To all our dear friends and family,
Last year we didn't manage to get the annual epistle together, a symptom of the painfulness of 2008 which we were all more than happy to put behind us. 2009 has been a kinder, gentler year, although a typically busy one. Our family is larger, wiser, and more compassionate for all we've experienced over the past two years.
For those who have been completely out of the Klopcic loop, Tad eventually had to lay down his priesthood and we exited the Charismatic Episcopal Church forever. It was an extremely painful and frustrating leave-taking. While he misses some aspects of being in that ministry, he is thrilled to be back to full-time ministry as a husband and dad to his crew. At last report, that crew was about to add child number 10, Talitha Hope, who tally-ho'd her way into the world in July of 2008. Now at 19 months of age, Tali continues to delight and frighten all in her path with her determined personality and zest for trouble.
2009 has also brought a couple of new family members into our midst. Andrea came to us in July from India via a disrupted adoption to parents in Texas. She clocks in at 12 years old (making her our fourth child with a birth year of 1997), has some special needs including a hearing impairment which is corrected with the use of a bone assisted hearing aid (BAHA) and has fit right into our household. She and Miriam have become fast friends and good companions. She will become a permanent member of our family in Annapolis Court on January 7th. That adoption was complicated a bit by another pregnancy and Mairs once again balanced adoption paperwork off a growing belly. Natalie Faith entered the world on August 31st and rounded out our numbers to an even 6 girls and 6 boys. For the first time ever, we were able to keep her sex a surprise until her delivery, which caused no small amount of consternation amongst her siblings over which way the gender scales would tip. And now, for the 3rd time in our child-rearing years, we find ourselves with 5 children ages 6 and under. And for the first time we find ourselves the parents of teenagers and our therapist has found himself hard at work.
After wandering a bit through churchlessness we found a home in the Ancient Christian faith. Tad's seminary studies came in handy as we sought out the Orthodox faith he had studied as a seminarian. We stumbled across a Ukrainian Orthodox church and immediately fell in love with the ages-old practices of their liturgy. In 2008 our entire family was chrismated as Eastern Orthodox Christians and now both Tali and Faith have the joy of being our first "cradle" Orthodox family members. Besides falling in love with Eastern Orthodoxy in general (Benjamin is now a self-professed "Orthodork"), we have also been warmly welcomed into our small mission parish family. They have taken our large numbers quite in stride and showered us with love and blessings beyond our wildest imaginations. For the first time in a very long time we have found joy and freedom in our faith life and our church family.
Our homeschooling continues, now encompassing students in preschool through middle school. This year we recruited Muffy and Granddad to help with the teaching load which has given us opportunity to connect with all of Mairs' family on a weekly basis. Sports-wise we have ventured into rugby and track over the past year and JT has been able to play with a travel soccer team and get some fantastic coaching. Philip, Miriam and Andrea are playing basketball in the Discovery League where Philip has earned a reputation as a real hotshot. Philip, Ruth and Betsy have joined Tad and Mairs in the Four Evangelists choir and we are all getting quite an education in ancient chanting methods, tones and themes, while Ben and John Michael have been serving on the front lines on the altar. The older girls have found a wonderful dance instructor who has been inspired by them to go back to school to become a special educator while Betsy, John Michael and David have enjoyed taking gymnastics together. Ben and Betsy are also taking acting classes and continue to be involved in performances on both our own basement stage and out in the great wide world. Their acting class is putting up a production of Oz in which both have various ensemble parts. As a final project last year, Ben was instructed to write a parody of a fairy tale as a stage script and then stage a full production. His basement production of Knight Black and the Three and a Half Giants was outstanding. He and Betsy and Tad have also been rehearsing with the Radio Buffs and will be part of an old-style radio recording of It's a Wonderful Life in March at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
We ended 2009 with a surprise opportunity to watch God at work. Mairs got a call two weeks before Christmas from a friend she'd only met through an internet support group. Beverly, her husband and 8 boys had found themselves without a home and as a last resort called us to see if we had room in the inn. Of course we said yes. So with Beverly and her family added to Adora and Nehemiah and the rest of us, our household has swelled to 26 - 5 adults and 21 children aged 17 and under. We can honestly say that this has been the most meaningful Christmas we've ever experienced. If you want an opportunity to experience the wonder of God coming to us as a baby - ancient, great and wonderful, yet small and new - then open your home to those who need Him most and love them for all you're worth. No words can express what that act will teach your heart.
May you all have a joyous and faith-filled 2010! Glory to Jesus Christ!
Miriam, JT, Andrea, Philip, Ben, Ruth, Betsy, John Michael, David, Nathan, Tali, Faith,
Adora, and Nehemiah