It's December again--the time we typically send a letter out to update distant friends and relatives about the life and times of the Stevens' family. One year ago, this is the letter we sent:
As I sit down to write this letter, I’m a little concerned that we are going to get a reputation. That’s right…it’s the second year in a row that we’ve written a year-end letter and mailed it on time. In fact, I probably should hold this letter until February just so you don’t get used to it. Otherwise, by year three you’ll develop a welfare mindset. You’ll expect it. You’ll even begin to demand it. You’ll picket my house with “letter rights” banners and sue me for the pain and anguish that I’ve caused you. I need to think about this…I’m not sure it’s worth it.
By now you’ve already looked at our family picture, and you have noticed how aerodynamic that I look. Yep, I shaved my head late this summer. Because I’m psychic, I know that your first question is, “Why?” and your second question is, “What does Faith think?”
The easy answer to “why” is that I’m having a mid-life crisis. Most men would be too proud to admit that, so I’m feeling good about my emotional and mental health. My hair has been slowly disappearing for about 15 years, and it’s not like the receding hairline was going to reverse its direction. So I just sped up the process. It could be worse…I didn’t pierce my nose or buy a sports car or trade in my wife for a newer model. Nope, just shaved my head.
For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the feedback I’ve received. Several people have told me how much younger it makes me look. I’ve been described as “modern” and “hip.” My sister even told me I looked like a “cool youth pastor.” I really don’t like youth, but I think she meant it as a good thing. Of course, there have been some priceless looks by more than a few people who have pretended not to notice so they wouldn’t be forced to lie to me and say they like it. And, a few older folks have asked me if I’m getting chemo treatments. It’s beyond their imagination that I would choose this.
I started asking Faith about two years ago if I could shave my head. At first she said, “No way!” Then after awhile she said, “No!” A few months after that she said, “Absolutely not!” Then, earlier this year, in a moment of weakness she said, “Go ahead and get it out of your system.” Now she really likes it. She hasn’t said this, but I think it’s possible that it even makes her heart beat fast. Not the “oh-I’m-going-to-have-a-stroke” kind of fast, but the “you-are-such-a-hunk-of-a-man” type of fast heart beat.
(Faith just did a quick proof-read on this letter. She thinks it’s great, but wonders if I should say something about her or the kids. She’s got a good point. Here goes…)
Tonight we attended Taylor’s preschool Christmas show. We were glad he was on the front row. Of course it was almost guaranteed since he is shorter than most Chihuahua’s. He’s five years old, is very smart, and loves to learn and work on crafts. He freaks people out when he talks, though. Because of his size they expect him to say “Da Da” – and so when he begins to recite Shakespeare it is a little alarming to people. Like when those Beavers began talking in that Narnia movie. Just doesn’t seem right.
Hunter is now eight-years old. He is still all about adventure and trying things that have never been tried before. He and Taylor love to play together and spend hours working on K’Nex or Magnetix. He’s also a Nintendo-crazed maniac, and lives for the limited time that he is allowed to play. He’s really quite funny and we love having him around the house.
Then there is our 11-year old, Megan. She is enjoying 5th grade and being the big girl on campus. I think she likes being one of the tallest girls in her class. She’s beginning to develop some great friendships, is learning to make good choices even when friends don’t, and also likes having a room to herself now (since her sister moved downstairs).
Heather is already half-way through middle school. She excelled at cross country again this year, and even ran in a couple of regional 5k races. Heather loves 7th grade, enjoys staying busy, is very driven to try everything, and can’t stand sitting around doing nothing. She still loves singing, gymnastics and swimming and can’t wait for…well, everything. Her most famous phrase everyday is, “I can’t wait for _______.” Everyday it’s something new.
This fall has been a transitional time for Faith. It’s the first time in 12-years she’s had some time to herself. She stopped babysitting, and several days a week she has a few hours where all the kids are in school. I don’t think she’s been bored at all. I know that because I keep waiting for her to call the office and ask me to come home for a “quickie” (you know, one of those microwaveable pizzas).
I continue to stay busy in my role at the church. We just finished up a $7-million expansion to make room for more people. My third book, Simply Strategic Growth (written with my friend Tony Morgan) came out in June. We’re pretty tired of writing books right now, but we are starting a weekly podcast. So if you are an iPod or iTunes kind of person, we’d love you to tune in and tell us what you think. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, find someone under 30-years old and ask them.
Family is more important to me than ever. Yesterday I didn’t have any kids and tomorrow they’ll be in college. Every day is precious. We are trying to capitalize on the moment. This past summer we took a 23-day, 7400-mile, cross-country road trip. It was a hoot! We visited Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Tetons, the Redwood forest, Disneyland, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Royal Gorge and several friends. It was a great time of just being together as a family.
I’ve also started weekly dates with each of the girls. I’ll do the same with the boys when they are a little older. It’s a time to download about school, life, and relationships. I think I surprised them both when I told them, “I don’t give a rip what kind of grades you get as long as you are doing your best. What I care about most is how you are doing relationships and how you are doing with the choices you are making.”
That’s all for this year.
Tim, Faith, Heather, Megan, Hunter & Taylor