Christmas Letter 2015

I just seriously cannot believe it is already Christmas and 2015 is coming to an end. This year has flown by faster than any other year.

What a year we have had! Last Christmas we still lived in our apartment in Cleveland and didn’t hardly know a single soul. Actually, we seriously didn’t know anyone! God blessed us with a beautiful home that we moved into in May and has blessed me with such great friends in just one short year. I remember feeling especially lonely last Christmas and almost wished we had gone home for the actual day of Christmas for that year.

Most of our things were in storage last Christmas and so we just had a simple Christmas and it was absolutely wonderful.

This year we made up for it though! We did outside lights and decor galore inside the house and we have all loved every second of it.

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I feel like 2015 has been a highly emotional year for me, ranging from such extreme happiness to extreme sadness. It has been a wonderful year and I feel like I have grown so much in all the ups and downs. The thing I know for absolute sure is that God stood next to me like a support beam through all the good and bad times. He is always faithful.

I don’t even know where to begin looking back on this year but when thinking of all that has happened I’m most astonished at how much my kids have grown and matured. This year we officially moved past the toddler phase and are into KID territory. It is so strange, y’all. Ryder still teeters between the two stages but there is no doubt about it- Rory is a KID. I can’t believe how fast time has gone and that she will be 6 soon.

Rory is still absolutely loving Kindergarten. (Andy and I were talking yesterday and cannot believe she is half way done with her first year in school!) She has been out of school for a week and is already itching to go back. She still sometimes struggles with her strong will and our suspicion that she suffers from ADD but she is really starting to get into her groove. The very best thing that is happening is her learning to read and write. I cannot even tell you the pride and joy it brings me to watch this area flourish for her. I am pretty sure watching your children learn is the most amazing thing to witness as a parent. Every day that goes by I notice more and more how gorgeous she is becoming. That brown hair and those brown eyes are just stunning. Sometimes I just stare at her and think, “how on earth can she be made from me?” I’m just so proud to be Rory’s mom.

Ryder is adoring PreK, although she isn’t quite as self motivated as Rory….. is anyone shocked here?! She automatically assumes she “can’t” when it comes to any sort of school work but once she has a little encouragement she always CAN. Ryder is absolutely the class clown both at home and school. Her facial expressions cannot be matched and I’m pretty sure this is my favorite quality about her. She is absolutely hysterical and cute as a stinking button. The problem is that she knows that she is that cute and uses it to her advantage as much as possible. She is such an aggravater and drives ALL of us absolutely crazy but she is also so incredibly tender hearted. My other favorite thing about Ryder is that she is SO content. You could give her a stick and she would think it was the greatest thing anyone had ever given her. She is just precious and I’m so proud to be her mom.

Andy is loving his job here and has really flourished this year. When I think about how different he is here than he was in Savannah it makes me want to sob. He was so over worked and over stressed there and I was always worried about him. Though he still works so much and so hard, the company he works for is so good to him and has been such an extreme blessing to our family.

I have struggled this year to find my identity and my place. I think going from working to being at home again was more of a shock than I realized it would be. When the kids were little being at home was an obvious choice but now that they are in school and bigger it seems silly and I feel like I have too much time to think! ha! Even though I have struggled I want to make for sure to let you know that I have also been happier this year than I could have ever imagined. From seeing my kids flourish and go to Kindergarten and PreK, to seeing Andy so incredibly satisfied at his job, to just absolutely loving Cleveland- it has been a wonderful year.

Now that we have been in Cleveland over a full year I cannot even stress to you how much we all LOVE living here. I feel certain that every move, good and not as good, led its way to here. God clearly had his hand in each move and step to lead us to living here. I get teary eyed just thinking about it. When Andy graduated from MS State he had an interview in a town over from us for TVA. He was offered the job and the job with International Paper in Louisiana. One of the hardest decisions we have ever made was that one because we so desperately wanted to live in East TN but he also wanted to work for the paper mill industry. So we took the job in LA and had a lot of people (including ourselves at times) questioning our decision since it was so far from home. But from there we moved to TX where we had the best two years of our lives, to Savannah, to Cleveland. God knew we needed to take the longer path to get to East TN because he knew when we needed to be here. I get so overwhelmed thinking about all the friends that have become family we have made along the way. And once again God has given us that in Cleveland too. My prayer for 2015 was for God to send me just one friend. Once again, he blew me out of the water with that. I’m just so thankful.

It has been a beautiful year and I’m so looking forward to our most magical Christmas yet. The girls are just giddy about Santa coming. More than that, they have been so interested and in awe over the Christmas story this year. I see their hearts opening to truth and to Jesus more and more each year. It is the most wonderful thing to watch happen.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas this year, no matter how simple or done up it is. I am so thankful to have all of you in my life!

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