Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our Christmas Letter

This year I am opting for a "virtual" Christmas letter for a couple reasons. One is to save money on ink and paper, and the other is it's just a lot easier! So for all of you who received your Christmas card with a note to check our blog, welcome! I hope you enjoy our letter.

Dear Friends & Family,
As we celebrate this Christmas season, we want to keep the focus on the real meaning of Christmas. During this time of year, we celebrate the coming of Jesus to this world and bringing salvation to all of us. Somehow, in the midst of the shopping, traveling, cooking & baking, the real message of Christmas gets lost. In light of keeping the focus on the simple things, we want to share with you the top 10 things we are thankful for in 2008.
1. Our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ. Without His birth, the world would've never known a savior. Without His death & resurrection, we would not have the ability to have a relationship with God. We are thankful for our salvation and peace that Christ brings to our lives.
2. Our beautiful new daughter, Kirsten Jael. We found out we were pregnant at the end of February, and we were very excited. I was blessed with a healthy pregnancy and no major issues other than just the normal aches & pains of carrying an extra 25-30 lbs! Kirsten joined us on October 29 at 2:28am, and we couldn't be happier. I was blessed with a great midwife and a supportive doula during the labor, and Scott was absolutely amazing as well. After all that hard work, I was so excited to finally meet my sweet baby girl. Kirsten means "follower of Christ" and Jael means "power of God." The first two months with her have been a time of joy and tears, and we are gradually learning how to be parents. Once again, we are thankful for God's grace in this experience and we are realizing that we don't have to be perfect!
3. Our amazing parents - Gary & Holly and Cathy & Paul. Throughout the year, we were attempting to finish our remodeling as well as prepare for having a baby. Our parents provided so much help, love and support, and we are so grateful for them.
4. Our church family - We are so blessed to be a part of Community Church of the Open Door. This year has been a year of growth and change at the church, as we have rearranged the sanctuary, gone to one service, changed youth group to Wednesday nights, and started small groups. It has been a lot of fun, and we have enjoyed the various changes. October was Pastor Appreciation Month, and since Scott is the youth pastor, we received so many cards and gifts from our church family. It was so amazing to feel the love and appreciation and we were humbled to receive so much that we do not deserve. Several people from the church were also a great help in preparing the house for Kirsten's arrival.
5. Our extended family - We were able to go camping on Labor Day weekend with my sister and her husband, Naomi and Rich. We headed out to Mt. Blue State Park where we camped and hiked (yes, I hiked Mt. Blue at 7 and 1/2 months pregnant). It was so much fun to hang out with them and relax. Then during Thanksgiving they came up to visit and meet Kirsten. We also are thankful for Grammie Diane and Grammy Lawrence, who both live locally. In addition, we're thankful for Scott's sister Rachel and her two kids, Eli and Lindsay. It is fun to see them, especially now that they have a little cousin to take care of. Then we have Grandparents Harvey and Grandparents Pier who are all very special to us, along with all of our aunts and uncles and cousins.
6. Our wonderful friends. We have been gifted with so many great friends, both locally and around the country and world. This year it's been fun to be pregnant along with Shannon as well as Sarah. Peter & Shannon welcomed their second daughter to the world in June, and Sarah & Jason welcomed their first daughter at the beginning of December. I am sure that Kirsten will become friends with these girls as they are all so close in age. Our friends Steve & Jess have been the hosts of the small group we attend, which has been so fun, and they have also provided tons of help on our house this year. And it's been wonderful to have our friends Kevin & Amy return to the area after their 3 year stint in Pennsylvania. Kirsten will definitely grow up with many "aunts" and "uncles."
7. The youth group kids at CCOD. Although they are part of the church, we have a special affection for the junior and senior high teens. We have had fun on the many events and trips with them this year. In March we had Snow Camp at Blueberry Mountain, and had the biggest group ever. It was so much fun to go sledding, play games like "Signs", and help them grow spiritually. Scott led a group of guys on "Man Camp" - an outdoor camping experience with "no frills", and the kids also went on a paintball trip (I didn't go due to my pregnant belly!). We also went on a college trip with juniors and seniors in September, which was a ton of fun. Finally, we closed out the year with our annual Christmas parties, complete with a Yankee Swap in which the kids had to bring an item that they had either found or made instead of spending money on it. Then they donated money so that we could pool it together for a gift through World Vision.
8. Our home remodeling being finished! I am sooooo glad that we are FINALLY done with our remodeling project in the living room and dining room. We started this LAST fall, and did not get done until this fall - a full year. But now it looks just lovely, and there are just some finishing touches to be completed, such as putting up blinds and pictures.
9. Our funny pets. Yes, it's true - I am thankful for our two dogs and one cat. Mia and Moxie never leave us bored - they are always up to something. They really enjoy being outside, especially Moxie. They both love hiking, and when we hike they usually go up and down the mountain about 4x the amount that we do - they run way ahead and then come back to us, over and over! Kira's favorite activites are sleeping, chasing mice, and finding things to bat around on the floor. She especially loves to play with things she's not supposed to have, such as pacifiers or candy.
10. Our jobs & business. During this difficult economic environment, we are thankful for stable jobs and a growing business. Scott has enjoyed being the youth pastor at CCOD and is celebrating his 3rd year there. I have been at FACT for over a year now, working as a part-time foster care case manager. I have taken 10 weeks off to be with Kirsten, but I will be going back in January about 10 hours a week at first. I am thankful for a very flexible boss and wonderful coworkers. Finally, we are thankful for my business which has been providing us consistent income this year, even when I took an entire month off after Kirsten was born! We also enjoyed visiting Salt Lake City for the first time for my business convention. It was nice to have 5 of my team members join us there as well!

Well, thank you for taking time to read this epistle! I hope you enjoyed a small window into our lives during 2008. We look forward to an even better 2009! Please drop by from time to time to check out our updates. Also, Scott and I are both on Facebook, so if you are on there, please add us as your friends!

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!