“I know how you feel.”

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Tears start streaming down my face as I close Kherington’s bedroom door. She’s screaming my name because I didn’t let her turn her fan and heater on (the usual procedure before bed). I’m emotionally exhausted. I go to my bedroom and start busying myself with something, trying to fight back a breakdown.  As a parent, you know this feeling all too well.  But the toddler stage is new to me.

I started reading a daily devotional called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, recommended to me by a prayer mentor.  Two days ago, the writer says to start a new habit of saying, “I trust you, Jesus.”  So I say it over and over again in my head.  Then the familiar comments of other mothers, “this too shall pass,” comes and goes.  But it doesn’t make it much easier. Because I have to live with the toddler stage NOW, not to mention the raging pregnancy hormones.

Am I disciplining right? Am I not doing enough?  Are we showing grace?  Is she going to grow up and reject Christ because I didn’t discipline right?  Why is she acting this way? Is she teething?  Of course, I think of every possible behavior cause, yet Brett simply says, “she’s a sinner and needs to be disciplined.”  Yes, no matter what this author says or that expert says, the Word of God is my Lamp and lights my path, especially in child-raising.  So as Brett, the head of our home as instructed by God, disciplines Kherington, I fight against Satan’s arrows of doubts and questions going through my head regarding our attempt to do everything right to obey God and model Christ’s love.

“I trust you, Jesus.” “I trust you, Jesus.”

Then His voice responds back, “I know how you feel.”

“What was that Lord? “

Then the image comes into my mind of how we are no different than the toddler screaming in bed.  I can imagine my Father in Heaven, looking down at this earth with the same feelings and frustrations.

“I know what’s best for you!

Why do you fight me?

Why do you not trust me?

Why do you get angry with me and blame me?

Why do you selfishly turn to the world’s idols looking for comfort?

I’m here. I’m never leaving you or forsaking you!

I discipline because I love you.

I love you.

I love you.”

The same exact thoughts I have towards Kherington.  And now I can hear Jesus’ gentle yet strong voice saying the same thing to me.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” ~ Hebrews 4:14-16

Emanuel ~ “God with Us”

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{Since Brett and I have been married, it has been tradition to send a Christmas picture card with a letter updating our family and friends on the blessing and trials that occurred that year. However, this year we decided to use our blog to inform our loved ones due to the fact that we will be sending out birth announcements in May!}

Immanuel : Emmanuel : Emanuel ~ “God with us”

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” ~ Isaiah 7:14

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” ~ Matthew 1:23

Another year has come and gone. We have become a year older; Kherington has grown physically, mentally, emotionally; we’ve said goodbye to our beautiful dog, Faith; an addition to the Varvel family is on its way; we’ve finished a feature film; ran a half-marathon; faced financial uncertainty; laughed; loved; fought; cried; prayed.  And through it all, one thing has and always will remain: “God with us!”

While the production of The War Within occurred throughout 2012, post-production has been the focus of 2013. Brett has spent thousands of hours editing, applying visual effects (which include rotoscoping, 3D animation, visual effects composition, 3D title work, and special effects), and working with the talented artists at Aire Born Studios for the music, sound effects, and dialogue of The War Within. Brett and his brother, Drew, did what hundreds of people do to complete a film.  On June 8th, we premiered the film to all cast, crew, and donors at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Tobias Theater.

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Then on June 26th, we presented the movie to the rest of our church body, encouraging them to invite family and friends. About 800 people attended. After premiering the film twice, The War Within has proven to have a deep impact on those who have seen it. God is at work with this film! We know of at least 5 people who have accepted Christ as their personal Savior, and so many Christians whose lives have been changed by viewing this film. Praise God!

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Since then, Brett has been fine-tuning the film to its final release state.  He has had the privilege of working with elite musicians to record the film’s score. He also had the exciting opportunity to work with Visual Effects Artists in North Carolina and GREECE! We are close to signing with domestic and foreign distribution companies to release the film on DVD. We are praying that churches across the country will have exhibitions of the film to help spread the message in the movie “God is all you need.” Please pray with us that the Lord will lead us to the right production company to distribute the film with the same mission as House of Grace Films: to further spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nationally and internationally. Watch the trailer here.

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After the June 8th premiere, Brett and I escaped to a romantic cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for a few days. (The location was a complete surprise to me until we pulled up to the cabin!) It had been a rough few months leading up to the premiere as Brett had been locked in his office working long hours while I played the role of “single mom” at home. Needless to say, we immensely enjoyed the peace away from the stress and demands at home.

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In July, we loaded up the van and headed to Outer Banks, SC for the Osenni Family Reunion. Grandma and Grandpa Osenni celebrated their 80th birthdays and 60th wedding anniversary. All 23 adults and 7 children stayed in a massive beach house. It has been several years since the entire family was together! What a blessing to celebrate my grandparents’ lives and marriage because of their unconditional love to another. Not only does our family share an earthly heritage but also a spiritual one because of my grandparents’ faith and perseverance in Jesus Christ.

MasterFamilyCompI have continued to enjoy the title of SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), while working very part time as the Nutritionist/Wellness Advisor for Peru Community Schools in Peru, Indiana. I had the privilege this semester to teach over 700 3rd-6th grade students the importance of eating healthy.  I have learned that I cannot be Super Woman and juggle all my responsibilities, so after 5 years of working at Health and Nutrition Technology I decided to step down from my Health Educator position, although sub as needed.  A goal I have always had is to run a half-marathon. The timing of my life seemed right, so after many miles and hours of training (and developing an Osgood-Schlatter on my knee), I finished the Geist Half-Marathon in May.  It truly was a great feeling, even hobbling across the finish line in pain and rain!

geistKherington has grown significantly this past year, not only physically but mentally. By the time she turned 2 years old in October, she is able to recite and recognize on paper her ABC’s and sound each letter out.  We might have a reader on our hands like her Mommy. Her vocabulary has exploded and some of her favorite phrases are: “O my goodness.”; “What IS that?; “Oh, come on!”; “Mommy, let’s go!”; “Awesome!”  She makes funny faces like her Daddy, and her laugh brings so much joy to our home. We love her more and more each day. We are cherishing every moment with her before our lives soon change…

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In May, Lord willing, we will be bringing our second child into the world. We found out the week before Christmas that we are having a boy.  Deep down we had hoped for a boy, but either gender would have been a blessing. All I ask is that he better look like his Mommy!!! 🙂

GenderReveal5x7And his name shall be called, Damon Emanuel Varvel. Emanuel: God with us. Emanuel is my Dad’s and Grandpa Osenni’s middle name. Emanuel with one “m” is the Italian spelling. Either way, Emanuel: God with us.

As I close this Christmas Letter (Blog), may I ask, is God with you?  Our prayer is that if you have not chosen to accept Emanuel, Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior, that this 2014 year will be when God is with you now and for all eternity.

All our love,

Brett, Christina, Kherington Mae, and Damon Emanuel (in the womb)

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To read what the Lord has done with my friend, Megan, and her beautiful family this past year, check out her blog, Meg’s Five.