Christmas letter 08

I wrote a Christmas letter but never got around to getting it printed.  I posted it on Facebook, and thought I'd post it here too.  Have a very Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!! 2008

This has been quite a year of transition for our family! It started in February when little Judah Zion was born and completed our family of six. He is such a sweet and mellow little guy. He has recently learned to crawl and pulls himself up to stand and move along the furniture.

A few months after Judah was born, Joe made the tough decision to get out of law enforcement and pursue his real passion, tattooing. When we lived in Minnesota back in 1997-99, Joe had a co-worker who, after we moved back to California, opened his own tattoo shop in St. Cloud. They have stayed in touch over the years, and there’s always been an invitation for Joe to work at his shop, with the potential of taking it over when his friend retires. At the end of July we made the move here and settled in a little town called Rice. It was heart-wrenching leaving family, friends and church, but we knew that God would be with us and we had each other. Since we’ve been here, it’s been fun to reconnect with family, sharing holidays and special events with them. We’ve also actually come to like the little town we live in! The kids love playing outside (even in the sub-human temperatures we’ve been having lately!), and we are enjoying the slower pace of life.

What we didn’t expect to find so quickly here was a church where we all instantly felt at home. We had been here for a couple of weeks and tried a church that I’d found online before moving, and it just didn’t seem like the right fit for us. Then we found out that a friend Joe grew up with had started a church near us about a year ago. When we walked in the next morning, we immediately felt at home. They even had a coffee shop! They meet in a beautiful log building on a golf course, and the people have been so wonderful. One of the nice things about a new church is that everyone is new, so we just joined in as they’re all getting to know each other and developing friendships. Joe has been helping with set up once a month on Sunday mornings, I've been working in the coffee shop and helping with the women's ministry and Brooklyn and Zeke are taking part in a Christmas program this Sunday. We’ve made some really good connections that go way beyond “Minnesota nice” in such a short time.

Now as the year is coming to an end, we find ourselves in transition again. Joe was let go from the tattoo shop a couple of weeks ago. He’s been able to finish the month there, but he and his friend who owns the shop have had different ideas about marketing and ways to make money in the industry. The economy has affected everyone and business has been slow. Joe has decided he can’t just sit there day after day with no one walking through the doors, so he’s been working on a website, which is to be like an online tattoo magazine, with interviews and relevant articles. He’s also working on some seminars and books that he can sell from his site. He’ll keep working on these things as we’re praying about what to do next. At this point, it looks like we may be moving back to California. We’d appreciate your prayer support, as we really long to be where God wants us.

It seems crazy that we would move all the way out here just to go back. I’ve wondered if possibly the tattoo shop was just a way to get us here for something else, or if maybe this was just to be a respite for us for a time. God’s ways are higher than our ways, and even when it doesn’t make sense to us, we know He sees things that we don’t. A few things that have been great about this move… We have reconnected as a couple and as a family. That alone is worth the hassle and money it takes to move back and forth! Another thing is that we have never experienced the love of the body of Christ like we have in this last year. We had the most amazing goodbye with parties, potlucks, pictures and prayers in the months before we left Vallejo. When we got here, we were amazed that people we didn’t even know met us at our new house to help unload our u-haul, and one family even brought dinner for everyone. And our new church family… the great thing about being in the body of Christ is that when you go somewhere new, it’s like meeting relatives you’ve never met before. There’s been an instant connection.

So we don’t know exactly what our future holds at this point, but we know Who holds our future, and we are thankful for His peace that passes understanding! We are resting in the assurance that He knows what is best for us and He will lead us as we follow Him.

Quick updates on the kids...

Brooklyn turned 11 in September and has recently been given the nickname, "BrookWorm". She's always always reading and can't wait for the next trip to the library. She loves doing crafts as much as I do and we've been having fun trying new things together. She has been enjoying the girls group at church, CIA (Chicks in Action) and is in a girls' club through our homeschool group.

Zeke (9) wishes there was a club or weekly get-together for boys, but he has a few friends in our neighborhood that would come over everyday after school to skateboard before the snow came.. now they are having fun building snow forts and snowboarding down the snowdrifts. He also has a couple of friends at church that he's getting to know. He has his dad's talent for drawing and loves to be with him as much as possible.

Mercy is now three and finally going on the potty! She's our super-silly-all-the-time girl. She loves to color, read books, jump, hop, sing.. and cuddle. She brings a smile everywhere she goes. It's fun to watch the relationships between the different siblings. With Brooklyn, Mercy loves to read and do crafty things (Brooklyn has been her preschool teacher this year), with Zeke, she loves to wrestle and be silly, and with Judah... we have to watch her. She likes to hug him tight and carry him around. (He usually doesn't mind.)

I guess I already talked about Judah in the beginning of this letter.. I'll just add one thing. When I think about the calm, sweet baby he is, I'm reminded of Paul's words in Philippians 4:11, "...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances". We can learn a lot from a baby!

And the Baby who is the reason we celebrate next week... O come let us adore Him!

“Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory!” (Eph. 3:20-21)

Merry Christmas with lots of love,
Joe, Jenny, Brooklyn, Ezekiel, Mercy and Judah Swanson

Joe's website:

Jenny's blog:

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