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The Christmas Letter – 2017 Edition

Caldwell City Christmas Lights

Seasons Greetings, lovely friends!

And yes, I am still alive. 2017 has been a crazy year for me—crazy good, actually, but it resulted in a rather long and unexplained hiatus from the blog. But the hiatus is over, and I have some fun things planned for the upcoming year. I hope you’ll stick around and join me on some exciting new ventures, because 2018 promises to be amazing.

In the mean time, here’s what I’ve been up to while I’ve been away.

Sunnyside Gardens Greenhouse
One of the greenhouses I helped tend at Sunnyside Gardens.
Sunnyside Gardens

I started out the year working for Sunnyside Gardens, a plant nursery in Idaho Falls, ID. I loved it. Words cannot convey what a blessing this job was for me. Somewhat ironically, I was on my way to the worst job I’ve ever had when I felt prompted to stop in and see if Sunnyside was hiring. Within four hours, I had lost said awful job and was driving home in tears. As I drove past the nursery, the Spirit again prompted me to stop in and see if they were hiring, and I did. I filled out an application, and come February, I started a seasonal position as a transplanter. It was exactly what I needed: green therapy, new friends, and a job that fed my soul. I am grateful for those little promptings that so often change the course of our very lives for the better.


Applying for a job at Sunnyside wasn’t the only life-changing prompting I received this year. Shortly after moving to eastern Idaho, I set up a profile on Tinder. I was loathe to join a dating site that focused so much on physical appearance, but nothing else had been working for me, and I didn’t feel like I could expect God to bless me with a companion if I wasn’t doing everything in my power to look. Still, the icky nature of Tinder (and some unwelcome communications from guys whose motives were less than pure) caused me to abandon my attempts to find love by swiping right.

And then, right around the beginning of March, I felt like I needed to log back into my account and look again.

Um, no thank you. That place is gross.

But the feeling persisted, and so I found myself logging in one day before church–if only so that I could delete my account and be rid of it forever. To appease that little voice in my mind that had sent me there in the first place, I decided to do a little swiping before I deactivated the account, during which I found a profile that gave me pause. It was rather sparse, and all I knew about the guy was that he was a mechanic who is studying music and likes to work at Boy Scout Camps during the summer. Because previous experience had proven that guys with sparse profiles tended to be a waste of time, I moved to swipe left–until that familiar little voice said, “Ummm, you should probably swipe right on this one.”


So I did.

A week or so later, Brett and I went on our first date. A week after that, we were officially a couple. And seven months to the day from that first connection on Tinder, we got married.

Bear Lake Aquatics Base

True to form, Brett was slated to work at a Boy Scout camp (Bear Lake Aquatics Base, or BLAB) again that summer. My time at Sunnyside was coming to a close, as was the lease on my apartment, and I desperately needed to find work and housing. I kept feeling like I should ask Brett if Bear Lake was still hiring, but I didn’t want to be That Girl Who Follows Her Brand New Boyfriend to a Different State. But when my uncle called me out of the blue to ask if I’d consider working for the BSA again and then my mother did the same, I figured it was the universe conspiring against me–or another potentially life-changing prompting. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

So I talked to Brett, and whaddoyouknow? BLAB was still hiring. I applied and was hired as their STEM area director and marketing director. BLAB is very different from Philmont, but I had a great time. I made lots of new friends, enjoyed working with youth again, and expanded my marketing portfolio. Like Sunnyside, Bear Lake was exactly what I needed when I needed it.

Bear Lake is also where Brett proposed, so it will always hold a special piece of my heart.

Wedding Bells

Brett and I were married on October 6th up in Idaho Falls. We had a gorgeous star-themed reception, and we were blessed to have so many friends and family come celebrate with us. I hadn’t seen some of those friends in eight years, and it was awesome to have my best friends all meet each other.

(Photos by Roger Sondrup)


Thanks to some very generous friends, Brett and I were able to go on a honeymoon to California. I’ll be posting more about this soon so I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but we had fun exploring art, music, history, and agriculture in and around Palm Springs.

Back to Real Life

Our first home as a married couple is a cute little apartment in Pocatello, ID. After 3 months, we’re still unpacking our boxes and making this place feel like home, but we love it. He’s saving up to finish his degree, and I’m getting ready to launch two businesses in the new year. Brett has lots of family in the area, so I’ve enjoyed getting to know my in-laws (whom I love dearly!). We’ve also been back to Boise a few times to visit my folks, which means lots of sweet snuggles with my new nephew, Ezra. All in all, life is grand.

So there you have it: my year in a nutshell. What exciting things have you enjoyed this year? What are you looking forward to in 2018? 


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Jess Friedman
Jess is a Canadian-American who’s always ready for the next adventure. She loves all things living, always has a million creative projects in progress, and polishes her nerd badge daily. She is passionate about helping families make and preserve treasured memories that strengthen bonds across generations. You can read more posts by Jess here.

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4 Responses

  1. Thank you for your Christmas letter/post and all the pics, Jess! I’m so glad to hear you and Brett are doing so well. I hope to get a New Year’s letter written from our family and will send you a copy if so. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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