Christmas Letter 2014

Our theme for 2014 has to be, “moving from darkness into the light.”  While the year was filled with many of our usual travels and activities, the frustration of worsening illness for me had tested everything I believed about love, faith in the Lord, and hope.  Persistence paid off, standing firm in my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ despite incredible suffering, and we are now encouraged beyond measure.  I AM GOING TO GET WELL!!!  And how about my beloved Steve?  Well he is wonderful, as always.  Here’s our 2014 briefing:

Competitive kayaking within the United States Canoe Association and related delegate activities filled the warmer months of my beloved’s calendar and provided opportunities to travel within our home state of Indiana as well as the South.  We took an annual trip for the January USCA meeting and got to see family and friends along the way; Steve travelled and camped alone for the National competition in August, bringing home a respectable finish in his surf ski and outrigger canoe despite an extra swim or two during the surf ski race!  Steve also became one of the primary firearms safety instructors this past year for classes held at our church (yes church!).  His work has been rewarding with lots of interesting projects and the promise of continued work well into next year, gratefully.  And during the lunch hour if it’s snowy, he’s leading the Exelis cross country ski pack of adventurist engineers around the grounds.  If the pavement is dry no matter the temp, he’s trading the lead in challenging cycling workouts at top speeds uphill or down . . .  On land and sea:  Go Steeeeeeve!

Quick Update on Steve’s Kids:  Christina is thriving in her work assignments in Thailand despite enduring a train wreck, adventures with her motorbike and truck (as in shifting left-handed whilst driving on the left side of the road!), and learning two new languages:  one for daily communication and another for translation work.  She is amazing!  Patrick and Kate welcomed baby Warren James Horney into the world in September and we are looking forward to meeting him this Christmas.  Two year old big brother Jackson Rees is simply adorable:  talking up a storm and even driving his own motorized vehicle around their home in North Carolina.  Yes, the car bug is definitely in the Horney genes!  (See this video for details!)  Rebekah continues her Masters studies in international education and recently got engaged to Pancho/Daniel/Francisco Anaya Diaz (don’t ya love the Spanish culture?).  She is exceedingly excited for their Chicago wedding in May of 2015; we are happy for both of them and look forward to getting to know Pancho too.  Daniel and Elizabeth are finally living in the same locale since getting married in June of this year!  Daniel successfully completed his tenure in the Marines (North Carolina) and Elizabeth graduated from West Point (New York).  They are together now in Fort Rutger, Alabama as she begins helicopter training in the Army while Daniel begins college for Physical Therapy Assistant in January.  As you can see, our hearts are full with all the goodness shared here . . . now just come and see us a bit more ya hear?  J

While much of my year focused on doctoring, testing, new treatments, and complications therein, in September my astute chiropractor from a small town practice encouraged me to get tested for mercury toxicity.  The results came back as very high.  Whoa.  We were stunned.  Additional testing has confirmed these results and helped my family doctor chart a course of treatment that should relieve most of the symptoms that have been so challenging each day of these past 3 years.  PRAISE THE LORD!!!  And just when the isolation of staying home much of the time to mitigate symptoms was taking its toll, two lovely ladies and I have joined together in a weekly Skype Bible Prayer Group.  We laugh as much as we pray, oh yeah!  I am also grateful to have continued some gardening activities in our own landscape and in the Everlasting Garden at the Allen County Cooperative Extension Office.  Keeping dirt under my fingernails from March to October is the best therapy of all sometimes!

So as we prepare to celebrate with loved ones the birth of our Lord and Savior, we are humbled and grateful for so many blessings this past year.  Even the serious stroke that my brother had in April has renewed our personal relationship as well as his walk with the Lord.  Every part of our story is ending this year with a brightness that simply was not there last year.   How fitting this is and symbolic of the Light of the World Who entered our midst two millennia ago to redeem us, to bring us into fellowship with Him for all time.

We hope you are encouraged by our Christmas Letter 2014.  We hope that you too will celebrate all the possibilities of the most important relationship in which we are invited to partake.  The love of Jesus Christ can transcend all things and bring everlasting joy to each one of us.  Oh yes!

Merry Christmas with love, Steve and Julie

Steve and Julie at Drive Austin, Texas
Steve and Julie at Drive Austin, Texas

I just gotta be me!

That's me in 2007
That’s me in 2007

Ten years ago would find me hosting a team of entrepreneurs at a job fair, working in healthcare four days per week, planning holiday travels, and riding my  bike or taking long walks in my neighborhood.  I lived in the west suburbs of Chicago and spent a lot of time in my car.  Traffic, you know!

Twenty years ago would find me learning to landscape my yard and live the married life, working full time, planning holiday travels, adjusting to a new diagnosis of a pain condition, and feeling glad to have my Master of Science degree completed at last.  Painting and decorating the townhouse would preoccupy the weekends in addition to long drives to a Christian mega church on Sunday morning.

Thirty years ago would find me finishing my fieldwork in occupational therapy at a State hospital in Michigan, beginning to search for my first professional job, and balancing family dynamics as a college graduate under my mom’s roof.  Time with friends and a steady boyfriend dominated my free time.

My how times have changed!  This past year I got sick with a serious illness, met the qualifications to become a Master Gardener, started a jewelry business, hosted a booth in two craft shows, took a hiatus from weekly kayaking in a performance surf ski, and learned the true meaning of love in the eyes of my beloved Steve.  The only things missing are the planning of holiday travels and spending a lot of time in my, er, truck.  No car anymore and no suburban living anymore!  I live in a small town near what they call a “big little town” and I like it.

Work is different too.  I work 2 to 6 hours most nights, in the middle of the night, for my online jewelry business and not in a clinic somewhere.  You could also say that I work to get well from Lyme Disease and its co-infections, requiring about 4 hours per day of various tasks that would bore you to list them right now.  (See the Survival Tips page if you’re interested!)  I’ve always valued “work” and have worked since my first babysitting job as a teenager.  Twice before I’ve started my own business.  The study of occupation has been with me and has helped me re-invent my career many times over the years.  I am grateful for most of it!

If I just gotta be me, then I guess I have landed squarely at a place that reflects who I am and who I have been all of my life.  I do believe my life is softer around the edges as the Lord has allowed many trials and blessings to shape who I am today.  There is so much more to learn, do, see, be.  In this moment, I am grateful for all the Lord has given me, good and bad.  After all, I met you didn’t I?  :J

Take this moment in time

To create something beautiful:

A world where we move closer together

With eyes for our Savior, Immanuel,

Where our stories speak with gentleness for

The paths taken and those we did not,

And the work of our hands makes a difference

In today and beyond . . .

For grace will be our companion

His love, peace, and joy.

Life becomes a journey worth the taking,


Would we really want it any other way?

(Julie Lech, July 2006)