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

Christmas Letter 2013

Linus from "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
Linus from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

December 2013

Dear Family and Friends:

This past year proved to be another wild ride at our home, filled with adventures both good and, well, the other one!

Steve discontinued his Winter Shooting League commitments to be home with his beloved wife early in the New Year.  Two Fort Wayne event planning committees benefitted from Steve’s expertise running canoe and kayak racing competitions, held this summer.  His kayak racing (K-1 Unlimited) went well again for his fifth year racing in the U. S. Canoe Association circuit here in northern Indiana.  Participation in the USCA national meeting as a delegate and a respectable finish in the USCA Nationals were additional highlights this past year.  And while threats of layoffs continued at Exelis (formerly ITT), the Lord preserved Steve’s work again; it appears that the engineering contracts will continue for the next three years.  Yes!

Steve’s leadership and dedication to the Lord played out in continued work on the Missions Board at Harvest Fellowship in addition to weekly Bible and worship services.  I appreciated the weekly gift of a CD of the pastor’s message as my worship became more homebound due to the older conditions of our church building.  While I dreadfully missed the fellowship of our church home, I am grateful for the uplifting Bible teaching and first-hand account of all-things-Harvest when Steve came home with his play-by-play Sunday updates!

The biggest adventure of the year was the remediation of our home for mold between January and March.  We had just returned from seeing family and friends in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina in January when it became clear that there were mold spores throughout the house that were causing significant compromises of Julie’s health.  After extensive testing and prayer, we discovered that mold had developed in the air return area underneath a bathroom cabinet.  Julie stayed in a hotel for 76 days, most of them with our dog Elle while Steve ran back and forth between home/hotel/work.  Steve’s daughter, Christina, was finishing a furlough with us before returning to Thailand this Spring.  I thanked her for coordinating some of the clean-up efforts and navigating the flooring replacement project that included the entire house.  To say it was a major undertaking for all of us would be putting it lightly!  We are grateful for the Lord’s provision and guidance . . . and to be back home!  We are home except for Christina that is:  she is pursuing her work in linguistics and as an Intern Coordinator in Thailand.

Quick update:  Patrick and Kate celebrated Jackson Rees’ first birthday this past September at their home in North Carolina.  We unfortunately were unable to attend due to my illness but wait with great expectation for their return visit to Fort Wayne this Christmas.  Rebekah is now finishing her first semester at Vanderbilt University in Nashville; international education will be the focus of her Master’s degree.  And Daniel continues to thrive as a Corporal in the Marines, based down the coast from Patrick in North Carolina.  We are delighted to host him and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Posey, for some Christmas celebrations here real soon.

And for me, well check my blah, blah, blog for the hairy details!  (  I continue to battle the complications of a serious illness.  Recent new treatments are providing promising results and I must say that we see the hand of God guiding me and Steve through this often difficult journey – with some moments of sweet tenderness that probably could not have come any other way.  I am also grateful for two projects:  my online jewelry business ( & eBook ( that have kept me sane when tempted to feel discouraged.  There is hope and I see it every day in the face of my Jesus and heart of my beloved Steve.

So we hope that you will be encouraged this Christmas:  the Creator King is on the throne and is ready for us to celebrate His birth in just a few days.  The love and hope of Jesus Christ makes the difference to hearts and minds surrendered to His care.  He does it for us.  How about you?

Merry Christmas,

Steve & Julie