Happy New Year!

So I had good intentions to mail out cards this year but then I decided to cut that expense (even though it would’ve been our first one ever) as part of the Water for Christmas campaign. So instead I’ll put it here on the blog and email it to those who don’t read this (what? there are people who don’t read this?!?!?!?!)

Merry Christmas 2008!

I guess if I’m writing this 7 days after Christmas it hardly warrants a “Merry Christmas” but I hope you had a great one nonetheless! This is my inaugural Christmas letter, you see, so since none of you were expecting one I had plenty of excuses to make it late. ☺

Our year has been filled with more blessings than one family should receive in a lifetime. Though I can’t do them justice in a single letter, I will try.

Trysten (5) started Kindergarten at Buffalo Elementary School. He loved it from the beginning and looks forward to playing with his many friends. Truth be told, he does enjoy a good snow day as we found out just before winter break. He is starting to read quite well which makes his mommy and daddy proud. I’m still holding out hope for one of my children to enjoy reading as much as I do and if his zest for learning is any indication, he’ll be the one. He’s still my emotive one. That apple didn’t fall far from the mommy tree. In so many ways he’s growing (3 inches this year, takes showers by himself, etc) but he still enjoys “mommy and me” time at the end of the night in which we snuggle and talk about our feelings.

Tariku (3) joined our family from Ethiopia on April 11th. Zach and I took the trip of a lifetime early April to go to Ethiopia and learn more about that beautiful country our son came from. Since that trip, our lives have changed in so many ways. Tariku, being the biggest way, is the sweetheart of the bunch. If you need something, Tariku will walk through fire to get it. Always smiling, always laughing he proves that one can choose how they react to rather horrible situations. He has been very patient with mommy when he didn’t understand much English or when he was learning how to go to the bathroom inside the toilet. Above all, he has helped us learn how to be better humans. He too enjoys giving kisses and hugs but typically limits them to two per person because something more fun is bound to come up by then.

Dailah (2) has developed her personality and natural inclination to motherhood over the last year. As I type, she is cradling a cabbage patch baby and giving kisses telling her it’s “okay” and that “she can’t do that again”. Dailah is a constant mothering mirror for me as I hear my words come back to me in the form of a 2-year-old more times than I can count. She has her parents wrapped around that little nail-painted finger and, I’m afraid, knows it full well. She also has her brothers at her beckon call and can get a ride anywhere she wants if she just asks. She has shown me this year that a good sense of humor is often nature and very little nurture. She has been making us laugh since the day she was able to speak (and speak she does!). She is the little girl I didn’t think I needed and proves to me everyday that one smile or one giggle can turn a bad day good in a matter of seconds.

Aristotle (4, chocolate lab) still enjoys bones, food, protecting mommy and babes and running around camp being the mascot of sorts. Mascot, to him anyway, covers all sorts of sin. ☺

Abe (8 months, great dane) joined the family in October. He enjoys eating, bringing home deer antler, chewing on mommy’s snowman decorations and sleeping.

Zach (older) is in his 2nd year as the Executive Director of YMCA Camp Abe Lincoln. He loves his job and happens to be terrific at it. We live on site so he is often called out in the middle of the night to help someone get unstuck or fix a leaky pipe. It has helped getting a great Program Director who also lives on site but he still likes getting his hands dirty as well. The patriarch of this family is where I go for constant laughs, love and joy. He is my sounding board, my ever-present calm in the mommy storm. Truly the light of my life, I have seen a side of him this year that makes me wonder what in the world I did to deserve a guy like him.

Tesi (1-year-older) is still staying-at-home with the babies most of the time. I’ve also enjoyed picking up a few more fitness classes (Bodypump, Bodystep and soon to be Bodyflow) and training just a few special clients. I look at this past year as perhaps the most pivotal one in my short life. I’m fairly certain when they cut my body open when I die (also known as an autopsy) they will find the outline of Africa seared on my heart and brain. I can’t shake it, I can’t forget about it. It’s become not just the place my son was born but also the place that has given me a life anew as well.

Since going to Ethiopia Zach and I have been gloriously ruined in a way we’ve never been. Upon our return home, another adoptive mommy and I started an “orphan ministry” of sorts at our church. Every month we (with many others) try to do something that will positively affect “the least of these” that are so close to God’s heart. Things like raising money for life-saving Plumpy-nut in Ethiopia, delivering backpacks to the local social services for children in the foster care system and, most recently, Water for Christmas. The ministry has now grown international and I couldn’t be more humbled to see everyone’s eyes being opened and hearts growing soft. God works in some pretty awesome ways. Over $50,000 (which translates to about 10 fresh-water wells) is heading to Liberia where it will save many lives.

Above all, this year has been the year that has taught me to rely on God more than ever. To trust in his ever-lasting grace that has yet to disappoint. May you, this year, find the peace that comes with being gloriously ruined.

On that happy note, much love in the New Year!

Zach, Tesi, Trysten, Tariku, Dailah, Aristotle and Abe.

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