2013 has been such a rich year for our family. So, here's some highlights!
Arthur became a full-time Associate Pastor at our beloved church, Beach Fellowship, in January! Becoming a family in full-time ministry has been an adjustment, but there's nothing better than loving the Lord and serving His people day in and day out. It's long hours; it never stops; but we love every moment of it. God is truly awesome in how He moves and uses our feeble hands and feet to accomplish His perfect work! Arthur preached his first sermon at Beach Fellowship in March and has since blossomed into a very practical teacher.
Just a few months after Arthur came on staff at Beach Fellowship, Jessica did, too! She now serves as All S.T.A.R.S. Director, which is the Children's Ministry to our birth- Kindergarten aged children. In addition, she is still very active in Women's Ministry and disciples many women in the Lord's ways.
In March, our dear Aunt Sylvia passed from this world into the next. She was such a loving woman and giving. She truly held a special place in our hearts. But little did we know our heartbreak would be just the beginning of a season of loss...
SPRINGJessica was blessed with a weekend away in the Washington, D.C. area for her best friend Camille's 32nd Birthday. They had a nice, fun weekend touring the sites and spending time together. We even spotted The Rock on our journeys, albeit it was his wax replica at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum!
Giana turned 4 on May 5th and celebrated her birthday this year with a Mermaid-themed party! That same weekend, Arthur performed his first marriage ceremony for his former soldier and friend in New Jersey- the now Mr. and Mrs. William O'Sullivan- and Giana had the privilege of being their Flower Girl!
We had to say "until we meet again" to our dear friends, the Oliva Family, who received orders to Illinois from the U.S. Navy. Goodbyes are never easy... especially to a family who had become so knitted into our hearts and home. We sent them off with blessing and know that the Lord will use their willing hearts mightily!
May also brought news that our dear friend and sister in the Lord, our Women's Pastor Katy Vinciguerra had brain cancer. She fought a hard fight but went to heaven to dance with Jesus in June. It was a particularly difficult time for our entire church Body, yet we all found solace knowing she is in a much better, healthier place. Personally, the relationship she shared with our family was so special and we miss her tremendously.
SUMMERThe summer season started with more heartache as another dear friend of ours lost his battle with Lung Disease and passed into eternity on July 5th. We celebrated the life of our brother Joseph Poole with aching hearts, but with the promise of reuniting in Glory someday. He was a man who loved our family and always went out of his way to serve others. We look forward to continuing that legacy- he really helped to shape and equip us for ministry.
In light of the busy-ness of life and the heartache the months prior held, our family took a day day of respite in Williamsburg, VA enjoying the Yankee Candle Factory. We even celebrated Christmas in July, complete with a visit with Santa Claus. It was a wonderful break from the ordinary... just what we all needed!
We spent our few extra moments of time together swimming! Giana is part-fish for the summer months and we are blessed to have two neighborhood pools to use! Another summer pasttime for Arthur and Giana is fishing! We also have a small pond behind our condo that they enjoy using as a fishing hole.
Later in the month, our family traveled to our hometown in Upstate New York to celebrate Jessica's Grandma V's 80th Birthday! We enjoyed time with friends and family and were also able to escape for a few days up to the old "stompin' grounds" of Watertown, NY to celebrate our 11th Wedding Anniversary! It was fun to visit the place where it all started as Mr. & Mrs. Briggs and remember just how far God has brought us on this journey... While home in New York, we got to spend time with Adam, Bianca and Allison who came all the way from Germany to visit family. We enjoyed our time together- Allison & Giana are so sweet together as cousins. Together they enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Briggs Farm, complete with chickens, a horse, cows and goats.
Giana started Preschool 4 and Arthur entered his final full year of Seminary! 2013 has brought a wealth of learning and challenges in the academic arena for him, and he has met them with excellence! He will graduate with his Masters of Divinity from Regent Universtiy in May of 2014, after becoming a scholar in many areas, including learning Biblical Hebrew. What a testimony! Especially in the face of being told, even by a Guidance Counselor, he wasn't "College Material."
For Veterans Day, Arthur organized a special day for our Veterans at church, blessing them with a Color Guard, patriotic message, and a cookout complete with All-American Apple Pie. His passion for the military community shines through in his ministering and it was a great day of service to the Servicemen and Women of our Nation.
THE HOLIDAY SEASON
Operation Christmas Child is the event that always kick-starts our holiday. Jessica has participated in this ministry since 1993 and has a special place in her heart for the shoeboxes that go around the world full of Christmas for a child. Jessica organized a Packing Party at church that was well-attended and a lot of fun, and together we stuffed 120 boxes! In addition, hundreds more came pouring in from families who packed them on their own. Our grand total was 412 boxes! What a privilege and amazing opportunity to bless the children of the world!
We enjoyed a special visit from Jessica's best friend Camille and her husband Brandon from New Jersey for the Thanksgiving holiday. We had a low-key day with lots of yummy food and chit-chat.
We know the Christmas season will be full of it's fair share of hustle and bustle, but we pray each moment brings you the realization that Christ is here with us- Immanuel!
Our love and blessings to each and every one of you. To God be the Glory!
Love, The Briggs Fam