Christmas Letter 2017
(photos to follow at some point)
Luke 1:37  The angel answered [Mary] “…For nothing is impossible with God.”
What a year it has been!  It’s truly amazing what has happened this past year from January until December.  Life this year has been rich, beautiful, exhausting, terrifying, exciting, and incredibly BLESSED.  I am entering into Christmas this year with the wonder and excitement of a child!  I am buying gifts joyfully, anticipating Christmas morning with the same thrill as my 5 year old.  And at the heart of Christmas, I am uncovering more of just who Jesus is and why celebrating his birth is so spectacular! God has given an abundance of gifts to our family this year.  Let me share them with you.  (It’s been a long and BIG year, hence you get a long and BIG letter!)
The beginning of this year was difficult, a roller coaster, and felt kind of like slugging through chest deep mud.  I completed my radiation treatments mid January, continuing with 6 more monthly cycles of the chemotherapy I had been taking alongside the radiation.  The fatigue from these treatments was very challenging.  I encountered tired on so many different levels and was at the same time processing the emotional implications of my diagnosis.  All the while, our family continued to be ever so demanding.  Praise God for our nanny Stefanie, who came on board 4 full days a week at the beginning of the year and continues to be a Godsend and complete answer to prayer in our lives!
I started having weekly Tuesday dates (usually to starbucks) with Rayna which delighted both of us.  I felt like I was having some “catch-up” on quality time with her that had been non-existent since the twins were born.
Moreover, with the support of Ryan’s parents, Ryan and I were also able to take a couple lovely mini getaways to Harrison Hot Springs early in the year.
Furthermore, in February our family traveled with Ryan’s mom and Ryan’s Brother, his wife and their 2 young kids to Oceanside California.  Oceansidewas absolutely lovely even though the weather was cool.  I was too exhausted to properly enjoy this trip; but the kids had fantastic cousins time together and looking at the photos today, I want to go back!
In March we watched our 4 year old Rayna turn into a beautiful (sometimes a bit sassy) 5 year old, seemingly overnight.  It was a delight to celebrate her birthday with her friends, with extended family, and with our second annual Mom, Dad and Rayna birthday lunch at Cactus Club!
Through out the year we graciously welcomed my parents (Mom and Dad came for 3 weeks over Easter; and Mom came for 3 weeks in October).  We also had our dear friends Brad and Ashley visit in Feb, and my cousin, Amy visit from Winnipegin May.
Ryan continues to participate in pickleball tournaments whenever possible.  Though more challenging to leave for a few days at a time, he was able to participate in a major US tournament in Washington Stateand the Canadian National Tournament in Kelowna, BC as well he continues to organize and host local Chilliwack tournaments alongside his Dad through out the year.  With the help of my gracious Mother in law, Ryan has been free to continue pursing this passion!  And he further received the coveted 5.0 (highest-caliber) status this year! 
As spring was rolling into summer a favorite family time was hiking our local Flood Falls.  We also went to Harrison Hot Springs for a couple nights in June with Ryan’s family. Then, in July, the splash-park across the street from our place became essentially our backyard!
In July I completed my chemo treatments and off we launched our monumental and epic nearly 4 week summer vacation!  You can read my blog-post about our Summer Vacation for details; but it was superb!  Shuswaps with friends, to reconnecting with Saskatchewanand Alberta family and friends, to a week at camp Oshkidee!  A huge thank you to everyone who made this trip extra special for us.  I have tears of endearment for all the work you friends and family put in to making this a memorable, cherished memory.
Summer was also punctuated by the delights of Cultus Lake.  We enjoyed the Waterslides and the Adventure Park as well as swimming in the lake!
September brought 3 majors changes: firstly, I was figuring out what a “new normal” looked like for me.  Secondly, Rayna entered Kindergarten at a school within walking distance from our home.  These changes have proved to be delightful as Rayna LOVES school and I am finding my new rhythm filling my days; I enjoy bringing Rayna to and from school.  Furthermore, writing has become my “day job”.  I am working towards completing my novel I started years ago, I have a goal to write out my story when my first draft of my novel is finished, and I’m keeping up with blogging.  All the while it has become so important for me to maintain, build and start the valuable relationships which keep me full of hope, inspiration and life! Thirdly, Ryan hired our friend, Crystal, to begin selling blinds for his business, hence launching The Chilliwack Blind Factory (   
This past year has opened up joyous delights for Ryan and I of time spent together as husband and wife, falling in love all over again!  We celebrated our 15 year wedding anniversary this year in June.  This anniversary plus my 1-year Survivor anniversary sparked a trip for Ryan and I to VEGAS in October!  Though we arrived the day after the devastating shooting, we made necessary hotel changes and were able to enjoy rejuvenating time away.   
In November Ryan helped me arrange a getaway to Canmore to visit with my Mom and Sister.  This was a restorative, heart-filling, casual time of spending time together with actually having opportunity to talk (no kids!) and relax together.  It was simply lovely!

Two highlights of Dec this far include our family being featured in our Neighborhood magazine as well an opportunity for me to speak at a ladies’ Christmas brunch and share my story.

Now as we head well into December and look back it is incredible to see the growth in the kids!  The twins turned 2 in October and from that point life is slowly, but steadily becoming more manageable.  Garrett is developing into quite the sweet and active boy; usually smiling and on the  move!  Allison continues to both love snuggles and to assert her spunky personality. It is delightful (and exhausting) to watch and facilitate their development!

We began this year with weekends being, honestly, dreadful, to arriving at a place where weekends are filled with opportunity for family fun time!  As expected, there never seems to be enough time in the days for everything we want to accomplish; but we have reached a place of much thriving, rather than simply (barely) surviving.  Praise God!  And thank you to everyone who has continued to support us in prayer, meals, visits, phone calls.  We particularly appreciate our mothers who have worked so hard to keep life going for us!  We love you, moms!  We celebrate YOU all who have empowered us to thrive!!!
Most of all, Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ!  We adore you.  We celebrate you and celebrate everything you have done for us in 2017.  We welcome you this season and we anticipate you to do good, big and bold things in 2018.
Merry Christmas!  We love you!!!

Love Ryan & Cheryl, Rayna (5 years old), Garrett and Allison (2 years old)  Rostek