where her next assignment will take her.

Taking a Deep Breath …

Can you believe we packed all that into a single year? No wonder we’re tired!

Well, not really tired … but definitely glad it’s Christmas! What a wonderful time to stop and reflect how drastically different our lives would be if it weren’t for the Manger … and the Cross.

We pray that you and your families will take some time this year to reflect on God’s blessings, and enjoy His presence, in preparation for the year ahead – whatever 2008 will bring. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!


Anonymous said...

Larry, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your paperless Christmas letter and blogs. The bike trip up the St. Angeles mountains was good/scary (especially your picture from the accident!) but neat to read how God intervened. Sorry to hear about the identity theft attempt on your dad, but it sounds like you're making progress. You and Darlene are very special to us. I've so enjoyed getting to know Darlene and being able to spend time with her. And, your writings are so interesting! Thank you for sending a copy to us. We wish you, Darlene, and the rest of your family God's richest blessings in the year to come. With love, MaryAnn & Brian

Anonymous said...

Hi Larry and Darlene,
Good to hear from you. It was good to see you in September! We also bought a Prius this year as you can drive a Prius in the car pool lane with one person in AZ.
Now all we need is the Hot tub.
Have a Great Christmas and New Year.
Kim and Mairi