Happy New Year!!
I'm sorry I haven't posted lately. I was so tired after the marathon week of blogging and then Christmas hit... During that whole week of blogging, I was having some sort of weird allergic reaction where my eyelids were all swollen and red, and then I caught a cold. I was MISERABLE! I think I'm finally in the land of the living again! :-) I had to go for much longer without wearing makeup than I'm comfortable with, and had to completely change my makeup in case I've developed an allergy to some of the ingredients. Another difficult side effect of the whole thing is that my eyelids are now very sensitive to my tears. Whenever I cry, it burns my eyelids all over again. So by all rights, I suppose I should just stop crying. Ummmm... NOT.
Here's a little glimpse into my pain...
Thankfully, I don't look like that anymore!
The anniversary of Ellie's death passed in a very good, albeit emotional, way. You all made it very special for me with your comments. Thank you for participating in such an encouraging way! Many people made that milestone incredibly meaningful for us. Some sweet friends of mine sent us flowers on the 19th. Some of the family who live too far away to be here in person, contributed with Loretta and Reni to build us a bouquet of flowers that began the week before the 19th. and was completed on that day. Along with a new flower for the bouquet, each day Loretta and Reni gave us a page from an album full of photos and letters from the family. (I shared Neal's with you on the blog.) I can't even describe to you how amazing that was! To have Ellie's life remembered and missed in such a tangible way, and to be showered with such love, was more than we ever expected.
I'm sorry I don't have all kinds of fun Christmas pictures for you. I think we may have taken some, but mostly we just settled in and enjoyed the whole experience with Ethan. There were tears as we decorated the tree without our girl. But there was also laughter as Ethan pulled his Narnia sword (from my parents) out of the wrapping paper, exclaiming "ohhhhh, oh my goodness, ohhhhhh my... ohhhhhh wow!!!!!" The boy of many words could barely put two intelligable ones together in his excitement.
We enjoyed some Christmas Eve webcam time with both of our families. Seeing our nieces in action was priceless, and it was a great time for Ethan and his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to see one another!
We had Christmas dinner with the family in town at John's cousin Derek's house. The food was incredible and we enjoyed spending the day with loved ones. There was a gift exchange where everyone gets to unwrap a gift or steal someone elses'. I opened a gorgeous photo album that Derek's wife, Roni, put together. It was full of family photos from September when everyone came to remember Ellie on her birthday. I am not a competitive person, but I wanted that album. I REALLY wanted it. Seriously... wanted it! After it was stolen from me, I made John steal it back. It all came down to Gayle (who is married to John's uncle Dick). She also wanted that album, but in a completely selfless and gracious move, she chose to unwrap a new gift, thus ending the game and sealing my victory! I will always treasure that album, not only for the memories it contains, but also for the love with which it was made by Roni, and given up by Gayle.
So... today begins the year 2009. I don't really make resolutions because I know that I am not disciplined enough to keep them. I don't want to set my new year up with an unattainable expectation (although I admire those who can). I'd rather not set it up with expectations of any kind. I think that the only thing I can be sure of for this new year is that there will be a measure of joy, sorrow and change. It is what every other year of my life has brought. And I know with absolute certainty that God will be with us every moment of every day in this new year. His love is rich and deep and full beyond measure. And it will be enough.
I have quoted this Happy New Year's card at least twice before on this blog, but this will be the first time I have ever used it at the beginning of a new year. Still, I feel as if it applies to our lives now as much as ever:
"I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: 'Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the known.' And he replied: 'Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to thee better than light and safer than a known way.'"