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Our Family’s Year in Review: The highs, the lows, the struggles, and the victories (Part 1)

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2014 was such a growing year for our family. I spent some time looking back over the year and it still amazes me all that happened! Just for fun, here’s a run-down with some of the highlights:


The year began with a bang: I released my second book in January, was on Good Morning America, traveled to NYC for a media tour, hit the New York Times list — all within the first few weeks of January! Crazy!

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Kathrynne also turned 9 this month and had asked if she could plan her own birthday party. She blew me away by writing out meticulous and detailed plans, choosing the activities, making the guest list, putting together invitations, sticking with a budget to buy all the supplies, and putting together all the party favors!

That girl has mad party-planning skills — and she loved every minute of the planning part! It’s been so fun to see her blossoming, growing, and maturing. Her personality is so different than mine in so many ways and yet she has the biggest heart and loves me so fiercely that it constantly humbles and touches me.

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I recorded my book as an audiobook the first week of February. We broke it up over three days since I’ve learned that my voice only holds out strong for around 4 hours.

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The third week in February, we took a much-anticipated trip with two other couples to Belize. It was such an adventure requiring many different methods of transportation, lots of new sights, tastes, and experiences. And we had a wonderful time of unplugging (mostly) and just resting and soaking up the sun and beautiful views.


This month was booked solid with traveling and moving preparations. We had initially planned to move April 15th, but when we started looking in earnest for housing to rent, the house we found and loved wasn’t available until May 1, so we extended our move date until April 30 which bought us a little more time.

Jesse spent the month taking care of the hundred and one moving details and wrapping up things with his law firm so he could officially shut down right around the time we moved.

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I traveled to Colorado to spend a few days with three dear friends of mine (Michele, Renee, and Kathi) in a cabin Buena Vista. It was such a good time — especially because we were able to rally around Michele right before her cancer surgery.

The next week, I traveled to Colorado (again) for radio recordings with Focus on the Family and then flew from there to Illinois for the Hearts at Home conference. The following week, I was back on the road again — this time to Nashville for the Teach Them Diligently conference.


We started getting into the final stretch of our big moving day, so the month of April was packed with, you guessed it, packing and paring down the house.

It was also full of many, many goodbye get-togethers. Honestly, while I felt so loved by so many people, goodbyes are so hard for me so this part of the move was really draining. I wanted to be strong for my husband and kids, but I had many moments when I wondered what on earth we were doing!

This was an especially hard month for our kids. They’ve been so brave in the whole move thing, but they all had to grieve in their own ways and we did our best to have lots of conversations, be cognizant of their needs, and to make sure that we did all we could make the transition as smooth for them.

I only had one trip this month — and Jesse got to come with me! We went to South Carolina for another conference and my parents and most of my siblings came to. For most of them, this was their first time to hear me on stage and that was a big unnerving for me. But they were all so encouraging and I punched another fear right in the face!

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The week before we moved, Jesse went to Phoenix for a conference on email marketing. The timing of the conference wasn’t that great, but he really wanted to go and since we had wrapped up just about everything at home, it worked out just fine — and I’m so glad he went because he learned so much and had a great time.

(We’ve known for quite some time, that we’ve outgrown our current email service, but we’ve struggled to figure out what to upgrade to. We spent a lot of time this past year researching different email services, researching, test-marketing, and talking to business owner after business owner. We’re so grateful to have finally landed upon a solution the past few months… and I think it’s going to be the perfect long-term solution!)Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 3.07.15 AM


Our moving day arrived. There were so many bittersweet things about this day… so many emotions. Excitement. Sadness. Eagerness. Fear. All rolled up into one.

My sister, Olivia, drove with us to TN to help us unpack and that was SUCH a gift. We ended up driving the 15-hour trek straight through and made it to TN completely exhausted, but grateful to have arrived!

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It was so weird to drive up to “our” house for the first time. We’d rented it sight unseen so it was a little surreal to drive up and know this was going to be home to use for the next two years. (Our good friends the Scheers had gone through it and done a video tour for us long-distance, though, and we’d had extensive conversations with the landlords. Otherwise, we probably would have never felt comfortable signing a two-year lease without seeing the house first!)

The week of the move was a whirlwind. My sister helped us get almost everything unpacked — I knew we had a busy summer, so it was important to get it done right away or it might not happen for months! — and the community welcomed us so warmly. Within the first week, we had met most of our neighbors and many of the folks who have become dear, dear friends to us. And that was such a gift!

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I can’t believe my baby is 5! So grateful he still loves mama snuggles!

We went back to Kansas for Jesse’s brother’s graduation and to celebrate Silas’ birthday (it was very important for him to celebrate his birthday in Kansas and we wanted to honor this as a way to help him make the transition more smoothly).

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The following week I flew to DC to speak at a conference, the following week to speak at a conference in FL (and got to go to Disney late that night for a few hours — my first time to go to Disney! I just wish my family had been able to come with me!), and then a few days later I flew to Arkansas for a radio taping with Family Life.

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I love this boy more than words can express! And he loves his mama well — here was a tea party he set up for us and invited me to. 🙂


My brother and his wife came and visited us for a few days and we had fun exploring some new areas and showing them some of our favorite TN places.

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Kathrynne also started swimming lessons this week and Silas had soccer camp. We wanted our kids to plug in as quickly as possible, so we encouraged them to each one activity that they’d like to participate in over the summer and we signed them up for it almost as soon as we moved.

Kathrynne wasn’t being pushed in her swimming classes, so we asked around for some more recommendations and found a homeschool swim team that she was able to qualify for — which was thrilling for her as making a swim team had been a months-long dream for her.

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Kaitlynn turned 7 this month and asked to go to the mall for her birthday (typical fashionista!). We had a fun mommy-daughter date.

She also started ice skating lessons again (her chosen activity). She had taken lessons before in Kansas, but this time around, she had a new drive and commitment to them and, pretty soon, she started really advancing.

The ice program encouraged us to enroll her private coaching, in addition to group classes, and we’ve been so proud of how hard she’s worked! Her goal was to make it through all eight levels of Learn to Skate by the end of 2014. She’s finishing up the final level and now has her sights set on the Olympics… which might be aiming just a wee bit high, but I’m not going to any way discourage her enthusiasm or drive! 🙂

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June was also the month that we for sure knew we’d found a church home here in TN. We were pretty sure that we had picked out a church that we felt would be a good fit for our family, but you never know until you go and visit for at least a few weeks.

We were so grateful that not only was Fellowship Bible everything we’d prayed for and hoped for in a church, but it was so much more. We’ve been beyond blessed by the gift of this church — especially the depth of the preaching.

Jesse had a sort of identity crisis that started in June and lasted well into August. It was a hard, hard, hard few months for him — and for us all. I’m positive our kids have never seen Mom and Dad struggle and argue so much.

I had expected this might happen, but I was completely unprepared for how difficult it would be for me. I didn’t know whether I was supposed to be the sweet, loving, listening, and empathetic wife or whether he needed some hard, strong truth to be spoken to him.

He struggled to figure out who he was apart from his job. He realized that he’d always defined his value and worth by what he did (stressful positions as an attorney/running his own law firm) instead of who he was as a person.

He struggled with some really dark days and was depressed and stressed. I am so grateful for the solid people around us who walked with us through this time and encouraged us, prayed for us, and loved us in the middle of our mess. It wasn’t pretty, but I truly clung to the belief that it had to get worse before it could get better. And it did — as I tell you about in part 2. 🙂

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…to be continued tomorrow.

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  • Aww! It’s so sweet to be able to look back at all the memories, isn’t it? I’m glad that this year turned out to be a good one for you, despite all the tough times. I must say you made my heart leap with joy and then ache a little with the pictures of Belize. I remember when we moved there as a kid, it was hard to say the least but the thing is, now I feel like I have two homes. The more memories you make in your new town, the more it will also feel like home. Happy New Year!

  • Valerie says:

    wonderful post! thanks for sharing more about your year and your struggles! So helpful and encouraging.

  • Crystal,

    You’re such a role model when it comes to sharing your honest thoughts and sticking to principles you believe. Glad to know that your family had a wonderful year 2014 and you came out of struggles you have last year.

    Here is to the new year 2015! 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    Hi! This is such a great post! Thank you for sharing!

    I’m a new reader 🙂 Can I ask – what made you decide to move to TN? Work-related? A few months ago we moved from AZ (leaving family, friends and everything we knew) to NC! It wasn’t for a job or anything, it was just because we wanted a change and saw this as a great opportunity for our family. While we do miss AZ, life in NC has been great! Sometimes it’s fun to challenge yourself in ways like that. I love exploring and hope to travel and/or move again once our kids are grown (they are 2 1/2 and 16 months!).

    Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year!!!


  • Dana says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Especially the aspect of how Jesse processed the lifestyle change. Due to some things that I’ve been praying about for my husband and family I have been curious about how Jesse was able to make the transition. I am glad to here that things have worked the selfout and am really looking forward to reading part two.


  • Chelsea says:

    You are so busy! I loved reading this recap. Your marriage and your drive is such an inspiration to me. I’m so excited, because for years I’ve prayed for guidance in where God wants me to seek additional income for our family while doing something I’m passionate about. I feel like it’s finally being revealed, and it makes total sense now that I think about it. It combines everything I’m truly passionate about, and much to my surprise, it has absolutely nothing to do with blogging! I’ve mapped out my bite sized goals for the next twelve months. Wish me luck! 🙂

    • 2014 was a very FULL year. I am so very grateful that God carried us through and was so faithful — even when I felt fearful and overwhelmed.

      That’s SO exciting about your business idea — yay!!! I’m cheering for you!

  • Mae says:

    Such a neat post- thanks for sharing. I appreciated your comment about wondering how to respond to Jesse during his rough time. I OFTEN struggle with that exact question during times of stress in our marriage. How do you know when to be the submissive, “sweet” wife versus speaking some truths (in love, of course) that may hurt? This exact question has been on my heart for several years and any advice you could give would be much appreciated (maybe a future post?)
    Thanks for all that you do, Crystal. I appreciate your blog so much. I hope you and your family have a blessed New Year!

  • Christine says:

    I love your honesty! You are such an inspiration. Thank you for writing this post. Such a great year for you and your family, can’t wait to see the rest!

    Happy New Year!

  • beth says:

    I love hearing about your year in review! It’s amazing to look back and see all of the things that go on in a single year. Looking froward to part 2.

  • denise says:

    As always thank you for your honesty. I can’t even imagine the transition Jesse went through! Glad you had good support to get you through the dark days…I know how hard it can be!

  • Leah says:

    Looking forward to part 2!! 🙂

  • Jen says:

    Thanks so much for sharing these highlights of your year with us! You are truly an inspiration to me. Happy New Year!!! 🙂

  • Summer says:

    Thanks for sharing this Crystal…the lows as well as the highs. 🙂 I am one of the many women who look up to you as a woman who goes after what God puts in front of you (whether in family, work, or something else completely) and want to do the same. I appreciate you being vulnerable that even when we do that, things can be tough! May your new year be filled with boundless opportunities to pour out your joy and love! 🙂

  • Molly says:

    Thank you for sharing! Made me consider my own families transitions, goals met, and goals that we bombed. Ha! Keep on livin and lovin!

    Thankful for each memory.

  • Crystal, you are such an inspiration to so many and thank you so much for sharing so much of your life! I love how you documented everything and I can’t wait for part two! 🙂 Happy New Year’s to you and your amazing family!

  • Autumn Beach says:

    Wow, wow, WOW! What a year! And that’s only half of it! Looking forward to part two! I’m sure you’ve been told this a million times, but Kaitlynn looks JUST like you. Such a cutie! They all are! And that precious little note…does it get any sweeter?!

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