Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 Holiday Season and 2013 Preparations

As we all finalize our preparations for the Christmas traditions held true and dear for each family we belong to, let's all remember to reflect on the seasons past and prepare for the adventures moving forward. Looking throughout this past year, there are those whom Kristine, Jade, and I are still very close with and those whom we have drifted away from, to a certain degree. There are also those out there I haven't personally seen in years, and I'm sure the same is true for Kristine.

2012 brought with it many challenges, to say the least, for our family. I spent the majority of the year searching for an identity, career, and source of income with which to support the family. I explored almost every option imaginable...I explored insurance sales, several different franchising opportunities, and interviewed for multiple career opportunities. Yet none of them seemed to be right for me and the family. Through the graces of God, my financial situation allowed me to be choosy and find the right fit for me and the career I would embark upon. In February, I embarked upon a large project which had been laid upon my heart, to write a book. This became a full-time endeavor that took me well into June. Finally, "Bushels and Barrels - Redefining the American Dream" was published in June. In early September, I awoke to begin the day searching for work when I received an email stating my resume had been seen on a military recruiting website. I was then recruited, interviewed, and offered a position which I ultimately accepted. There is no looking back and my life, future, and career took off! I had learned a valuable lesson that I define my life, but the career helps me travel the journey I lay out for myself and my family. But this wasn't just a year of Lee in the household, oh no...Jade and Kristine also enjoyed a banner year.

Kristine spent most of 2012 being the primary bread winner, mother to Jade, and loving, supporting wife to me. She celebrated her 14th year of her career with ThinkTv and still loves what she achievement many of us can only aspire to! She continued to support Jade's athletic teams as an Assistant Coach to the St Helen volleyball team and spent her 5th year coaching cheerleading. Through these activities, Kristine and I have become the "parents" to many a young lady who are friends with Jade when they come over for sleepovers. One of her main highlights of the year was the celebration of our 2nd year anniversary. If you know her, you know she is a huge Ohio State Buckeye fan! We departed early in the morning for an early November game at the Buckeye stadium, affectionately known as the Shoe. We arrived at our hotel and took a cab into the Columbus, Ohio campus area for tailgating. Lots of fun and people celebrating the upcoming game. Then we got to experience a show from the band and I got to watch Kristine get excited as Coach Urban Meyer and the football team entered the indoor arena to rally the fans. Afterwards, we experienced a great game in an awesome stadium which can't be rivaled by many. After yet another victory on the way to 12-0, we returned to the hotel and found a great restaurant to finish the day out. Yes, this was a great escape and highlight of the year for us as a couple.

Jade can't be left out as she left childhood and entered her official teenage years. She is half way through her 7th grade and is highly successful thus far. The letter "A" and her report card are best friends this year...can we say proud? She also holds an incredible honor of being runner-up in her Geography Bee. She also elevated from elementary school in her athletic activities to cheer her first year in the Carroll High School 7th grade squad. Early in the new year, she'll also continue her volleyball career. As if her academic and athletic careers didn't keep her busy enough, she's also continued her hectic social schedule as well. Lots of friends, sleepovers, conversations, and new infatuations with British bands have dominated 2012 for her.

As a collective family, we deem 2012 as a ginormous success! Even the puppies, Duncan and Polar Bear, got into the swing of things by getting used to having dad around all day and then readjusting to greeting him happily at the door at the end of the day. Spoiled doesn't even begin to explain them.

I hope you and yours have also had a successful and blessed year! Struggles are a part of life and we all have to survive them to get to the next day. It is in finding blessings in every day, every week, and every month, do we see the bigger picture of a successful year. The Ray family holds each and every one of you as near and dear friends...and even family. We love you guys and can't wait to be part of your lives as you are a part of ours in 2013.

Merry Christmas to all!