2016 Hewitt Holiday Letter

{sarcasm alert}

Dear Family & Friends-

Before I dive into our yearly update, I just have to thank each of you for so faithfully reading our letters and sharing them with others. Every year, I have people from all over – some from as far away as Campobello – contact me and share how the Hewitt Holiday Letter has spoken to them. We do NOT take that lightly.

One of mine and Andrew’s favorite Christmas traditions is to sit down together and recount the year’s blessings. We pull up the fireplace app on our phone, turn on our Kenny G favorites, and sit for hours listening to the fire crackle while we relive the year’s victories. We barely get through January before the tears start gushing.

One of the big themes of our 2016 has been risk-taking. This year, we’ve thrown caution to the wind and moved out to the edge where all the danger and passion are. Like when it snowed in January, and I spontaneously jumped onto the sled with my nephew while Andrew pulled us around at breakneck speed on the golf cart.

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We were whipping and whirling and caught up in another world as Andrew pulled us along. “Faster, faster!” we yelled. What a rush. There was a moment right after we finished our ride that I just had to stop, throw my head back, and shout.

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It reminds me of the time we were at a Red Woods park, and I desperately wanted a picture up close with the trees. The only problem was, getting the picture I wanted would require me to hop the fence…and the sign clearly said not to go past the fence. For a minute or so, my mind was tossed to and fro between obeying the rule versus getting the picture I wanted. It was a real dilemma… my head was spinning.

But then this zeal came over me. Sweating profusely, I turned my eyes from the sign, marched right over the fence, planted myself by the giant trees, and posed while Andrew took several secret pictures of me. My resolve in that moment was unshakable. Andrew couldn’t get over it.

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Whew. Chills run up and down my body every time I think back on that day. Sign – what sign?? Rules – what rules??

Anyway, Andrew hasn’t played around this year either. For the longest, he’s daydreamed about sporting brighter, more tropical outfits during the summer…but has held back because “What if those shorts are too short?” and “What would people think?” This year though, sudden and unexplainable courage came over him – it was very much like my Redwoods photo experience. He stopped caring what other people think and finally got the outfit he had been picturing.

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Neither of us could have been happier. These shorter, swim-trunk-like shorts have been MUCH cooler during the hot summer months. Plus, anytime we’ve unexpectedly been invited to go swimming, Andrew has always been ready. Things have been so much smoother since he stepped out in faith and got that first outfit.

Not long after his wardrobe breakthrough, Andrew was asked to dress up as a clown for a local children’s event. With all of the clown controversies we’ve had lately, you can imagine what a weighty decision this was for him. But like I said, we resolved at the beginning of this year not to be held back by fear but to march forward in faith.

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He did dress up. And he was a complete success. The kids loved him. And the icing on the cake: no one in Spartanburg attempted to connect him to the clown crimes at all. That’s what you call divine favor, Ladies and Gentlemen. Great risk brings great reward.

After taking all these risks and seeing such breakthrough, we knew it was time for us to take the next step. We’ve been feeling the need for a recreational vehicle for some time now. Sometimes riding around the block in my Jeep just doesn’t cut it. So we took the plunge and got a Kubota.

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I love this thing. We’re wild and free when we’re on it. Sometimes we just ride in circles around the house, hair blowing in the wind, seatbelts unfastened… There’s nothing like it. These joyrides remind me of how I felt when I won the Junior Scholar Award in 8th grade.

Junior Scholar Event

Junior Scholar Event

I have to be honest though. Real warfare has come with all of this risk-taking. Like last month when we were having a steak dinner by the firepit with some friends. Daniel was responsible for utensils, and as soon as he told us that he brought plasticware, I had a red flag. I could see what was probably going to happen, though I managed to keep a straight face.

Sure enough, only a bite or two into my steak, my fork broke. When I heard it crack, I just cringed. Here we were, celebrating mine and Zaina’s birthdays, trying to treasure the moment, and now I had no idea how I was going to finish my steak. I sat there thinking and realized it had been at least 12-18 months since I had last broken a fork like this. This was clearly warfare. Satan wanted to shut down our celebration [and was probably still mad over Andrew’s clown victory]. Once I recognized what was going on, everything shifted. I was not going to succumb to his schemes.

Andrew saw the battle raging around me and went to look for another fork. And let me tell you, he found a REAL fork, not a plastic one. It was one he had brought with him that he had forgotten about. Peace washed over our gathering immediately. I was able to finish my steak, and we had the best time that night.

This was at the firepit, just before the fork/spiritual warfare episode.

This was at the firepit, just before the fork/spiritual warfare episode.

God is so good. He doesn’t just replace what was lost; He gives you something better than you even started with! I’ve thought about sitting that fork somewhere around the house as a reminder of this beautiful promise.

After sailing over the fork hurdle, we ended up buying a fixer upper. One of our first steps in the project was replacing all of the home’s old windows with new ones. I decided to list the old windows on facebook, just in case there were any takers we could bless.

Friends, I stand amazed. People have come out of the woodwork to buy these windows! My parents and I talked it over and simply couldn’t believe how many people in the Spartanburg area were desperate for new windows. No doubt, people had been duct taping their broken ones and barely staying alive in their freezing cold homes, waiting for a miracle – a Christmas miracle. And then they saw my facebook post. I get a lump in my throat just thinking about how God is using our old windows to bless other people and make their homes warm again this Christmas.

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We got to be so many people’s miracle this holiday season! How precious!

Speaking of “miracle,” something that has really ministered to me this year are the spiritual glamour shots flooding my social media feeds. Oftentimes, these are selfies captioned with a Scripture or words of inspiration.

So many times, I’ve been “down” when I began to scroll through Instagram, and before I knew it, I would see one of these inspirational selfies and BAM…the presence of God would nearly knock me down. Friends, you can’t put a price on this kind of visitation from heaven.

I’ve been so moved by it all that I feel the call to sow the same kind of encouragement into others. Freely I’ve received – so freely I’m going to give. It’s time I shared my own spiritual selfies and portraits. But I need your help. Which one of these speaks to you the most powerfully?

My inclination with this first one was to caption it with a popular, but non-Scriptural saying and/or a vague inspirational phrase…

"God helps those who help themselves" OR "Glory come down"

“God helps those who help themselves” OR “Glory come down”

My vision for this second shot was to really get people digging in their Bibles by including a more obscure passage combined with a serious facial expression.

"Above were high-grade stones, cut to size, and cedar beams." I Kings 7:11

“Above were high-grade stones, cut to size, and cedar beams.” I Kings 7:11

This next one has an aspect of mystery to it, because you can’t see my face… you can only see my cute maternity outfit. But should the emphasis be on my belly or on the clothing?

"Out of your belly will flow rivers of living water" OR, simply "The garments of praise"

“Out of your belly will flow rivers of living water” OR, simply “The garments of praise”

Then again, I’m so passionate about revival…and I think this picture might be just the one to spark a fire in others.

"Open the floodgates of heaven" OR simply, "Revival"

“Open the floodgates of heaven” OR simply, “Revival”

On the flip side, it could be equally powerful to have a classic smile with a simple reference to a well-loved passage

"Psalm 23" OR "John 3:16"

“Psalm 23” OR “John 3:16”

Then again, I’m always moved when I see candid laughing pictures… and I LOVE when I’m so tickled that I flail my hair all about without even knowing it…

I could caption this as "The joy of the Lord" OR "Laughter is a good medicine"...

I could caption this as “The joy of the Lord” OR “Laughter is a good medicine”…

Will you guys think and pray on these and get back to me?  I want to encourage others BIG time with whichever picture(s) I post.  If you have other angles, filters, hashtags, or captions to recommend, please let me know! These pictures are all about Jesus – so I want to look perfect in them!

THANK YOU for celebrating this magnificent year with us! I pray this picture of Andrew and me laughing wildly takes you into 2017 on a high!

View More: http://rachelackermanphoto.pass.us/hayley--andrew

~

2015 Holiday Letter

2014 Holiday Letter

2013 Holiday Letter

2012 Holiday Letter

2011 Holiday Letter

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