IMMANUEL: GOD WITH US!!
What joy should fill our heart to think that the God, who made the entire universe and everything in it (including us), loves us! How does He love us? He sent His only Son, Immanuel, to be born on this earth in an animal barn, to grow up in a poor home, to live without any modern conveniences, and to suffer as we suffer. Then Jesus let Himself be viciously killed on a cross--even though He was completely innocent and never sinned. It wasn’t the nails, but His love for us that held Him on that cross because, being God, Jesus could have called down legions of angels to save Him at any time.
The Bible says in Hebrews 12:1-3,
". . .Let us lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down on the right hand of the throne of God. "
He willingly died because of "the joy set before Him." Who is that joy? It is us!! "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8. He loved us first! Therefore, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9. If we sincerely claim Jesus as our personal Savior and develop a relationship with Him by daily talking to Him through prayer, and listening to Him by reading His Word, our name is forever written in the Book of Life and He will prepare a place for us in heaven.
That is good news! Like the angel said to the shepherds the night of our Savior’s birth, "For behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all people; for today in the city of David there has been born to for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11. Praise God for His never-ending mercy and that He sent His Son to make the only way to heaven.
How well I know the shortness of life as my Multiple Sclerosis has steadily taken away much of strength of my legs and weakened my hands, waist, and other functions of my body. I have stuck to a strict, very healthy diet, but it is no longer holding the disease back. But God be praised—He has taught me to make every day count with my relationship with Him, with Tracy, with our 7 children, and with my work. I am seeing the hand of God working so visibly in my life. I am learning to walk more and more by faith. I cannot see what is ahead. I am learning to trust Him more completely. "All things work together for good for those who love Him"--even MS. As I read the Bible, I am becoming more in love with God and His Word. Most of the time, it is the only thing that holds me together. I am so thankful God is with me all the way! And He will bring me safely to heaven, no matter what lies ahead, where there no more tears or sorrow! I will be healed for certain. "We do not lose heart. Though our outward man is decaying day by day, our inner man is being renewed day by day. This momentary light affliction is nothing compared to the glory that awaits us!"
As I get weaker, His power gets stronger. In June, I went to Mexico for
a failed attempt to get better, but God used it as a mission trip. I
gave Spanish Bibles and tracts to many, shared the gospel with dozens,
This summer in the Atlanta airport, as I struggled to my gate a man asked to help me. We sat down for an hour and a half, and he prayed to accept Jesus as His Savior. On another recent trip, I talked with restaurant manager and after two visits with him, he wanted to be a disciple for Jesus Christ.
During these last two years since our last Christmas/New Year’s letter much has happened to our family:
TRACY UPDATE: In April 2001, Tracy took the seven children to Six Flags wearing their "Home Schoolers for Bush/Cheney 2000" t-shirts. Karl Rove saw our home school "group" liked their t-shirts, and invited our family to the White House! I was speaking in Florida that weekend so Tracy and the children met personally with President and Laura Bush for a few minutes on the White House lawn and took pictures! I called Karl Rove’s secretary and she helped me get contacts in the White House to fix a problem for home schoolers in the military overseas, and to get a personal presidential greeting to home school leaders around the country. We have thanked God many times over for those season passes to Six Flags, and for God’s providence!
Tracy was interviewed on home schooling by the London Times, (German TV interviewed our whole family at our home and aired across Germany right after 9/11), and the BBC while we stood in front of Mount Rushmore this past October. In September, she went to Stratford, Canada with me and sang while I spoke (not simultaneously!) and attended board meetings. We enjoyed three wonderful plays there, including Shakespeare’s Henry VI. During the last two years, she has spoken with me at home school conventions in Louisiana, Massachusetts, Arizona, and New York.
Most of her time, however, she has tirelessly and successfully by God’s grace, taught our children at home these last two years as she has from the beginning. She has taken them on many fascinating field trips around DC, VA, and MD: Civil War battlefields, Baltimore Aquarium, Richmond and Baltimore science museums, Blue Ridge mountains, several exhibits at the National Gallery of Art, etc. And she has read many wonderful books, including Little Britches, Chronicles of Narnia,Little House on the Prairie and many others. This is her favorite time with the children. She truly loves her family and is 100% devoted to them.
Last January, Tracy met her Mom and Dad, and brother and sister-in-law in Florida to visit her beloved Grandpa & Grandma Maupin on the occasion of her Grandma’s 90th birthday. We didn’t know just a week and a half later her Grandma would go home to be with the Lord. What a sweet time of blessings they had before her parting! During August through November of 2001 she has battled her incurable disease of ulcerative colitis. She lost 35 pounds in a few months and much blood. She was finally hospitalized for four days with IV’s, prednisone and two blood transfusions. She recovered miraculously after a prayer alert went out around the country. She remained stable and on a low dose of prednisone until March, 2002. Then the bleeding of her intestines started again in June. She lost 20lbs and the doctors tried three different drugs to contain the disease but they either didn’t work or she is allergic to them. Right now she is back on prednisone temporarily and is stable. The doctor wants to get her off prednisone because of its harmful long term side effects. If the disease gets severely active again, the only solution left is removal of her colon. Please keep praying fervently for Tracy as she battles this disease, home schools 7 children, and helps her handicapped husband!
These past two years we have taken some wonderful family vacations:
NEW YORK TRIP: Spring of 2001 we took a road trip with the whole family to New York where Tracy and I spoke at the state home school convention. While there, we saw old friends and made many new friends. We also got to see Niagara Falls and the beautiful finger-lake region of New York State. It was extra special to walk through Watkins Glen with the children, as Tracy had many years ago as a little child growing up there.
GERMANY TRIP: A year ago this time, just as Tracy was recovering from her debilitating bout with UC, our whole family was in Germany! We spent a month there, partly for work for Chris, and partly for Tracy’s restoration, but mostly for some wonderful family vacation time. Westayed a majority of the time with a dear German home school family, the Guenthers, and also a week with the Wagners, an American home school military family, who both graciously opened up their home, hearts, and lives for us. While there, we got to see Neuschwanstein Castle (the fairybook castle of Ludwig of Bavaria that the Walt Disney World castle is built after), Strassbourg Cathedral and city, and Freiburg Cathedral and city. We also got to visit the Roman ruins of Trier and the American Military Cemetery (in Luxembourg) where General George Patton is buried. Other special trips included three days in Prague, Czech Republic where Chris’ grandparents immigrated from to America, and where one of our heroes, King Wesceslas (yes, he was a real Christian king!) lived, and to Rothenburg, a reconstructed walled city full of museums and delightful shops. In Cologne, we made new friends with the Reicherts, a dear Christian family, and met up with old dear friends, Doug and Joann Gleisner, who are stationed near there in the Air Force. We passed out foreign language tracts wherever we went! This trip was definitely the highlight of the year. Jesse said after we got home, “Mom, when we go next year…” I just had to laugh! It was a hard trip for me physically, but so memorable for us all, and particularly a restful time for Tracy.
TULSA TRIP: In June, 2002, we dared to drive all the way with our family of nine to Tulsa, OK to see Tracy’s parents, Roger and Jo-Anne Finn for two weeks. On the way, we stopped a couple nights, swimming at every hotel. In St. Louis, we met with our close friend Elizabeth Smith and went up the amazing St. Louis Arch. In Tulsa, we enjoyed many wonderful family adventures to the OK City and Tulsa zoos, the Gilcrease museum, nearby pool, and the Voice of the Martyrs conference in Bartlesville, OK. There we heard from many men and women who had been persecuted for their faith in Christ by Muslims or Communists in many countries around the world. Their faith, fervent love for the Lord, and their willingness to give ALL for Jesus Christ was so inspiring for us all. The kids enjoyed special time with Tracy’s brother Sean and wife Ayn, and Tracy’s step-brother Steve. I also spent time with my old law school friends. What a time to remember the “old” days and to encourage each other for the future! On the way home, we saw two sets of fireworks and visited the Conner Prairie historic village in Indianapolis where the children learned much about 19th century frontier living.
CINCINNATI TRIP: In July, 2002, Tracy’s Grandma Finn had her 90th birthday celebration organized largely by Tracy’s dad, Roger. The kids enjoyed meeting extended family and getting to know cousins most of them have never met. It was a first time to have a family reunion/picnic of over 60! You can just imagine the cameras that were going non-stop.
SOUTH DAKOTA TRIP: In October, 2002, we spent a week with the 4 older
children in Rapid City, SD in conjunction with HSLDA’s National
Christian Home School Leadership Conference. The children learned much
MEETING WITH JONI EARECKSON TADA: While at a Virginia fundraiser for a Christian Romanian orphanage, our family had the special privilege of meeting and spending a few minutes talking with Joni, who has spent the last 30 years paralyzed from the neck down. She has ministered to people around the world, written books, done beautiful artwork by mouth, and has glorified God over and over in spite of her terrible affliction. She is a huge inspiration to me to keep going in the face of my worsening condition.
BETHANY ("Beny") UPDATE; At 15 years old, Bethany has become quite a young lady. She is 10th grade, proficient in piano, scored high on her PSAT, loves languages (is in her 2nd yr. of French and 1st yr. of Spanish and would like to learn several more!), and is very responsible. She went on a Mexican mission trip in May for two weeks with our dear friends the Caylors to help the mission efforts our church supports in Guadalajara. She loved serving others, distributing medicines to the poor, helping with the children’s program to the Mexican children, painting, cleaning, and generally contributing to the mission work. She would like to go back again, and is very interested in pursuing full-time mission work when she finishes school.
MEGAN (“Mimi”) UPDATE: Megan at 12 is very organized and a big help with the children and home. She loves making crafts and gifts for others. She also has become quite a good writer. She loves serving and helping others. Tracy cannot count the number of times something has been misplaced and Megan seemed to quickly find it. She has voluntarily taken on organizing Mom’s desk, her room and anything else that has needed organizing. We couldn’t make it without Megan!
JESSE (“Jebby”) UPDATE: Jesse at 10 has become a skillful artist in pastels, recently getting third place for his age group in a national wildlife art contest sponsored by the NRA. You can see his picture at www. NRA.org. He enjoys his Upward basketball league and is one of the highest scorers on his team. He loves to collect coins and memorize Bible verses for Awanas.
SUSANNA (“Sugy”) UPDATE: Susanna at 8 always has a smile. She loves to sew and lead her twin sisters in creative projects. She is very athletic and is not afraid of any kind of bug! She is also our best eater, and will try anything, including pickled herring, jalapeno peppers, you name it, she’ll eat it! It’s that adventurous spirit of hers we guess. :o)
CHARITY (“Cheezy”) UPDATE: Charity at 7 loves reading out loud and is becoming quite an able helper at home. She loves spending time with her big sister Susanna, and is absolutely our best hugger!
AMY (“Emmer”) UPDATE: Amy at 7 is such a blessing. Seven years ago the doctor said she would die. She is a living testimony to God’s faithfulness. She is especially loving to her little brother and always makes Daddy little cards. So often in the middle of a dispute, she is trying more to be a peace-maker. We are thankful for God’s work in her strong, little heart!
JOHN (“Joby”) UPDATE: John just turned 5 and we call him our “little man.” He is extremely articulate and active. He confessed his love and belief in Jesus earlier this year and is now taking communion at church. He loves to talk and we are thankful to have another boy who talks. His smiling, slightly freckled face is often the first one we greet in the morning!
CHRIS (“Daddy”) UPDATE: These last two years, I have pretty much lost my strength—God alone has nonetheless carried me on to continue to do His work. In addition to my daily legal and legislative work directing our legal department at the Home School Legal Defense Association, here are some of the extra highlights for 2001: I spoke at the home school state conventions in Missouri, New York, Florida, Dallas (2), New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Wisconsin. I testified before Congress (the day of the anthrax attack!) and successfully got attached two amendments to reform the child welfare systems around the country. I testified before the Minnesota Legislature to help defeat a restrictive home school bill.
In 2002, God used me to testify in March before Regulatory Board of the U.S. Department of Education to gain approval of new language to help home schoolers gain admittance to college. By God’s grace, I testified before the PA legislature and spoke to a large rally of home schoolers at the state capitol in NY to try to get favorable legislation passed for home school freedoms. I also spoke at state home school conventions in Rapid City, SD, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Idaho, Denver, Alabama, and Dallas. In Phoenix, I participated as a faculty member of an Alliance Defense Fund Litigation Academy to train 65 lawyers from around the country on parental rights. I have done lots of swimming and weight lifting to keep up some muscle strength.
The most exciting development was the completion and publishing of my latest book, The Heart of Home Schooling: Teaching and Living What Really Matters by Broadman and Holman publishers. I could not have written the book without MS. God is so good to give me this opportunity to share what He has been teaching me, and use this book for His glory!