Friday, December 20, 2013

You've Got Mail: 2013 Christmas Card and Letter



Happy Holidays from the Herringtons!!!

Hello, dear friends! You might want to get comfy. I’m not usually this wordy, but I have so much I wanted to share! Okay, who am I kidding? I’m always this wordy. I love to write and to share stories and this is my once a year chance with many of you!

I can’t believe how fast this year has flown by and all that’s happened over the course of it. In one way, this year hasn’t contained as many milestones as previous ones (it seems like for a bit we were Getting Married! Announcing a Pregnancy! Having a Baby! Announcing Another Pregnancy! Having Another Baby!). The year has, in many ways, been quieter. I’ve been reflecting on that some.

I started the first of the year in a different way last January. Instead of resolutions, I made a list of basic priorities that I wanted my days to reflect (time spent serving sacrificially, mothering intentionally, playing outside frequently, and writing vulnerably, to name a few). For a gal who operates better with concrete goals, this was hard for me. But it was so good. I coined them “resolutions wrapped in grace” because I knew I would fall short many times. And, during those those Spring months, I did. But it was great to have an (albeit blurry) picture of what I wanted our days to look like. It was certainly a time of growth.

Our Summer was amazing. It was full of love and life and beauty and we lived at exactly the pace I was comfortable with. It may well have been the most relaxed season I’ve experienced since having children. I was aware, even then, what a precious gift those days were because I knew we were about to move into a more busy season, and to be blunt, a more stressful one. I considered it an extended Sabbath and it refreshed and rejuvenated the way a Sabbath should.

This Fall, we added back in activities, but I felt like Peyton and I made decisions more deliberately- we didn’t do every single thing every single time there was an invitation or an opportunity. We almost always chose relationally, we chose mostly intentionally, and sometimes we chose sacrificially. And I believe we chose well.

So much has happened these last few months. Again, not big, grandiose things like adding an additional family member, but little ways I’ve watched the four of us grow.

It has been a wonderful time in our marriage. I think that, more than ever, we sought to understand each other’s needs and desires and we both tired to sacrifice some of our own comfort for the other person. It took us a couple of years to really learn one another’s ways (which was sometimes challenging as we were learning to be a husband and wife at the same time we were learning to be a papa and a momma) but the last few have been delightful. After the five year mark though this Summer, we’ve found ourselves in an especially sweet season. I’ve come to better understand Peyton’s need for adventure and for a life not ordinary and I think a TINY bit of that has rubbed off on me. And he’s come to better understand the things that nourish my soul and help me in the hard places.

Ann Peyton, our now four year old, has this amazing, ever increasing pool of knowledge that she draws from during conversations. I know every parent probably feels this way, but it’s exciting to me to hear all that she’s learned and watch her turn it over and make connections and puzzle piece it all together in her little mind. The things that is even more exciting than watching a repertoire of facts inside her tiny head grow is watching her hunger for knowledge grow. I was an inquisitive child myself, and while it’s exhausting being a small person’s primary encyclopedia, I love being on this side of the exchange. Finally, I’m the answer giver, instead of the question beggar and it’s enchanting. With increasing frequency I end up telling her “momma will have to look that up for you”. It’s been an exciting year, too, as I’ve watched her make strides in things that are difficult for her (for example, writing the  letters of the alphabet) and I’ve watched her gain confidence in an incredible way.

As much as I’ve loved watching these processes with Annie, I’ve equally loved watching our two year old, “Baby Graves“, gradually grow into a little boy. I’m thankful that, well into this third year of life, he still clings to a lot of baby things (his blanket, paci, stuffed animals). He loves to be rocked still and that provides me, I think, with as much comfort as it does him. At the same time, he’s changing so much. Most notable are his verbal skills. I’m still amazed, often, by the things he says. This has been a wonderful season as far as learning about him socially and emotionally, too. He’s such an affectionate child, so even tempered and happy and pleasant. It seems like, as other children hit two and become obstinate and irritable (heaven knows his sister did!) he grows increasingly amicable and easy to please. And he truly want to please us, too. With words have come a lot less frustration for him (and for us). We’re letting him do things in his own timing (the paci and potty training, for example) and that seems to work for him. I will say that I’m thankful for this easy nature he seems to have, not only because it’s a bit foreign to me, but because it counteracts my tendency to get frustrated with his lack of impulse control and extreme busyness and desire to break, stain, tear up, or otherwise destroy anything that could possibly be broken, stained, torn up, or otherwise destroyed. Honestly, I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve been able to take his boyish behavior in stride. It seems so unnatural for me and I credit it (aside form the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, which I do, in all seriousness, credit it mostly) to his own easy, laid back nature.

One big event, if there was a big event this Fall, was visiting New York City. Some way, some how, my eyes were opened and I saw the city afresh. The people and their stories, the amazing conglomeration of cultures, even the grit and grime, became a thing of beauty. I’m still clinging to my happy memories of the sun drenched pavement of a city that, during the bitterness of December, I’m often very much terrified of.

Which brings me up to present day. By the time this letter hits your mailbox, our family will be weeks away from our transplant to the big city. I still often can’t believe we’re doing it! It’s forever (well, since I’ve known him which has been around a decade- you know, a third of my life!) been a dream of Peyton’s to live in New York and while we always knew it would be temporary, it’s something we’ve known all along would be a part of our family’s stor at some point. Years ago, when we only friends (the closest of friends, though) I remember laying under the stars in my parent’s backyard and talking about our greatest dreams in life. One of my biggest was  having a family (I never imagined he’d be part of that reality) and staying at home with my children and one of Peyton’s huge ones was living in the Big Apple. It gives me chills to think that we’re here, ten years later, combing the two. I never would have thought that my best friend and I would play such a huge part in each other’s dreams and adventures, let alone as husband and wife (and as a papa and a momma to those two blessings that I REALLY never could have imagined).                  

The hardest part of leaving is not the uncertainty of the things there (though that is scary!), but all that we’re leaving behind, namely really wonderful, faithful communities. The little home school program Ann Peyton attended twice a week is so close to my heart and at Walgreens Peyton has had an amazing team of coworkers that he‘s loved. Our church has changed and flourished so much in the last six months and we’ve watched the Spirit move in ways we’ve prayed about for years. We have so many other cherished friend here, too,. And I can’t even write about leaving our families without doing the ugly cry. I’ve never lived more than thirty miles away from my parents for any real length of time and I’ve never parented without huge amounts of tangible support. BUT, I know New York is a big part of the story God is writing for the four of us…and in some small way, the world.

I’m so thankful for all the big and little joys the Lord has brought our way this year and I’m very excitedly, VERY nervously, awaiting what he has in store for the four of us in the city!

Biggest blessings to you and yours!
Sarah Denley (and Peyton, Ann Peyton, and Graves)


2009 Card and Letter
2010 Card and Letter
2011 Card and Letter 

2012 Card and Letter


1 comment:

Courtney said...

Beautiful card and letter. Merry Christmas to you and your family. I know you will be soaking up all the moments of the season before your big move.