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The Christmas Letter, Page 3 December 15, 2010

Posted by markgeil in Family.

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On Monday nights, after we eat dinner and clean up Rebekah’s crumbs, we all head to Bible studies. Amy, Hannah, and Bek head out to Bible Study Fellowship, where they are undertaking an in-depth study of Isaiah. I’m wildly impressed by the insight they’re gaining and their vigor in tackling a difficult book. Meanwhile, Sarah and I head to our own basement where a dozen-or-so folks gather from church for High School Bible Study. We’re studying Psalms. It’s a wonderful time.

It was a goal of ours to finish at least one big room in the basement so we could host the group. We’ve only been finishing the basement for a decade, but apparently I needed this impetus to get me really cooking. Within a month or so, the remaining walls were framed, drywall was hung, mudded (not by me!), and painted, and carpet was placed. I’ve acquired new skills in the process along with a few new tools, including one of those cool Hilti guns that shoots nails into concrete. The comingled smells of sawdust and gunpowder? That’s manly stuff, I tell you. I’ve learned just how difficult it can be to cut a little opening for an outlet in just the right spot on a sheet of drywall, and how valuable a rental lift can be when you’re hanging drywall on the ceiling. And I’m still amazed it’s actually done. Well, mostly. One room left. Give me another decade or so.

Last Monday night was an interesting snapshot of Sarah. Ever studious and helpful, she had friends coming over for homework help in both AP Environmental Science and AP Calculus before and after Bible Study. Then while I was setting up the chairs in the basement, she called down, asking, “Can I bring five Bibles tonight?” How else would she be able to look up study notes, translate the words from the original Hebrew, place the relevant Psalm in its historical and chronological context, and read it in four different versions?

Wednesday nights mean Awana. Amy and I have officially announced that this will be our last year in charge of the program. It’s going strong, with hundreds of kids each week, and it’s still a blast, but we believe some fresh leadership could invigorate the program. Amy is remarkably good with the many details needed to make it run smoothly, and she will be difficult to replace, but we look forward to seeing who God calls for this amazing ministry.

Finally on Fridays, the week winds down with a deserved break. Sarah, who almost always deserves a break, is so disciplined she often dives into her weekend homework on Friday afternoons. The poor child has extraordinary amounts of homework. She’s taking all these AP classes, which are supposed to be college-level, and I think the teachers overshoot the mark quite a bit. Sarah’s hard work paid off earlier this year when she got her scores for her first four AP exams. Five is the best possible score, and she got a five on every single exam! That’s already about a semester of college she’s placed out of.

Mind you, we did have our share of big events this year too. One marathon trip took us from the Spanish moss of Savannah to the stingrays of Clearwater Beach, with a bunch of Colonial history in between. June brought Kids Camp and a delightful theme: Campalot! I produced a series of promotional videos starring the girls. Our friend Dan was Sir Galahad, accompanied by Sarah as Patsy, who pretended to be a horse but instead banged coconut halves together. Patsy tragically died in every episode. Oh, Rebekah died also, when she couldn’t answer a question about a swallow’s air speed velocity. Only Hannah survived as one of the Knights Who Say “Tea!”. 

 Later that month we took a day trip to Cloudland Canyon for a nice long hike. We seem to have raised “off the beaten path” children, even when all the posted signs say Never Ever Leave the Beaten Path. I don’t know where they get it. Anyway, we ventured off the path and through one lovely waterfall when the warnings took on new meaning. My right foot slid on a particular rock so slick I think BP placed it there, jammed in a crevice, and down I went. I happened to be holding Rebekah’s hand, so down she went, too. Did I mention we were barefoot? Oops. Bloodied Rebekah started crying, and I, the shamed father who had dragged her down, felt horrible. The rest of the kids turned into Rescue Heroes and launched into a complex exfiltration mission to get the injured Bek back up to the trail. Turns out I fractured the index and middle fingers of my right hand. After months of rehab the fingers are still crooked but mostly functional.

 Several of our other weekends have been occupied by the Geil Family World Tour of Colleges and Universities. Amy has been a fantastic tour director as we visit colleges that might be of interest to Sarah Kate. Hannah tags along and asks questions about the music departments. Rebekah discovered they let you eat in the dining hall, and she’s all about that. So far Sarah’s seen 11 schools and somewhere around 9 of them are currently her favorite.

 So the embers of routine, and the occasional flame of event, keep us warm through a frosty winter. Through all that living we tend to learn something new about each other every day. I have pictures of all my girls in my head, and these little bits of life keep filling in the detail on those pictures. I’m so grateful for Amy’s quiet faith as it undergirds the constant thoughts that dance in her eyes. Sarah doesn’t realize how beautiful she is, and that makes her more beautiful. Hannah is life embodied, but her zeal does not compromise her desire to do what is right. And Rebekah is so wonderfully even-keeled we sometimes don’t know she has a big solo in some performance until we’re sitting in the audience watching.

 This Christmas, when I see the presents under the first real Christmas tree we’ve had in a decade, I smile about the recipients of those gifts and I marvel at what a gift each of them is to me. Like the star above the manger, they point me to Christ. And we, all together, tarry and play and live, basking in the abundant love that came to Earth on Christmas.

 May God bless you this Christmas,

 The Geil family



1. The Christmas Letter, Page 2 « A Window in the World - December 15, 2010

[…] Page 3 LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

2. The Christmas Letter, Page 1 « A Window in the World - December 15, 2010

[…] Page 3 LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

3. Steve Clay - December 15, 2010

You’re a good man, Mark Geil! Great letter!

4. DLS - December 17, 2010

“How else would she be able to look up study notes, translate the words from the original Hebrew, place the relevant Psalm in its historical and chronological context, and read it in four different versions?”

If anyone ever needed an iPad…

5. Sarah - December 29, 2010

Add another Bible, the C.S. Lewis Bible! Thanks daddy!!

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