Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Christmas 2019 Family Newsletter

This year the Critchfields saw many travels. We spent time at the beach at the Outer Banks in North Carolina. A few weeks later, we drove to Oregon for a family reunion as well as more time at the beach. Aubrey flew to Utah to participate in the Musicians Summer Festival at BYU. In late July, we drove out to Utah, where Hannah and Jill spent time with family while Brian, Aubrey, Joseph and Brian’s brother and his son went backpacking in the Four Winds Range up in Wyoming. Heidi attended EFY during that time. The day Heidi finished EFY, we all attended a family reunion in Utah. Then in November, we celebrated Aubrey’s 16th birthday in Branson, Missouri. And, unless I specifically mentioned it, we drove everywhere we went… Now that’s a lot of miles!

For Aubrey (16, sophomore), it turns out that music is not just an experience, its her passion. She was excited to meet other musicians with the same passion at the BYU Musicians Summer Festival. Her primary instrument is the Alto Sax, which she played for both Marching Band and Jazz Band this year. She plays clarinet in the Symphonic Orchestra at the school. Just for fun she keeps an oboe and a flute around for when the right mood strikes her. For her birthday, her Aunt sent her a bagpipe chanter, which Aubrey is delighted to find is both challenging and fun.

Heidi (14, freshman) has always been the family extrovert. She enjoys hanging out with friends, reaching out to extended family and spending time at school (the people part!). She decided to play tennis at the high school this year and has loved preparing for the season with lessons and weight training. Her characteristic persistence is paying off – she has some serious muscles and is beginning to show some real skill on the court!

Joseph (almost 12, 6th grade) is still a pretty relaxed guy, unless you get him talking about his interests and then he’s likely to talk your ear off! He loves flight and airplanes. He attended flight academy this summer and after two great experiences with flying in private planes, is still just as passionate as ever about becoming a pilot someday. His other interest is WW2. He was almost reverent when a WW2 Vet who was present at the Normandy invasion drove by in our town’s annual Veteran’s Day Parade. When he saw one of the world’s last 2 flying B-29’s fly overhead, he was ecstatic. It was probably one of his best days ever!

Hannah (10, 4th grade) is still our sunshine. She is happy pretty much all the time. She stays in hyper squirrel mode almost all the time too… She has so much energy! She has done well in school this year. She has developed a love of Nancy Drew books and she plows through them at an astonishing rate! She has already depleted her teacher’s collection and is working on the one at the public library. She loves her friends and our adopted cat, Chewy.

Brian continues to be a diligent and valuable employee at Phillips66. He is now into his 4th year as Bishop. It hardly seems possible that much time has gone by! He has maintained his weight loss from last year. This summer, to celebrate a year of weight loss, he went backpacking up in the Four Winds Range in Wyoming. He enjoyed the 3-day trip, learned a lot and is hungry for more. He also continues his passion for woodworking. He has turned out several projects from his basement workshop this year and intends to complete several more in the coming year. Brian has developed a major passion for pizza making. Every Friday is pizza night. He has worked week after week to perfect his dough, sauce and cheese combinations. One day he dreams of opening a pizza restaurant. He really does make a killer delicious pizza!

I (Jill) have struggled this year to find significance in a life characterized by chronic fatigue and pain. My ability to do the things that I thought should be part of normal life diminished, yet in public I looked healthy. My pattern of good and bad days seemed unpredictable and I had a hard time explaining to people close to me why I was only reliable sometimes. After about 10 years of slow decline and many visits to different kinds of doctors, I still had no real satisfactory diagnosis, let alone treatment or relief of my symptoms. About a year ago, I gave up on doctors because “they couldn’t do anything for me”. I continued my sincere devotions to God, but I found myself increasingly frustrated and angry at God when it seemed that no matter how sincerely I continued to serve Him and sought a way forward, there was no answer. I became extremely depressed and despondent and I was done living. Brian and my mom came together to make a plan to save me. They concluded that I had just suffered too many disappointments and wouldn’t help myself. During this time a scripture came to my mind from Romans 4:18-21, “[Abraham] who against hope believed in hope…but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” I remembered that God fulfills all His promises and that when I have no hope at all I can choose to have hope because of who God is, even if it makes no sense. (I’m a rebel, I do what I want!) And suddenly, all the failures didn’t matter, and what happens in the future doesn’t matter either. I found the will to try again with doctors, to make major changes in my life, and to keep living anyway. In the short time since then, God has shown me that He had been taking care of me and continues to take care of me, providing an ongoing healing I didn’t know I needed – a healing of the soul. I have not been alone in this journey – in my challenges, my family has been challenged and blessed right along with me. I can see that God has been working with our hearts in drastic ways for His own purposes, because He has a plan for our family. I don’t love my pain, but I thank God for his perfect plan that includes my pain because I know as I turn to Him, I am following the path that Christ laid ahead of me, and in my submission to Him, I will become more like my Redeemer, eventually entering into Eternal Joy with Him.

2019 in Pictures

2019 in Photos

2019 in photos

Friday, November 21, 2014


Each costume this year was an original design by Jill... I think I decided last year that I was done sewing for Halloween. I seriously don't know what happened - but I know this is definitely the Last year I am sewing... 

Hannah wanted to be an owl

Aubrey wanted to be queen Elizabeth I

Joe wanted to be an airplane, but I convinced him that he wanted to be a pilot and he was totally happy with that. 

Heidi wanted to be a Greek Godess.