Annual Family Christmas Letter

2017 Family Christmas Card

Dear Family and Friends,


2017 has been as busy as every other – and just as much fun.  Below, you will find a few of the happenings of our lives over the last year.

Gilead:  Gilead is almost 3 (January 19th).  He just moved out of the crib and onto one of the bunks in the room with the other boys.  We had been concerned about one of his eyes turning in and discovered that his eye sight is very poor; he was able to get glasses in the spring to assist the muscles in focusing.  He is quite used to the glasses, but is now on his third pair (they have a one-year replacement warranty on them and the lady who works for our eye doctor told me she would order a couple of extra pairs just to keep in stock).  He will be graduating from the nursery to the regular church services in just a couple of weeks.  He is the only one not in school, and so Carol and I have great joy in his presence, we anticipate that he will start pre-school next fall – he certainly wants to go to school.  He loves to sing.

Gardner: Gardner turned 7 on June 15th.  He is in 2nd grade and will move from the elementary school to the middle school next year.  His reading and writing have progressed significantly, and he is a very good student.  He is eager for our family Bible reading time when everyone gets home from school and is not intimidated by the King James English.  He has a very nice singing voice and I often hear him in the congregation when I’m near him on Wednesday evenings.  He played baseball in the Farm League this year and it was very evident that his hours of whiffle ball had paid off (however, I have to work on getting him to swing level instead of trying to loft the ball).  We had his eyes checked this year, and he joins Joel as the only other one in the family without the need for corrective lenses.

Kara: Kara will be 10 on January 10th; she is in 4th grade.  The flute that had been given to us turned out to be unusable, so we purchased a new one for her.  Since the school does not start instrumental lessons until the 5th grade, we were able to get several lessons from a friend/teacher, Mrs. Reber, to get her a good start on the basics.  She practices faithfully and she has just started playing hymns with the other instruments in the church services.  Her singing voice continues to bless us – it is very “flute-like” (lyric soprano) in its quality.  She is a wonderful big sister to Gilead and has a very tender heart and is a willing helper to Carol.  She brings me a cup of (very strong) coffee every Sunday afternoon.  On Easter Sunday, she publicly professed her faith in Christ by her baptism.

Josiah:  Josiah turned 11 on October 30th; he is quite skillful as a marksman and purchased a pellet rifle for his birthday.  He is in the 5th grade and will move to the Junior High School next fall.  Josiah also publicly professed faith in Christ and was baptized on the same day as Kara.  We were very curious which instrument he would choose to begin playing with the 5th grade band; it is a large decision for us and our children because we intend for it to be a life-long habit and ministry.  We already had a trumpeter and trombonist, but I was willing to have him play either of those if he chose, though I was hoping for a baritone/euphonium.  I watched several youtube videos with him of various instruments and when it came the time to choose at school, he chose the French Horn.  I was a bit surprised, but I know that he’ll devote himself to the one that interests him the most.  We rented a beginner horn for a few months, but went ahead and purchased an intermediate model for him a couple of months later when we were certain that he would do well with it.  Practice time is like second nature to him; he is very consistent.  He also will begin playing in services in the very near future.  So, in our family, we have pianists, an organist, a trumpeter, a trombonist, a French hornist, and a flautist.  I wonder what Gardner and Gilead will play?

John: John turned 12 on July 7th and is in the seventh grade.  He loves information and facts.  He is much like Joel in his quick recall of various facts concerning any topic.  I recently obtained an encyclopedia of WWII and he has already skimmed through all 24 volumes.  I have a table of new, but uncatalogued books outside of my study, I don’t bring them into my office until they have been added to my LibraryThing database, he has kept me busy trying to stay ahead of him as he enjoys reading in the recliner in my office.  His favorite thing at school is scholastic bowl.  He and Grant also found much pleasure on the school’s Lego League (and robotics) team.  John’s trombone skill amazes me and every part of his emotions are expressed as he plays.  I’ve been skeptical of the phrase “he can play any instrument he touches” until I’ve observed John; he has figured out how to play his sibling’s instruments.  I often hear this, “dad, John is playing my…” and have to remind him that he has to have permission.  I’m very curious to see where his musical ability may lead.

Grant: Grant turned 14 on September 10th and is in 8th grade.  He is looking forward starting high school next year and already goes to the high school for the first hour of the day for an accelerated math class.  He and John are both in the miniband at school as well as the regular bands.  We were especially pleased for Grant to audition and win a spot on the ILMEA 3rd District honors band which performed at Olivet Nazarene University in November.  Grant also upgraded from my old Yamaha trumpet to a silver, Bach Stradivarius.  One of his teachers was moving away and sold it to him for a very good price, we count it as a blessing from the Lord!  He continues to find ways to earn money; he mowed more yards and did all kinds of odd jobs around town for various people.  He has a collection of tools, lawn mowers, rakes, a blower, and etc. – not including those which he borrows from me.  He also purchased a laptop for himself in order “keep his business records” and all other pertinencies of life.

Laura: Laura turned 16 on May 6th.  She still doesn’t have her license, partly because she doesn’t have sufficient permit hours and partly because neither of us care to pay the additional insurance.  She has a job working at a tea room here in town and has benefited tremendously from all that she has learned there.  She purchased a laptop to use in school and she has upgraded to my old iPhone 5.  She continues to progress as a pianist.  As a Junior in High-school she has had an extensive amount of homework and has had to learn to manage her time well; in fact, I’ve had to enforce a bed-time for my high-schoolers – not because of television or entertainment, but because of dedication to studies.  She is also on the HS scholastic bowl and speech teams.  She’s thinking carefully about life and is praying and considering what she will do in the next few years.

          Joel: Joel will be 18 on February 9th.  It’s hard to believe that he only has one more semester of High School.  He’s continued taking the computer classes at the community college; consequently, he has reduced the frustration I have often felt whenever I’ve had a computer issue, by being a quick resource for problem solving.  He got a Macbook computer, and closely follows everything taking place in the tech world.  He also greatly enjoys participating on the HS scholastic bowl team.  He did not play on the HS baseball team last season, but is planning to pitch this year as his final year.  He has not decided on a college yet, but has applied to several and is waiting to see where things go from here.  He still works at the local hardware store.  Personally, I’m blessed to sit next to the organ every Sunday and hear (and see) his skill as a wonderful contribution to our services.  He has grown a little more and is now easily over 6’5” without shoes.

Carol: Carol continues to manage our home and lives with grace.  She balances life as a Christian, a wife (pastor’s), a mom, a citizen (her community interaction continues to increase in various ways), and a daughter – her parents moved down here from northern Illinois and we are thrilled to have almost daily interaction with them.  She shuttles the kids back and forth between school, sports, music lessons, jobs, church, grandparents, store, and home.  If you’ve noticed on Facebook, she is constantly finding creative, artistic, and tasty ways to feed us.  She has learned the trick of using apps on her phone to get all kinds of deals.  I think her favorites are the Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonalds apps.  She also did most of the gardening (vegetables and flowers) this summer since my non-church activities this spring were farming and coaching of baseball.  She is my favorite person in the world.

Levi: I coached baseball for the 4th year.  I obtained a Class A CDL in order to drive a grain semi for my farmer friends, the Kinzingers.  I preached a family conference at the church where my dad pastors in Missouri.  I’ve donated several more units of blood.  I managed to get the upstairs bathroom in our house functional, even though there is still some finish work to be done.  I’ve added more bookshelves and books to my study.  I’ve learned to sell things on e-bay.  Mostly, I’ve been busy with life like the rest of you.  As a Pastor, I finished preaching through the book of Psalms (A 12 year, on and off endeavor) and continue in the books of Proverbs and Luke.  I press myself to read more books and review them occasionally.  I haven’t posted as much of my writing this year, but have several projects on which I’m working.

Oscar:  We reckon that he is 12 years old.  He has taken a little bit more freedom outside than he has in the past, though his southern heritage is still evident during the winter; he stays inside as much as possible when it is cold.  He is healthy, sociable, and good company.

Church: The church continues to thrive with God’s blessing.  We had our second VBS, with good results.  We had one of my former professors, Dr. Surrett, come and preach through the book of Job for a week (his teaching through that book when I was a student was a spiritual sustenance for me during a very difficult time in our lives).  We’ve gotten new auditorium chairs, purchased new hymnals, removed the old single-entry door and installed new double glass doors, sidewalk and front stoop.  We’re in the process of installing a new exterior digital sign.  We have had some new members join the church and have begun financially supporting a new missionary (my brother and his wife, Michael and Nora Deatrick to the Solomon Islands).  I’m so thankful for the years that the Lord has given to our family here.

God continues to give us exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.  We enjoy life, each other, and we seek to live according to God’s Word by His grace.


May God bless your family this coming year!


Love the Deatricks,

Levi, Carol, Joel, Laura, Grant, John, Josiah, Kara, Gardner, Gilead, and Oscar       305 E. Franklin St., Paxton, IL 60957.

Levi: (217)781-4081; Carol: (217)781-4082

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