This year has brought a lot of change. We have learned a lot about each other after a year of marriage. We have also had opportunities to build relationships as a couple with many people. Here is a month by month summary.

January:  We rang in the New Year with the Campbell family in Massachusetts and began a great year!

February:  We threw an alternative Valentine’s Day party for some of our married and single friends. We also took a trip to Grafton, Wisconsin with a group of friends for a “Church-Planting Boot Camp” (planting a church is one of the things that we have a dream of doing some day together).

March:  We became an aunt and uncle to Madisyn Lee Campbell and Hudson Reid Russell. Laura served as a bridesmaid in her good friend Addie’s wedding.

April:  We went to Texas and met Hudson and celebrated Easter down south.  We also went to Massachusetts and cheered Laura’s brother on in the Boston marathon, met Madisyn and got to attend the baby shower.

May: Andrew took a long-awaited trip to California to visit Matt Black. It was a much-appreciated birthday gift! Laura got to serve as Matron of Honor in her best friend Stephanie’s wedding! We have enjoyed getting to spend lots of time with Steph and Luke now that life has calmed down for both of us, and they live just a few blocks away!

June: Laura got a new job managing the office of Wesley Romine Painting. Also, both of us were in our friends Gabe and Aubrey’s wedding party! Gabe and Aubrey were both present on the night that we met. Little did they know that 11 months later, they would be leaving our wedding contemplating (and eventually) dating, falling in love, and getting married themselves! Finally, we were fortunate enough to spend several days in Michigan with the Houk family celebrating the wedding of Stephanie’s sister Erica! Laura was asked to do Erica and Zak’s flowers, and we ended up helping them put together much of the destination wedding. It was a lot of fun to spend that much time with the Houks, Shermans,  Suttons, and of course Nanny and Pa-paw!

July: Andrew’s parents came out to visit us in Illinois with Seth. We all stayed at Laura’s parent’s house and got to enjoy a few days together. Andrew took them to Chicago one day to see the Shedd Aquarium, and we all went together to Springfield and visited the new Abraham Lincoln Museum. Andrew was also in his awesome friend Geoff’s wedding!

August:The first day of August marked Laura’s first day as a pastoral intern at church.  We celebrated our 1st anniversary and went on a weekend trip to St.Louis.  We went to the arch, stayed in a swanky hotel, and Andrew got to see Laura’s “old stompin grounds.”  We had a wonderful trip away and hope that we can always manage to sneak away for a day or two on our anniversary. Also, Laura’s brother Kevin came home from Texas to train for the Ironman in Louisville, KY. On Labor Day weekend we went with Laura’s parents and aunt to watch him finish it in amazing time!

September: Laura drove back to Texas with Kevin to keep him company in the car, and she also got to spend time with her favorite nephew, Hudson!

October: Laura had a fun birthday with lots of friends! Andrew started a one-year Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Management. His career aspirations are shifting towards working on the business side of science, so the natural thing to do seemed like getting business education in addition to a Ph.D. in chemistry. The program covers all of the business basics that faculty thought a science major would need to know without going for a full MBA. He is really enjoying that, and hopefully it will help him land a job in 2010!

November: We drove to Texas with Laura’s parents to visit Bryan, Amanda, Hudson, and Kevin for Thanksgiving. Even though we got the flu the day after Thanksgiving, we were able to enjoy spending time with everyone and holding Hudson again!

December: We have been so busy this month! December is once again filled with parties, gift exchanges, and shopping! Bryan, Amanda, and Hudson will be driving to Illinois and we will have the Russell family Christmas a week early. Then, we will jump in the car and drive to Massachusetts to spend a few days with the Campbells! It will be Laura’s first-ever Campbell Christmas, so we are looking forward to that!

We have really enjoyed many recurring opportunities throughout the year. One of the best has been getting together monthly with a couple from church, Walt and Veronica Steffen. The Steffens have been our marriage mentors over the past year. We get together for coffee or dinner about once a month and talk about how things are going, the challenges we face, and what we’re excited about in life. They are a great resource and we really enjoy their company. We have also enjoyed starting a small group with young adults from our church. We meet weekly to hang out and talk about spiritual issues. We quickly outgrew our apartment, but a couple in the group (Daniel and Liz) volunteered to branch out and start a new group. We miss seeing half of the old group each week, but everyone is experiencing a lot more community since we can get to know each other better.

As you can tell, 2009 has been jam-packed for us. As wild as that has been, we expect 2010 to be even crazier! The year has finally arrived for Andrew to graduate!! Depending on the job he gets, we could be staying in Champaign or moving away. We’re looking forward to seeing what next year holds, and we trust God to get us through it all!