We made it through Christmas remarkably well, due to the prayers of so many faithful friends and family members. We enjoyed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home, just the three of us, and it was a precious time. Bethany was thrilled with all of her presents, especially her iPod Touch. I cooked a nice dinner for us, and then that evening we went to see The Blind Side (which I highly recommend)! It wasn't until we were on our way home from the movie that the pent-up emotions of the day hit all three of us. We finally made it home and had a message on our answering machine...a very sweet little voice saying "Mewwy Twismas...This is Julia...I love you!" It was our little niece who lives in Indonesia. We were sorry to have missed their call, but that precious message helped lift us out of a low spot.
The day after Christmas we headed to Brad's parents' home in Van Buren, where we celebrated Christmas with all of his family. The event was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that his mom fell and broke her arm that morning. I know she was in pain that evening, but she sat with her arm in a sling and propped up with pillows and watched all of her granddaughters (there are no grandsons!) open their presents. We left out some of the family traditions this year...as the oldest, Hannah always directed her cousins in a presentation of a nativity play, and she was usually "three French hens" in the family rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas". It was just too painful to go there this year. They did have a beautiful snowfall in Van Buren on Christmas Eve, so the cousins got to play in the snow, which was a special treat.
The next day we headed to my parents' house in Mountain Home to celebrate Christmas with them and my older brother's family. My nephew was on a church youth retreat, so we did not actually open presents until Tuesday night when he got back home. In the meantime, we enjoyed lots of good family time. My mom and I participated in our favorite Christmas tradition...shopping! We spent the day Monday in Springfield, Missouri, where we found some great after-Christmas bargains, and basically just enjoyed being together. My dad, Brad, and Bethany enjoyed their favorite Christmas tradition--hunting--and Bethany killed a doe. We will have plenty of deer meat in our freezer this winter! Of course, we missed Hannah while we were there, as well as my younger brother, sister-in-law, and two nieces in Indonesia. It seemed like a very small gathering this year, but we enjoyed our time together.
Yesterday, we came home, only to turn around and drive back to Little Rock last night for the Arkansas Razorback/Baylor Bears basketball game. Brad's sister works for the Baylor University athletic department, and she got us fixed up with second row seats, just behind the Baylor bench. If you happened to watch the game on ESPN2, you saw us. You may not have realized it, but you saw us. Out of consideration for the Baylor player's families with whom we were sitting, we did not wear our Razorback red or participate in calling the Hogs...which felt a little strange! By the end of the game, there wasn't much for a Razorback fan to cheer about anyway. Of course, I didn't think to bring a camera, so I don't have any pictures to post, but we had a great time!
And that brings us back to tonight...New Year's Eve. As I " Wonder What Next Year Holds", I realize that I have no idea what next year holds. Next year is completely and totally out of my control. That is just one of the many things I have learned over the past 22 months. As a control freak, that is sometimes hard for me to accept...I like for everything to fit neatly into my plan. But life doesn't work that way, and I am thankful for a God who is in control. All I have to do is let Him be who He is.
I want to close tonight with the words of Hannah's favorite contemporary Christian song. Whenever she heard it on the radio as we drove back and forth to Little Rock for radiation treatments, platelet transfusions, and chemo infusions, she would say, "Turn it up!"
Lord, You never let go of me.