christmas letter 2019


Oh, hey there! Yea, it’s been a while. #momlife.

Anyhow….. Merry Christmas! I love this time of the year because it allows us to reflect on all that has transpired during the course of just 365 days. The great and the terrible. The super fun and the…. “Oh please, I really don’t want anyone to be sick anymore, please God.” It also is a time of year that I think about YOU. So much time passes before our eyes and as busy as the holiday season can be, it is a time where I actually pause to remember. I take a deep breath, an even greater exhale, and thank God for your life. You are the good stuff, my friend. And I’m so glad we get to be a part, whether big or small, of sharing this life with you.

A lot has happened in the lives of the Butterfri in 2019. If you’d like to catch up with us, we’d love to share a bit of it with you!

Since I didn’t even bother to write a 2018 letter (because we had a newborn and were not sleeping, and were focusing on keeping our kids and ourselves afloat), guess what? We had a baby! Yea, September of last year. Which means this past September we celebrated Jake’s first birthday, which seems a little like a cruel time joke, but mostly delightful. This little guy of ours has had an eventful life, and he is a trooper through and through. He’s got a pretty mean poker face. If you get a smile out of him you’re basically the most hilarious person in the world; congratulations. We hit the ground running with him. Jude was sick majority of last winter, and when he wasn’t, Jake was. We fought ear infections, sleepless nights (how come the second child never sleeps, huh?), and viruses nearly every other week. In February, we were supposed to visit Houston, but the day before we should have flown out, I slipped on our stairs while holding Jake and we ended up in the ER that entire night. He fractured his femur from his knee absorbing the impact and it ricocheting through his leg (thankfully my reflexes kicked in a little and I shifted enough to protect his head). I was fine… physically. Had a huge bruise on my elbow but didn’t even feel it til the adrenaline slowed the next day. It was kind of terrible. Fought some major mom guilt, but God is good. We had friends texting and Marco Poloing me reminders of God’s goodness and protection. Reminding me that I’m a good mom and my kids are safe with me (when you’re interviewed by a psychiatrist and police officer at 2a in the ER you start to wonder if you are a completely terrible person; if you’re fit for raising kids). God used these people in my life to keep me from falling into deep shame. Jake had to wear a brace for about 3 weeks. God’s grace is that the fracture occurred right above the growth plate, so it healed incredibly fast, like nothing had even happened. The days following that event we all came down with bronchitis, including Jake, and we were basically begging God to make it all stop. It sucked, but we got to witness incredible generosity with Ryan’s coworkers immediately organizing a meal train to help us out while we were pathetically surviving. Sweet souls. In March, Jake had to have surgery for a preexisting complication. The surgery was minor and we were home by noon, but the idea of your 6 month old being under anesthesia is not my favorite life experience. It gave me a big heart for the mamas who have lived through many surgeries of their littles, and I often pray for them now. Such strong parents; such strong babes. Since then, Jake has not let us down with more excitement. We’ve had some eating issues, and texture is a really big hurdle for us. We went to a food therapist, and we’re working through touching foods without being totally repulsed, tasting foods, and even swallowing without gagging. I never would have thought this would be a struggle (didn’t even know food therapy existed until now), but we are making progress, and Jake is staying healthy as we navigate through it all.

I share these things to proclaim the incredible grace that God bestows on us to sustain us. There have been moments of this year that I have complained to God, “Why can’t SOMETHING be easy with this kid? Why is everything a fight?” He softly reminds me that 1) I’m being a tad dramatic, and 2) it’s a good and beautiful thing to need Him, and to need the people around us. There is no way we could have pulled through this year without the support of our families and friends. I say this a lot, but if you don’t have community around you, build it. Life is really hard. If it’s not for you, it will be at some point. It’s gonna happen. Don’t wait til it happens to find your people. If you don’t know where to find people, join a church (even if you aren’t a Christian). Find a church that invites you into their lives (if they don’t, I’m sorry…. find another one. Christians can be bad at this, too). It also kept me desperate enough to be constantly aware of my need for God’s grace. I have zero control over Jake’s (or anyone’s) life. I’ve never been more aware of that than in the moments when I was being interviewed for the doctors and officer to agree whether I was a safe place for my child, or when my baby was under anesthesia and I had to wait in a room on the other side of the ward. Realizing that my children’s lives are in the hands of their creator on a real life level has changed the way I pray for them, think about them, and treat them. They belong to him. And what a gift it is that I am entrusted with caring for their souls. If you’re in a scary place, throw your worries on the one who made life out of dust. He can handle it.


Ok, out of the sad/scary/sobering stuff. We really did have a lot of fun this year, too.

We had so many friends and family visit us in Colorado in 2019! During this time, I climbed the Incline for the first time, and have now scaled it 4 times (I’m one ahead of Ryan, nbd). We have loved getting to host friends and family, show them around our beautiful city, and maybe torture them a little with physical challenges (how can you visit CO and not see some gorgeous sites, though?). Hey, if you want to visit, just let us know. We’re all about it.


We also were able to visit some friends and family in Houston, my family in AR, and Jake and I took our first duo trip to Chicago in May. We met up with a few family members for my older brother’s diaconate ordination into the Eastern Orthodox church. It was such a rich couple of days celebrating with him and reconnecting with my family. We also celebrated my second oldest niece’s 13th birthday the same weekend, which was super fun!


I turned 30 in August, which is awesome because now real grown ups finally take me seriously (I know, I look 12, I get it). For my birthday, my dad came up to watch the boys, and Ryan and I did a 4 day road trip around our gorgeous state. One thing about having small children is that you can only drive so far before your kids melt down, so this was an amazing gift away. We hiked in Rocky Mtn National Park and in Black Canyon of the Gunnison, camped in the freezing cold in Estes Park and Grand Lake, visited some amazing spots in Boulder, stopped in the adorable town of Ouray to check out the hot springs (and a hot springs cave), went white water rafting for the first time, and topped it off with glamping. Guys, glamping lives up to the hype and is super worth it. Just do it; you won’t have any regrets. We made a big circle around Colorado and made the most of every single day. It is definitely one of the best vacations I’ve ever experienced.


sky pond – rocky mtn national park


black canyon of the gunnison

Jude started preschool in September. He came home the first day and spelled his name for me, which I hadn’t even thought to try with him, so it was pretty evident from the beginning that we made the right move. The kid thrives on structure, loves music, and most of all, PEOPLE. We call him a walking soundtrack because he makes noise from the moment he wakes til the moment he falls asleep, which you can imagine is real special for his introverted mother and father. His teacher is very musical and makes up songs for everything. He’s learning at an unbelievable speed, and navigating how to interact with other kids his age. The social and emotional skills we’re trying to teach at home are being reinforced at school (by someone who isn’t his mom and dad), so that’s incredible, too. We’ve been so happy with his school and it’s all pretty adorable (he has a Christmas production next week which may put me over the edge, y’all). Jude is all about dinosaurs and we both have more knowledge about dinosaurs than I ever cared to know. He is pretty obsessed with Frozen and tells me I look so beautiful like Elsa anytime I braid my hair. He’s the perfect combination of silly and sweet; we love watching him grow.


Ryan is still at Compassion International. His work has had some changes this year, but he’s still loving it. Mostly the people he works with. He’s made some of the best of friends in his workplace, which is a huge gift. We are very aware that is not the case for a lot of people, and we’re thankful for amazing work friends. Ryan turned 35 in September, and my younger brother flew in to surprise him. I also planned a surprise Hot Ones birthday party, which was a blast. I watched Ryan eat stupidly hot wings and try to answer questions about himself. It was fantastic. We really lived up our birthdays this year.


I’m still teaching fitness classes at VillaSport, and couldn’t have asked for a better place to teach. This year I’ve worked through three new certifications, and two CECs (re-upping existing certs). It’s been so busy and I may be a little bit out of my mind, but I just love it so much, I can’t stop myself. #someonehelp. #actuallydont. Shout out to Ryan who cheers me on and takes on extra load on the weekends I’m in training and the hours spent studying this year!

Wanna see me do 100 burpees? Watch below.

Oh, almost forgot about our house. Since our life is totally boring and we have nothing to do, we have continued to renovate our home. To our utter delight (sarcasm) our downstairs bathroom flooded with gray water over the summer. We had to move out because we just couldn’t handle the smell. We stayed at a generous friend’s house for 2 weeks, and then a hotel for another week while our bathroom was demoed and the gray water was neutralized. At least we got a remodel out of it? I got to design the bathroom from scratch, and it’s weirdly now my favorite space in the house aesthetically.

I think that’s enough excitement for one year. We’re already looking forward to 2020 with open eyes (pun) and arms, just hoping it holds a few less surprises for our family. But, like I said at the top, everything this year, the good and the bad, has kept us at the feet of our God. So, I would call that a successful year. ;)

As you walk, sprint, or stumble into 2020, shall we all take a moment to stop and savor His goodness? Pause, take in a big, refreshing breath, an even more healing exhale, and whisper a word of thanks; an acknowledgement of the power and peace that holds you so delicately whole. You are such a gift to our family. For many of you, we wish we were closer. For many, we wish we had more minutes in the day to spend with you. For all, we cherish the gift of your life and friendship, and we wish you the very best as you look expectantly forward to the new year. May you be blessed with keen awareness of God’s presence in your life and be filled with overflowing joy.

Much love to you and yours,
The Butterfrases
(Ryan, Tiffany, Jude, Jake)