Saturday, January 31, 2009

Our belated Christmas update (blame the tardiness on the new kid)

Since our biggest news happened so close to Christmas, we decided to hold off and send our Christmas letters late (and because I'm cheap and wanted to use the same postage for a birth announcement and a Christmas letter). AJ always writes a great letter, so here it is for anyone who hasn't yet seen it.

...Then Samuel took a stone and set it up...and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12

Here follows a brief retelling of some of the events in our lives over the past year or so. It's my best effort to set up a family Ebenezer. Bear with me...

Megan continues to find great fulfillment in the ups and downs of being a full-time mom. When people ask her if she works, I usually try to interrupt her and say, “Yes, she just doesn't get paid anymore.” She is a great mom and keeps the house in great shape, all while participating in many other events: Bible studies, mom's group, social events with other moms, baby showers, discipling Julie (now a junior at MCA), teaching piano lessons, playing with the church worship team, and more. Occasionally, I try my hand at just watching the kids, and still can't quite figure out how she accomplishes anything else during the day.

I (A.J.) have enjoyed another year of teaching at Midland Classical Academy, trying to infuse into myself and my students a love for God and learning the subjects of math, science, and—for my first time—Greek. One highlight is the continued relationships I have enjoyed with MCA graduates, many of whom gather in our home over holidays for large-scale games of Speed Scrabble. Tutoring, ping-pong, accountability group, coaching cross country, Adventure Club trips, helping MCA seniors with fundraising, and a summer job at Chick-fil-A have also kept me busy this year.

Jenna and Lydia have certainly grown and changed much over the past year, a fact that's apparent to those of you who've seen them in living color or on various websites. They are quickly descending on the beginning of the “terrific twos”, and have added so much to our lives as they enjoy following each other around the house, giving and receiving tickles, singing and dancing, and learning new words by the dozen. Even though—cough, hack—one of their parents has taught them the words for important bodily emissions, my proudest interchange with them goes something like this: “Girls, what do you think of boys?” [Pinching their noses] “Pee-yoo! Stinky!” That's right, girls. Don't you ever forget it. They are undoubtedly identical, and have caused confusion for even those who know them best. I am still considering a tattoo for each of them in a visible place like their forearm or forehead. The twins have also done a remarkable job of caring for their new brother (and their many baby dolls), by giving kisses, helping with the burping process, as well as efforts to assist in changing diapers and even attempts at nursing. Don't ask.

Andrew “Drew” Caleb Perea hit the scene just before Christmas, on Dec. 21 at 8 lbs and 19.5” tall. His middle name was largely influenced by a close family friend and former student of mine, Caleb Shelburne. It certainly is a nice bonus that the biblical character of Caleb was a man of renown, and that the name literally means “wild dog.” Well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad. He has shown to be generally tolerant of having three mothers at home (see paragraph above), is eating and sleeping pretty well. This happy boy was the best Christmas present to our family! I am excited to have another boy in the house, although three kids this young have certainly kept us quite busy thus far.

And now for a few family highlights. We have enjoyed many visits from friends and family this past year (including some extended family—who knew Midland was on the way to anything), as well as trips of our own to CO and AR for simple visits, college homecoming, and a beautiful summer wedding of brother Ben and new sis, Maggie. This summer we went to Camp Travis to train a new cook, Megan and the girls flew to CO, and we enjoyed spending time with college friends and family on a trip to Chicago, WI, and MN. As it was so close to Drew's due date, we had our first major holiday (Thanksgiving) not with our parents, but everyone more than made up for it with trips down to Midland over Christmas to meet Drew for the first time.

This past year has brought several crises and major forks in the road, as well. In all of these, God has continued to show Himself faithful. And not just because of the outcomes, either! In May, as we were packing to head off to camp, I went in to check on an uncharacteristic nighttime cry of one of the girls. It was Lydia, but we ended up stumbling upon Jenna at the beginning of a lengthy seizure that led to a hospital stay and many tests and follow-up visits. The tests came back inconclusive, which is evidently the best possible news we could have received. Looking back, it's clear that God used Jenna's twin sis to make us aware of her danger, a story that they will hear throughout their lives of the important role they each play. Space limits fuller details, but we also had some trying times when our van was stolen from our driveway soon after Thanksgiving. We were overwhelmed as God's people (in the form of church and school family) rushed to loan vehicles, car seats, etc., and were further stunned when the van was recovered 11 days later, with a couple of missing gadgets as the only losses! It'd be easy for some to chalk these events up as merely good fortune, but this is vivid evidence to us that God knows our needs even better than we do. We will cling to this promise as we soon face a big change in our lives. This school year will be my last, and I begin this summer as a part of the local Chick-fil-A team. In my new job as training coordinator and marketing director, I very much look forward to new relationships with this group of individuals, learning how to be a good businessman, and opportunities to reach out to them by showing Christ's love and instilling a sense of purpose in their roles at work and home. My hope is to operate a franchise of my own someday, perhaps in your corner of America. You may be asking, “What? Trade in a chance to mold godly young people to make chicken sandwiches and constantly smell like a peanut??” I'll only respond with a quote from Frederick Buechner, “The place where God calls us is that place where the world's deep hunger and our deep desire meet.” No pun intended.

This scene is one philosopher's attempt to illustrate two competing paradigms that each of us face during the holiday season. (I recently finished my first reading through The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.) Honestly, this conflict transcends seasons of the year and is something that man has struggled with through the ages: the battle between stopping to reflect on what truly matters and getting caught up in the daily hustle and bustle of life, stuff, and general busyness. It's clear that God has known this tendency in humanity for awhile now, as He instructs His people time and again to set up “Ebenezer” stones and recount the ways He has been faithful, in order that they don't forget. Why does God make such a big deal of us stopping to remember? Psalm 78 offers some insight (I'd encourage you to read the whole thing).

That they should make them known to their children;
That the generation to come might know them...
That they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God...
When He slew them, then they sought Him; And they returned and sought earnestly for God...
For their heart was not steadfast with Him, Nor were they faithful in His covenant.
But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity...For He remembered that they were but flesh...
Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power...

One huge theme of this passage (and many others) is that God is faithful to His people and His promises, even when we fail to keep our end of the bargain. In fleeting moments like these, I see the importance of recalling God's faithfulness. How quickly I forget these things and get so worried when a new crisis arises! I hope that you and your family can reflect on these Ebenezers in your lives, and remember often that the Creator of the universe is indeed a good God. Thank you for all you've invested in our lives over the years.

With much love—the Pereas

A.J., Megan, Jenna, Lydia, and Ebenezer Archimedes Drew

Friday, January 30, 2009


We're full of smiles at the Perea house! Drew thrilled me with his first smile tonight while we were sitting in the living room watching the girls dance and spin.

Jenna and Lydia have brought lots of smiles lately as they say "please" then "nicely" to reinforce that they should really get what they're asking for since they're asking nicely. Their Daddy has also successfully taught them to recognize burps and toots, so now I'm following up with the "excuse me" to follow their innocent admission "toot" or "burp." The girls are very proud of their freckles. They should be since it's one of the few physical features that distinguishes them from each other. Lydia's is on her cheek and Jenna's on her foot. Jenna likes her's so much that she doesn't like to wear socks so that she can see it at all times. They both love to remind us that their freckle is one of the things that makes them special. Oh, and Daddy's proudest lesson: "Girls, what do you think of boys?" "Peeyou! Stinky!" the girls reply while plugging their noses.

We are very busy but are having lots of fun enjoying are sweet kids. Here's some picture updates.

Drew: one month old
Snuggles from Lydia (L) and Jenna (R)

Jenna exercises with Auntie Gigi who she adored

This is what Lydia thinks of pictures these days.

Drew: 6 weeks old

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Three weeks ago today Andrew "Drew" Caleb came into our world. We are completely enjoying him and are so thankful for our precious little boy. After a tough delivery, due to a couple hours of pushing and the need for forceps to pull Drew out, I am now fully recovered. Although it was tough, I'm so thankful for a successful VBAC (no need for another c-section like I had with the girls). Drew is healthy and growing and is even beginning to sleep a little longer between feedings at night!!

Drew was born on Sunday, Dec. 21, and we have had three full weeks of help from family here at our house. They were each such a blessing, and it was a big treat to have such a fun Christmas with family even though we needed to be at home. Thanks for making the long trip, you guys! Now we're figuring out how to do life with three under two! I'm learning to trust the Lord to provide the patience, love, and strength for each moment.

There's so much to write, but I just have time for some pictures, so click here to see our Christmas pictures. I'll post my recent favorite here just for fun!