Using Stephanie’s seven-thought format, here I go:
1. Christmas was wonderful. I was able to take off nearly 2 weeks. I flew into Atlanta, where Kris picked me up, and we drove down to Florida, with a brief stop for a wonderful dinner and visit with the Gates family. Sitting around Brian and Stephanie’s table (that apparently exists no more) makes me miss living in the South. Or at least living near old friends. I miss being around people who just instantly make me feel at home. And I miss my super cute godson. I mean, look at this kid! Who wouldn’t miss that face?
2. This was the first Christmas Kris and I have spent together. We spent 5 days in Florida, celebrating with my family. On Christmas Eve, we went to Marianna to spend the evening with the Burkes (mom’s side). It was the first time in 5 years every single member of the Burke family was there! What an amazing gift. A lot has happened in five years: Kate and Derek have had two kids, MaryGrace has gotten married and is expecting her first child, Ellen moved to Africa, Bev and Austin moved to Albania, Alison got married, Philip started medschool, Robert started his own buisness, Ben got married, I got engaged. Needless to say, there was much to be celebrated! The two days after Christmas, most of the Hooks family got together. Even though we weren’t all there, it was still a great time, complete with a visit from Grandpa’s brother, Uncle Kenny, and cousins Ken and Louise. It was a special time for the Hooks side as well, as we were able to celebrate the engagement of Arthur and Liz mere hours after the special moment!
<—– Just a few of the Hooks cousins celebrating Arthur and Liz’s engagement!
3. After Florida, Kris and I trekked it back up to Atlanta to spend a few days over New Year’s with his parents. It was a relaxing time, spent watching lots of football and playing with the dogs. I am so thankful that I am marrying into a family that I feel so comfortable with. I enjoy spending time with Kris’ family, and know what a blessing it is to have in-laws that I not only get along with, but love very much.
4. Now I’m back in Seattle. And Kris is here. After 2 1/2 years apart, we are FINALLY in the same city! There are days that I just can’t believe that the distance period of our relationship is finally over! While I wouldn’t change the last 3 years, they haven’t been easy. Yet, they have made us a stronger couple. And I will never take for granted having my man in the same city!
5. Work is going really well. Have I mentioned that I love my job? Because I really really do. And I am excited to be able to finally announce that I have been offered a position at Mary’s Place after my term as a Mission Intern is completed this summer!! I will be the Family Services and Volunteer Coordinator! It will be a nearly-fulltime position (32 hours) at a job that I already know and love. Seriously, how blessed am I?
6. Random fact for the day. In 2009 I read 31 books. Some were amazing. Some, not so much. My favorite of the year? The Help by Katheryn Stockett. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, but particularly to anyone who has roots in the South. It is hard to describe exactly how this book makes me feel except to say that I am glad I live in the time when I do. Least favorite book of the year? Love in the Time of Cholora. Seriously disappointed.
7. My dear friend and mission classmate Abby came to visit last week. I felt so bad because I had to work the entire time she was here, but Abby is a wondering soul who loves to explore, and Seattle is a great city for just wandering around. Though, it is a much better city to wander when it isn’t raining – like it was every day that she was here. I am thankful for the time she was here, and the time we had to share, laugh, eat and remember. I love my mission classmates, and am always thankful for time I get to spend with any one of them.
<—- Miss Huggins and I on a ferry with a very grey Seattle in the background
That’s all for now. Hopefully more updates to follow soon.