Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Rutledge Family 2012 Christmas Letter

December 25, 2012
Merry Christmas to Family & Friends!

I am sending this letter through various mediums to different groups in hopes of catching up all those who might be wondering about the Rutledge Family and Burt’s health.  If you get it in multiple ways, please ignore any duplicates!

Perhaps one of the most exciting things about 2012 is that we had no occasion to use the health update group as Burt’s health remained pretty steady.  There were no hospitalizations and no crises and, for that, we are immensely grateful.  He saw pretty steady improvement for 3 or 4 months after the feeding tube was removed in October of 2010.  Things leveled off after that, which has been a little discouraging, but he is still in a much better place than he was even 2 years ago.  Through some additional testing, it was determined that he likely has a gluten sensitivity so he is currently embarking on a gluten free diet.  He also has also cut out Coke as excessive amounts of corn syrup tend to have a negative impact on the digestive and immune systems.  If you know him, you know what a big deal that is to him!

He is still in that awkward place where he is much better than he has been but still not well enough to be able to work regularly.  We feel that he is right on the cusp of being able to consider returning to work but just not quite there and that is a frustrating place to be at times.  He did take a couple of classes in January & February and really enjoyed those.  He decided, however, that nursing is not the direction he wants to go when he is better.  He has so many skills and talents that taking on a very intensive and demanding three year program is not something that either of us felt was in the best interest of our family.  When he is able to work, he may return to higher education or he may decide to work in elementary education or do something completely different.  Highlights unrelated to health for Burt from 2012 would include a road trip with his brother Mark to Nashville in March to visit their other brother, Dave, flying down to Georgia for the Lyle family reunion in June,  a second annual golf weekend with two of his best friends in October and serving as Best Man in his best friend, Wendell’s, wedding in November.

Daniel is now officially in the 6th grade and loves being a “middle schooler.”  I think that is easier to love when you are homeschooled than it is for many kids who attend school outside the home J We work at lessons most weeks Monday through Thursday and then spend Fridays with our home school group or doing other things.  In addition to lessons he is also involved in Karate and a Middle School Choir.  He started his second year of karate in October and earned his purple belt around the same time.  Currently, he goes 2 or 3 nights a week and is really enjoying it.  While he may never choose to compete, it has been great for his confidence and coordination.  He also really loves being part of the Middle School Choir with Oakland Homeschool Music Inc. (OHMI).  We just enjoyed his Christmas concert on Monday and now are looking forward to a blissful two week break from all activities!

In addition to those regular activities, Daniel participated in numerous camps and the like during the summer:  Basketball camp on campus, church camp at MCYC, VBS at Rochester church of Christ (RCC) and Meadowbrook Christian church, and the children’s musical at RCC.  I don’t know if he will do basketball camp again, but he is already registered for summer camp at MCYC for 2013 and can’t wait to attend Elevate at the college for the first time.  He also plans to help with VBS (since he has aged out) and participate in his last year of the RCC summer musical in the upcoming year.

As for me, if there was a theme to my 2012, it would probably be that burning the candle at both ends finally caught up with me.  I am still teaching and supervising the Residence Life program at the college while filling one of the two live in Resident Director positions on campus, serving as lead teacher for Daniel, and doing photography on the side and I still enjoy it all, but I have had to pull back my teaching for the college significantly.  This has been hard on the budget and required some significant adjustments, but it has been good in many ways.  The cut back did not take place until the Fall semester and there were several things we had already planned that could not be changed so I was not able to take full advantage of the new schedule this fall but hope to be able to do better about just being fully present and available to those around me during the spring semester.  I am a big fan of “being where you are” and one of my goals for 2013 is to really live into that more.  

Other highlights of my year would include:  Taking up running, spending a lot of quality time participating in that activity with two of my best friends and “training” long distance with my three sisters in law who live in Florida, Tennessee, and Dewitt, MI, participating a half marathon with my three sisters on Mackinac Island in October and taking photos at my niece, Kaitlyn’s wedding in Missouri in October (and doing senior pictures of my nephew Abram while I was there), 

As a family, we were able to spend some quality time making memories throughout the year.  Some of the things we enjoyed were:  A quick trip to Florida in March to see Dad & Jeanie; our annual Michigan vacation with Mom & Harold and Uncle Tim; Several visits to Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum with different folks (Anne, Christopher & Andrew Leonard; Mom & Harold; Dava Castro; Mark, Penny, Sydni & Dylan Rutledge) and an end of summer excursion to Cedar Point with Daniel’s bust buddy, Zack.  

These end of year letters are always a challenge for me.  By nature I tend to look at the positive side of things and, in reality, we are truly blessed.  Focusing on the positive, however, always runs the risk of painting a one-sided view of our world where everything is lovely and there are no trials.  The danger of that is that it is not real.  The joy in our year definitely outweighed the pain but that is not true for everyone.  For our friends and family who are hurting this season, our hearts are with you in your pain.  We want to be people who will rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.  My prayer for you all is that God meet you where you are and provide people in your immediate circle who will represent Him by doing the same.

Blessings to you in 2013!

Love In Him,

Debi, Burt & Daniel

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rutledge Family Christmas Letter 2011

Dear Friends and Family:

The semester has come to a close and I finally have time to sit down and write the annual letter. All in all, this has been a very good year for our little family. We started the year grieving as Burt’s best friend from high school, Shane Cox, lost his battle with brain cancer a few days before Christmas in 2010. He left behind a devoted family and, as we are in that 1 year anniversary time period, we are reminded daily of what we were doing this time last year and feeling his loss in a significant way.

Shane, however, was a godly man who embraced his path with a never wavering faith and, as he left this earthly journey, he blessed us with his love and example. Burt was especially moved and inspired by the time he was able to spend with Shane a few days before his passing and that, combined with a number of other things, led to some very tangible improvements in his health.

We were very excited in late September / early October when he was able to have the feeding tube removed. He has been eating “normally” and, while he is still a bit underweight, has been gaining consistently. We were even more excited after Thanksgiving when he was able to come completely off the Fentynal pain patch he has been on for 5 or so years. He had been gradually coming down all year. He started out on 200 micrograms and was down to 25 before the last cut. He is still in pain and on other pain medication but that particular one is particularly nasty and removing it from his system has done a great deal for improving his functionality.
He is doing so well, as a matter of fact, that we have begun to explore possibilities as it pertains to going back to work. At this point he is planning on taking a couple of classes at Rochester in the Spring (winter) semester to see how things go. If all goes well, he will take a bunch of science classes beginning in Fall 2012 and apply for the new nursing program at the college in Fall 2013.

Daniel is now “officially” in 5th grade though some of his coursework is more in line with the 4th grade. We continue to meet with our home school group 3 Fridays a month and with a couple other families for history every Monday. We love the relationships that continue to grow there and feel truly blessed by an amazing and supportive community.

I continue to run one of the residence halls at Rochester College, oversee the residence life program, teach about 15 hours a semester and do photography on the side on an intermittent basis … no changes there for me. I think I write the same thing every year. I still enjoy it all even if there are times that I wish I could just do one or the other.

Some of the highlights of our year activity wise included:
• Two trips for Debi to Arizona to visit friends, one in January just to visit and one in July to photograph a wedding. We would have loved for all three of us to go but it just was not feasible with the cost and Burt’s health at the time. The next trip we plan to have all of us go … and I am shooting for a winter visit as opposed to a summer one. I definitely enjoyed the January weather a lot more than the late July weather!

• Another May Michigan vacation with my folks from Indiana and my brother, Tim. This year we stayed in Cheboygan and explored Mackinac Island, Sault Ste. Marie, and the Cheboygan area. It was a lovely trip and we plan to return in 2012.

• Lots of summer fun with friends. The college provides a wonderful backdrop for young people to enjoy summer fun with lots of room to roam and a river for swimming. It seemed like we had people over a couple days a week in June and July and we loved it. Additionally, Daniel went the MCYC for his second year of camp and participated in VBS at both Rochester church of Christ and Meadowbrook Christian church with many of his friends from church and the home school group.

• In October Burt & Daniel made a somewhat impromptu trip to Florida with my brother, Tim, to see the folks there. I was sad that I was not able to make the trip but I had to teach and really needed to be in the residence hall and the boys had a very nice time having “guy time.” One of my favorite parts was that Dad & Jeanie did not know that Burt and Daniel were coming. They were just expecting Tim so it was quite the surprise when he showed up with “extras.”

• In November we made our annual trek to Tennessee for Thanksgiving. One major highlight of that trip for me was participating in the 5 mile Boulevard Bolt in Nashville on Thanksgiving morning. All four “sisters” ran along with two of the nieces and it was a great time. I finished the “run” in about an hour and ten minutes and was very pleased with that time.

We also finally got family pictures done in November which was actually great fun. My friend, Sarah Robinson, is a photographer. I liked her work enough to actually pay her to do ours (and if you know me, that’s a pretty big deal) and we could not be more pleased. The family picture with the letter was taken by Sarah. The portrait of Daniel I did myself.

We hope that your lives are filled with blessings and that, even in hard times, you feel the peace and love of God in the coming year!

With Love,
Burt, Debi & Daniel Rutledge