My mama taught me that if I can’t say something nice, I should say nothing at all.
I’m having a hard time writing our 2018 Christmas letter… First draft will not be released… While every word of it was true, it just sounded like a lot of complaining.
I’ll simply state that if you want to look back over the year and the many challenges we’ve had, I’ve written about them along the way. Since a Christmas post is supposed to highlight the good that has happened, that’s what I’m going to do.
Each month something fantastic happened to or in our family, and I want to highlight it here:
January – We got our Germany House! Sure, finding a place to live was inevitable. No military family is moved around the world and not given a place to live, but there’s always that time of wondering if it will be a place that is good for your family or just some place that is tolerable. As soon as we found out we were moving to Stuttgart I began the search for a place to live. I researched the on-post option (always our first choice for many reasons) but I also researched off-post homes, as well. Even on Christmas Day in NC I was refreshing the rental listings to see if the ones I had favorited were still available, just in case. Stuttgart is broken into four mini-bases with housing options, with Kelley Barracks being the only one large enough for our family. I was willing to wait an unlimited amount of time to get a place on Kelley for one reason: Parker’s freedom. I knew the teens could get themselves around town, and that Anna would be by my side the entire time we’re here, but I wanted Parker to be able to walk out our front door and find a lot of friends.
When housing offered us the keys to go look at a place on Kelley after only a month in the hotel, we knew we were going to accept it even without seeing it, but of course, we went to check it out. We had two units to choose from, and when we met one of our neighbors in the stairwell as we were leaving, we knew we were home. We have now been neighbors for 11 months with that friend, and the other two families in this stairwell and I could not have picked a better set of people to live with. I could not imagine being in a better stairwell situation than I’m in. As we had prayed fervently, God provided Parker with the ability to walk outside and play to his heart’s content.
February – While Anna’s birthday in in January, we celebrated with our friends, the Wests, in February. It is still amazing to use the word “daughter” in reference to our own child. Our story still takes my breath away when I step back for a few minutes from the day-to-day reality of parenting a toddler. I still think that it all seems too good to be true. And how amazing for us to be able to celebrate her birthday in Germany with people who have loved her from before she was born?!? The Wests prayed with us while we waited Anna’s birth and were the first people to babysit her while Matt and I went on a date.
Also in February, Carson turned 15 and we went to Landstuhl to see Black Panther. Birthday season while PCSing is sort of difficult.
March – I can’t talk about March without mentioning that both Bailey and Carson broke bones 8 days apart. Silver lining? We were fortunate to have great health care and our family, because we were sort of cooped up for a month, grew closer. The greatest silver lining was that our family met another family and our hearts linked immediately. I just spent 15 minutes reading back through texts and found this jewel that I treasure. Here is just a glimpse into the precious heart that Sheri has and the encouragement that she is. These texts were sent while Carson was still in the hospital after his break.
And of course, just before these two breaks, Parker turned 8 and Bailey turned 14! We basically have a birthday season that lasts from January to May.
April – Matt’s 41st birthday!! Hayden played on the Stuttgart JV Men’s Soccer team, and it was an experience. We’ll leave it at that. He was in incredible shape by the end and reinforced the idea that his official soccer career is over. He just doesn’t love it as much as he did before and now that he has a job, he simply doesn’t have time for it anymore.
April also brought us our first real trip since we moved here, Verdun France. Matt had taken soldiers to Verdun when we were stationed in Wiesbaden but the family never went. The homeschool co-op we partially participated in had a book/travel club that was fantastic. They read books and then traveled to see sites in the time period discussed in those books. Here we are in the downtown area of Verdun.
May – Hayden turned 17 and he got a job (that wasn’t babysitting his siblings)!
Parker playing soccer. Cutest thing!
Our family went to the Bad-Cannstatt Easter market and we rode a very big ferris wheel!
And the best thing of all , Matt was able to baptist Parker in chapel.
June – June healed my heart. The grieving of my Texas people had been really rough and having Stephanie and Hannah visit applied the final bit of salve to my hurting heart. I have definitely noticed a remarkable difference in me since they came.
While they were here we saw Neuschwanstein, Paris, and a few other places nearby that we wanted to show them.
July – Independence Day was spent with our sweet friends, solidifying just how much our families enjoy each other. I got NO pictures that day but here is the outfit our warrior princess wore… until she got ice cream all over herself.
July also brought into our lives another family with whom we click and love to spend time with. They are also a “boy” family and have added their fifth by adoption. (We got to go to Edelweiss with both of these great families in August!) And, since I’m writing this in December I get to pop in here with a fun little note from the present… Monica just stopped by and delivered a Starbucks Cordusio as a treat since I didn’t get to go to Edelweiss with the family. She even wrote a note on the sleeve. Made my day!
August – Potty training. She rocked it and has done great ever since!
Edelweiss: a little bit of heaven on earth. We got to go there with both of the families we have really gotten close to – both families have five kids ranging from teens to tots (well, one has a baby, the other two have toddlers as the youngest). It’s really special to find such a perfect fit and we were super blessed to find two… and two that enjoy each other and that all the kids can have fun when together!
September – Corn Maze! I love fall!
Three boys played soccer: Carson, Bailey, and Parker.
Trip to Poland for pottery…
Stopping by Berlin while in that part of Europe:
And a visit from my parents:
While my parents were here my upstairs-neighbor made donuts. Homemade! I told you I have the best neighbors!
October – Apple picking! (And the results of picking those apples, which I froze to bake later for Thanksgiving…)
And seriously, the cutest Maui and Moana ever:
November – My 41st birthday (frogmore stew!!) and Thanksgiving!
Böblingen: (where our friends played an hour of gorgeous Christmas music!)
2018 Christmas Ornament – We picked this up in Poland this year.
And the Family Truckster!! YAY!! FINALLY!!!
With that said, I’ll be happy to welcome 2019 and say farewell to this year. I’ve highlighted much but not nearly all of the good we’ve experienced. I haven’t even touched on ChapelNext, which is AMAZING and such a wonderful Chapel Community. All the things that I have disliked about the year can be viewed from a thankful perspective, and I can see the Lord’s hand on our family in spite of those things.
Take some time to revisit 2018, the good and the bad, and find the joy in each month, and also look forward to 2019 and the adventures and blessings it will bring.