Dear Everyone We Love,
This is the letter that should have gone out with the Christmas card that you may have already received, may not receive if I didn’t update my address book correctly, or that you may receive twice if I didn’t remember to mark your name off our list the first time I addressed Christmas cards last week.
Last year– I never got around to a letter (or card) so it felt fun to attempt an update this year… (but be prepared, it’s a novel, because it may not happen again until 2018).
Jason– Last year at this time, we were in the middle of making some major decisions regarding Jason’s job, so it felt difficult to write a “newsy” letter without being able to share our news.
In January 2012, Jason left the company he’d been with for almost 12 years to start a new adventure heading up the Portland office for Swinerton Builders. It has been an exciting and encouraging change for him and we are so thankful for the supportive, team-like mentality of the office here in Portland, but also within Swinerton Incorporated.
Jason and some of his friends have continued to plan monthly Band of Brothers meetings for the dads and their sons with each meeting including one life skill taught and some sort of character building lesson.
When he’s not working, playing with the kiddos or spending time with me, he enjoys (yes…I wrote enjoys) working in the yard, going on runs in the area, weekly early-morning-coffee with some guys from our church, fishing (note the massive Chinook Salmon he caught in October) and paintball Saturdays with some of his buddies.
As has been our tradition for many years, Jason takes care of our crew’s bedtime routine and they’ve been reading through some incredible books this year– Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom), and Running for My Life (Lopez Lomong).
There are so, so SO many reasons why I’m thankful for my guy!
Kara– I continue to give thanks for our current school schedule, which has our big kids in school full-time on M/W/F and then I homeschool them on T/TH. Our whole school (a University Model) follows that plan.
When I’m not with our crew, I love walking with close friends, spending time outside, reading, going to garage sales & thrift stores, and I’m learning to take better photos.
I’m also still enjoying writing in this spot and also for The Better Mom. For my birthday last January, Jason gave me a trip to a national writing conference called Allume that I went to in October. It was my first time being away from our crew and while I missed them tons…it was amazing to spend time with so many of the women that I write with online, but hadn’t met in person (still waiting to meet many).
I also continue to thank God for those should-to-shoulder-friendships that God has filled my life with (several missing from the photo above)! They know me through and through and are a huge blessing on a daily-my-kiddo-just-got-a-stomach-bug-can-you-pick-up-some-carpet-cleaner-for-me-basis. They keep me accountable and play a huge role in my life!
Us– This has been one of our hardest years for marriage but also one of our very best years. During the past 5 years our marriage endured a lot of changes and challenges (5 kiddos added to our family in just over 8 years, 2 finalized adoptions with 2 that fell through in the middle of our second process, Selah’s death, really long-stressful work hours for Jason, and then last year a pretty major job transition).
In the midst of it all we were busy with good things and very involved in our church and very involved with our kiddos. But–out of necessity, investing in our marriage was often too low on the list. We’ve always had a close, good, solid, strong marriage and that never wavered, but we realized over the past year that we really want to (and need to) make our marriage a priority.
So for the first time, we’ve added in weekly date nights where we drop Lydia off at Awanas (the big kids are old enough to stay home) and we’ve been taking evening walks around our neighborhood. Just having that set time to talk and connect is something I’m so thankful for. And then last weekend, we headed up to Seattle for a fun anniversary weekend away (it’ll be 16 years for us on Friday). It was so good to remember what it is like to be just-the-two-of-us…
The Chuppies– Laura turned “12” in October, got braces over the summer & her ears pierced, finished her dyslexia therapy and is doing well in school. She enjoys reading, organizing, caring for other people, giving gifts, baking, and then giving away what she makes. She also loves animals, accessories, reading to Lydia, and I honestly don’t know if I could make it without her help. She is old enough to babysit now and is signed up for the American Red Cross Babysitting Class in the spring.
Colson is 10 and 1/2 now, tonsil-free, and he enjoys stop motion, painting, drawing, clay-mation, Lego Robotics, reading, photography, taking apart electronics, collecting rocks, and he’s the only one besides me who can do Lydia’s hair. All of our kiddos are close, but Colson and Lydia have an extra special relationship.
Cavan turned “9” in October and he is still our nature-kid who loves bugs, rocks, creatures, asking LOTS of questions, anything outside, Legos, asking MORE questions, riding bikes, what-ever-Colson-likes, and friends (he’s Mr. Social and has friends even when he’s surrounded by strangers). He has Jason’s sense of humor and I love it!
Lydia is now 3 and 1/2 (though she’ll probably tell you she’s “almost 4″) and she is full of life and fun and ENERGY !!! She knows her letters, sounds, thinks she can count to 50, and she is also pretty sure she can read. She keeps us on our toes with her problem-solving and skills-of-creativity (see here and here for specifics). She likes to be in charge of somebody, so our dog Penny often is under her command. Lydia’s constant stream of conversation and questions is a delightful part of my daily life. She is currently supposed to be napping, but I hear her in her room singing.
All of the kiddos enjoy swimming and in January, the older three will start on a very-low-key swim team. Lydia is also learning to swim and she’s been taking a tumbling class that she LOVES! We’ve also been so thankful to find piano lessons that work for our family. It was an answer to prayer when a close friend agreed to teach the Chuppies…once a week we head to our friends’ house and our kids play with theirs, while rotating through piano lessons. AND while her husband teaches the crew, my friend and I get to go for a walk together during the lesson time! It has been wonderful and they have all improved tremendously!
One of the best house decisions we ever made was transforming our garage into a playroom because it has been such a gift to have that space for gathering neighborhood friends. In the summer, they were over almost daily and they worked hard to build a huge tree fort in the green space behind our fence. We’re so thankful for our neighborhood and home and that it is very used and is pretty much always full of people we love!
The Chupp Family– This year has been full of many blessings…we’ve been up to visit my family in Seattle a few times, hatched chicken eggs and kept the chickens, flew to California with my family on a first-time-EVER-Disneyland-trip that my parents treated us to, went over to Bend for an incredible family reunion, spent time camping with close friends, had another fun family reunion celebrating Jason’s parents’ 50th anniversary, took trips to the zoo, spent time in downtown Portland, took hikes, visited Oregon’s Civil War Reenactment, invested in friendships, cheered for our Oregon State football team, enjoyed visiting family, read great books, and spent meaningful time with our church family…
We are very thankful for 2012!
And I can’t end our Christmas letter without mentioning Selah.
She would be five today.
I started this blog on her birthday, the first December after she died. Last year I shared a bit about how it felt on the day she would’ve turned four. And I can think of several families this year who are facing heartache in the midst of this season of lights and family and presents and joy…
Our prayer is that God will help us all to–
Live holding tightly to the light of forever,
The hope of Heaven.
That we will thank Him for Heaven.
For a joy that can’t be taken.
And so today we remember our Selah Noelle.
Selah– to pause and value
Let us remember the birth of Christ,
In this pause before Forever.
Our prayer for everyone reading this is that no matter what fills your heart–
rejoicing or sorrow…
That you will find hope in God’s promise of Heaven.
His rescue mission, planned before all time, that sprang forth in–
the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.” ~Luke 2:10
Kara (for all)