Archive for December, 2008

The Neal Family, Christmas 2008


You might be wondering what in the world happened to the Neal’s, since for many it has been a year since you heard from us.

Did they fall into a California chasm?

Did they become beach (or ski) bums?

Nothing so exciting, I am afraid. The Neal bunch is doing quite well, thank God, after a year of trials and some level of success as well.

There were a few health challenges for both Christopher and Andree’–reflux, joint issues, and more; Khalil, at 13 (he’ll be 14 in March 09) is the healthiest of us all and complains of nothing. However, we continue to press on and are doing fine. Feeling a bit old some days, but really, we are fine.

As you may know, we rented a home when we first arrived here: Muir Mountain house We found this home the typical way these days–on the Internet. We visited in the spring and a realtor showed it to us; we then applied through the management company and were blessed to be approved. And then the housing thing happened across the country. San Bernardino and Riverside Counties were two of the hardest hit in the US; I went to make our lease payment last summer and heard a gentleman ahead of me asking “What am I to do?” The owner of the house he was renting had not been paying the mortgage, even though he had been making his payment. He had 30 days to move. Needless to say we did not want that to happen to us so we began looking for a home to purchase. Again, we were blessed to find one. Churchill Street We were able to buy this home from its owner (not a foreclosure), so it was ‘move-in’ condition. We officially have been here since 12/15/08, which is another reason why no one has heard from us much; this home is right around the corner from the other one so we didn’t have to hire a big moving company, although we probably should have. The house we rented was 3000 square feet (yes, that’s 1000 square feet for each one of us…cats excluded of course); the one we bought is just below half that size and much more managable. It feels like home, even with the boxes still piled up and waiting to be emptied. In addition to the wonderful views we have from all sides, our house is a half block from where our church is building.

Christopher plays with the praise team at church. I don’t remember whether we shared that we made a denominational switch from Baptist to Assemblies of God? Not that it matters particularly since we are God-worshippers no matter what the denomination…Anyway, our California church family is spectacular–couldn’t ask for a more Spirit-led, fun, loving, and caring group of folks at North Hills. North Hills’ history goes back to 1923, when First Assembly of God was built at 4th and Sierra Way. The most remembered location is at 863 Mountain View Avenue, which was built in 1951. As North Hills transitions out from this home, Celebration Church has established itself there, continuing a well-honored tradition of serving the Lord in this community. There will soon be a new home in the northwestern corner of the city on Belmont Avenue. Of course, with our enjoyment of town history and general fascination with architecture and such, you know this was great for us to know. By the way, the church is briefly featured in a book on San Bernardino, available through Arcadia Publishing.

Speaking of history, Andree’ was appointed to the San Bernardino Historical Commission. The point of the Commission is to help preserve the past of this place that was the home of Mormons who braved the mountains, of our American Native brothers and sisters who have been settled here for centuries, and for the pioneers who came from far-away places. While her schedule has prevented her from attending every meeting, she tries to participate as much as possible when she does go; her participation with Salem Main Street and the National Trust has been helpful. Other than that, her dissertation process has been slow at best, most likely because her passions change with the wind. She continues to write and publish articles, with two due soon. The topics range from diversity in education to autism…Oh, and she is still working full-time for Azusa Pacific University at the Inland Empire Regional Center too.

Khalil is, well, Khalil! He is in 8th grade, for whatever that is worth. Andree’ has become more and more cynical about traditional education which should come as no surprise to anyone who has known her for any amount of time. She has come to understand how alike she and Khalil are and she weeps for his future with the current style of education; despite that, she still does not have the patience (or independent wealth!) to homeschool him. As Christopher says, school is basically an exercise for Khalil–it is something to do, rather than something that affects him in the ways education should. This is mostly due to methodology as well as his way of receiving the world. The family has watched “Autism: The Musical” and from that Andree’ learned how much she and Khalil are similar, with similar eclectic learning styles. Similar, yet quite different. If you have not had the distinct pleasure of experiencing anyone who lives along the Autistic Spectrum, you are probably struggling with that idea. Andree’ is working on an area of research related to this topic that someday will hopefully become a book; she’ll let you know when that happens. In the meantime, she has an article on this topic, and how Khalil helped her understand more about it, that will be published in spring 2009 in Exceptional Parent Magazine.

We still have wildlife: a bunch of fish and three very loving cats–Tigger, PJ, and Missy. We haven’t captured their likeneses lately but will update with them soon.

So you might be wondering what we think of this place, now that we’ve been here for over a year and a half. We still laugh at the ‘seasons’, since the concept of cold for us is still based on East Coast temperature variances. However, our snickers are based on life at the lower elevations (that would be on average 1350 ft. above sea level, as compared to 6755 ft. above sea level for Big Bear, or even 4860 ft. above sea level for Crestline–the community right above us). We tried taking a trip up the hill but didn’t stop to rest often enough and got height sick. Here’s what things looked like from a bit higher up the hill; our house is somewhere way down below, behind them to the right:

Christopher and Khalil on Rt. 18

We were in awe of the beauty of the season this winter, despite the fact that it is going to be 72 degrees today. To sum it up, we are happy and feel blessed that God would bring us to this place. We leave you with a bit of our view of the world, taken the week of Christmas, below. Blessings to you and yours this holiday and in the coming New Year. Don’t forget us, just as we won’t forget you! Love…

Winter, Churchill Street 2008

Crestline, winter 2008

Distant Crestline, winter 2008

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 Annual Updates 8 Comments