Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

Long lay the world
in sin and error pining.
Till he appeared
And the soul felt its worth.

Well, instead of including a letter in our Christmas cards, we decided to write to you all on our blog. Our blog is the best way to see what is going on in the life of the Rickstrew family I do hope you'll enjoy reading this post and looking around. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of hot tea, and sit with us a while...

We recently celebrated our one year anniversary since moving to Texas. One year! I saw a bumper sticker yesterday while driving around San Antonio that said, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as soon as I could!” That is just one example of Texas-pride that we see everyday. People here love Texas. They love being Texan. And they can’t ever imagine living anywhere else. And while we miss many things about California, Texas is growing on us, bit by bit. We’re mostly enjoying living on a farm in the country with neighbors that are too far away to see. We all love Tom living and working right here at home. It’s a really busy day when I don’t see him for longer than a two hour stretch. He’s home for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and lots in between. The boys really benefit too...having their Papa around all day.

Abram Oak

Abram is our newest addition, just 8 months old yesterday. He’s a complete delight to all who meet him and readily smiles and clicks his heels to show his joy. He’s a really happy baby; taking life in stride. He loves his big brother Riley and always laughs and giggles when Riley is in the room. Riley loves to tickle Abram and blow raspberries on his belly. Abram thinks this is particularly funny. He has mastered sitting on his own and is trying with all of his might to crawl. He rocks back and forth on his hands and knees, but unfortunately only moves backwards when he really wants to move forward! Abram loves bananas, chewing on any toy, going for walks outside, and playing with his Grandpa and Gigi.

Riley Dean

Riley is now 4 years old and REALLY loves our life on the farm. He has just about 200 acres to roam, a creek (filled with all kinds of toads, snakes, bugs, and other creepy crawlers), two ponds (where he fishes regularly), lots to trees to climb, a bike to ride everywhere, and big tractors to ride on. He regularly spends mornings or afternoons with his Papa and Grandpa on the tractors driving through the fields. If he’s not on the tractors or delivering hay with them, he’s in the shop, tinkering on big equipment right alongside them. Riley is still bigger than most people think he should be for a 4 year old. Nowadays people who are just meeting him think he’s about 6 years old. He’s a very tall boy! Riley is a well-mannered, enthusiastic, smiley, pleasant boy who is kind and thoughtful and does an exceptional job sitting still through a 2 1/2 hour church service =) He loves reading books and is quickly learning how to read on his own. He can write his name and anything I spell out for him. He loves listening to stories his Papa tells him, riding his bike really fast off of jumps, reading books, singing songs to the Lord, and working with his Papa.


Most of my days are spent learning and growing in my role as wife and mother and “keeper at home.” I love to cook and bake homemade meals for my family, nourishing them with the fruit of my labor. I can often be found with an apron on, flour in my hair, a little baby spit up on my shoulder, and a smile on my heart as I can’t think of anything in the world I’d rather do than be a wife to my husband and a mother to my two little boys. It was once said that for a mother to take on the job of President of the United States would be a sort of demotion from the much more important role of motherhood, and I cannot agree more. God has given these two children into our care to “train in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” for a short time. It is my prayer that as we raise these boys for His glory that we would show His love to everyone around us, bringing God’s Kingdom here and now. There is no doubt this job is hard. Ah yes, it requires everything. Yet, my sacrifice is so small compared to what God has done for me that I might be in relationship with Him! (It’s the least and the MOST I can do-- all at the same time!)


Tom is a busy man around the farm. Do you ever think you just can’t get everything done around the house? Multiply that by a thousand and you’ll have a farm...where the work is truly never done! He is really enjoying working and living with his father. There aren’t many adult sons that get to live and work with their dad so we are particularly thankful for this. He also finds joy in being a hands-on father who doesn’t have to leave his family and home for extended periods everyday of the week. Life as a hay farmer means he gets to do a variety things like marketing, advertising, managing, plumbing, wiring, irrigating, and mechanics, to driving tractors and delivering/bucking hay. He takes pride in producing high quality gourmet hay that horses just love. He is also studying God’s word and providing vision for our family. One concept he is learning about is multi-generational faithfulness and how to be a visionary leader not just for today and our children but for tomorrow and our grandchildren! He is also very excited to be engaging the international population in San Antonio. We’ve been working with an international organization which focuses their efforts on refugees and immigrants in the States. We’d love to talk with you more about this if you’re interested! Email us or call and we’ll give you more information.

All in all, we are grateful for what the Lord is doing in our lives. We have found a solid church that boldly proclaims the Word of God (something you would think more churches would do- but don’t!) We are growing everyday in our understanding of Him and His work in this world. A local ministry that we’ve really benefitted from this past year is called Vision Forum. They are in San Antonio and produce excellent materials for the family and church. Please visit their website at You’ll no doubt benefit greatly from anything they produce. Our Bibles are getting worn around the edges as we read it as a family morning and evening and our lives are being enriched and fulfilled all the more as we apply His truths to our daily, practical lives. Most people think the Bible is just an old book that doesn’t have anything to say about the issues we face today, but it’s not true. Every question we have can be answered within its pages. Every struggle we have can be solved by its principles. And every relationship in our lives can be improved when we follow its example. Make this next year the year that you read His word consistently, trusting that God’s Word is sufficient for all of life!

The Rickstrew Family

Merry Christmas to you and may you remember when our Savior came into the world to seek and save the lost. Praise Him!

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees!

Oh, hear the angel voices!

Oh night, divine!

Oh night when Christ was born.


BrendaLou said...

Sweet photos of you all. Thanks for being part of our lives!

Lindsey Gent said...

Lovely Christmas letter and photos! I can't believe Abram is already 8 months old. We want to send you our Christmas greeting; can I get your address? Thanks so much for the encouragement through your blog!

April said...

Thanks so much for sharing what's happening in your lives Tracy! It sounds like God is blessing you and the family down in Texas. Merry Christmas and God's blessings to you and yours!

the mom~ said...

I admire you Tracy :)

katie said...

Thanks for sharing! I love hearing about your daily life and your thoughts on it all. I feel like I was out of the loop for a while, what was it that prompted your move out to Texas, besides all the benefits you talked about in your letter? Do you guys feel settled there permanently, or just temporarily? Merry Christmas to you all. You look great in the photos! I love the song you quoted, too.

TnT said...

Hi Katie,

Well...we moved to Texas a year ago (basically) as an act of obedience. We felt like the Lord was saying it was time to go. We have visited out her through the years and had Tom's dad always asking Tom if he'd come back and help him on the farm. Last year his job came to a close and we thought it looked like a good time to "try it out". When we moved here we thought we might be here for one year or a little bit more, but not permanently. However, the Lord is changing our hearts and we think we'll stay indefinitely. Through the ministry of vision forum and, we're growing in our vision for multi-generational faithfulness and we believe this farm is an avenue for entrepreneurial work that we wouldn't have elsewhere. That's it in a nutshell.

Thanks for reading our blog!

katie said...

Thanks Tracy!

Jamie and James said...

Okay, your pictures are BEAUTIFUL!! What perfect light, and what a great looking family!! Love the letter. . . gives such a great overview of what's going on in all your lives, while the blog gives a nice day to day taste of life on the ranch.... Sounds so nice we're about ready to move in with you! Merry Christmas!

TnT said...

James and Jamie-- PLEASE DO! That's the great thing about all of this land-- there's room for you all! Maybe you guys can furlough here next time? It would be really relaxing! Seriously! Think about it. Thank you for your wonderful comments. We had a friend/ prof. photographer capture those shots. Aren't they lovely? More will come later.

God Bless you guys. And have more babies!!!!!

Liz Scott Adams said...

Tracy, the photos are great! The first time I ever came to Texas, I noticed there is something different about it. People really do take pride in living there. I love that we spend a week there every year because I always look forward to the people! And this year was such a bonus getting to visit the farm!

Donnie, Allison, Micah, and Emma said...

Beautiful pictures of your beautiful family! And we too are lucky that Donnie doesn't have to "go to work"...Donnie and Tommy are two lucky papas!