Merry Christmas! I hope you had a wonderful day today with family and friends. If you didn’t receive our Christmas letter in the mail and you actually have a desire to read it, here it is. If you are the type that hates Christmas letters, just skip this post and have a wonderful Christmas season!
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Dear Family and Friends,
Merry Christmas! It is hard to believe that the year is almost over. And what a year it has been. I just finished looking over our photos to refresh my memory of all that has happened over the last 12 months. Here’s a quick recap of how each of us are doing.
Brian – The biggest challenge we faced this year was Brian’s illness. He had been feeling ill for awhile and seeing various doctors. Finally, after a trip to the ER, we found out that he had colon cancer. We were shocked. Thankfully, Brian’s cancer was caught early at Stage 1 and his operation was successful with no signs of spread. It was a difficult time for each of us but we were incredibly happy when Brian was released from the hospital and we brought him back home. I watched him as he was playing outside with the kids and tears could not be stopped as my heart felt overwhelming gratitude. I could not imagine what life would be like without my sweetheart and I am glad this was not the time to find out. Secondly, we were grateful for the incredible amount of love and support that came from our family and friends. From my sister who took off work for a week to take care of the kids (and her boss that said it was ok) to my in-laws who give so much, to Brian’s coworkers that brought us home cooked, full course meals and desserts for a week. I told Brian he can never doubt that he’s loved! Okay, since I am literally trying to type through my tears as I recall all this, let’s move on.
Bella – My sweet little girl, who is growing into a young lady, turned 12 years old this year. She is doing well in the 6th grade and recently spend a week in the Santa Cruz mountains for science camp. It was her first (long) solo trip away from home. How we missed her! But I am glad she had a lot of fun. Bella still loves to draw and her talent continues to grow. (No, I am not the least bit biased!) She is an awesome big sister who knows how to mother (and tease) her little brothers, who love her dearly. She is also my comrade in this house full of boys. When we get tired of stepping on Legos or dodging swinging light sabers or hearing the yell of Packers fans, we escape for a mom and daughter day out. She truly is a ray on sunshine in my life.
Andrew – The oldest of the boys, Andrew is my sensitive child with a playful heart. He is six years old and doing well in Kindergarten. I love to see his eyes light up as he practices his reading and discovers new words. He loves to play with his Legos and build new creations. He is the leader of the boys as they dress up in costume or act out a Star Wars scene or race their Big Wheels out on the deck. Although he is quiet around those he does not know well, he is a bundle of energy and has a contagious laughter that can get me giggling even if I have no idea what he is laughing at. His sweet smile and soulful eyes melt my heart every day.
John-Paul – JP is my night and day child. He has a sweet, playful spirit with a laid back personality but when he gets upset, everyone knows it. At the end of summer John-Paul turned four and he is really enjoying pre school. His favorite place to go is the library. Like his father, you will always see him with a book in his hands. He loves to play with his “broders” whether they are wresting on the floor, running outside or battling Angry Bird Star Wars. I love that John Paul is at an age when all the ills of life can be cured by a kiss or hug from mom. His curly top head and sideways smile steals my heart daily.
Matthew – What can I say about my little spitfire with the mischievous smile and big heart? The baby of the family may be small but he packs a big punch! Matthew is full of energy and spirit and he is ready to conquer anything his older brothers are doing. He is also the child most likely to fall in love with the country life! He loves the outdoors and hates wearing socks and shoes. I have to keep a close eye on him during these cold days because he’ll strip off this jacket and footwear to run outside in his t-shirt, sweats and bare feet. Matthew is also tender hearted and quick with his hugs. If he sees I’m upset he’ll pat my arms and say, “Don’t worry, Mama.” I can’t help but recall when I was pregnant with Matthew. I was worried about how I would handle a fourth child but looking at his sweet smile and feeling the joy he brings, I can’t imagine life without him.
It’s funny but lately I have been thinking about when I was younger and growing up with eight siblings. I used to wonder how a mom could love so many children equally and fully. But I’ve learned that a mom’s heart has an incredible capacity to grow and stretch with each child. I love each of my babies tenderly and marvel at their unique personalities and abilities. I’ll admit, I’ll sometimes have to remind myself of how much I am blessed when I am in the middle of the chaos, but truly, I love it and thank God each day for the gift of life. This year in particular, we were acutely aware that life is precious and it should never be taken for granted! So give an extra hug to those you love and reach out to those that have grown distant. Life is too short to not share your love with others.
With that thought, I’m sending you heartfelt wishes for a wonderful Christmas! May this New Year be filled with peace and joy. And a special thanks to all of you that have kept us in prayer this last year. It was your prayers and God’s grace that carried us through the difficult moments. God bless you!