Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas... a letter!

Dear family & friends (& random blog readers)

Each year at this time I think "I should send out a family Christmas letter" I love receiving them from others I just never quite get my act together enough to follow through with the good intentions. Life simply gets busy and I fail to make the time. This year I have been handed time in abundance, and I am taking advantage of it now to jot a few lines and finally get a Christmas letter out from our home to yours.

2008 has been an eventful year for us, a year filled with challenges and blessings. We have weathered storms and come out stronger for them. We have learned that a sense of humor can make even the toughest situations bearable and even the toughest situations could be so much worse. Through it all God has been faithful and we have been blessed over and over by the graciousness and generosity of friends and family. We could not have made it through with out their love and support.

The girls are doing well. They are growing up fast.
Our youngest, Shanna is 12 (13 next month) and in grade 7. She is our sassy, spunky, determined one, all things that will take her far in life & challenge us daily. She has a strong sense of right and wrong, there is very little grey in Shanna's life. Shanna brought home a stellar report card this week full of A's & B's. Last night we were at her school Christmas concert, and it was bitter sweet - I realized that this was the last of the elementary school Christmas concerts we will attend, ending a 12 year Christmas tradition in our home. The concert took us on an around the world trip of Christmas traditions - Shanna's group took us to Australia. Shanna has loved being "of age" to be part of the youth group at our Church and has enjoyed every moment of it. She enjoys babysitting... not to sure if it is the babysitting or the money she makes but she goes pretty much anytime the offer is extended.
Teryn at 14 (15 in Feb) has a zest for life that is contagious. She loves to make others laugh and is a chatterbox, there is never a dull moment when Teryn is around. 2008 has been a year of challenges for her, she received a prognosis of Irritable bowel Syndrome mid year, ending a very long period of medical tests, doctor visits and day trips off and on to BC Children's Hospital. Now that we know what it is that causes the tummy pain we are able to deal with it and move forward. Early this year Teryn was also involved in an accident at a concert in a church where the floor collapsed in front of the stage and 40 kids fell through to the basement (about 30 feet). Teryn and 2 friends were 3 of the 40. Thankfully the injuries were minor and no one was more seriously hurt. Teryn walked away with a very sore shoulder a few scrapes and a minor concussion. All this added up to allot of missed school at the end of grade 8, Teryn worked hard to bring home an honors report card for that term. Now in grade 9 she continues to work hard and do well. She plays percussion in the school band, her instrument of specialty being the Timpani drum. Teyn loves Christian music and lives for Saturday nights when "Extreme Praise" hits the airwaves of our local christian music station.

Ashlynn turned 16 in October is our strong silent one much like her Daddy. She is a joy, and an easy teenager to parent. She loves to read and draw and shop at Value Village. She has a keen eye and often walks away with designer items, it is fun to watch her in that element. I love that she realizes that you can find great stuff at a huge savings. Ashlynn is in grade 11 (where does the time go??)and is looking at a career in costume design. She has a fashion sense that is totally her own and loves to mix and match pieces to create that. Ashlynn is in the Sr. band at school and plays clarinet, and doing lots of talking at the moment about learning how to play the trombone next year. (There are currently no female Trombone players.... she likes the idea of the challenge!) She enjoyed a band trip to Nelson for a music festival in April and is looking forward to Europe in March with this group. She is also loving being part of the Dance Company at school this year.

All 3 girls continue to dance with Dance Imagination - It is a joy to watch them preform as well as work together with the other girls in the company. I love that they are all at the same place at the same time on the same days. I do not have to try to juggle and co-ordinate activities, and driving.

Royd continues to enjoy his work at the surveying company he has been with for 16 years. He does very little actual surveying these days, his job is more that of a draftsman. Which is very good on cold snowy winter days like today. He can sit in the warmth of his office and let the other guys do the field work. Royd is very involved with the worship team at Church - singing a couple of Sunday's a month and practicing weekly. Right now is in the middle of extra rehearsals and practices to get ready to sing on Christmas eve. He is a great dad and I am especially greatful when it comes to helping with math homework! He can often be found helping with homework after a long day at work. I am thankful for my husband, and the support he has been to me this past year, I know without a shadow of a doubt I would not have made it through with out his love and support. I am a blessed woman because of this man, he is my rock.

That brings us to me.... it has been quite a year. If keeping up with the girls and all that their lives have been has not been enough.. my own life brought its share of challenges to our family this year.

In a nut shell. . . (if you care to read details follow this link then continue reading from there) in May I received a nasty mammogram result back, telling me that the tumor in my right breast had returned and that there would be more surgery in my future. September 24th, I had a mastectomy to remove the tumor and remaining breast tissue. All went well and all tests have come back clear. God is good! Life has slowed down considerably for me since then. As a result of the diagnosis and the realization that I could not do it all, Mary my business partner for 11 years, and I decided to close our Scrapbooking Store, that happened in June. This has allowed me to focus on my health without other distractions.
Early on in the journey I decided that I was not going to let this get me down... I did not want to become negative or whiny. Sure there are days that I feel lousy, that I hurt for no apparent reason, that I would rather stay in bed...BUT thankfully they are few and far between. This will not break me. God has promised that we will not bear any burden that he does not think we can handle.I have to take this to heart. I take comfort in knowing that God thinks I can handle this. I have been blessed over and over and over again by the support and love of family and friends. By people who have been there to take the girls to dance, pick them up at school, by people bringing us meals, offers to go shopping, cards and flowers.. the list goes on and on... I do not dare to try and list people by name for fear of leaving someone out. I know I am right where I am supposed to be and that this current challenge is all part of a bigger picture, one I do not see clearly at the moment, but know that God does and that he is in control. And in that I can rest, truly rest and let healing happen. The journey is not complete, I face 2 more surgeries in the new year, but that is o.k. it is always one step at a time, and hey I a guess I am 1/2 a step ahead of many of you I know what I am doing on January 9th.... do you??? I hope that if you think of me you will offer a little prayer for the surgeon's team as that is the date for my closest surgery. Then I am off to Europe with Ashlynn to chaperon the band trip - So excited about that, first I have never been to Europe and secondly but surely more important... Ashlynn is excited to have me come along! When a 16 year old still looks forward to having her mom around on a trip with friends It is a good day! I will face my 3rd and final surgery after returning from Europe. After that I will have to resume life and find a job, what that will be or what it will look like I am not sure, however I am sure that this has all happened for a reason and that life is pretty much what we make it and we have a choice everyday about how we are going to live it.

Looking back on 2008 I would say that it was a good year... not an easy year but a good year. One we will look back on in years to come and think WOW... that all happened in one year! As it comes to a close we are thankful for the blessing of friends and family and the gift of being able to spend time with them, weather in person or reconnecting online. We want to wish each of you all the best for 2009 and a very Merry Christmas. May you know that you are loved!

Di (for the rest of the crew here!)