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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Edwards’ Christmas Letter, 2013

Dear Ones,

We are a few years behind in our yearly updates and Christmas greetings, but you have been in our hearts and prayers!  To find the time to reconnect with you this year is a blessing.  We last sent an update at the end of 2010, just before the USAF promoted Ryan to Master Sergeant.  Ryan’s Dad was able to make it out for the ceremony, and in spite of an unscheduled ice storm, we loved reconnecting.  At that time, we were still working on renovations to our Enid, OK home.  All the major renovations were complete with the main bath remodel in May, 2011 and the addition of a large shed in June, 2011.  In January, 2012, Ryan had a two week TDY—uneventful but for the lightning strike to the airplane, midflight, on his trip home.  That delayed his return by a few hours, but we were very glad he simply made it home!  

In February we announced the upcoming arrival of Edwards Baby #5, which immediately drew deployment orders from the USAF.  To our disappointment, Ryan was scheduled to be gone on the baby’s due date.  However, such is the way of military life (yes, Rebecca had a few temper tantrums, but that is the way of the military wifeJ).  We had an awesome support group in Oklahoma through our church, friends, and neighbors, with family waiting to come out and help as well.  Hours before his flight, Ryan went to complete his final appointment when he learned his orders had been cancelled and the position he was to fill in Qatar had been removed.  Having never experienced a cancelled deployment, we carefully rejoiced, rather uncertain of the good news and our sometimes fickle Air Force.  On a side note, Ryan told me that day he volunteered for a special duty assignment in Hawaii that he wouldn’t get because so many others would be volunteering for the same position in “paradise.”

Though we loved our home, friends, and neighbors in Enid, we felt the call to move.  And God did send us to Hawaii!  Because of the pregnancy, we were allowed to push up the date to move so we wouldn’t be travelling during the late months of the pregnancy.  That crunched our remaining time in Enid into a very small window.  We attempted to sell our home, and had some encouraging nibbles, but we ran out of time to pursue that avenue; so we are currently renting out our home.  It is nice to know we still have a bit of Oklahoma in our hands—we have grown to love that part of the country. 

Not much in 2012 worked the way we expected, yet God’s hand was very evident—right down to the arrival of Isabelle Rachel Edwards on November 17th—two WEEKS after her due date, at which point she was very anxious to appear:  born a scant few minutes after we arrived at the hospital.  Hannah was, and is, overjoyed to have her long prayed for sister.  The boys delight in playing with her and she already has quite a bit of rough-and-tumble in her personality.  Isabelle began popping in teeth at the end of 2 months, walking at 8 months, and is currently having pitched battles with us about climbing (at 1 year old).  She jabbers, primarily about “Dada,” and has the best belly laughs.

Seth, our ever fun-loving, fearless boy caused a few heart-stoppers in the past couple of years.  Before we left Enid, on the soccer field one weekend, both Ryan and Rebecca thought the other had Seth and reached a state of panic when we realized he was not with us.  We quickly had a number of searchers combing the area for our lost boy (there were a lot of people, many of whom were leaving at the end of the games, and multiple fields).  As Ryan began searching drainage ditches (shudder), Nathanael’s coach found Seth happily perched on a construction pile quite a ways away from the field, throwing rocks into water.  God’s grace!  Here in Hawaii, on one of the kids’ and Ryan’s trips to the beach, Seth and Ryan were body surfing together when a wave unexpectedly separated Seth from Ryan.  Ryan popped out of the water searching for Seth, when Hannah suddenly exclaimed, “What are you doing here, Seth?”  Seth just happened to run into Hannah’s legs, and hung on for dear life!  Blessings, overwhelming blessings!  Seth now wears a flotation vest and is much more cautious at the beach.  Seth told me that he loves to play Minecraft (he often has his Sunday School class at our wonderful church, The Gathering, pray for his Minecraft!).  He also likes to play outside with his brothers, sisters, and friends.  At quiet moments, we find Seth in his room fully engaged in building tracks for his trains and chattering for the trains, cars, or Legos.

Thaddeus writes:  I play Minecraft and I play with my friends, too.  I play with Alex’s (neighborhood friend’s) Ripstick.  I joined swim team, got to swim at a meet and got ribbons, too.  Soccer was fun and I go to Awanas.  I like catching geckos and I like to go to the beach.

Nathanael writes:  I play with my friends and I moved up from Silver 1 to Silver 2 (Swim Team) and that was awesome.  I also bought Minecraft (a computer game).  Right now I am very thankful that God sent His only Son to earth to die for our sins.

Hannah writes:  I dearly miss my friends from all over the world and hope to see you again soon (maybe in HawaiiJ?).  Hannah delights in creating (as always) anything her imagination comes up with.  She took a sewing class this year and helped to buy her own sewing machine—so she has added sewing masterpieces to her repertoire as well.  She has also been writing some books in her spare time.  We live in a cul-de-sac full of kids, so Hannah is forever establishing new clubs, business ventures, and parties.  She took her Red Cross Babysitting course this year and has been babysitting for us for short periods of time—it is nice not to have to haul everyone to the Commissary now!  Hannah is maturing into a lovely young lady (faster than either Ryan or Rebecca are ready for); but we are relieved that she still finds time to climb trees and be a kid every now and then.

Our three oldest have joined Hickam Hurricanes Swim Team this year and are swimming their hearts out!  It is great fun to watch their strokes refine and their speeds increase.  Hannah and Nathanael have joined a competitive Lego group as well.  The kids program a Lego MINDSTORM robot to perform certain actions in, for instance, a town (that they also build) during a hurricane.  They have to present their solutions as a team in front of judges and get their robot to do what it is supposed to do—great challenging fun!  The four older kids and Ryan are also involved in Awanas here at Hickam.

Ryan is conveniently able to ride his bike to work at PACAF Headquarters, which is just a few blocks from our home on base.  Instead of controlling air traffic, here he is managing air traffic control forces in the Pacific for the Air Force.  Ryan thrives on finding solutions to management dilemmas.  He had taken a sabbatical from his Master’s degree after Isabelle was born, but is looking into pursuing that goal again in 2014.  He has spent time volunteering at a leadership camp for teens/young adults off base (  He gathers others to trek out to the camp every few weeks to help with grounds maintenance, etc.  To Rebecca’s delight and frustration (because he is now faster than she), Ryan began swimming this year in preparation for a triathlon in May, 2014.

Rebecca has been able to snatch some time away from the home and kids to run in the neighborhood and trails just outside our door, as well as swim at a nearby pool at night.  She is finding the never-ending summer (difficult for a winter-loving person to adjust to) a boon for a consistent workout schedule.  It is a delight to swim under a dusky evening sky with palm fronds waving and water droplets sparkling in the lights—in December!  While it is a joy to teach and care for the kids, sanity escapes are essential!  Rebecca has also begun to write in a more formal setting this year.  This has long been a passion of hers and having a deadline each month has proven to be a good motivator to put pen to paper.  She has joined several other women, sharing from their hearts every month:

As we near the end of this year, immersed in the worries of the world—yes, even us!—it is a relief to remember how fleeting this world really is.  Envision, if you will, a leader, government dignitary, or king even—complete with the trappings of state, majesty, fanfare, security detail, etc.:  scrubbing a toilet.  Mixing those depictions are like mixing oil and water—one is grand, the other humble.  Now imagine a god (not just a Senator) throwing off all the heavenly glory (glory that can never be matched on earth) and becoming the embodiment of humility.  Not many of us may have a relationship with say, the Queen of England and certainly not without a worthy reason; but Jesus—God Almighty—humbled Himself and became a poor babe in a dirty world who even washed filthy feet, fished, and cooked for others.  He, we can approach.  We could never hope to approach an awesome God in our wretched, imperfect state, but Jesus seeks out the poor, meek, and humble.  “’The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed.’” Luke 4:18.  Even our insignificant, messy selves can approach Him—be welcomed by Him—and be saved by Him.  Who can ever hope to match His offer?  What a great assurance in this time of disquiet.

Our orders have us in Hawaii until September 2015; but who knows where the USAF will send us next or when.  We are content to be on God’s schedule, however.  Throughout life all encounter hardships, tragedies, and wonders.  Since we will too, we would rather face the ones God has set for us, knowing He is crafting the best for us, than force our own way and miss some of His glory and blessings.  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Rom. 8:28.  In spite of the sometimes gloomy news, praise God, He will establish beautiful things!  We pray you will likewise find rest in His promises.

It is a Merry Christmas, indeed!

Ryan, Rebecca, Hannah, Nathanael, Thaddeus, Seth, and Isabelle