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Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Letter 2011

I love this time of year: Christmas letter writing season. It’s an opportunity for me to reflect on the year that has been in our family’s life. In looking back at this year, I’m not sure I have adequate words to voice the beautiful year it has been. Once again God has been faithful to our family and has poured out rich blessings into our lives and we are so graciously thankful that we are able to share them with our dear family and friends.

Highlight of 2011

Early in January our plans for 2011 took a drastic shift. Our anticipation of a baby in May was dashed with news of our miscarriage. This was a season of sorrow and loss for us, but also, a season of growth in our relationship with one another and those that surrounded us in support. We learned much about the limits of human-planning and were well embraced by God’s love. During this time I learned of God’s desire to bless His followers and of His faithfulness, even in times of loss and then of waiting. And now we rejoice with expectant hearts for the arrival of our baby in March! We are so thankful for this gracious gift.

Family

Our year has been filled with much celebration with family. Early January travels brought us to Maui with my family where we watched Rachael (our niece) delight in digging in the sand and Isaiah (our nephew) beam that the ocean is his favorite color: blue! Three weeks after returning from Hawaii we were off to Florida to spend a week at Ryan’s parents’. This year in Florida we made no plans and used the time as a much needed simple time of warmth and relaxation. It is always nice to enjoy simple pleasures such as swimming outside in February, running in shorts and tank-top, shopping, and visiting.

It had been a year and a half since we first introduced my parents to our new home of Chilliwack, so it was a much welcomed visit when my parents arrived in April for Easter. We enjoyed a lovely Easter dinner together with both sets of our parents graciously hosted by Ryan’s mom. Also, my dad’s favorite sport was always baseball, so I wanted to take him to a Major League Baseball game in Seattle as a Father’s Day present; we all enjoyed an exciting game (though not in favor of the Seattle Mariners)! We also visited some of our favorite local spots including the Othello tunnels and Bridal Falls.

Our July long weekend was spent at my sister’s place in Okotoks where we were able to spend lots of time with the ever growing Isaiah and Rachael. My close friend Rahimay and her husband, Joseph, also drove out from Calgary to have dinner together and a marshmallow roast one evening. This was all just a “bonus” since the primary reason for the trip was the celebration of Ryan’s cousin’s wedding in Carstairs where we were able to connect with family we hadn’t seen for a while. Shortly upon our return we were off to meet my family at Revelstoke at the Noah’s Ark “Resort” for a second year in a row. It was a long drive for a quick trip, but we were beaming with the exciting news of being pregnant!

August was Saskatchewan month. Ryan and I decided to make our trip home, a road trip. We stopped en route for a night in Okotoks before continuing to Swift Current where the highlight was celebrating Mom’s 60th birthday. We organized a BBQ in the park with lots of family in attendance and had a wonderful time catching up with relatives we hadn’t seen for a year. The road trip continued as we headed to Palliser Beach at Diefenbaker lake to meet up with Brad and Ashley. We had a brief visit with Ryan’s Uncle Darryl and Auntie Shelley in Herbert before settling in at Ashley’s parents’ cabin at the lake. The weather was terrific and the guys wakeboarded all day long as us pregnant wives cheered them on from the boat. Next stop: Saskatoon. We enjoyed catching up with Ryan’s family and some friends before making our way back to Chilliwack.

August also brought the arrival of Josiah William into the Rostek family, born to Ryan’s brother & sister-in-law Josh & Cassie. Ryan’s parents celebrated their first grandchild and we have enjoyed being able to watch him grow from 1 day old, since they live so close by.

Friendship

This year has also been filled with numerous wonderful times with friends. We spent the first weekend in March in Whistler with a group of friends including our friend Brad who flew out to join us. The girls cross country skied while the guys hit the slopes to snowboard and in the evening we cozied up in our rustic cabin for dinner and games.

In March I had the pleasure of a visit from my good friend, Erin, from Saskatoon who was celebrating the completion of her PhD. We soaked all our worries from the previous months away with a visit to the Harrison Hot Springs Hotel, made a trip to the outlet mall near Seattle and hiked the classic Chilliwack hike: Teapot.

Our summer was rounded out by numerous activities with Chris and Vicky. We hiked some classic Chilliwack area hikes (Lindeman, Elk, and Sumas mountain) topping off the season on September long weekend with a getaway to Squamish including hiking The Chief. This is one of the most spectacular hikes we have done so far with dramatic views of the area and sheer drops that had me cautioning Ryan not to get too close. Our only camping trip of the summer included white water rafting down the Thompson River by Lytton, BC in July; a fun trip not too far from home! Now as I wrap up writing our Christmas letter, it is one week away from Christmas and we are enjoying the company of Chris and Vicky in Whistler. The snow is melting outside, but the guys are still snowboarding and Vicky and I hit the downhill tube park for some excitement since the cross country trails are too sloppy.

We have also enjoyed watching our friends’ families expand and continue to pray with those friends who desire the joy of children. Of particular note, we were able to meet Raymond, Brad and Ashley’s little guy, as they stopped en route to California in November. Of course, 2 month old baby Ray was adorable and we appreciated his visit as the next one may be a long time coming.

Other Highlights

It was wonderful to open up our home to both Erin and my parents this spring and they politely accepted that our toilet situation was a little strange. You see, Ryan initiated his operation toilet train Fritz. You can ask Ryan about all the details of his successful cat toilet training, but suffice it to say that our visitors were okay to share a toilet with us while Fritz monopolized his own during training. It is now lovely that we are litter-box free and we have a toilet with auto flush so Fritz can do his business with no clean-up required. Indeed, this is one of Ryan’s biggest accomplishments of 2011!

One of my biggest accomplishments of 2011 was completing my first half-marathon at the Run for Water in Abbotsford on May 29. I knew this was a goal I wanted to accomplish soon, but with a knee set-back in December I was unsure when I would be able to. With support from my awesome running partner Sarah, massages, and chiropractor visits I was in great shape and completed it in 2 hours 47 seconds! Ryan also ran in the 10Km run at this event, so it was fun to be able to participate in this “together”.

In May we officially solidified our commitment to our church by becoming members of Central Community Church here in Chilliwack. It is great to have made Chilliwack home, and great to have the support of and be a support to a fabulous church. If you are interested our video testimonies can be viewed at http://vimeo.com/23182704

We have both been blessed with great work opportunities in the past 2 years, and in June we were both able to enjoy new “positions” with work. After much hesitation to apply for the position, I finally applied for and became Pharmacy Manager of the Pharmacy at Walmart. I have enjoyed the position more than I even thought I would and though my work days are busier it has also increased my work satisfaction. Ryan and his friend Nate created Persona Blinds here in the Fraser Valley (personablinds.ca), an offshoot company of The Blind Factory in Saskatoon. At first it was a lot more “work” than Ryan was used to on a daily basis, but the business is really taking shape these days and holds an exciting future.

The Last Hoorah

With summer wrapped up we began to plan for what we called “Our last Hoorah.”: our last vacation just the 2 of us. We love Hawaii and had wanted to see the island of Kauai, so that decided our destination. We celebrated my 30th birthday with an Aloha party (aloha--goodbye--20’s, aloha--hello--30’s) and were off the next weekend to one of our best holiday’s yet. Everything about our Kauai vacation was spectacular: our beach front room in our hotel, the complimentary daily buffet breakfast, our adventures all over the island (exploring various beaches, hiking in the canyon, river kayaking, hiking in mud to a waterfall, taking a catamaran ride along the secluded Napali coast, snorkeling) the lovely warmth of Hawaii sunshine, and an opportunity to really connect as a couple and get excited about the upcoming changes in our life.

Indeed this year has been full of so many good things. I too easily forget what we have been given and despite trying to keep this letter as succinct as possible the blessings of this year are too numerous to limit to a page or even two. We thank you all for sharing in our lives and welcome a new year and a new horizon of opportunity.

This Christmas we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us, and we pray that each one of you would be able to experience the LIFE that having God with you brings.

Merry Christmas with love from

Ryan & Cheryl & “bump”

Fritz

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rediscovering Passion

Yesterday morning I had a mini epiphany. I was drinking my tea thinking about the prior day, enjoying a few moments of relaxation before heading to work for 8AM. Work these days has felt just like that: work. I find myself daydreaming of being back in Kauai, I struggle with having a good attitude about going to work ready to work, I have to push myself not just to coast as much as possible, and I’ve glanced at the clock to count down the hours numerous times when that’s not usually a habit of mine. So I am trying to have a good attitude about work, but it is hard and I feel tired from the culmination of being busy beyond the hours of my full time job.

So yesterday in my brief moments before I headed out the door a conversation from my previous work day played through my head. One of our regular patients told me she was glad I keep working at our pharmacy. My reply was an unhesitated “of course!”. We had a lovely conversation in which she voiced her appreciation of me and the service I provide to her at work. We further spoke of family and the anticipation of my own. It wasn’t until nearly a day later that I realized the significance of how she phrased her words and how I quickly replied. She was glad I continue to work at Walmart pharmacy in Chilliwack. You see as of late I ask myself sometimes why I keep working. But ‘of course’ the reason is my opportunity to serve well and interact with people so special like Mrs. D. I feel like God used this woman’s words to encourage me in my work and remind me of the opportunities my job affords me.

This interaction with my patient makes me think of what’s been on my mind and heart lately. My heart has been pulled with compassion for the elderly. This is a demographic I have long been fond of, but I have been so busy lately that I haven’t made opportunity to focus on this passion. I strongly believe in the great value of elderly individuals and fully acknowledge that our society is structured to view them as inconveniences. The result is that if an elderly person does not have a strong advocate who can navigate our fast-paced, information overloaded society well, their needs are neglected and their quality of life is diminished. There are so many elderly individuals who need stand-in advocates for them, or simply need a friend to share company with. So what is the answer? It’s a big question, but I know what my answer can be. Befriend one senior at a time. You see, one of my dearest friends of my lifetime was an elderly, blind woman who has impacted my life immeasurably. I am rediscovering my passion, and isn’t that what life is all about? As I’ve read through the scripture this past year, verses that remind us to care for the poor, love the underprivileged, have bothered me. Because I ask, what am I doing? But these verses mention a wide group of people: poor, homeless, widows, disadvantaged and neglected. I am starting to see what these verses are spurring me to do. Love my elders, and find even just one person who needs some extra love and dish it out.

(Thank you mom for fostering a love of seniors in my heart and for teaching me through your words and actions compassion that is both practical and meaningful. The older I get the more I see I have much yet to learn from you, mom. Love you!)