January began with a trip to the "snow". Each Christmas for the past decade, we have chosen somewhere to go or something to do that would create memories as a family. The 2020 gift was to have our younger children experience snow in all of its glory. As we headed toward the end of January, we decided we had better make the trek up the mountain, even though it had been a LONG time without snow because the winter season was nearly over and no more snow was predicted. :P
We enjoyed stargazing, seeing the Grand Canyon and ultimately, finding a tiny patch of snow to play in on the shaded side of a mountain. There was a frozen cow pond where we spent lots of time sliding, "skating", and let's be honest, slipping and falling.
While the trip wasn't what we had planned, I think we can all say that it WAS memorable...and we have a real snow trip listed on our "someday we'll do that" list.
Thomas was able to go through the temple before heading into the mission field. Many other missionaries we knew had not been able to go to the temple before leaving, and we understood this was a blessing in many ways.
On February 13th, Stephen and Victoria were married! They had been dating and spending time together before she served her mission, and once she was released, we were able to watch their relationship grow and evolve. We had a wonderful reception that evening to celebrate the beginning of their marriage. They currently live in Chandler, AZ so we have the blessing of seeing them often.
Shortly after Stephen & Toria's wedding, I finally was given a diagnosis as to why my right foot was hurting so badly (and had been since November 2020). I had a partially torn tendon! What a relief it was to finally get an answer that made sense. The goal going forward (and even currently) would be to find ways to help it heal.
Bekah was able to go through the Gila Valley temple in early March. It was a blessing to have both my mom and stepdad there, and also have Thomas be able to go through the temple again a second time before heading to Seattle, WA just 4 days later.
While attending Eastern Arizona College in the Fall of 2020, Bekah met Garret Hunt. They got engaged the same day she went through the temple. At this point in time, our local church buildings were not able to be reserved for wedding receptions, so we made the decision to hold their wedding reception in our backyard. (For some that would have been an easy choice, but we knew that there would be extensive work involved in prepping our backyard for such an event). Nevertheless, we committed and
began some of our projects.
On March 8th, they took their engagement photos.
Thomas left for Seattle on March 9th.
Just a month later, Nathan proposed to Lily Manning when he came home between trimesters at BYU-Idaho. They met in the fall of 2020 in the singles ward. When Nate headed up to BYU-Idaho, Lily supported him through that transition. It quickly became clear that they would be happier together, rather than trying to manage a long-distance relationship...and so, they began planning the 3rd John family wedding in 2021.
Perhaps our largest project in our backyard reception prep was pouring this cement sidewalk AND extending our patio cement out to the back wall. We saw miracles as so many came and helped fill in the gaps of where we didn't know things as well as physically giving so freely of time and effort. If you helped with this or any other part of prepping for this particular reception, we are so immensely grateful for you & your willingness to help us.
We held a "pre-ception" for Bekah and Garret on May 27th. This lighted arch framed the entryway into our backyard. It was the handiwork of Shirell Allen and Emily! They were a fabulous team, and one of my favorite parts of the decorations.
May 28th was wedding day for Mrs. Hunt.
Every one of our sons has to check in to see if they've passed dad up in height. While Sam still had a bit to grow in this picture, he has since passed Pat up and is the second tallest John boy.
Emily and Tyler celebrating her graduation!
Nate & Lily were married on August 7th.
Their reception was that night (church buildings were available again...whew!!!).
It was absolutely beautiful!
This is the closest thing we have to a complete family picture this year.
With Thomas serving his mission and Pat sick enough he missed this wedding,
this picture is both joyful and sad for me to see.
Pat's symptoms pre-wedding were nausea (highly unusual for him) and a low grade fever. We had no reason to be overly concerned...but he couldn't seem to shake it. The week after the wedding, he ended up with pneumonia, and tested for COVID as an afterthought. When the test came back positive, I was both relieved and highly concerned. Pat was kind enough to share it with me, and we both rounded out the rest of August fighting COVID. I have a very serious respect for all those who have fought this disease over the past 18 months, and am deeply sorry for all those who have lost loved ones to it. I pray we may continue to find ways to navigate all of the changes it has brought into our lives.
Labor day weekend, we did a family trip to Flagstaff. We stopped at Montezuma's Castle on the drive up. It was a very quick loop, and fascinating to see how people lived thousands of years ago.
We also made the trek out to Sunset Crater. This geologist was very happy to explain all sorts of rock related things to us during that trip.
My years at NAU were wonderful years of growth for me.
These mountains. <3
One of the "gifts" COVID left me with is an ongoing struggle with energy and mental clarity.
This has been a battle for me...in many ways, and approaching my 50th birthday, I was in a quandary. I had planned for 18 months to do 50 acts of kindness near my birthday and to rally as many people as I could to do as many acts of kindness as they could, thus flooding the world with 50,000 acts of kindness.
I realized by late August, I would have to change my expectations.
SO....I did what I could with the capabilities I had.
Thanks to everyone who joined in this night of service!
It is always good for me to see that we are leaving an impact through how we serve.
This month saw a lot of effort/struggle from both Pat and I in different arenas.
After nine years with CMC, Pat was let go in June of this year. With much prayerful consideration about the path that God would have us on and where He wants us to be, Pat has been working on developing his own Environmental Consulting business (www.azenvcompliance.com). Anyone who has started a business knows there are many challenges that are involved in that growth. We are working on that process together (him doing the grunt work and mostly me just cheering on and supporting him)!
October was also the month I concluded that my encounter with COVID, for whatever reason, has left me with "long-haul" symptoms. Those symptoms feel and manifest very much like an auto-immune flare, which, for me, has led to a lot of discouragement. While the tendon in my foot was able to heal during my downtime, it has felt like everything else has taken a step backward health-wise. My energy is tapped very quickly, and I struggle with mental clarity, especially when I work on the computer or need to talk or interact for more than an hour. I've spent a lot of time thinking about how what I do doesn't create my value or worth, but inherently, I have worth, even if (in my estimation) I am able to do only a fraction of what I would like to be doing.
The best news of this month? Towards the end of October Lily and Nate announced our first grandbaby will be coming in June of 2022!
After many hours over many months, Pat and his friend Ryan Dawson completed
a 102 mile bike ride in the Tour de Tucson on November 20th!
Stephen and Sam went to Dragonsteel Con, in Utah. It was a wonderful couple of days for them where they got to dress up as characters from one of their favorite book series by Brandon Sanderson. They also got to see him and listen to him in a couple of sessions/panels. Sanderson is a family favorite when it comes to writers.
Thomas was recently transferred to a new area where he is training a greenie and has been given
new leadership responsibilities. That makes his third greenie in the 8 months he has been out. It is humbling to see how the Lord challenges each one of us in our circumstances.
We have truly seen Thomas rise to the expectations placed upon him, and his growth is amazing to see.
This is him on Thanksgiving day.
We have had so much exciting news happen within the last couple of weeks. Tyler will be graduating from BYU-Provo this month! His degree is a Bachelor of Media Arts, AND he has already been offered a job in California, working with his first choice game audio studio. We have seen miracles in their lives as they have moved forward with faith. They will be moving right before Christmas.
Bekah & Garret will be re-locating to Tucson this month, and as we talk with our other kids, it's apparent that each of them are on their own journey to follow the Lord and go where He wants them to be. That's not always easy as parents (when it takes them physically farther away), but we continue to trust that God has a plan for them (and for us) that will help shape us into the very best we can be.
This year has been overwhelming in so many ways. So much good has happened. In the same breath, so many challenges have been a part of this year as well. Suffice it to say, 2021 was a year that changed us. And I pray that those changes will refine us and help us become the people God wants us to be.
May this Christmas season bring you peace and joy as you focus on He who sacrificed His life for us.
Sending so much love,
The John Family