The Best of 2016

It’s easy to forget everything that can happen in one year. Everyone can probably remember 3-4 monumental events like weddings, births, holidays, etc but sometimes the best memories can be the little things.  I COULD say that this was THE WORST year ever because Clay deployed but that would be a lie. It has been one amazing year full of so many blessings.

Every year we will face trials and challenges, but if we don’t embrace the bad then we will never learn how to appreciate the good. After all, those challenges that we endure make us better people in the end and we come out stronger than ever before… if you choose to. Ultimately, the decision is yours but I choose to embrace the GOOD, for God is good ALL THE TIME! I challenge you to look back on your year and focus on all of the blessings you have. Make new goals for 2017 and chase them hard! No dream is too big.

2017 will bring many more births, weddings and best of all, it will bring my husband home! Until then I will enjoy the next 6 months and focus on making great memories with my babies and chasing my own dreams!

Here is a look back on some of the greatest moments of 2016. Lily’s birth was by far the best day of the year!

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Went to a Wine and Painting class with friends! We need to do more of these in 2017
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We announced that we were bringing a new addition to our family.
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One of my best friends from college came to the gender reveal to surprise me, all the way from South Carolina. It was the first time anyone has ever pulled off a surprise and made me cry.
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I went to a military ball with my HANDSOME husband!
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We started building our new house!
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We attended a life long friends wedding in Texas.
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We met Kacy Cantanzaro, and Clay kicked butt at the Warrior Course at Ft. Sill.
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We went to our brother Connor’s graduation!
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We had a baby shower for Lily!
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We went to the lake with my family.
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Loved spending quality time with this guy.
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Luke enjoyed driving the boat with Grandpa
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Lots of fishing dates with my husband
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My army friends surprised me with a baby shower! They were so sweet!
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We celebrated our second anniversary and Luna’s 2nd Birthday! She was born the day we got married so we always said she was meant to be.
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I have enjoyed watching Luke grow up and getting to play with him and watch him learn. He amazes me everyday!
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We celebrated Luke’s 1st Birthday. I don’t know how that year went by so quickly…
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Moved into our new house and enjoyed many BBQs with our friends.
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I LOVED being pregnant with my sister wife, Nikki. Words can’t describe how blessed I am to have her in my life!
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My family came up to prepare for Lily’s birth and we went hiking one last time.
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Dr. Patel has become a great family friend. He delivered both of our babies and we appreciate all he’s done to keep myself and the kids alive and healthy!
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Our first picture with Lily on her birthday.
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Reid and Sarah came to visit Lily after she was born.
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We found our church home and made it official!
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My Uncle holding Lily.
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My Aunt, Uncle and cousins came up to visit us from Texas after Lily was born.
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One of Clay’s great friends from West Point came to visit from Colorado. We always enjoy his company.
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I started my business with Rodan and Fields and became successful faster than I could have ever dreamed of.
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We took one last trip home with Clay for the year. I found out my friend Avery was pregnant and it’s a girl!
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We had one last family dinner with Clay.
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Clay and I got to have one last DATE NIGHT at the North GA State Fair.
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We had a photo shoot with both of our babies! Shout out to Holly Long Photography!
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The morning of Nikki’s induction.
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Waiting for the go for AJ to meet her in the operating room
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AJ and Nikkis beautiful baby Caleb. We love him SO much!
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The worst day of the year but the best friends to be with during such a terrible time.
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Our last moments with Clay before he deployed.
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Nikki and I went with some of the other Army wives to the pumpkin patch!
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I met this amazing woman, check out COOL CAKES BY LINDSAY! She’s so talented and a great friend!
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Exercised our right to vote!
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Conquered my fears and got on a “roller coaster” with my Dad…. It may or may not have had breaks to slow down..
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Our family trip to Pigeon Forge two weeks before it burned down. We were so thankful we went when we did.
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Our annual Thanksgiving Dinner with both families
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We spent a 2nd Thanksgiving in Ohio visiting with our Grandma and Cousins! Again, something we NEED to do more often!
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Avery’s baby shower!
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I found out my big sister is pregnant! We can’t wait to meet her baby boy!
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We said yes to the bridesmaids dresses! My SIL is getting married next year
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Tree lighting with my favorite little boy in the whole world!
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Sibling pictures are something we need more of.
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Lily made a great addition to the Santa picture this year
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We ended the year strong and celebrated the marriage of one of our close friends
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Our last family photo of the year. I think we all looked perfect!
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We got our New Year’s kiss in… even if it was over FaceTime. Thank God for technology! Cheers to 2017! The year we get to be together again!
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Christmas Without You

Clay,

It’s been so hard trying to experience life everyday without blindly going through the motions, especially on a day as special as Christmas. This year was really hard. It was the FIRST Christmas we have ever spent apart from each other since we started dating. I tried as best I could to stay excited for Luke and Lily and I hope they had a special day.

Christmas Eve we did some last minute shopping. I helped your mom cook and the kids were able to see Nana and Bop. They met Lily for the first time and fell in love with her. That afternoon I went to Christmas Eve service with my family at First Baptist Woodstock and I was so sad because Johnny Hall wasn’t there to sing Oh Holy Night….. I KNOW. I was shocked as were our friends the Duran’s who sat behind us as well. We agreed that Johnny singing was what we looked forward to most every year! We talked for a while after service and then went back home. Avery and I wrapped our last minute gifts, we were up really late as usual. I called you to wish you a Merry Christmas because I knew you would be going to sleep soon. I could tell you were lonely which made me hurt even more.

Christmas morning we ate some breakfast and the kids opened their presents. We called you so you could watch them over FaceTime. Lily and Luke both received many toys and clothes. Luke’s favorite gifts were all of his cars! He just kept playing with them instead of opening the rest of his presents. Lily’s favorite gift was definitely the pink giraffe I got her ( *cough, cough* I mean Santa). She has been cuddling it for the past two days. My favorite presents were my Kate Spade back pack and wallet, my new cake turn table and the Tile your Mom gave me so I can find my keys when I lose them… daily! Then we went to your house to open gifts. Luke got some pretty awesome toys there too. He got one of those seats that you sit on and spin yourself around until you get sick. He got a hammer and table set, more cars, AND his first pair of light up shoes! No, they don’t squeak thank God. *haha* Lily got a seat that spins with toys on it for her to play with, clothes, and a new bath tub because your Mom loves giving them baths. 🙂

I bought your mom an 18ft tunnel to go with the agility course your Dad built for her and Luna. Luna is getting really good at it too! I gave your Dad a gift card to Cabelas and he seemed happy to add that to his yearly pile of gift cards from the family! Everyone tried to overload your packages with beef jerky because we know that is your favorite snack. We promised that we would make next Christmas the best one yet for you.

We ended the night at my house for our annual family Christmas dinner and we were so happy to have Nathan’s family join us for the first time! It’s nice to have everyone come together. We played Apples to Apples again and called it a night pretty early. Everyone was tired.

When we went to bed, we all sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and thanked God for sending his son to save our souls. We also thanked him for all of our blessings. I tried to remind myself that even though you are away, we really are truly blessed. This time is just a blink  relative to the eternity we will have in heaven. You may not be with us BUT you are alive and safe, that’s all that matters.

Sometimes I catch myself wishing that time would go by fast after the New Year because it feels like such a crappy year but then I think about everything we were blessed with in 2016! Our two biggest accomplishments being our beautiful new house we just built and our precious baby girl that joined our family. 2016 has been a good year. 2017 will be even better when you return and we can start making memories again together. I’m so sorry you had to spend this day alone without us. I’m sorry your friends had to spend this day without their families as well but rest assured you were thought of. Many people are praying for you guys. Many are thankful for your service and everything you are doing to protect our country. Your sacrifices do not go unnoticed. You are our hero. We love you so much and we are so grateful to have had you with us on Christmas Day, even if it was through a phone.

My heart hurts thinking about how many more months we have to spend apart. I can’t help but cry when I realize that we are only 1/4 of the way through this deployment but I have to find strength. I find it in Christ, your love for me, our babies, AND imagining that perfect day in July when we get to run into your arms again. We miss you and love you more than you know. Merry Christmas Clay! Next year will be better. I promise.

Forever and Always,

Brooke Lauren Rutherford       xoxo

See our Christmas video HERE.