For me, as a child, Christmas was all about family. I knew about Jesus and how we were celebrating his birth, but my warmest childhood memories of Christmas are all filled with family, not church services or heartfelt prayers. Now, as an adult growing daily in her Christian faith, Christmas has taken on a deeper meaning. Though it still is very much about family, it more about thanking God for the family He has given me. Far more so than Thanksgiving, Christmas is a holiday of thanks. Thanks for God’s gift of his son. Thanks for the savior of our world being born. Thanks for God’s faithfulness in his promises to us. Thanks for another year of blessings and growth.

So, for this final post before Christmas, I want to express thanks for my family.

Dear Chris the Worship Leader: Thank you for your warm and open heart. For asking questions in class. For your sense of humor. For blessing us with your amazing musical talent.

Favorite Moment: Talking (and laboring) while hiking Hanging Rock


Dear Satie: Thank you for your gentleness. For your positivity. For remembering the little things. For always being happy to see me.

Favorite Moment: Our first one-on-one at Goodberry’s


Dear Danny Boy: Thank you for your laugh. For constantly sharing your home and host family with us. For how easy you are to talk to. For putting the whole group at ease with equal parts jokes and honesty.

Favorite Moment: Our conversation while driving to our November service project


Dear Emmy: Thank you for giggles. For listening when I need to vent. For affirming qualities I didn’t even know I had. For giving me confidence to be myself.

Favorite Moment: Our long talk after trivia night at the beginning of the program


Dear Papa T: Thank you for your steadiness. For amazing discussions about the things we’re passionate about. For loving your home state as much as I do. For comfortable silence.

Favorite Moment: Our Geminid watching experience


Dear Rach: Thank you for your beautiful smile. For our unexpected conversation topics. For being the greatest shopping buddy ever. For drawing me out of my comfort zone.

Favorite Moment: Our JC Penney fashion show


Dear Dalton (sorry, I’ve never called you DT3): Thank you for your openness in our group. For no judgement. For always having clear communication with me. For hugs that make me feel comfortable, safe, and loved.

Favorite Moment: Our PP walk and pretty much every single hug


Dear Faithie: Thank you for your vulnerability and your strength. For understanding what I’m going through. For knowing how to be gentle, yet also not allowing me to hide.

Favorite Moment: Mutual gushing over Daring Greatly


Dear Hayes: Thank you for being intentional. For your incredible and inspiring faith. For your support and reassurance when I begin to doubt. For hearing and seeing me.

Favorite Moment: Starbucks


Dear Lainey: Thank you for snuggles. For loving me when I was at my lowest. For your constant encouragement. For taking care of me when I forget to take care of myself.

Favorite Moment: Our second banana bread baking night


I love you all so much. Merry Christmas to my family!