Annual Dill Christmas Letter, 2017 Edition

Big exhale. 2017 is over.

Josh said to me yesterday, “2017 did NOT go by quickly, did it?” In years past we felt the usual surprise and wonder at having another year behind us. It’s not that our family experienced any devastating loss or tragedy, but just the exhaustion of relentless daily grind. This year and in 2016, Josh’s job and exam preparations required many long and intense hours. He often left the house before 7am and would come back well after dark. There were stretches of time that we were unsure of the last time we spent a full weekend uninterrupted by work. For me that meant many hours at home pulling that bulk of the parenting duties. And it meant that we spent much of our free time scrambling to catch up on our household responsibilities. I know we aren’t the only ones to experience this kind of strain and I am grateful that the pace of this unbalanced schedule was but a season in our life.

Big exhale.

Somehow, though, we managed to squeeze in quality time and make beautiful memories with family and friends. We have Josh to thank for this. While the exhaustion of our everyday often left me in a downward spiral, Josh would reach down to pull me up and rally the family together for fun, even if it was short lived. Here are some of our most favorite moments and memories:

Even in the last couple days of the year, we squeezed out some more joy by some impromptu sledding and cocoa with dear friends and a NYE party with AFIT co-workers and their families. In between these highlights, I cooked alot of meals, washed piles of dishes, folded heaps of laundry, begged JP to stop. headbutting. abigail. for. the. thousandth. time!!! slowly improved my modern calligraphy and watercolor (with lots of room to yet improve), got back into crocheting, tried to find sleep, gave my babies thousands of kisses, potty trained JP (and subsequently scrubbed many a floor). I learned much about patience (mostly that I still have lots of room to grow). I found God in the small and ordinary moments of my life. I saw some of my best friends become moms or grow their families by another beautiful soul. I grew in thankfulness for precious, precious time with family.

Josh, of course, worked hard. Very hard. While the constant quest for balance was impossible and frustrating, Josh sought to keep our family at the heart of all his actions. In the moment, I didn’t always appreciate or trust the why behind his actions: for the good of our family, always. Even though we struggled, God blessed Josh’s hard work. Josh grew deeply in his technical knowledge as an engineer. He grew so much that he found the Professional Engineer exam to be exhausting but easy (although he might not tell you this, I get to brag about him a little). And as many of you already know or can guess, he passed the exam! Thanks be to God!

But Josh’s biggest news and the biggest change for our family in 2018…


In the spring, Josh applied for the Deputy Base Civil Engineer position in the Oregon Air National Guard. As many of you know, Guard gigs are usually a one weekend a month + occasional deployments kind of job. Josh’s job is different, and he is full time with the Guard. He is “based” at PDX airport and will also do the weekend drills and deploy from time to time. Uncharacteristically of me, I actually tried to convince Josh to not apply for the job because 1. I thought that he wasn’t interested in the actual job and 2. I didn’t want him to just take a job because we wanted to be in Oregon. But as details unfolded, it became clear that this job might actually be a really good fit for Josh’s interests and our family goals and desires. We are thrilled that he was offered the job and are so grateful to head back to our homeland. We are hoping to land in Oregon City so that Josh has an easy drive to work and I can easily drive to Silverton to visit family. We appreciate any and all prayers for the sale of our home here in Ohio and for finding a new home in Oregon City. As many of you know, the housing market in Oregon/Portland is kind of wild…and we expect the job hunt to be difficult and emotional, but are hoping for the best as we entrust the process to God.

Josh is moving out to OR in April after he wraps up the loose ends at work. Originally I was going  to head out a month early with the kids to start looking for housing and get to know the Oregon City area. However, we decided to install all new floors in our Ohio home and do some other projects before we list our house for sale. So, I’m heading to Oregon in about a month (end of January). This accelerated timeline is both exciting and difficult. I didn’t expect to say goodbye so soon and while I’m truly ecstatic to go back to the PNW, my heart is mourning the end of a beautiful chapter in our family story. I genuinely love living in Ohio. I loved our home, our neighborhood, our parish. Our small faith group gives us so much joy and encouragement. The 50+ parks near our house are beautiful and well cared for. I love how our neighborhood feels like a small town but we are so close to grocery stores and so many fun things to do for families. Many states and fun cities are within driving distance….I feel the tears behind my eyes start to sting as I write this. The Oregon job is a huge blessing and an answer to many years of prayers, but I will always hold this home as a near and dear to the heart our family.There are many families that made this time in Ohio special, but I want to extend an extra thanks to the Poulins, the Sliemers and the Naveaus. Your families gave us such great joy and true familial connection when far from our own kin. You were Christ to us in so many ways with the gift of shared meals, authentic conversation, joy filled laughter, shared struggles and much, much more. Personal notes heading your way.

Parting thoughts: Walking away from 2017, the biggest thing I’m learning is to find the goodness and beauty in the midst of trials. Just because a season is difficult, doesn’t mean that it’s a waste or useless. It is hard to pull oneself out of the emotional loop of “this is so hard, this is so hard” and see the beauty unfolding…and to especially cherish the beauty of our growing children. A quote I keep coming back to is this: “Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting” (Richard Paul Evans). No matter how difficult the days, I want to view my children like I would the most glorious of sunsets. I want to soak up my family life in all of its messiness and struggle and suffering and beauty and joy and tears and laughter….because even if 2017 went slow, time really is going quickly. I remember one very specific morning this year when Abby was about 6 or 7 months old. JP played cheerfully at his train table, Abby played near me on the floor while I watched them from the rocking chair. Together JP and I sang Sing of Mary while the morning sun streamed in and I was overwhelmed by joy… Pure, simple joy. I sat stunned beholding the gift of my family. I want to hold on to those grace-filled moments when I’m walking through the dark. I want to grab life with both hands in all seasons because this is the life I’ve been given and it is a gift.

This Christmas letter is probably much more than you prepared for. But I didn’t write one single post in 2017! so I had to make up for it here at the beginning of 2018. I hope to write more updates as we transition and settle into a new land, a new routine. Please keep us in your prayers and we will continue to hold you in ours. Merry Christmas, dear ones, and Happy New Year.

2 thoughts on “Annual Dill Christmas Letter, 2017 Edition

  1. Nice to hear from you Ashley. The kids are growing quickly and OMG those cheeks. Looks like you had a very busy year. Congrats to Josh! Looking forward to seeing you all back in Oregon. Happy new year!

    1. Hi Bea! The cheeks, always ❤️❤️We are looking forward to being back home and hopefully that means we will get to see you from time to time!

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