A Christmas Letter ~ 2014


For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
Isaiah 9:6

What. A. Year.

Really that short description sums up our year. Honestly it doesn’t seem as if the year should already be drawing to a close. I feel as if it has just started…and yet time flies, so they say. At this point, I surely agree. It is amazing just what journeys you embark on in a years time. Each year  you start out full of hope and promise for the “wonderful” year to come…and I’m not saying that you get let down by what the year really turns out to be…but it usually is not how you imagine it. But who can know the plans that the Lord has in store for them?

Certainly not me. In fact, my plans pretty much never turn out in any way that resembles what the Lord has in store for us.

January found us preparing for baby boy…mister K.A. Stenersen. I was working teaching preschool while Ellie spent her days with her aunt and grandmother. Klayton was busily working framing, and I was slammed with taking classes to finish up my bachelor’s degree. Ellie turned two in January and we celebrated with a Minnie Mouse birthday; pink and purple tutu and all. And while things were going along quite well throughout the remainder of the winter and into the spring I cannot say that our lives were fully experiencing the plans the Lord has for us or the peace that He brings. Klayton really did not want to be working in construction, but reality deemed otherwise and left this as the only choice. I was tired of being pregnant…having contractions for nearly two months with no getting anywhere basically has ruined the small bit of the enjoyment-of-being-pregnant that I had. Probably the only one who was experiencing the Lord’s plan and living in His peace was Ellie…but she is two so what else would you really expect?

But some things take time. Even the Lord’s plans.

Finally, a week past my due date we discovered that I had been leaking fluid and I was induced…at 6 o’clock on Monday…right before April 1st. Great. Looks like this baby is going to be an April Fool’s day baby, much to mamma’s displeasure. Sure enough on April 1, 2014 Kreade Aksel Stenersen was born into this world.

And every semblance of peace was sucked from our lives.

The irony is, Kreade’s middle name , Aksel, means ‘the father is peace’ in Hebrew.

It has been an interesting, long, stressful, depressing, full-of-crying eight months. Right from the beginning Kreade was a challenge. He vomited TONS, which resulted in changes of clothes for him, me, and cleaning for the couch and floor surrounding us. A 7 pound baby shouldn’t vomit THAT much. He lost a pound in the first week and wasn’t gaining very well. There were concerns about his stomach because of the not gaining and vomiting. And still he cried. All. The. Time. At one of his doctor appointments our doctor asked Ellie what she thought about her baby brother, her reply: “him just cries.” Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Her coping method was to loudly start singing “Let It Go” or “Thrive” whenever his cries turned to screams, which was pretty much all the time. Sometimes I just cried along with him. We spent  most of the summer rocking on the porch, or around the house or yard bouncing and shushing baby brother. It is hard to form an attachment to a baby that cries all of the time. He would hardly let Klayton, never mind any one else, hold him.

This was certainly not the baby that I had planned. But God’s plans are not mine…so we lived on.

My sister was married in the end of May and Ellie was quite an adorable flower girl in her white and burlap tutu dress. Although she never made it up the aisle and Klayton missed the ceremony because we was walking around trying to calm two crying children. Ellie recovered enough to enjoy the reception and take some beautiful pictures!

Amidst the cries and screams we somehow communicated enough to allow us the opportunity to purchase a camper trailer…only a week after Klayton was able to buy a truck!

Ok, so I guess some of God’s plans are the same as mine. There is no other way that this plan worked out except from the will of God as the camper was quite a deal. And though Kreade still insisted on being held and sushed by only me, he loves to be outside, so we spent many wonderful weekends camping. My mom and sisters were even able to join us in Maine for our 4th of July trip! Ellie fell in love with camping, as we knew she would since she loved tenting last year. At night she would pray “thank you for our camper, and ours truck, and Pa and Nina’s camper and Pa and Nina’s truck, and ‘Turk and Heidi’s camper and Jax’s truck”… It was great to be able to go camping with family and cousins and friends.

As August wore on and came to a close our world was filled with anything but peace. Klayton was without a non-construction job and I was going back to work and Kreade still wasn’t taking a bottle. Again, Ellie was the only one that seemed to be doing half-way good.

But some things take time. Even the Lord’s plans.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. And just like that His plan’s come together. Days before I went back to work Klayton found a job that offered basically everything that we were looking for. And less than five minutes away from home at that! Kreade started taking a bottle and we found a babysitter that is really good with him and his needs. Kreade began improving…and slowly the tears and screaming subsided. He even began to allow other people to hold him. And finally we all started to form an attached relationship with him. It wasn’t until he was about 6 and 1/2 months old that he seemed to turn into a “normal” baby and spent more time smiling and being happyish rather than crying. He no longer vomits or spits up, and his horrifically loud burps have diminished. I guess it just took a while for his poor little digestive system to fully develop. I look back at those colick filled months and wonder how we ever survived.

The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friend. He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger. Kreade was definitely not the baby that any of us wanted or imagined, but we loved him nonetheless. And through those colick filled times he was there giving us just what we needed in order to get through.

Yes, it was a long summer. Filled with uncertainty and desire for things to be different. But our plans are not the Lord’s. And sometimes you have to experience not-so-fun things in order to be ready to accept the plans that He has for you. Though I would rather that Klayton found a job before summer and Kreade stop crying before he was nearly 7 months old I definitely learned a lot through those times.

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Love is holding a crying baby even though he keeps crying. Or the four of us walking up and down the road a hundred times because it makes the crying baby stop crying. Love is singing songs to try to drown out the cries, or shaking the car seat as you’re driving down the road to try and prevent the baby from crying. It’s packing the camper in the thirty minutes that the baby actually sleeps and toting around 15 pounds in a front pack while lifting a two year old onto the uneven bars at open gym.

But the key here isn’t the love that filled our year, it’s the peace. Because amidst the circumstances that were anything but peaceful I can truly say that our hearts were at peace.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name. Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever, His power and glory evermore proclaim. 

So this year many things took place. Kreade was born…Ellie was potty-trained…we had several trips to the doctor for UTI’s and ear infections…Ellie took part in the end-of-year gymnastics show…Klayton got a truck…we all got a camper…Klayton got a great job…I went back to work…Kreade started taking a bottle…Ellie moved up to the preschool gymnastics class…I completed my bachelor’s degree in psychology…we almost sold our house…we had fantastic camping trips…Kreade stopped crying all the time… And though this year was filled to the brim with events and circumstances the thing that is most obvious to me is the peace.

Because even though the world around you is chaotic and stressful, there is One who can fill your heart with peace.

“…and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

This year, we pray that you feel the peace that only He provides and join us as we praise His name forevermore.

In His Love,

Klayton, Alicia, Azrielle, & Kreade