"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men."
- 2 Nephi 31:20, The Book of Mormon
Another year has come to a close and for the first time as long as I can remember, we didn't get Christmas cards out in December, so we sent "happy new year's" greetings to our dear friends and family. Also, the tradition of enclosing one of our family letters with the card didn't happen, so this post will be our official 2011 Cantera update.
As I was addressing our cards the other night, I couldn't help but feel the connection and ease that accompanies friendship and family closeness. Although it was so nice not stressing over the cards in December, while sitting at the table, pen in hand in the solitude of late evening, I remembered why I do love sending holiday greetings - it gives me a moment to recall all who have touched our lives in one way or another, and through the act of simply writing a name, I am blessed by those memories.
In true Cantera fashion, it was another busy year filled with activities, school, vacations, church callings, projects, celebrations, sports, and plenty of time on the sidelines and in the car. A quick perusal of this blog will bring anyone up to date on our noteworthy 2011 events and happenings. But this year, I would like to bring you up to speed on how we are doing, rather than just the what we are doing . . .
Ryan (16) is navigating his way through his junior year of high school - juggling school work, social life, sports, family life, young men's, and increasing responsibilities at every turn. Ryan can be gregarious and playful one minute, and a typical teenager needing his space the next. He is surrounded by good friends and takes the minimal leisure time he has quite seriously (namely 'Sports' Center' and weekends out). One of my favorite traits about Ryan is his awareness of what everyone is up to . . . he never forgets where family members have been and always asks us how things went.
We are holding tight to these final years with Ryan in the home, and know deep down, despite his longing to be out on his own and away from bothersome little sisters, he will miss the family and the good times we share together.
Caroline (14) has definitely come into her own this year and is not just Ryan's "little sister," but one of his closest friends and confidants. I consider this one of my greatest blessings, that these two teenagers have formed such a strong bond. Caroline has emerged into her 9th grade year filled with confidence and an inner strength that continues to flourish. She is a true friend to everyone she meets and has a smile that lights up the room. Her days are filled with friends, homework, babysitting, piano, young women's, and her passion - tennis.
She will admit that the first couple years of junior high put her optimism and trust in others to the test, but she made it through and has become a shining example to all who know her, especially her sisters who adore her. Caroline is a happy soul and we couldn't imagine life without her quick wit and sweet laugh.
Sophie (10) wishes every single day that she could have her own room. Liza has a way of pushing her patience to the limit and there are days when all I can do is throw my hands up and hope that one day these girls will love each other dearly. When Sophie isn't frustrated with a sister or brother, she can be found in the basement pounding the tennis ball on our concrete backboard, kicking a soccer ball in the yard, running races, reading, practicing piano, or surrounded by her giggly 5th grade friends.
Sophie works hard at everything she does, and like Ryan, enjoys her space and solitude at times. Her competitive spirit has served her well in her various sports, and is thrilled when Caroline will hit with her and give her tips on the court. She is an absolute beauty and there are days when I wonder what happened to my little girl, knowing soon I'll have another teenager in the home.
Liza (7) has somehow morphed into what the older kids refer to as "the awkward child." She still continues to keep us laughing practically every day and I hope she feels confident with herself and her abilities. The poor girl has to deal with three extra parents who think they all know what she should be doing an every given moment . . . sigh. Liza handles her bossy siblings quite well and is always happy when someone will play a game or color with her.
She is still the delight of the family and filled with such random thoughts and expressions we can't help but anticipate great things from this girl as she grows older. She works so hard in school, on the piano, and in ski team. She loves to read and just devoured her first abridged copy of "Little Women." Liza is so patient at home, in church, and in school. She also knows how much her mom still loves to hold her, and is always willing to crawl into my lap for a snuggle. How grateful we are for our Elizabeth Jane.
Chris & Julie are so blessed, especially for the Gospel of Jesus Christ which give us the inspiration and additional light we need to guide and direct our children. We continue to "press forward" each day experiencing the highs and lows of marriage and parenthood. Where else would we learn to be more patient, kind, gentle, and loving than in the crucible of family life?
2011 has been a year to remember. We have seen personal miracles and the Lord's hand working in our lives, and we have drawn closer to one another and our children through memorable experiences and vacations, as well as the ordinary every day events that lead to meaningful conversations and discussions when least expected.
We know that as we hold fast to the truths we hold dear, we can look forward with a perfect brightness of hope and be filled with the love of God as we bring that love into our hearts, home, and community.
Wishing you all a peaceful and bright 2012.