Here is my modern take on the annual Christmas letter. This will end up on Facebook where I “live” and most of my friends and family are there, or at least their kids are so it is my hope that everyone who needs to will see this.

What can I say about 2011? It was a pretty good year in a lot of ways, but as years go, it had its ups and downs.

Noah started the year preparing to take his First Communion and playing basketball with a team at the YMCA. Juliette was starting her second semester as a junior in college and beginning to stress about getting a summer internship.

Steve and I were continuing our same jobs, he working for CCT and worrying, at least at the beginning of the year, whether he would have a job by the end of the year, with budget cuts at the university. I was, and continue to be, still working as Mom and CEO of the Brandt family, as well as writing fantasy novels.

Noah moved from basketball to soccer, still at the Y, and we began to notice that he wasn’t as competitive as the other kids. He was content to have fun and play, but winning wasn’t as important to him. He joined another basketball team in the summer, and while we loved his coach who took great pains to explain the plays and the goals of the team, even going so far as to design a play that worked to Noah’s strengths, passing and blocking, after that “season” finished, we decided not to sign him up again for a team sport. His non-competitive, easily distractable nature seems to lend itself to less athletic pursuits.

In March, Steve and I attended a writes’ conference in Houma, LA, where we each pitched our latest books to an agent. She told me to try to cut 35,000 words from my book and contact her then.

I cut 29,000 and sent her an email in August. To my surprise and delight, she remembered me but said she was much busier than she expected. She suggested I try to find other representation and if that was unsuccessful, to contact her again in December. I did, it was and I will be sending her another email by the end of the year.

Steve decided not to contact her again because he feels his book needs more work that he has time for at the moment.

On a side note, our friend Jo Templeton also pitched to the same agent at the same conference and while she, too, was unsuccessful in getting representation, the agent’s words helped her plot the second and third books in her series and her first one was picked up by Crescent Moon Press, release date to be announced.

Speaking of Crescent Moon, I took a job with them as content editor. At the moment, I have three books I’m working on, but it looks like all three will be finished, or my part, anyway, soon, and I hope to see them released in 2012.

Noah took his First Communion on May 15.

Juliette started a book review blog, Paperbacks and Frosting, and while she didn’t get a summer internship, she is now finishing up one she got for the Fall Semester, with Paige Wheeler at Folio Lit.

Noah went to soccer camp this summer again, and took swimming lessons.

We did not go on a family vacation due to timing issues and conflicts in scheduling, and all of us have decided we can’t let that happen again. We need to take some time off!

Noah, Juliette and I did Vacation Bible School again this year, and as always, we loved it and it was exhausting! Next summer will be interesting as the school is undergoing major remodeling and it will probably interfere with VBS, as far as space and ease of movement throughout the school/church campus.

In August, my sister-in-law Elizabeth and I met up in Nashville for five days before school started. It was a lot of fun and we saw lots of touristy things and even went to a show at the Grand Ole Opry. We’re considering making this trip an annual event, although the venue will change.

Steve traveled a lot this year, more than usual as he has been given more and more responsibility as his seniority at CCT increases and because some people left due to the anticipated budget cuts which didn’t happen as expected. He went to Seattle twice and several other places this year.

At the beginning of October, my in-laws took us all to Shreveport to the Red River Revel, a big art fair. It was a lot of fun and we spent a little too much money, but we’re hoping to go back next year.

Thanksgiving was held our our house this year after two years of spending it in a condo in Orlando. I think just this week we finished all the turkey leftovers!

Our Christmas tree is up and all the presents have been bought!

I hope your 2011 was a good one and that 2012 will bring you all you desire, but most of all, I hope you receive all you need to become the person God created you to be. Some of those gift may be in the form of trials. We know that gold is refined in fire, and that the cross comes before the crown. May prayer for you all is that you receive joy and happiness and love but most of all perseverance and strength.

You are all my friends, but more than that, you are a soul God loves and Jesus died for. You are more precious than gold and were created in the image of our God.

For that fact alone, I love you. Not for what you may do or what you have done. Not for who you were or who you may become.

You. Just you. You are loved!

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to all!