Friends and family,
Here we are again at the end of another year, and here I am again pretending to print this out and mail it in a cute envelope to your door.
Here is a brief update on each of the souls that occupies our little family of five:
Blythe Kathleen, age 5 and 9 months:
Blythe turned five this year and that seems to be the year for a lot of big things. This summer she was able to start playing T-ball, and while she's not overly competitive or fast, she had a blast. This fall she started Kindergarten at our local school and is absolutely thriving. She has a wonderful teacher, enjoys PE, chocolate milk at lunch, and learning just about anything. There is never a day that passes that she doesn't create something. I am constantly telling her to pick up her markers or scraps of paper, or tape, or glue, or....anything she can get her hands on. She adores her sisters and will quickly give up whatever she is playing with just to keep the peace. She has a great sense of humor, can make a game of anything, and has an inquisitive mind. Quality time, sweets, and horses are her love languages.
Becks Lynae: age 3 and 7 months
Becks turned three in May, and three can be a hard age for little girls, but she has grown so much this year [not really physically--she's still the smallest, cutest little thing]. Becks has a fire inside of her that just can't be extinguished, and it shows up in her excitement for something as small as walking to the mailbox, and it also shows up in her defiance over something as small as which socks I have chosen for her to wear. She is without a doubt the most compassionate of our children-- she actually burst into tears this summer when we made a trip to Silver Dollar City and saw a guy collapse from the heat. She always has a song on her lips, an expression in her big blue eyes, and really does miss Blythe during the day. She now gets to be the sole participant on Nature Days with Papa and is thoroughly enjoying that time. Turn anything into a competition and she is more likely to jump on board. More of an introvert, Becks can entertain herself for hours with a stack of books or a coloring book. Long hugs, back scratches, unicorns, and gum are her love languages.
And last but the loudest in our home,
Nan Louise: age 1 and 8 months
Nan turned one in April and never looked back! I don't think she understands that she is the youngest in the family; if something is happening she wants to be right in the middle of it. The only redhead in our family, she makes a name for herself in sweetness and in sourness. Her heart is tender to the word, "No," even though she hears it often. She is tall and lean, and either eats like it's the only meal she has gotten that day or shoves her plate away and refuses to touch anything. If someone is talking, her voice needs to be heard as well. She loves bath time and snack time and bed time. She is starting to repeat just about anything she hears, and in a house with three other women, she hears a lot of talking! Cheerios, her grandpas, and being outside are her love languages.
Brent is still at the bank here in town, working as the compliance officer. He enjoys his work and especially enjoys the environment in which he gets to work, for which we are both grateful. He enjoyed our trip to Colorado with my sister and my parents, as he got to act like a kid with his brother in law, Dan, and climb and run up mountains. He is also pouring himself into some men's ministries at our church and is excited about the relationships and momentum that are building there. He still loves to run, and is adding more triathlons to his resume every year as well. He ran two 5ks, and two half marathons this year, and also competed in two triathlons [one was a sprint, and one was a little longer and his first swim in open water]. He also is one of the few people that can diffuse my craziness in such a way that I end up laughing.
I'm still staying home with the girls. This fall I quit my part time gig at the church, but am still helping out with a few things here and there as I can. Photography and making signs has kept me very busy [this fall especially], and I am grateful to all of you who have let me use my creativity in these ways. For mother's day this year Brent gave me a ticket to a writer's conference, and I hope to start writing more over the next year. Our three girls keep my days super full, but I am often overwhelmed at the sheer magnitude of what I get to do every day as I pour into them.
This year we were able to go to Silver Dollar City a couple of times thanks to season passes from Brent's parents. We had a pet turtle, Slippy, for a few days. He/she/it was the best pet we will ever have. Brent and I made a quick trip to Nashville, just the two of us, in the Spring to help my sister and Dan pack some things and spend time with them [with only 4 instead of 7 kids]. We also got to stay in Estes Park, Colorado with my entire family thanks to some generous friends of my sister. We had several days just soaking up time together before my sister's departure. We then said goodbye to her and her family in August, as they boarded a plane to fly overseas to their new home. Shortly after they left, our hearts were broken as we learned that I had miscarried the baby we had announced earlier that month. I wrote three posts during that time [Here, Here, and Here], and we spent a good chunk of the fall grieving that loss but also living into the joy and peace we are promised.
And that valley makes this season even sweeter because, even though we wish we were hanging another stocking, we are learning anew the depth of the Love that came to us that first Christmas. We have learned the tender mercies of our Father who chose to send and sacrifice His own child. Our grief was raw and real, but Hosea prophecied Christ's coming and said in 5:5, "He will be our peace." Emmanuel. God with us, indeed.
The not so great news of Christmas is that we are powerless on our own. But the great, good, wonderful news? Jesus came. And that coming is a thrill of hope that the weary world can rejoice in.
Thank you for loving us well this year. Wishing you a hope-filled Christmas to truly rest in the gift of Jesus' birth.
Brent, Kelsey, Blythe, Becks, & Nanny Lou
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn