If I had printed and mailed Christmas cards this year, you maybe would have gotten this in your mailbox:
I would probably have put these beautiful pictures Meagan took of the girls on the back of the card:
And then I would have felt like being a little more true to their personalities and including these gems somewhere:
And hugging against the card, on beautiful Christmas stationary, I would have included this letter:
Friends and Family~
I'm always amazed when I sit down to write our Christmas letter that another year has come and gone; and even more amazing is that the same truth prevailed this year as it did last year-- Jesus came down to earth as a human baby to save us and be our Emmanuel.
At the beginning of this year we had a two year old and an 8 month old. Very quickly Blythe turned three and, after a Finding Nemo birthday party, never looked back. She keeps us laughing constantly with her quirky personality. She has a huge sense of humor not just for her age but for anyone! Some funny things she has said this year include, "Nana, Papa gave me too much [chocolate milk]....pause...It's okay. I am drinking the too much." And after going to the bathroom, "There is no more poopy in there so now Jesus can live in there!" She makes friends quickly and easily and doesn't seem to know a stranger. Just in the last couple of weeks she asked the clerk at the grocery store how old she was and invited a bank teller over to our house. She never stops talking, sleeps in like her mother, and looooooves anything sweet or snack-like like her father [a friend asked her what she wanted for a surprise next time she babysat and she said, "Uhhh, cookie dough." The friend asked if she should bring her a toy. She said, "No thanks. I just like cookie dough."] Like any three year old, she has her moments of disobedience and fit-throwing, but all in all we hit the jackpot with this one and she is kind-hearted, loves her sister, and is definitely already manifesting some of the traits we pray for her: joyfulness, hospitality, and compassion [we'll work on modesty later when she isn't a three year old who just wants to play in her underwear all day].
And then there is Becks. At the beginning of the year she was sweet as pie, still nursing, and weighed about 14 or 15 pounds-- a teeny, tiny bundle of sweet. In February she started crawling, and in May she turned one, and finally started walking at the beginning of August. And then, Lord have mercy, that girl got some spunk! We still don't know who she looks like [light hair, blue eyes?!], but we've clearly decided she behaves a little too much like how her stubborn mother behaved. Her personality is bigger than she is [her pediatrician did some fancy math and said she may one day be 5 foot], and is not afraid to let you know what she wants. But she's also as cute as a little doll, loves to snuggle and be scratched, and still has that sweetness she was born with. She loves to sing and dance, read books, and so far is our best eater by leaps and bounds [ahem. She has zero competition from Blythe's corner]. If Blythe is the child I always thought I would have, Becks is the child I never knew I needed. She too is already exhibiting some of the traits we pray for her, devotion being at the top.
Brent continues to work hard at the bank here in town as the compliance officer. Regulations seem to keep piling up from the federal government, and he gets to be the one to sift through all the fine print and bring the news to the bank employees! He really enjoys his work environment, his hours, and his ability to come home every day to have lunch with all his girls. He also plays guitar for our church worship band, and continues to love running. He ran another half marathon in April in our old city of Louisville, and ran his personal best record of 1:29. He ran another half in June, bettering his time by a minute. Sometimes, because he runs so much, the feat of running these races can be lost on me until I remember just how incredible it truly is! Later in the summer he did another sprint triathlon, which is one of his favorite events, and finished first overall that day! You would never know this stuff though if he were the one writing this letter, because he still continues to be the humble guy he's always been. He turned 30 just last month, and instead of a big celebration, he wanted to run 30 kilometers [or 18.6 miles]. He also had friends and family [many of YOU awesome people] pledge a donation per mile to raise money for his upcoming mission trip to Haiti. It was cold and we had freezing rain, but he finished under his goal time and was able to raise support for his trip. What a blessing... and what a way to ring in 30 years! [No. I will not be doing this for my 30th. I am actually due to deliver a baby the day of my 30th birthday, which I think may be just as hard has running 30k. Don't quote me on that, I've never run more than a 5k. Actually, I didn't even run that whole 5k...]
I completed my last year of coaching high school softball this fall. Coaching has been something I have loved for the last six years, and I know I will miss it. I also started a new part time job at our church in August. I am the "Prayer and Engagement Coordinator" and have really enjoyed being on staff and getting to serve in this way, but am still trying to find the right balance of time for everything [as you may have noticed a huge lack in the blogging content]. I can fully say this year that I am 100% happy being a [mainly] full time stay at home mom, though my sweats and ragged hair may say otherwise. Even though it is exhausting and my patience runs thin, it is an absolute privilege to be with the girls all day.
Two major things happened in our lives this summer: we lost our dear, dear Grandma Pat and we found out we are expecting baby number three. [We actually said goodbye the same day we said hello. If you missed that incredible work of God, you can read about it here.] I have grieved Grandma Pat's absence many times over in the last several months, and this Christmas season will be different without her, but we know she is with the same sweet Jesus we are celebrating. He is Emmanuel, God with us, and this year she gets to be with Him. We anxiously await the arrival of this third, precious girl in the spring, and we will be sure to tell her all about our God, but we will also tell her all about her Great Nini Pat.
And this Christmas we hope you take time to think about and worship this great Emmanuel. We hope you take time to sit in stillness and think about that baby born in a stable; we hope you take time to worship that Savior. And we hope you drink hot chocolate and "egg noggin" [as our girls call it], and eat your fill of treats. We hope you sit around large tables filled with people you love. We hope you care for those who don't have a large table to sit around, and maybe even invite them to yours. We hope you sit in a dark house lit up only by the lights of a Christmas tree. We hope you watch your favorite Christmas movies and bring cookies to your neighbors. We hope you let this advent season linger in your hearts all year.
Merry, merry Christmas!
Kelsey [Brent, Blythe, Becks, & baby girl #3]