Saturday, December 31, 2016

Our 2016 Christmas Card and a Very Wordy Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas!! 

It's the time of year to fill you in on all of the Warburton family news and while I'm typically on the "once every 10 years Christmas card sending plan" and you might be thinking "didn't she just do this?" it's been a whole year and lots of things have happened so buckle your seat belts and get ready for an update.  2016 was a bit of a rough year with a sprinkling of happy times and good news here and there.

Gary started off 2016 with a diagnosis of an aggressive form of prostate cancer.  He was blessed to be led to one of the leading prostate cancer research doctors in the country who set up a treatment plan for him which consisted of 12 weeks of chemo followed by surgery.  The only drawback was that the doctor was in Houston which is about 3.5 hours from our house so he got very familiar with the trip from here to there.  He was the happiest chemo patient ever and his body held up quite well until the very end.  About a week after he finished chemo, he started to get sicker than he had been while doing chemo and he turned an awful shade of yellow.  So, back to the doctor we went and found out that his liver had finally gotten the memo that poisons were being pumped into his body and it rebelled.  Luckily, the liver can heal itself so after 2 months of taking no medicines, drinking lots of fluid, and getting as much rest as possible, he turned back to his normal skin color and was cleared to have his surgery. All in all, the surgery went well, Gary got to have a 6 week vacation from work, and he has recuperated quite nicely.  We spent those 6 weeks waiting for the pathology report to come back (which was a little nerve-wracking for this worry wart) but it was worth the wait because the doctor said that we got the best pathology report that we could have possibly gotten.  There was no indication that the cancer had spread and for the moment, Gary is cancer free.  He will have to go back every 3 months to make sure everything looks good but we are so very grateful for the good news.  We are also so very grateful for all of the friends and family who prayed for us, put our name on the prayer roll of temples all over the world, drove Gary to Houston when I couldn't, and who served us so faithfully and selflessly as we went through this hard time. 

Other than that, Gary's news is the same as last year....he works at the same place, he still teaches primary, he still takes wonderful care of his family, he still has the patience of Job, he is still the nicest guy you will ever meet, he still always has a smile on his face, he still never says an unkind word about anyone, and he's still just an all around great guy and we sure do love him.

Gary here...Shanon has been so great this past year.  You probably know that she is a worrier, but despite that "talent", she was a rock while I was going through my treatments.  She was right by my side during many of my chemo treatments even though most things medical make her squeamish.  We spent a lot of time laughing about the fact that I was the one going through treatment but she was the one who lost her appetite and was too queasy to eat.  While we were grateful to have a wonderful doctor in Houston, we were not so grateful for the many hours we spent in Houston's rush hour traffic and one of the things on Shanon's gratitude list this year is that she hardly ever has to drive during rush hour traffic...especially Houston's rush hour traffic.

She has spent most of the last three years serving as the Young Women's first counselor over the Mia Maids (the 14 and 15 year old girls at church).  She really loved that calling but I suppose all good things must come to an end and she was recently released and is now the secretary in the Stake Relief Society Presidency. During the 25 plus years that we have been married Shanon has spent about 23 of those years in the Primary and Young Women's programs.  She thinks that this new calling will be a stretch for her but I know that she will do great just like she has done in all of her previous service.  She is still a stay at home mom which she thinks is the best job a girl could have.  She likes to spend her free time with her nose in a good book or playing the piano.  Although this past year has had its share of challenges, she has been able to recognize the hand of the Lord in our life and knows that He is watching over us.

(Shanon again...Gary said I wasn't very nice to myself).  Chris is working on getting his degree in Computer Science at BYU.  He just started working at Sam's club there in Provo and also has an early morning janitorial job.  He's been waking up at 4am for as long as I can remember but I think the 4:30 am janitorial job might be too early even for him....especially in the winter time.  He still loves all things computers, Star Wars, and Doctor Who plus a few other things that are way beyond my comprehension.  He has always loved playing the piano and is trying to get back into that with his early Christmas present of a keyboard.  Who knows....maybe we'll get to see him in concert one day.

Kinsey returned home in August after serving 18 months in the Washington Tacoma (WaTac) Mission.  She absolutely loved her mission, the people she met and the places she served.  We got to spend 9 wonderful days with her before she returned to BYU in Provo to pursue a degree in Family Life Science.  She was asked out on a date by one of her zone leaders (who returned home about 9 months before her) a few days after she got back to BYU and spent election night getting engaged to said zone leader.  His name is Ryan Vorkink and they will be getting married on February 10 in the Provo City Center Temple.  We liked him until we found out that he wants to eventually settle in Alaska which is just a bit too far from Texas for my liking so we have been trying to think of ways to stop the wedding.  Not really...we are happy for them, think Ryan is wonderful, and are excited for this new adventure in their life.

Jared is 16 months into his mission in London, England.  He has also loved serving a mission and has met many wonderful people.  We love reading his letters each week and seeing the occasional pictures that he sends us.  He will be returning home in August (so far all of our children have returned home from their missions in August) and will do just like Kinsey and Chris, leave to go to school at BYU within days/weeks of returning home.  He was accepted to BYU-Idaho and has just applied to BYU Provo but we won't know until February which school he will be attending.  Unless his goals have changed on his mission, he is hoping to pursue a degree in Engineering. 

Emily is a senior in high school.  She has also just finished her application to BYU and is anxiously waiting to find out if she was accepted.  Her first choice is BYU-Idaho (which we just found out today she was accepted to) but has applied to both Idaho and Provo.  She is hoping to go to a semester of college and then would like to go on a mission.  She was a life saver this past year and kept our household running smoothly while Gary and I traveled to Houston each week.  She is so helpful and loving and boy do we appreciate all of the things she did while we were taking care of Gary.  She loves her friends, snap chat, not having to share a car with her brother, and her class that takes her to the elementary school across the street from the high school.  She loves working with children and is hoping to go into teaching....maybe.  The beauty (and challenge) of being 18 is all of the decisions you get to make about your life and the endless possibilities. 

Carson is in 8th grade and is 14 years old.  It's hard to believe that he will be going to high school next year.  I just don't know if we are ready for that.  He is a wonderful blessing to us.  He loves basketball, his friends, scouts, the bus, Power Rangers, pizza and ice cream.  He is usually pretty happy and easy going.  With all the talk about missions and college around here, he is anxiously waiting his turn to be able to do those things.  I don't know where his life will take him but we are excited to take the journey with him and are so grateful that he is in our family.  He shows us how to love unconditionally, forgive quickly, and go through life cheerfully.

We still have Gary's mom here with us.  We found a Senior Center program that she goes to Monday-Friday during the day.  She loves going and loves the friendships that she has made.  They always have activities going on, a garden to tend to, and walks to take.  She has dementia but is otherwise in very good health.  She just celebrated her 90th birthday and did a dance for everyone at the party we had for her.  She still holds true to her English heritage, has tea time every day and claims that a good cup of tea will cure what ails you.  She even convinced the senior center to have tea time every afternoon.

As we look back on this past year we feel so fortunate.  Although it has been filled with challenges, we have been loved, provided for, and carried when we thought we couldn't go any further. We have seen miracles happen and been blessed beyond measure.  We are grateful for the Atonement of our Savior's cleansing power and enabling power....and His infinite love for each of us.  We are blessed to know each one of you and are grateful for your love and friendship.

We hope you all are doing well and have wonderful Christmas season.


The Warburton Family

"Times change, years speed by, but Christmas continues sacred.
It is through giving, rather than getting, that the spirit of Christ enters our lives.
God still speaks. He prompts. He guides. He blesses. He gives."
Thomas S. Monson

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