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  • Writer's pictureNic

6.12.15 Letter to Friends


16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.         1Thess. 5:16-18

I have to admit this is not my natural reaction.  My natural reaction to challenging circumstances is to:

a) Try to fix it or problem solve my way around it.

b) When that fails, complain… a lot.

c) Generate a marginally Christian narrative around it and try to paste some, “God is good” – I guess-ness over the whole debacle.

But being a follower of Jesus Christ is all about overcoming my “natural” self and finding a new way to do things, right? So here goes; a brief summary of the past 7 months of life without all the complaining (and be very glad you missed that sorry stage of things my friends.)

It is hard to characterize the stage of life we are in, perhaps it is best described as a season of growing and stretching.  Mike started at First Presbyterian Church of Sharpsville last September.  We enrolled the kids in school here in Pittsburgh for one last year and Mike commuted to his job 2 days during the week, worked from home 2 days and then we all piled in the car for Saturday and Sunday in Sharpsville (henceforth to be referred to as SV in this post).  SV is 1 and half hours north of Pittsburgh and once we get past the city it is not a bad drive.  Though the weather during January, February and March was horrible for driving we had no accidents or incidents! Hoorah!

School ended for the kids last week.  Tessa and Riah were at PUCS again and had a great year in middle school.  Riah was challenged and gained a lot of ground academically and finished 6th grade with all A’s except for one 89%.  His robotics team went to the Lego world championship in Kentucky and he worked on the yearbook. He also got a rock tumbler for Christmas and had a blast polishing rocks that he has found and bought. 


Tessa graduated from PUCS 8th grade with straight A’s and many fabulous memories from her time there.  

 Including a 3 day trip to Washington D.C.

 (Sophia took these portraits and Ano, our dog, seems to have something he’d like to say but we aren’t sure what it is)

Tessa also worked on the yearbook and babysat two nights a week for most of the year.

Sophia transferred from the International Baccalaureate High School to the Science and Technology High school where Samuel attends.

 Her year was far better than I ever could have imagined.  She excelled socially and academically.  She finished with a 4.0 and was awarded 10th grade student of the year.  Also, she continues to play, enjoy and loathe her violin depending on the day.

Sam also finished up his Junior year with a 4.0, was inducted into National Honor Society and received a National Merit letter of Commendation.  It says something when the principal, guidance counselor, and multiple teachers offer to adopt your kids so they can continue going to their school.   

 Sam and  Sophia have a unique set of friends that enjoy playing cards, chess, ukuleles, and learning.  As I write Sam is with five other boys biking on the trail to Washington D.C. I am so thankful that he has found and will always have these guys as friends.  We are praying about his plans for his senior year and whether or not he will graduate here in the city or up in SV.

I have continued my cleaning and organizing business.  This spring a dear friend agreed to take over the business and she has a portion of my clients and will take on more as I phase out after we sell the house.  We have been frantically trying to finish projects on the house since March and finally have all the trim in, flooring on the first floor, and doors on our closets (truly superfluous things since we lived without them for 10 years!)

and the house looks awesome.  Please pray that a buyer who will love this house and it’s many trees, the neighborhood and our wonderful neighbors will soon step up.  Our ability to really settle into life in SV is limited until the house sells.

Life in SV is good though still very part-time for the moment.  We plan on shifting our schedule to living in SV most of the week starting in a few weeks.  I will need to be in Pittsburgh at least two days a week to work and both Tessa and Sophia are working with me but the rest of the time we will live up in SV.  But where will we live?  Last year we had the gift of a mother-in-law apartment over the garage of a congregant in town for our use and Mike still stays there when he is by himself.  But in April we had an amazing conversation with a family in town that own a gentleman’s farm with a rental home.  No one was renting the house and they offered it to us to use “until we were done” for an unbeatable price.  So for now we have a home base and have moved in partially so that when we go to SV we have a home complete with a pond, 37 acres of wood and fields, garden, orchard, miniature horses, cows, and chickens.  It’s such a blessing and it gives us breathing room to look for land to build the “Carlin homestead”. 

  Riah walking along the pond.

 the woods  around the house.

We have had a good time getting into the rhythm of church life.  We helped pack bags at the local food bank.

  Participated in a moving candlelight Christmas eve service.   

 Mike had the joy of performing his first baptism (for an adult! double hooray!!) in April

 and then his first wedding in June

 He was the speaker at SV High School’s Baccalaureate service last Monday, too.  He has worked so hard this year and this job is such a great fit for him.  You can pray for him as he has also officiated at five funerals since September including one for a good friend, Gus Grandy, who passed away during surgery.  It is hard to say goodbye and comfort others at the same time.  I am so grateful for the church’s unabated enthusiasm and support for Mike.

The kids participated in World Vision’s 30 hour famine in March

 Have made friends and keep busy in the gym 😉  

 and have helped make this transition so smooth by being willing to go along with us in this adventure.  Sophie has played her violin regularly, Tessa has played the drum during worship, and Sam and Sophia shared during the sermon for youth Sunday.  They have been social and engaging with the congregation and though they are VERY sad to leave Pittsburgh they have approached this change with real bravery and sought to find the good in the difficulties.

So I give thanks for everything this past year has brought including all the stuff you may have heard me complain about.  God is Good all the time.

I hope to get back into a regular rhythm of “letter writing” but we shall see…


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