Dearest family and friends,
As I sat down on our living room couch to begin writing this Christmas letter I’ve thought to myself about all of the events that have taken place over the past year.
This year has held a lot of firsts for our family. If I had to pick a theme for the year it would be change. As you all know, last December my family went through a terrible, Earth shattering loss. We lost my dad, Galen, on December 14th, 2010. Our entire family has been taking advantage of these past several months as an attempt to put our broken lives back together. There is no remedy for “getting over” something so tragic. Not a day goes by that we do not think of him and miss him.
A lot of this past year has been a blur. You fall into routines and being able to wake up to a new day becomes a challenge on its own. But I am so proud and thankful to say that I am part of a family of survivors. Our faith in our Lord and the comfort He provides to us in our times of need has gotten us through some of the most unimaginable circumstances and for that, I am eternally grateful.
Here is a quick recap of some of the wonderful events that happened in the life of our family in 2011.
I turned 25 in January, my first birthday without Dad. Friends and family came together to make it one of the most special days I’ve ever had. It was an outpouring of love, support and comfort that I am very blessed to have experienced. A quarter of a century lived! What an amazing blessing.
In February Josh and I took a weekend trip to Austin. We were able to spend some quality time with our Aunt and Uncle and really enjoyed the get away. February also marked the time where I began going to counseling. I visited a group here in town called the Warm Place. I attended 8 weeks of sessions with people in my age group who had all suffered the loss of a loved one. It was a really tough time for me but after it was all said and done I felt as if I had made some big strides in coping with my grief.
When May rolled around we had a lot of celebrations. Athena turned 15, Melanie turned 26 and Mom celebrated her 49th birthday! In the midst of all of that we also celebrated Mother’s Day. It was a month filled with celebrations and love shared between our family
Over the past several years we have both been very fortunate in avoiding any accidents on the road. June rolled around and I decided to break that streak. I was in a small accident leaving our home one evening. My car was totaled in the process and I spent about 5 hours in the emergency room. I was not seriously injured, thank the Lord. After the accident we had to go out and find a new car. I sure do miss my Escape but am really enjoying some of the perks of this newer Edge.
I also traveled with my family to Pittsburgh, PA for the first time in over a decade! It was such a wonderful experience to see my family again. We celebrated the union of my beautiful cousin Jessica to her new husband David. The trip was such a wonderful break from reality.
One of the biggest changes took place in July. I left my job at THG and started on the path of pursuing my dream to become a teacher. During the month of July I attended an alternative certification program where I obtained my probationary teaching certificate. After graduating we traveled down to Destin to spend a long weekend on the beach with the Morgans. The sun and great company were a welcomed relief to the long days we had both been having. We really enjoyed our time with family!
After vacation, I searched for interviews and teaching opportunities to no avail. It seemed hopeless and I was feeling very down on myself. But through constant prayer and a strong faith, I knew the Lord would provide an opportunity for Josh and me. I began substitute teaching in September and worked at different elementary schools nearly daily for over a month. During that time period I had four interviews; all of which went really well. I had begun a long-term substitute assignment for kindergarten just as I was offered a full time teaching job. As of October 31st, I am now the newest fourth grade teacher at Jackie Carden Elementary School. This job has had some serious ups and downs but at the end of the day I am thankful and happy to be doing what I was created to do. The Lord IS faithful and provides for His children. We couldn’t be happier!
Josh turned 28 in September and this year we celebrated with a party at our home. We had friends and family come over for a cook out and played games outside in the beautiful weather. Any time our loved ones can all come together for a common purpose is a great time!
October brought another little blessing about to our little family of two. After an afternoon of antique shopping with Josh I came home and took a pregnancy test. To our surprise we saw two VERY strong pink lines. We were completely awestruck at the news! We waited just under a month to tell our family and friends, which by the way was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done! We are now 14 weeks and will be going in to find out the gender on my birthday in January. Neither of us are hoping for one or the other, just a healthy and happy baby. I joined the ranks of my beautiful sister, Melanie as she is pregnant with their second and is expecting at the beginning of March. Their son, Matthew just celebrated his first birthday in October! Our little family is growing so quickly we just don’t know what to do with ourselves! It will be exciting to watch our children grow up together.
Thanksgiving was spent with friends and family eating way too much food. This year was held at our sister, Jamie’s house. They had family from both sides over and it was quite the turn out! We were so excited to learn that she, too, was expecting! Our parents, Marsha and Steve, are going to be having quite a busy year next year as they become grandparents for the first time with both of their children having babies in the span of two months!
It is incredible to think of what a year can hold; tragedy, loss, trials, hardships, new opportunities, life and the strengthening of families. Josh and I are so very thankful for the families that we have. Although we miss Dad every moment we know that he is in a much better place getting to enjoy the presence of his Heavenly Father and for that I am envious. We are really looking forward to what this next year holds for our little family; I’ll finish my first year of teaching and we will become parents! This little bundle of joy is one of the best things that has ever happened to us and I thank the Lord every day for the opportunity to be trusted to bring a person into the world.
We hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits as you take the time to enjoy what has come and what is yet to come. Christmas is a perfect time of year to reflect on and embrace those things in life that we sometimes take for granted. We love and miss each and every one of you and hope that your year was just as busy and filled with love and family as ours was.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
With all of our love,
Josh and Nicki