Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Christmas to Remember...

I apologize if this is too long. There is just so much to this story. I had to add in some history so everyone could understand. Some of you may read repeated news. Sorry.

Wow is about the only word that I have that even remotely describes this Christmas for us. Wow God…Wow people of God…Wow..Wow..Wow!

I’m writing this from a personal view of what has transpired. However, this was not about me. It was about what God did for our family. The best gift I got is a faith grown.

Those of you who know me even a little know that I am a “fix it” person and that I’m painfully independent. I’ve spent my life fixing things. The last two years has been one of situations and circumstances that are just not in my power of control to do a thing about. It’s been frustrating and scary to me.

Hannah’s health has always been hard to manage but when she had that 2 ½ hr seizure on July 17th 2008 and we almost lost her, things changed in me. Then it happened again and again and we had 6 of those among many other smaller incidents in the next 18 months. A fear like I never knew crept into my life and I felt like things were spiraling out of control. I did not want to lose my child. I went into the “fix it” mode that I had always went in when things weren’t going “right” and nearly drove myself crazy with it. THIS was something that I could not fix. I had to leave it in God’s hands, trust him to direct us, the doctors, her therapists, and teachers. I’ve been a Christian almost my entire life but my relationship with God has been in a growing stage lately. I’ve watched others in their relationship and saw something in mine lacking. I wanted what they had. I’ve felt like I’ve gone back to scratch with God and it’s been an amazing experience. It’s definitely a good thing I LOVE to learn. 

We lost Billie in February and it was devastating. Billie and I had our moments of frustration with each other but those times were few and we really shared a fun, loving and respectful relationship. I miss her a lot. It’s been hard not having her here.

Then in October after years of going to a doctor who would pat me on the back and tell me that my symptoms were normal for someone with my stress load we finally got some answers about my own spiraling health. It’s a story in itself how I came to go to another doctor who listened to me and got to the bottom of what was going on. It was such a relief to know that I was not lazy, depressed, or even just tired. Blood work was ordered and a virus discovered. Treatments were ordered, and a picc line put in place. 21 days of IV treatments 3 times a day done and I’m feeling better than I have in 9 years! I was diagnosed with CFS(chronic fatigue syndrome) and even though it is not cured completely and will have to be managed with diet, exercise, supplements, and stress reliefs I am excited to feel better than I have in a VERY long time.

All of this medical stuff has put a horrible strain on our finances. I do not say much about it because we manage for the most part. We struggle most of the time to meet the medical needs of Hannah but to add mine to the mix…it was not going to be pretty. I can’t work right now because of the demands of Hannah’s health. I have to be available even to run to the school in a minutes notice. I have had garage sales, sold things on ebay, and even have tried my hand at secret shopping.  Add to all that, the economy with no raises, insurance premiums drastically increasing and then copays, deductibles, and out of pockets going through the roof, it just makes things tough.

When we started thinking about Christmas this year it was impossibility. There was no money for it at all. We never buy the kids much but there were no funds for even a few gifts. My heart was heavy because Kyle turns 18 on the 30th and will be going off to college, military or whatever he decides to do. This was basically his last Christmas at home as a child. It was also their first Christmas without nanna. She had been with them for EVERY Christmas they had ever had. I sat on my bed feeling intensely sad. As I said, my relationship with God has been in a growing stage. (I hope it always grows like this) Through this I have just started talking to God about everything. Every hope, dream, hurt, or disappointment. I started listening to a song by Kutless called, “What Faith Can do” over and over and over. I remembered KLTY’s Christmas wish and thought maybe there is someone out there that could donate some tickets to the boys for Holiday in the Park so they can at least go have some fun and I sat down to write the letter. I decided against sending the letter because there are just so many people in need and much more needy than we are. I got up and cleaned house listening to “what faith can do” over and over and over again. When I sat down again I decided why not just send it and see what happened.

Between sending that letter and Thanksgiving I started treatments. The last day of school before Thanksgiving break Hannah’s teacher asked me to meet her at her car. I got there and there were two baskets of stuff. One was a basket of goodies for Hannah and the other was a basket of food. Also there was a card with money in it. I was overwhelmed. Hannah’s teacher’s neighbor had adopted us for Thanksgiving. We were so touched that someone would help us like that.

We went to my brother’s for Thanksgiving. I was near the middle of my treatments and I was MISERABLE. To get any relief I had to lie down. Once I lay down and did absolutely nothing I felt better. Needless to say I was useless and my sister in law did everything. I cried most of the way home because I felt so bad and was afraid I would never feel good. It was probably the most hopeless I’ve ever felt. We had been home maybe an hour when my phone rang. I didn’t get to it in time so I had to listen to the message. I just sat on the edge of my bed with my mouth hanging open thinking….WOW! The message was from a woman who had been out shopping with friends and pulled my letter from KLTY’s Christmas wish book. I was so excited! My boys were going to get tickets to Holiday in the Park! I told David and let him read the letter I wrote real quick. He had no idea what I had done. LOL! (that’s what happens when your husband is an IT manager whose company is in the midst of a huge relocation. There just isn’t enough time in a day to share everything you need to!) I composed myself the best I could and called her back. I will never forget that conversation. She asked me for a Christmas list from the guys and Hannah and I said, “Well, I just asked for Holiday in the park tickets”. I think she chuckled and said, “I know…those are done…get me a list…we want to do more.” She sounded so excited and happy, and those in the background also sounded like they were having a great time! I could hardly talk through the tears as she shared with me that her little sister had seizures and she could relate to my guys. Then my heart almost stopped as she told me about the group that would be helping us. They are a group of neighbors/friends who walk their dogs together. They had no idea about Koolio at that time. I told her about Koolio a little and then told her to go to Hannah’s blog to learn more so I wouldn’t keep her all day because you know how I get once I start talking about Koolio. LOL! I got off the phone and danced a jig! It felt so great to know that Christmas was not going to be depressing in our house this year!

David and I talked to the guys and asked them to make a list. I KNEW that was going to be a tough one because they know how tight financially things have been for us. David reminded them to think positive and write down what they really wanted. When I first got the list I was like, “I cannot send this to them” Teenagers stuff is not cheap. For a moment I considered altering it and then decided against that. I just sent it. I began interacting with who David quickly dubbed, “Santa Ann”. Almost daily there was a development of some sort. It was so exciting! I blogged about how Billie would be fussing at me for throwing out our Christmas tree before I had a replacement. That’s when we learned about “Santa Karen”. She and some teachers from Kerr Elementary purchased us a magnificent Christmas tree. (It has colored lights, which is what Zach wanted. They could not have possibly known that.) We have a host of “Santa’s” by the way. It’s unreal what this group of friends/neighbors did together. Karen’s golf team also did some amazing stuff for a fellow student that they probably will never even meet. We’ve been unable to part with the money it would take to purchase a class ring for Kyle. This group of kids came together and gave the money to purchase that ring for him. We later learned that when the class ring company heard about what these kids did they decided to donate Kyle’s ring so the money the kids gave for Kyle’s ring went to purchase his senior pictures. It’s just been one blessing after another. Just incredible!

Last Sunday 5 of the “Santa’s” in this group came to Hillsboro to meet us for lunch at Black Eyed Pea. We had the boys go elsewhere so they wouldn’t know what was happening. David, Hannah, Koolio, and myself met them. It was so exciting to get to meet them face to face. It felt like we were meeting with a bunch of old friends we hadn’t seen in a long time. We had a great time at Black Eyed Pea eating and chatting. Hannah just lit up when everyone sang “Santa Claus is coming to Town”. We then left and they followed us home.

Nothing could have prepared me for what would happen next. These ladies began bringing in the most beautifully wrapped packages. There was not room enough under our tree for all of them. They just kept coming and coming and coming. Not only gifts but boxes of cookies and a home made lasagna. They gave us a gift card to Wal-mart to buy groceries and stocking stuffers. I have never been so lost for words. Hannah was adorable. When the boys came home she told them…”people came…brought me pretty things.” I wish I had a picture of the boys’ faces when they walked in the door. They have NEVER seen so many presents and certainly weren’t expecting even a couple of presents this year. I loved seeing the expressions on their faces.

We thought that the lasagna was the neatest thing and it really showed us that God was so much a part of what was happening. EVERY year Billie would make David a home made lasagna between Thanksgiving and his birthday. Even in the last couple years when she wasn’t feeling well she’d have me help her and we’d whip one up. There is NO way the lady that made it could have known that David would be missing that lasagna this year.

In the midst of all this a friend’s Sunday school class gave us an offering to help buy groceries or gifts. She also gave us some gifts to give Hannah. Hannah’s teacher’s neighbor gave us some gifts for Hannah too. It was amazing.

On Christmas Eve David and I sat the boys down and told them the story and they were pretty much speechless. Just so amazed that someone cared about what they have gone through and wanted to help. We said a prayer of Thanksgiving and let them open a couple gifts. I think I can honestly say that these guys had the Christmas of a lifetime. They got a Wii, guitar, tv, and so many other things as well as tickets to Holiday in the Park! Not only did they get so many surprises but Hannah had an amazing Christmas too. I think they enjoyed helping her with her stuff almost as much as they did opening their own. She got a sponge Bob comforter set. I didn’t think I was going to get her out of it once we put it on her bed. She LOVES it. She got Sponge Bob slippers, pillow, game, and shirt. She’s in Sponge Bob heaven! She really had so many wonderful gifts including some special hats! I wish y’all could have seen David’s face too. He opened his gifts and in one box was Stars tickets and I thought he was going to go into cardiac arrest over that. The very next package he opened was Mav’s tickets. I thought for sure we’d have to call 911 then. It was priceless. Koolio and myself got gifts too. I got a great outfit and a beautiful cross and Koolio got a tug toy and neckerchief that matches one of Hannah’s hats. So adorable! It was just all a tremendously amazing.

The best part of all this for me was watching the joy in the faces of my family after all the months and months of distress we’ve experienced. It was incredibly amazing to see so much hope born in our hearts. It was a boost; something to inspire and keep us going through any tough time ahead. I can’t remember a more stress free holiday.

I could say so much more and I’m sure I’m leaving out stuff. I know that not only was this experience faith building for me but for David and our kids too. I watched it build in their faces as the realization of what was happening set in. We are blessed!

To all our Santa’s, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You did not only provide Christmas for our family, you breathed hope into our lives. I can never thank you enough.

To the very reason for this season….Thank you! Thank you for the lessons you’re teaching me. Thank you for your patience as I learn those lessons. Thank you for loving me where I’m at and thank you for loving my family even more than I do! Thank you for coming to this earth, for dying on a cross, and for resurrecting so that I can know redemption. Oh, how I need redemption! Do me a favor please…give my Billie a BIG hug from me!

God bless all of you and Happy New Year!


Rachael said...

Even though I already knew the whole story, I got a chill reading it! I cannot think of a more deserving bunch. I love you all! Have a wonderful New Year!!
God Bless,

Anonymous said...


I sobbed my way through this post. What wonderful hearts all those people have to love all of you that way. I'm so happy you all were able to receive that love and hope when you were (understandably) feeling worn. Bless you and your whole fabulous family!
Blessed Woman