Merry Christmas from the Barton family!

Merry Christmas from the Barton family!

We hope you and your family are experiencing the blessings of Christ in your life – His love, peace, joy, hope, and contentment.

As we look ahead to 2011, it's tempting to look at the world around us and get into a mindset of fear. The economic forecast by most "experts" is gloomy. The US dollar is losing it's value. Inflation is mounting. Gold & Silver prices are skyrocketing.

But God is still in control.

He knows the future with crystal clarity, and He isn't going to let any of His kids go through anything more than what they can bear.

So whether the economy goes in the toilet or not, that shouldn't shake our confidence.

He is constant, and we have SO MUCH to be thankful for. So this Christmas, I'd like to share some gratitude to God for all the blessings He's given us, beginning first with His presence through His Spirit and His Word.

I'm thankful for my wife Amanda, who continues to amaze me with how much she serves others unselfishly. She has been busy helping with the children's ministry at church, putting together this year's Christmas program "Mystery of the Manger", which was a smashing success. She has also been teaching kids the gospel in the public elementary school through Good News Club, as well as serving as the PTA president.

This past year Amanda & I went through 30 hours of foster care classes in Sioux Falls and are preparing to open our home to one or two more kids who desperately need a good home while their parents try to get their lives in order. It's a unique opportunity to invest in the lives of other kids, as well as helping their parents get through difficult times. Our boys have mixed feelings about this, but we plan to start slowly with respite care, which is watching foster kids for a few days at a time while foster parents go out of town, etc. We trust God has something special in store as we take a big step of faith, getting out of our comfort zones a little bit.

I'm thankful for our four healthy boys, who continue to grow faster than we can fathom!

Anders is 12 and has grown about six inches this year! He's a smart, athletic and handsome young man. He's enjoying his first year of middle school and is getting excellent grades, growing in his independence and maturity. He had a very good football season, playing defensive end and right tackle. His hands are bigger than mine now, and it's fun to watch him make tackles and pancake blocks. Speaking of pancakes… he's also good at making chocolate chip cookies, which I greatly appreciate! ☺ He has enjoyed activities with the middle school youth group at church, and went to two different church camps this summer. He went through a difficult time after losing a friend from camp to a drowning accident this past summer. We love Anders and thank God for all He is doing in his life.

Sedric is 10 and is also growing very fast. He's tall and skinny, the perfect combination for a basketball player. He's currently a point guard on his team, and loves playing with a few of his best friends and classmates. Sedric is an excellent ball handler, scores quite a few points each game, and is fun to watch. He's developing his leadership skills and is very encouraging to his teammates. He's in fourth grade and is excelling in school. This past summer we went to Kamp Kinship in Deadwood, SD as I was his cabin leader. We had a blast together as we enjoyed perfect weather and made a lot of new friends. Sedric has a lot of unique qualities that we try to encourage and harness at the same time, including his desire for justice and equity amongst his brothers ☺ We love Sedric and thank God for all He's doing in his life.

Carson is 8 and is growing, but continues to be the shortest on the measuring wall for his age ☺ He makes up for lack of height with lots of energy and personality! He's in second grade and was the first of our boys to not break a bone before going into Mrs. Logans class at Valley Springs Elementary (Anders broke a pinky and Sedric broke his leg right before second grade). He's doing very well in school and makes friends easily. He played baseball this summer and I helped coach his team. He loves tickle fights and wrestling, and usually ends up smacking me in the head with his leg, arm, head, foot or hand. ☺ Next year, Carson is excited to play tackle football, and I'm sure he'll make a lot of tackles as he runs around like a wild man looking for someone to hit! We love Carson and thank God for all He's doing in his life.

Isaiah is 6 and is growing fast, almost catching up to Carson! He's still our baby, though, and he loves the attention. He started kindergarten and is doing great, and loves his teacher, Ms. Ernst. He's learning to read, has good handwriting, and is developing many skills at a rapid pace. He loves stuffed animals and has a very creative imagination. He excels in the arts, including drawing, painting and music. He has an uncanny gift to sit at the piano and play soothing and melodic tunes, which we love to hear. We love Isaiah and thank God for all He's doing in his life.

As a family, we enjoyed a more time at home together this year. I didn't travel nearly as much (though 2011 is looking like we'll be traveling quite a bit more – but mostly as a family, which is a big goal of mine).

We are strongly considering a trip to Israel in May-June.
Joe Barton

For a trip down memory lane...
2009 Barton Christmas Letter | 2008 Barton Christmas Letter | 2007 Barton Christmas Letter | 2006 Barton Christmas Letter | 2005 Barton Christmas Letter