The Freeland 2023 Christmas Letter

The big news for 2023 is that all two-legged members of the Freeland family have now earned Bachelor degrees. (The cats… they’re all slackers!) Jacob and A.J. both graduated from Hillsdale College Mother’s Day Weekend.

The other big thing this year was a family trip to Israel and Jordan with a group from our church. We we there the first week in September which was right before Israel began the three week celebration of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkoth which ended on October 6th. A.J. had been a little nervous about going to Israel, and so we had to listen to him say “I told you so” for quite a while after the war broke out on October 7th. I had been to Israel once before with the Gaither’s toward the end of the Second Intifada. My imagination for what might be possible was too small by several orders of magnitude. We pray that fighting will end soon and the harm to civilians will be kept to a minimum.

A big part of Jacob’s senior year was writing and defending his thesis for the Collegiate Scholars Program. His topic was whether or not it is okay for Christians to be members of college fraternities. Parents were not allowed to attend the oral defense before three faculty members, but A.J. attended and shot quite a bit of video for us. His opinion was that Jacob did a really good job and that the panel was impressed by his research and conclusions. The week after graduation he traveled to Greece with a group from Hillsdale. Jacob hasn’t decided if grad school is something he wants to do or not. In the mean time, he has been working for an arborist trimming and caring for trees which to Wendy and my surprise he is enjoying.

A.J.’s senior year was dominated by preparations for his Senior Art Show. He and two of his friends in the Art Dept. had a week long show in the college’s art gallery. There was an opening reception that was very well attended, and he really appreciated all those who made the drive up from central Indiana to attend. He had two dozen pieces on display and the head of the Art Department asked afterwards for photos of the event to use for future promotional materials about the Art program. He was invited along with two other seniors to travel to Connecticut after graduation for an event with college donors to show his work, and the Art Department ended up buying one of his paintings.

Instead of pursuing grad school for Art Conservation right away, he has decided to focus on painting. For someone who just graduated from college, he’s had quite a bit of success selling his work, but it’s not enough to live on. He was able to get a job at an upscale restaurant in Johnson County where he hopes to eventually work as a waiter. If he is able to become a waiter, he should be able to support himself and have a quite a bit of time to paint since the restaurant is only open for dinner five days a week.  If you’d like to see more of his work his website is

Wendy’s office moved again this year, and she got a promotion. The Help Desk is now located in the offices of the Indianapolis/Marion County Public Defender on the newly opened Criminal Justice Campus near downtown Indianapolis. It’s a brand new building and very nice but starting to get cramped as the Expungement Help Desk keeps expanding. Wendy will be taking over the job of supervising the paralegals as the previous supervisor took a newly created position connecting Clinic clients with employment opportunities. It was another bumper crop year for pears, and Wendy found a recipe for pear bread that is really amazing. One of the highlights of our time in Jordan was the camel ride she got to take in the Wadi Rum desert.

Business was good for me up through August when things just died until it picked back up in mid-October and then died again in December. [Ahhh… the joys of freelancing!]  I continue to do quite a bit of network news which wasn’t the case five years ago. And, I am still working for the Gaither’s on a regular basis. One performer I had not worked with prior to this year was Dennis “Great Balls of Fire” Quaid which was fun. But it was his English Bulldog “Peaches” who will probably end up being the star of the video when it’s released.  The most interesting thing I did all year was go to Havana, Cuba with Jacob on a Filter of Hope trip. If you’d like to read more about our time in Cuba, follow this link: Filter of Hope: Cuba 2023.

As the boys search for what is next for them now that school is over and Wendy tackles a new position, we are reassured by Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Freelands

John, Wendy, Jacob, and A.J.