Winter Ramblings 2023

If you’ve found your way here, you received our Valentine’s Day Greetings! Three out of four of us came down with Covid the week leading into Christmas. Noah missed school, Phil had to find other clergy to cover Christmas services, and Melissa finished grading while coughing. Olivia quickly decamped to the basement. A holiday card fell down the to-do list as we mustered as best we could.

But we still wanted to send one out! So here it is more than a month late!

Around the dinner table, we often do “Rose, Rose, Thorn, Bud” inspired by Neil Pasricha. (Neil’s amazing, you should check out his work.) The idea is to share two good things from the day, a challenge, and something you’re looking forward to in the future. It’s a way to incorporate some gratitude, recognize the places where we hurt, and to see that good things are on the horizon. We’ve been thinking about roses due to the Valentine’s Day theme of this year’s card, so discover our Roses, Thorns, and Buds for the year below. Enjoy!


  • This summer we walked nearly 500 miles along the pilgrimage way of Camino de Santiago in Spain, from the border of France in the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela. Over the course of 33 days, we woke up at 5:45am, put the last couple of items into our backpacks, ate a little yogurt and some fruit, and headed out for the day to walk from 12-18 miles and watch the sun come up. It was hot. We met amazing people. We soaked in the beautiful scenery. We ate great food. And we want to do it again.
  • Olivia’s confirmation in May.
  • Noah starting the Mass Youth Activism Collection and being interviewed for a front page Boston Globe article.
  • We hosted Melissa’s parents’ 55th Anniversary party at our home in June.
  • Visiting Paris and Lisbon on either side of our pilgrimage.
  • Noah with three friends and Phil went to Boston to see Jacob Collier in concert. Phil ran into a friend from seminary who lives in the UK!
  • Olivia’s involvement and leadership with Best Buddies (an organization that promotes inclusion and equitable opportunities for individuals with Intellectual & developmental disabilities) both at Algonquin Regional HS and as a member of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Student Advisory Board.
  • Melissa enjoys her work preparing teachers as an Asst. Professor at Bridgewater State University.
  • Phil traveled to LA for his Doctor of Ministry coursework centered on narrative and film and their intersection with Christian spirituality.
  • Noah earning the rank of Eagle Scout.
  • Olivia qualifying for the All State Track Meet in the 400 hurdles in spite of an injury.
  • Melissa, Noah, and Olivia traveling to Niagara Falls on the youth mission trip.
  • Noah performing with his Jazz band at the Hatch Shell in Boston.
  • Melissa’s family joining us for Thanksgiving for the first time in three years.
  • Olivia being named a gymnastics All-Star for her high school team.
  • Phil’s three month sabbatical which also included time at Cape Cod and Maine.
  • Meeting wonderful friends for across the globe as we walked the Camino.
  • Melissa and Phil went to see Marc Cohn in Boston. His song “True Companion” was played for our first dance at our wedding reception.
  • Our Covid Rescue Pup, Charlie Brown.
  • Olivia exploring her interest in the field of health and human sciences both in her personal life and at school.
  • Noah was elected co-president of his high school’s writing center and is one of two tutor reps on the Secondary School Writing Centers Association executive board.
  • Melissa speaking French with many people across Europe.
  • Phil’s Camino shell tattoo.
  • College tours!


  • In February, Phil slipped on the ice coming out of our home, and fell into a steel handrail on his way to falling headlong into a snow covered outside stairwell. He split his lip requiring sutures, chipped a tooth, and broke four ribs—one in two spots.
  • On Day 31—three days from the end of the Camino—Melissa sprained her ankle, and couldn’t walk on it. She and Phil took a cab the last 60 km of the route, while Noah and Olivia walked with Camino friends (thanks, guys!) to Santiago.
  • Noah spending many an hour stressing over college applications.
  • Losing a close family friend to cancer.
  • Olivia spent much of the gymnastics and track seasons with a nagging back injury from August 2021. (It fully healed over the Camino walk.)
  • College tours!


  • Noah is looking forward to attending Princeton University this fall to study public policy.
  • An upcoming trip to Quebec City as a family.
  • Olivia is looking forward to a track and field season fully healthy for both 400 hurdles and pole vault, and for her upcoming senior year.
  • Melissa’s teaching a grad school class at Bridgewater.
  • Phil’s completion of his DMin work this year.
  • A summer camping trip to Acadia National Park and seeing puffins!
  • Melissa, Noah and Olivia will be traveling to West Virginia for this year’s youth mission trip.
  • Still more college tours!
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Ann Kinslow

What a wonderful letter! Love the idea! Sounds like you had some nice family time, sounds like it was an awesome trip! Congratulations to Noah for choosing Princeton, and all of Olivia’s athletic accomplishments as well!

Melissa Winchell

I so enjoyed reading these and seeing every photo. We’re so blessed to know your famliy. May those buds blossom big and bright this year! With love from Melissa & the Winchell family

John And Nancy Tobey

What a wonderful review of the year past and the joys of the year to come. So many things to thank God for. Some of those photographs are just fantastic. You have captured the LaBelle family at its best. Thank you for the rich and rewarding Happy Valentine’s Day greeting and newsletter.

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