Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009




It’s hard to believe that 2009 is coming to an end. We hear everyone give us the advice to enjoy our kids today because we will blink and they will be grown and out of the house. Although that may not yet be the case, we are beginning to see how very fast they grow. This past year has been little more than a blur.


Nikelle is 7-years-old now and we are coming to the realization that we are no longer just teaching her basic life skills. Rather, with the questions she now raises, we realize that we have reached the point in life where we have the responsibility to equip her to make decisions for herself. Being in the second grade, we can no longer pretend that we can protect her from everything that comes her way. It’s a daunting reality and we are learning the importance of prayer. At the same time, she is only 7 and she enjoys the simple things in life. She loves to write stories and plays and we are often beckoned to come watch a performance she has planned where she dances or sings. Our silly Nike has such a creative little mind to where she can be so wrapped up in her own little world that we don’t even know how to respond. Grandma Carlson gifted her with the American Girl doll, Felicity, this year for her birthday and thus began the craze. (Last year it was Webkinz which still continues.) Nikelle is an incredible big sister. She is always using the dry erase board and chalkboard to give Jaycie school lessons and runs to her baby sister whenever she is needed. She has even begun to get Andelise out of the crib at times!


Jaycie started preschool this year. Although we were a bit nervous as to how she would handle the situation, we were hopeful that preschool would help her come out of her shell a bit. If you have met our Jay Jay, chances are that she has led you to believe she is a mute. For some reason, our 4-year-old simply cannot handle crowds. It’s been a growing experience to say the least. We went from having crafts sent home untouched for her to complete on her own to her writing her own name very legibly on her completed work at school now. Jaycie started attending AWANA with her big sister this year. She was slightly disappointed that she wouldn’t be attending Sparks with her big sister but is now enjoying being in Cubbies. With Jaycie’s social anxiety, we are thankful Tristi has been able to assist with the little ones. We cherish the way Jay will now want to pray at dinnertime as she recites one of the Bible verses she learned at club: “Give thanks to the Lord… who made the great lights… sun… moon and stars...” (Psalm 136:3,7) Jaycie enjoys doing most everything her big sister does and carefully protects her toys from her little sister. Jaycie can be found putting together puzzles or using her imagination as she plays with Barbies.


Andelise is a 1-year-old on the go. This little tornado seems to be a magnet for trouble! Ande has been walking since she turned 10-months-old and quickly graduated to climbing onto stairs, chairs and tables. She looks up to her sisters and tells us all sorts of stories we simply cannot understand much of. One word she speaks very clearly is “no” and we often refer to her as “a little bully” because she is determined to get what she wants. Our Ande loves to dance and play dress-up with her big sisters and thoroughly enjoys decking herself out in the bling! Ande Randy will often walk up to Nikelle when she is upset asking to be held for comfort. The other day, when Jaycie arrived home from preschool, Ande walked right up to her, said her name, and reached out her arms for a hug. It can be quite heart-warming to see our girls get along. Their Daddy is constantly reminding them how they are one another’s best friends and we hope they truly embrace this later in life.


We thank God that Rod is still employed by UGN in Tinley Park. Despite the difficult economy and lay-offs over the past year, he was able to keep his job and we have been able to continue to enjoy life without too much alteration. The highlight of this past year for Rod was joining the Lincoln-Way Marching Band for an alumni performance. We were so pleased that our older girls were able to watch him participate in one of his favorite pastimes. Although it was raining non-stop, God was kind enough to “make a drizzle instead” (Nikelle‘s words). There was even a pleasant surprise to see a picture of him playing his saxophone in the newspaper. (Rod would like to make it known that autographs will be available for $5 each and a Christmas special of $2.99.)


Tristi continues to be able to stay at home with the kids for which we continue to be so grateful. Although she has yet to quite figure out how to balance life while raising three kids, she remembers that there is much joy despite the way life attempts to swallow it up in the daily grind. She is doing her best to work running back into her routine (when the kids actually allow her to keep to a routine). Most of her day is spent investing in relationships which she wouldn’t trade for much of anything.


Our emotions continue to pull at our hearts as we learn to live this life without our dads. Any given day can have a moment sneak up on us playing games with our hearts and yet we know that we have so very much to be thankful for. Our life is filled with blessings from cherished memories to watching our three healthy little girls grow. We are constantly reminded that in thankfulness, we find joy.


We are looking forward to an intentional 2010 where we fight against busyness and focus in on what matters. We desire to intentionally add rest to our lives while we are intentional in our relationships with God and one another. We are thankful for each one of you and pray 2010 draws you closer to the very reason for this season - Jesus.

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