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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from our Home to Yours!

Dear friends and family! Merry almost Christmas!
It’s that time of year again and once again I’m not sure how it passed by me/us so fast but here we are. Here’s a little zip zip through our 2016!
WE: This year was a whirlwind! Rajabu (20), James (21) & Sammie (21) are part of our household and we all continue the enriching journey that comes from sharing living space and life closely with others. We love them and get to invest in their lives as things come along. Two don’t have Dad’s engaged in their lives, one lost his years ago.  Rajabu’s mom is still in Congo/Rwanda so Mark  fields insurance and tax questions, helping to figure out options for any given scenario and Claire gets to cook and bake to her hearts content for these three appreciative stomachs. It’s a privilege to walk with them.  This is the only photo of the three of them together that we have. From this summer on the Jet Boats, left to right is James, Raj, Sammie. (Sammie is always too cool for a photo :))We had our first trip ever for both of us, to Hawaii and got to visit both Kauai and Oahu. We had friends relocate to Oahu so it was a great excuse to get away! We definitely need more snorkeling, beaches and waterfalls in our life. It took Claire 3-days to figure out that people come here to do absolutely  n  o  t  h  i  n  g.  She needs more of that.  Here’s a photo we took out of the helicopter looking down on Cathedral Canyon on Kauai’s Napali Coast.
We’ve been in our home here in Beaverton for 2-years and look forward to starting a vegetable garden in early spring. It took a while and we have finally settled in our home church at Grace Chapel in Wilsonville. On Sunday’s it’s a very quick zip on the highway and we are really excited about partnering with what is happening there. 
We bought Costco kayaks (Yay Costco!)  this year and are already looking forward to many more adventures. So much to see and do with them here in the Pacific NW! Now if we can just get Claire to get a bit more life-balance….that would be good! She’s working on it!On November 4th, we were handed a 20lb bundle yellow lab fur ball named Kona.  Someday she’s going to change someone’s life as an incredible guide dog.  Piper is adapting pretty well to the change in status i.e. sharing attentions and affections.Kona is very calm and has a great dose of confidence without being crazy lab puppy.  She does great at outings, loves kids and is perfectly inquisitive without being wary or shy.  It’s a 12-14 month volunteer commitment and yes, it will be hard to give her up. There is something very cool though about investing our time like this knowing that she will make a difference to someone soon. It’s very worth it.  Kona won’t be coming with me on home hunts or inspections, but she would love to meet you anytime outside of those parameters!November 16th was our 3rd year of marriage and while we are two very imperfect people, we continue to be so grateful that we got married later in life to each other.  And we tell each other that pretty much every day!
MARK: This year marked year 3 for me at Umpqua Bank in the Technology Advancement Group and given the merge 2-years ago with Sterling doubling our size, I have plenty of work to keep me busy. Nine months ago, our team manager changed to a different company so I took the team lead spot and expect to be in that role indefinitely. Our trip to Hawaii renewed my love of the water, snorkeling and has inspired me to get my dive certification this next year. Swimming with fish, watching sea turtles and learning to surf at Waikiki beach were all highlights of that trip for me. My ribs are still recovering from the long board! Hopefully by spring, I’ll have my real estate license as well. There are things that I can do that support Claire that can be done in the evenings and on weekends that make a difference in the intensity of her schedule so it’s one more thing we’ll get to partner with together.  No, I’m not leaving Umpqua or my career in IT. 🙂   Hopefully I’ll be back to surf board alley in Waikiki some day…CLAIRE: 2016 was year 2 of no ER visits for me! Woohoo!! I’m incredibly thankful that while my allowed foods are currently very limited, I am stable health-wise. Stable enough to travel to Hawaii–it was a big deal. Honestly, I burst into tears when we landed ‘I can travel!!!’.   Such an encouragement to my adventurous heart! And now more than ever I am trusting God for my healing in new ways…resting in his time and his way and trusting my current status to Him too. If you’ve ever had health struggles, you know that there is nothing like that to draw you closer to your Maker. Prayer has infused my health journey with bigger perspective and given me great hope as I learn to trust Him with all the ups and downs.  My new Doctor is in Dallas and thanks to Alaska Airlines $200 round trip tickets, I’ve been able to visit her twice this fall and will continue protocol long distance until I see her again in October next year.  Meeting up with a friend this last round and zipping the 2 hours to Waco Texas to visit the Magnolia Market and the Silo’s Bakery was a bonus! Maybe next trip I can actually eat there! Their cupcakes looked divine–and here’s a little espresso pun for Joanna—‘cup o’ Jo’…..
On the business front, I’m very grateful for another sweet year as I continue building upon my solid real estate practice. In a business where 50% of the people don’t make it past their first year, I’m thrilled that 2017 starts year 10 for me. TEN YEARS!  I get to work with and serve incredible people in all walks of life with all kinds of life stories. It is truly the highlight of my days to help others in this capacity.  I love contributing to people’s success as they hit the milestones of life.  9 full years is a lot of ‘SOLD’! Here’s to many more special clients & families in the years to come!
This past summer I went ‘garlic-pickle’ crazy again and processed about 80lbs of pickling cukes. Hopefully with the garden I am planning, I can grow and harvest my own next summer! I do think that my next career will need to have food involved…I absolutely love making food for others!
That’s it from our neck of the woods! Have a wonderful Holiday season! Enjoy Christmas and have an incredible start to a fresh new year!
Warmest cheers to your home from ours!
Claire & Mark

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