Happy holidays, family and friends!
We hope this letter greets you with joy and warm wishes. Reflecting on each year has been a great way to look back and remember all the change, progress, and movement that has occurred in our lives, as well as what has remained consistent and steady. So much to be thankful for, and we are glad to be able to share it all with you.
It has now been a full year of living in our KC home, and as it usually goes, that feels both quick and like a lifetime. We’ve learned lots about living in an old house, and Ryan has more gray hairs in his beard because of it! But our home truly feels like home, and we’ve had the joy and pleasure of hosting a bunch throughout the year, which has been our main goal in choosing a house from the beginning. From casual gatherings, to out of state visitors, to hosting a Stranger Things Halloween party, our home has served as the best landing space and place of rest for us and for our friends.
We’ve fully embraced living in Kansas City, and have found so much celebration of the amazing cultures packed into this midwest city. KC supports small businesses better than most any other city I’ve seen! We’ve attended so many festivals, small business pop ups, grand openings and business anniversaries, and events that celebrate inclusivity and have helped us learn about our own and other heritages and cultures around us. I love how KC lifts each other up and supports its own! While there is of course still so much division, the efforts I’m seeing for diversity and inclusivity have been such a gift.
In July, Ryan changed companies back from Compassion International to Living Water International! He’s working again with his old colleagues, and some new ones, and is able to work from home. This has been such a wonderful switch, and a great challenge for him, as he is now the Manager of IT Support at LWI. He had kept in contact with his old work mates, so they were able to pick right back up. He’s implementing some changes to processes and hoping to help improve systems for IT and LWI as a whole, and of course, enjoying the time he gets to spend with his team. He’s visited Houston a few times since the transition; once for onboarding, then again a few weeks later, and then for a staff building retreat he was able to attend with everyone. It’s a plus that when he visits, he also gets to spend some time with his family, who are all in Houston.
I’m still teaching group exercise classes at Woodside, and have been keeping busy! I teach several times a week, and sub for others when I am able. This has been a wonderful company to work for, and my boss is so great about recognizing his team’s efforts and making sure we feel appreciated. We’re in the middle of a huge renovation that is supposed to be completed in the new year. I cannot WAIT to explore all the new toys and spaces we will have, and be able to bring more of that fun to my classes.
In August, I attended Les Mills LIVE for the first time in NOLA with my friend, Maria. It was an amazing time working out with thousands of others (600+ in a room), all with the same passion and high energy. We worked out way too much in a 24 hour time period, but had the time of our lives, and even got to explore New Orleans a bit afterward!
Jude will be 7 in January, and is in the first grade. He told me at the end of Kindergarten that he’s pretty sure he’s learned everything he needs, and is done with school. If the kid only knew he’s at the very beginning of his learning journey! Overall, he’s enjoying school, and especially looks forward to drawing Pokemon characters with a friend seated in his desk group. He seems to have a knack for math, and his teacher is helping to give him more math challenges along the way. He also loves drawing, playing board and video games, and has developed a recent interest in collecting Pokemon cards. Jude is a super sweet kid, and loves playing with his brother and his cousins!
Photos by Angelique Humcke
Jake turned 4 in September, and continues to be our firecracker. He is the best helper, and volunteers to assist in all the chores. He loves working with his hands: cleaning, cooking, taking out the trash, he’s your guy. He looks up to Jude, and finds interest in all the things Jude is into, so Pokemon is a big thing in our house right now. Unlike his brother, he loves to snuggle, and always wants to be close to Ryan and me. Jake never stops moving, even when he sleeps, and loves being out and about, no matter what we’re doing! He enjoys working through “school” which includes lots of tracing and practicing lines and shapes. He also enjoys drawing, and the two boys together come up with lots of hilarious creations. He’s fiery and affectionate, and loves an adventure.
One of the joys from this year is that my younger brother moved back to KC from Florida! We have loved having him close. Christian and Ryan have bonded this year especially over their love for comics. They started dabbling with just collecting in early spring, and a few months later managed to start their own company, buying and selling comics! You can check them out at BeskarBooks.com. You can also follow them on Instagram @beskarbooks and Facebook at /beskarbooks. They have an Etsy store, and they’ve also been setting up booths at local comic cons. My other brother, Jonathan, and sister-in-law, Christina just created a new logo and entire marketing brand for them, too. If anyone needs some visual art work done, they are fantastic and insanely creative and talented.
Although we haven’t been able to travel as much this year, we did a bit in the summer. After I went to NOLA, I met Ryan and the boys back in Houston, and we got to spend some time there for my birthday. The trip, though, wasn’t supposed to last quite as long. A dear friend and mentor of mine from my time in Houston passed away over the summer, and the memorial service ended up being later that week. So, we decided to extend our trip so that I could attend. This passing was such a hard mix of emotions for many of us, as Donna was what most would call the face of health and fitness. She believed the best in everyone, and was the one to push me toward furthering my career in the fitness industry, helped me calm my doubts, and believe that I could help people and make a difference in their lives. She was so full of joy every day, and we honor her life by remembering who she was, and that she lived so fully while she was here, not wasting a moment. May we do the same.
One thing I’ve learned this year is that life contains both joy and sorrow, sometimes in the same day, and living well is learning how to exist with them both. Sometimes we feel like only one can be welcome at a time, but truly living means feeling it all, and letting it all have its space. It’s ok to both laugh and cry in the same space, to be angry, confused, and hopeful, to reserve space for all of it. This year has contained a lot of that, and I’m learning what it looks like to allow myself to just be in those moments. There’s a lot more to that, but I think I’ll leave it there for now. :)
My hope and prayer for you this year is that you feel free and welcome where you are to acknowledge and feel what needs to be given space to exist. I hope that you have freedom to laugh hard and cry deeply, and that you feel safe in those places. My wish is that we learn how to give ourselves and each other what we need to embrace everything life brings.
This season, as a Christian, I celebrate Immanuel, which means God with us. This is a profound idea because before Jesus, God was not accessible to humans, and only certain people following certain protocols could be with him. Jesus being Immanuel means that a once distant God can now be closer than a friend. This year, I’ve had a lot of highs and lows working through my own faith and simply being ok in spaces that have caused a lot of long-term damage to me personally. So if you’re not in a space where the idea of Immanuel brings you comfort or peace, I get it, and that’s ok. My hope is that wherever you find yourself this season, you can find peace, comfort, belonging, and safety there. I hope that you can be fully who you are, and fully feel all the complexities of things life brings to you. You are here, and that is enough. I’m so glad that I get to know you and share life with you.
Merriest wishes to you and yours!