I had a very telling conversation with a cousin of mine this year that has stuck with me in the months since then. In the world of Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter, we are constantly seeing everyone else’s highlight reel, as it were, while we are living our own blooper reel. It can often make one feel alone in our suffering, sad emotions, or in life’s difficulties. I’m not going to lie: this past year has been incredibly difficult for our family with immense sadness, disappointment, pain and loss. You take the time to grieve, to weep and eventually, to avoid bitterness and cynicism, you have to heal (perhaps a scar remaining) and Let It Go. Relationships take risk, but they can also be the most rewarding things for us this side of Heaven and if we had a Frozen Heart, we would miss out on these huge blessings. We have several blessings in our life for which we are incredibly thankful:
1. Our jobs, community and church family surrounding us. We are blessed to work with amazing people who push us to be better teachers every day. Our Bible study group has stood by us through all of this past year and more, praying, and sometimes crying, with us as we mourn and wrestle with the tasks set before us. I firmly believe that we have the most loyal and loving friends anyone could ask for. (Reindeers Are (Not) Better Than People!)
2. Our family. We have had the amazing blessing to gather with both sides of our family more times than is normal this year for happy and sad occasions. No matter the type of gathering, we have always laughed till our sides ached as we’ve honored lives lost or celebrated just being together.
3. Adelaide. Even in the midst of intense sadness, we have video proof that Laidy keeps us laughing. She is incredibly smart & verbal (as our first parent teacher conferences as parents would attest), compassionate, and downright funny. I swear, some of our conversations could be Abbott & Costello skits! She has her parents’ stubbornness and social-butterfly tendencies in equal proportion and always has a song in her heart and on her tongue. The soundtrack of our life is sometimes a mash-up of “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, ABCs, and ‘Jesus Loves Me”. She is constantly reminding me how to approach God with a child-like heart as her understanding of Christ & prayer grows.
4. Our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ. If you are a praying person, we covet your prayers for a happier, more celebratory 2016 than the past 14 months. We can say that the deaths we have encountered in the past year don’t have the same sting because we know we will see our loved ones again. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55) Christ does not promise us a life void of heartache or pain. On the contrary, “In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world and I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt 28) We can rest assured that this sadness is not void of purpose-He will use it for good (1 Peter 1:6-9). If nothing else, we can comfort others with the comfort we have received from Him & those He has brought into our lives. While sometimes, I have felt very much alone (how can anyone understand exactly how another feels?) He is always with us, hears our unspoken prayers, collects our tears, and knows our heart’s desires. His Love Is An Open Door, truly.
And in case you just want the bullet points of our past year in no particular order:
Ø Gerard is entering his 11th year of teaching with an MA and now, “+15” status under his belt. He decided to bite the (really big) bullet and take 13 grad credits this summer. He starts this year as Head Vocal Director at Norwalk High School and is thoroughly enjoying the new demands with a fantastic Assistant Director working with him.
Ø Carrie is entering her 9th year of teaching with a load larger than any previous year (pretty much doubled since her first year at Norwalk 8 years ago!). Her photography business is booming and now booking well into the spring and summer of 2016. (www.carriekrupke.com)
Ø Adelaide is becoming quite the seasoned traveler, taking family trips to Nashville twice to visit Gerard’s side of the family, Utah to see Carrie’s sister and her children, California to see Oma + Papapa for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Kansas City to visit Gerard’s high school friends and their children and the Quad Cities to see Grandma + Grandpa on a few occasions. She cried when her snowman melted because she could not longer ask, “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman?” But, we saw Papapa several times In Summer, introducing him to the Des Moines Science Center while Carrie tried to keep his piano skills alive. She also enjoyed swim lessons this summer and eventually conquered the fear of putting her face in the water to blow bubbles. This swimmer-Mama was beaming with pride the whole time. Meanwhile, Gerard is waiting anxiously to introduce her to proper Frisbee technique.
Ø We celebrated our 8th anniversary with a concert at the Grand Ole Opry on one of our trips to Nashville. Not the country music fan, For the First Time in Forever, Gerard actually found himself in awe of the talent we listened to on stage.
Ø Marriage is a constant Fixer Upper, so we’ve been more intentional in pursuing each other. We’ve had wonderful dates to hear Drake Univ. concerts, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” NPR News Quiz recording at the Civic Center, explored different parts of Des Moines & West Des Moines shops/restaurants or we cave and just do a Target run or toss a Frisbee at a park.
Ø We honored Laidy’s love of all things ‘Frozen’. Ella (our dog) donned jingle bells for 2 minutes in her attempt to be Sven, while Daddy was Kristoff, Mommy was Anna and Laidy was the most adorable Olaf on the block.
We look forward to a brighter 2016. Sometimes, it’s more encouraging to just be real, instead of trying to look like we have everything together. So, whether your 2015 has been difficult or delightful, we wish you and your’s a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a richly blessed 2016.
We love you and our guest room is always available for visitors,
The Krupkes (Gerard, Carrie, Adelaide...and Ella)
photo cred: Austin Day