Monday, December 09, 2013

Norris Family Christmas Update - 2013

Christmas Cheer from our family to you!

This has been quite a busy year for us Norris folk. Exhibit A: a sampling of the places we four, separately and together, have been in the past 12 months. New York, Minneapolis, Tuolumne Meadows, Oakhurst, Quito (Ecuador!), Chicago (twice), Austin, San Diego, Santa Rosa, the Ecuadorian Amazon, Maui, Toronto, Yosemite Valley, Amsterdam, San Francisco (twice), Brussels, Seattle (thrice!), and Copenhagen. The three trips to Seattle were due to 1) Husky season football tickets, 2) oh yes, we have a daughter in school there. I am tired just thinking about it all!

A Graduate! Huzaah!
Kelly Norris is a proud graduate of DePaul University, with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Elementary Education! Kelly’s graduation ceremony was one for the record books, with her dearest friends; Joni, Emma, and Whitney (from College of Charleston, Tulane, and Loyola New Orleans respectively) all in attendance. Another graduation gift was the presence of dear family friend, Jill Williams, from Austin. Add to that pomp and circumstance, one eager grad ready to tackle life, and two very proud parents. Mix in some outstanding gourmet dinners full of celebration and laughter. Kelly is now working hard almost full time at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, tutoring kids part time, and coaching the special needs swim team. It is such a joy to hear Kelly tell stories of the children she patiently works with each day; some of the tales are hysterical, and the twinkle in her eye when she tells them is priceless. In her spare time, she gets credit for the European and Ecuadorian visits noted above. Up next, she plans to teach English abroad, prospective locations include Ecuador, Thailand, and Chile. Right now, Kelly is loving having time to do as she pleases, especially after 16 years of school and constant structure. Ah, to be young again!

From the Rainy Pacific Northwest
Heather is now a sophomore at the University of Washington. It’s safe to say that this past year has been the hardest, busiest, and richest year of her life. Heather spent 10 weeks this past summer as a counselor at Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp, where she was stretched in many ways leading a different cabin of girls every two weeks. Her camp experience solidified her desire to pursue early childhood psychology in the coming years at the UW. She also has a nanny job for a family of FOUR girls all under age 7, which gives her great joy. Classes are hard, but she is studying subjects she cares about deeply. She is living in Christian community, has solid friendships, and is learning to love the Pacific Northwest, in spite of the gloom and fall cold/wetness. Heather is planning on returning to camp next summer, where she will continue to fall in love with the beautiful back-country of Yosemite, and pursue with joy an investment in the lives of kids. She wants all to know she feels continuously blessed by all the Lord has given her. Come to think of it, we all do.

For Others, with Love
Nancy continues in her role as the President of the Board of Club21 – a learning and resource center for families of children with Down syndrome. This Fall the Club21 Annual Walkathon was a smashing success, with over 700 people in attendance and nearly $100,000 raised in a single day! She is also serving as an Elder at Hollywood Pres, our church of 25+ years, serving with Steve on the Young Life Area Committee, and also working with teen moms. This summer, Nancy also took a week to help her parents, Cliff and Ruth, move from their Toronto house of 42 years into a nearby city-view apartment. All reports are that they are greatly enjoying their new digs! Nancy celebrated a significant birthday this summer with a lovely candlelight backyard dinner gathering. Present were of some of those that she dearly loves; and both girls made it home from hither and yon for the Big Event.

25 Years!
This past September the four of us paused just long enough from all the busy-ness of life to escape. Completely. This Fall marked our 25th wedding anniversary, and a celebration was called for! We four all piled onboard a west bound plane headed for Hawaii. Thus followed nine days of gentle Maui trade winds, snorkeling with turtles off a catamaran, paddling a real outrigger with a genuine descendent of King Kamehameha, zip lining 1,000 feet above the forest, laughing, watching the sunrise at the top of a volcano (Dad slept in, thank you), swimming in the surf, laughing harder, lounging by the pool, a road trip to Hana and the grave of Charles Lindbergh, breathtaking sunsets, and so many stars in the night sky you could cry. Did I mention that we laughed a lot? And I will admit, I teared up several times at the gentle beauty of those countless tropic stars, mindful of their Maker - we are so blessed to have been given the gift of the relationships in our family for all these years, and I am graced beyond measure to be married to my lifelong companion on this amazing journey, Nancy.

As for me, this fall I began a new chapter, teaching a real estate analysis class with UCLA Extension. I love the classroom, and after 30 years of experience in the field, am honored that others might think I have something to share. I also continue my involvement with Fuller Seminary, serving on the Advisory Panel to the School of Intercultural Studies.

In past years here, I have attempted to say something of modest theological significance concerning the impending Christmas season. This year, I’ve decided it’s high time to let someone with far more wisdom and writing skill do the honors. So, below, you will find a mediation on Christmas from Frederick Buechner, a pastor and writer, that reflects upon the Christmas miracle in quite exquisite language. Please know that your friendship is part of our Christmas miracle and thankfulness.

Christmas Peace, Joy, Laughter, and Love to all from our home to yours!

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