Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Kelton Christmas Letter - 2013 (Our Extraordinary Year in Review)

2 months married!

Happy New Year from the newly established Keltons!

It was just our first Christmas season as man and wife and we can hardly believe we've been married for over 6 months already. God's grace has held us so tightly on what's already been an adventure, and we thought we might catch you up a dash through sharing a little online year-in-review Christmas letter.

My sweet baby niece Terra :)
Leah was in the USA, babysitting for my darling new little baby niece Terra, starting my small photography business Whispers of Light Photography, and planning our June 1st wedding!

Charles was in the UK and after having been laid-off from his great job web-developing for The Money Advice Service, he looked for temporary work before he planned to come to the states and ended up working long, long hours at a London McDonalds :( So proud of my humble, handsome man for being willing to do whatever it took!

More wedding planning and more long-distance relationship-ing-- rounded off by my getting to attend the birth of my littlest niece Gracelyn Mae as the birth photographer! What an incredible experience to witness such a miracle!
Miss Gracelyn's first day outside the womb! She was born Feb 24th, 2013.

In March, Charles' closest friends threw him a "Stag Do"-- a British tradition to celebrate the groom before his wedding! They went clay pigeon shooting and out for a nice meal, just the guys :) I got to spend Easter with my family, which has been a novelty these last 8 years studying & working in ministry!
A few of Charles' besties on his Stag-do
Easter 2013
Then finally, April arrived and on the first weekend I hopped on an overnight bus to Chicago to meet my handsome fiance off an airplane with a kiss for the first time in half a year! We spent a wonderful few days with my darling Breyette aunt and uncle and cousins there, and then back up to PR where my Dad promptly gave Charles a cold (it was still blizzard-ing in April this year!) and dirty job feeding calves. Straight from the streets of London to the sheds of the ranch :) At the end of April, my American bridesmaids and personal attendants threw me such a touching bridal shower at my cousin Jackee's beautiful lakeside home and so many of my aunties and cousins made it. I was so blessed to feel everyone was celebrating along with me. I lovedlovedloved being the bride!

Reunited in Chicago after half a year apart!
Working for the future father-in-law on the ranch feeding these constantly hungry little guys-- up to 30 at a time!
Almost all of my aunties made it to my bridal shower :)
My matron-of-honour (my big sis!) and I at my bridal shower
My 3 sweet little nieces who came along to my bridal shower :)
Two of our best friends, Amanda and Jon, and Charles' Mum arrived from England in mid-May! It was surreal to have our best friends over in Minnesota!! They dug right in and helped us tirelessly in the final weeks of preparation for our homespun wedding (like making 300 mini-cheesecakes and 150 party favours), but we also got to have a little fun showing them around my hometown (The Good Life Cafe was very popular, as was Minnesoda Fountain, Dean Park at sunset and Heartland Park at night, Itasca State Park to visit the headwaters of the Mississippi, and Dorset). The last week of May, 2 more of my darling friends from college, Abbie & Paul, arrived! And almost the whole of the rest of Jon's family, The Cannons, arrived-- Charles grew up from the age of 2 as if he were the Cannon's 6th child, so having them with us on our wedding day was absolutely precious. My family quickly took to every one of our English visitors-- Kenan even developed a little crush on "Big Abbie" (which he called her since his sister is also named Abby), until he met someone a little closer to his own age in the Cannon family, 2 year old Chloe, whom he now calls his girlfriend :) As a whole family, we enjoyed playing games with our guests, having a huge bonfire to make room for wedding parking, and sharing a house amongst all 12 of us-- many of us sleeping on the floor! Our whole wedding experience was such a blessing which we are so grateful for, but especially heart-warming was having all of these English guests come all that way to be with us. We cherished every moment of our time with them. Charles and I even had 4 of our dearest friends share a hotel room with us on one night of our honeymoon when we were bringing them down to the airport-- hahahaha!
We bought a car! We call her Doris the Taurus :) She's well-used, but we're grateful!
Having a bonfire with my family and our English friends!
My darling besties from college who came all the way from England to be with me at my wedding!
I love you so much, Miss Manda and Abbie...
Our English/American group at the Headwaters in the week before the wedding!
We started out the month of June 2013 by GETTING MARRIED! We are just so incredibly grateful for the beautiful, meaningful wedding day my parents' gave us. We were surrounded by 110 of our family and dearest friends in my parents' enchanting back garden when we said our vows to one another, feasted, toasted, and danced the night away! Visit my blog post about it here: Our Wedding. They say a picture speaks a thousands words, so feel free to peruse our wedding photo albums and read the story of our day in the captions. My dear friend Jo came over from Sweden to be our photographer!
Check them out--
Part 1: The Dreamy Details
Part 2: Getting Ready to Walk Down the Aisle
Part 3: Sacred Vows on Holy Ground
Part 4: Wedding Party & Family Portraits
Part 5: The Reception & Ceilidh Dance
Part 6: The Bridal Session at Fish Hook River

We spent 2 nights at the beautiful Red Bridge Inn in Park Rapids (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this B&B!) before we headed down to Mpls to bring Charles' Mum and 4 of our English friends to the airport, and after a couple of days enjoying what Mpls had to offer for a honeymoon, we boarded a plane down south to the smothering heat of New Orleans for a week's stay in a timeshare of my grandmother's! What an awesome wedding gift :)
At the famous Cafe De Monde on our New Orleans honeymoon

Visiting an old mansion in the French Quarter
Eating an alligator po'boy!

St. Louis Cathedral at the heart of New Orleans
Upon arriving back in MN, my amazing sister and brother-in-law had prepared their camper for us to spend a few weeks in while looking for work! This mean, we literally camped in Hannah and Joel's yard, and had 4 little darlings knocking on our camper door every morning, so excited that all they had to do was go outside to get to Auntie and Uncle :)

Our nieces and nephews joined us in the camper for a sleep over one night!

We went down to Nebraska at the end of the month for the Fox Family Reunion
We had hoped that we might have found a job for Charles by July... but we ended up spending longer in the camper than we intended! We were so grateful to God for providing enough photography sessions for me to keep us going. And we also enjoyed a quick roadtrip down to Chicago with my Grandma Pearson where we camped out in my Aunt & Uncle's backyard for my twin cousins' graduation party :) We've been so excited to get to make so many fabulous memories with family this year back in the states!!

We were still on the job hunt for Charles and were actually in Fargo/Moorhead visiting my little brother Jonah when we got the call that my Dad had been in a terrible car accident and they didn't know if he'd survive... The next few weeks we spent most of our time in the ICU and helping to keep things running while he was laid up, as well as fielding all the questions and concern for him! He is STILL recovering-- on crutches still over 5 months later. But he's alive and well. Burning the candle at both ends, like usual, he fell asleep at the wheel and ran into the back of a semi-truck. The force of his crash actually broke the hitch at the FRONT of the trailer, believe it or not. It is truly a miracle that he is alive. We're anxious to see what God has in store for his life in future!


We moved a few hours south to central MN in  the last few days of August to move in with my Grandpa, closer to a nearby city with job opportunities. Grandpa lost my dearly-loved Grandma the summer before and was pretty excited at the idea of having us move in to his empty house for awhile since Charles wanted to stay and experience living in the states.

We took a quick trip down to Southern MN to visit my aunt and uncle at their cabin on the mighty Mississippi and had a picnic on their pontoon boat on a sandbar in the middle of the river at sunset :)

Charles had lots of interviews but it was Sept when he finally got offered a contract! The company wasn't even advertising a position-- he just sent them his CV because they were the kind of company he knew-- a small digital agency in downtown St. Cloud. They are experiencing rapid growth and needed an account manager to come on board, and there Charles was. So, they offered him a job in management! And after about 4 months job-hunting, he landed one by God's grace and provision, and we began to settle in to a new area.

With one week to go before the job started, we headed up north on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Canada so Charles could cross it off his North America bucket list :) We had a dreamy few days traveling up the North Shore of Lake Superior to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Our most memorable part of the trip may be when we coaxed Doris the Taurus right up a mountain to watch the sunset over Lake Superior on the edge of a cliff, only to nearly run into a bear both on the way up the mountain and on the way back down! Our night in Duluth, MN was also just dreamy. So much beauty!

Our first month of settling in to some normalcy in our tiny new town-- the same town where I lived for the first 7 years of my life :) So strange to be back in MN so long! I found part-time work to supplement the quieting down photography, so Charles and I commuted the half hour together. Happy days settling into married life. So thankful to be in it together!

November brought with it Charles' first Thanksgiving!! And our first time celebrating this important American holiday as a married couple :) Due to work, we couldn't go up north to my family til the weekend, so we spent the actual Thanksgiving Day volunteering in the local nursing home to spend some time with the elderly who didn't have family to celebrate with, and then had a Thanksgiving meal with my lovely aunt & uncle and cousins in the area. Then over the weekend we went home to have our family Thanksgiving! So, score! Two Thanksgiving meals to kick off Charles' first time celebrating the holiday! haha :)

Now, Minnesota is known for its snowy winters and below 0 temps. But, just Charles' luck, it was the coldest December on record here!! With weeks of temps in the -20's Fahrenheit (which means -30's Celsius!) Nonetheless, we have loved celebrating our first Christmas season together :) In lieu of having our own home with our own tree, we managed to help put up 3 different trees together this year, to help out various family members. And the nieces and nephews and I took Uncle Charles sledding as soon as we got back up north to my parents' backyard :) My big brother even let Charles have free reign with his prized snowmobile! Now, we need to organize an ice fishing trip, some snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing and his winter experience may be complete :)

We were married on this bridge in my parents' backyard 6 months prior to this!

2013 was such a highly anticipated year for us, and a crazy one at that with all the changes and transitions it brought! It has been such a precious blessing to have so much time with my family, a great foundational time for they and Charles to get to know one another as we look toward a future farther away. The children are wild about their fun Uncle. Just the other day 14 month old Terra started calling him by name-- "Ga-ko" for Uncle :) He's trying to train her to call him "Uncle Cool"-- haha! We just spent the past weekend celebrating Christmas with first the extended Pearson family (which is HUGE, with Dad's 5 sisters and their families) and then the extended Seger family, and it is just so precious to get to share these people I love and whom I "come from" with this man I love. I'm so grateful.

We are still counting dear our ordinary moments together, as we spent so much time apart in our courtship! But we're also looking forward to planning some more extraordinary times, like trips about the US to visit various people and places in 2014, while also praying for wisdom for next steps. Please pray for my husband as he clarifies what career moves he wants to make, including going back to uni before we start our family! It is such a privilege to be given this gift of building a life together. Pray that we do it well, with wisdom, and with grace for one another, and plenty of overflowing love, so that our loving God may be glorified in The Keltons :)

We're so thankful for all of our friends. You have been such a support to us in this life-changing year of 2013, and we can't tell you enough how much you mean to us. Know that we are holding you up in prayer at the cusp of this new year! May it hold all that you hope for...

With so much love,
The Keltons <3

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