Friday, December 18, 2009

Update and the Ghost of Christmas Letters Past

Well, I guess you guys have figured out that I do most of my catching up between midnight and 2:00 a.m. So when I say I'll try to update tonight, I should really say, I'll try to update after the kids are in bed and before the major networks switch to infomercials. So sorry. These days there's just not enough hours in the day to get it all done.

The short version (although brevity is not my strength): we got over another major hurdle. Praise God, today we finally got Daniel's new birth certificate and Brad and I will forever be listed as his mom and dad! This is a big day not just legally, but emotionally.

But poor Brad had another very stressful day. When he went this morning to pick up the approval from Renap, our paralegal was shaking his head indicating to Brad something was terribly wrong. Apparently there was confusion about my name. They had my maiden name listed as my last and Williams as the middle. (In Guatemala both are listed as surnames.) You wouldn't think that would be a big deal but apparently it is. There was a scramble to fax a name affidavit trying to prove that I am the same person. This was going to take a week to fix, but they finally allowed our documentation to clear up the confusion and sent us to the branch Renap. They had the same concerns, but let it go as well. Brad finally has the beautiful birth certificate in hand but there wasn't enough time today to also get the passport.

He will go to immigration first thing on Monday with the hope that they won't have a problem with the name issue. We also hope we can submit our final docs to the US Embassy Monday because it is the last day they will be open before taking their holiday break. Then we will hope and pray that the US Department of State has enough time in their schedule to fit us in for our final Visa appointments. (Like control top pantyhose on Thanksgiving Day, there's no breathing room here.)

On another note, for those of you who normally get a Christmas card from us, we've decided to wait till Daniel is home and send our annual howdy as an adoption announcement. Our neighbor David said he doesn't really want to read another Christmas letter until Daniel is home. (Hee hee. Last year's was pretty pitiful.) But I so greatly appreciate all my bloggy friends and want to wish you all a Merry Christmas. I'll be posting some of my past Christmas letters for those of you who know that I'm nuts but continue to read anyway.

I've splattered a lot of paint on this canvas of my blog, but as our story unfolds through the years, you'll see the beautiful masterpiece God has been painting in our lives.(You'll also understand the whole "Goodness and Mercy" significance after the 2004 letter.)

I'm going to start with my letter from 2002--it's pasted below the photo we had on our card that year. I read it now and it's hard to remember when life was that simple, when my girls were that young, and what life was like without my two boys. Sometimes I wish I could rewind and have bits of that time back, yet I'm so grateful for where God has brought us.

A quick warning to those of you who haven't read one of these from me. This is not your typical Christmas letter. We don't travel to exotic places, we don't have big acheivements to announce, and you may need Kleenex to get through some of them. (But this one is pretty light.)

As always, thanks for your love, prayers, and encouragement.

God Bless,

Dear Family and Friends,

Before I begin the 2002 edition of “Lifestyles of the Sticky and Sleep-Deprived,” I thought I’d share a little about our Williams family Christmas. I start each holiday season with big plans for a baked from scratch, wrapped in satin ribbons, cover of “Southern Living” kind of Christmas. And I plan to accomplish this triathlon of decorating, shopping, and parties/productions without ever feeling overwhelmed or overextended.

But as soon as I’m thrown up on by a fellow shopper at an after Thanksgiving sale, I realize that, as always, my holiday will probably be less Norman Rockwell and more National Lampoon’s. My gifts will be wrapped by Mommy’s elves in masses of paper and wads of tape; the nicest ornament on our tree will be made of popsicle sticks. My baking will be assisted by Betty Crocker and we’ll lock ourselves out of the house as we deck the halls with boughs of artificial greenery.

Yes, we have spent holidays in the emergency room, had our child urinate on Santa’s lap, and one year after leaving our Christmas tree outside while we purchased a larger tree stand, we returned to find O Tannenbaum covered in slugs. Our holidays have never been perfect, but they have certainly been a lot of fun. The same holds true for the rest of our year and here’s a bit of how we spent it.

Olivia turned five in April and started Kindergarten. At the class Thanksgiving party she was given the Native American name “Blooming Flower” and we attribute much of that blooming to her exceptional teachers. She’s learning to read and I love watching her little face beam as she masters one word at a time. She also lost her first two teeth! She still enjoys ballet and tap and with her love of arts and crafts, gardening and cooking, she’s turning into a little Martha Stewart, minus the insider trading.

Ava turned two last March and struggles between wanting to be a baby and a big girl. Her mission statement: “I do it myself.” She’s a walking question mark followed by an exclamation point and often shares her stream of consciousness with strangers: “Hi, my cat’s name is Yogi, Cinderella lives in a castle, Tic Tacs are spicy!” She’s finishing her tenure at Gymboree and just started real gymnastics. But her biggest thrill is that her sister has promoted her to playmate--she loves being part of the world of “let’s pretend” and they crack each other up with their preschool humor.

Brad has survived another year in what is shaping up to be a very feminine home. A trip to Disney World last spring launched the “Year of the Princesses.” He’s logged in a lot of hours teaching Little Mermaids how to swim and reading bedtime stories to Sleeping Beauties. And for that he will always be our Prince Charming. And I’m having a lot of fun as the Queen Mother--keeping busy with the above.

This past year we’ve had some highs--Brad and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary and we spent some of the summer vacationing with family. And there have been lows--in June, Brad’s grandfather passed away, but we’re comforted in knowing that after almost 93 years he finally got to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

The lowest point came when we learned that my mother’s cancer had returned and spread to her bones. But our despair has been replaced by hope. We’ve been encouraged by news that through radiation, chemo, and a new cancer fighting drug her doctor’s see her gaining on it. Thanks so much for the prayers, phone calls, and letters. Your support means more than you’ll ever know.

I realize that I’ve already overstayed my Christmas letter welcome, but I want to tell you about the one part of Christmas that even I can’t mess up--it’s the Christmas music. I love the majesty of “Handel’s Messiah,” the simplicity of “Silent Night,” and even the humor of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” (although the lyrics seem to change with my holiday waistline to “I am a Hippopotamus at Christmas”). But my favorite may be the same as yours--“O Holy Night.” Whether sung by Celine Dion or a children’s choir, nothing touches me more than the poetry of those lyrics. I just have to believe in a Savior that could inspire such a song.

But my love of this classic is overshadowed by the fact that I have the vocal range of about three notes and one of those notes is the perfect pitch of a computer modem connecting to the Internet. So since Christmas caroling would result in a restraining order, I only sing in the shower (with the added benefit that my voice removes the mildew). That is . . . until Christmas Eve.

After everyone has gone to bed, I walk my rounds to make sure everything looks perfect for the next morning. And before I go upstairs, I’m usually convicted that in my attempt to create a celebration fit for a king (or at least two princesses), I have often forgotten the King of Kings.

So I kneel by our tree--before my Lord--and imagine the lights are the stars of Bethlehem. And I sing, quietly enough so I don’t cause the neighborhood dogs to bark or wake my sugar plum fairies, but loud enough so my humble offering can be heard in heaven: “O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world, in sin and error pining. Till he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth. . . .”

And as I sing, I’ll reflect on the past year. And this year I’m grateful for my husband and daughters. Grateful for God’s provision. Grateful for brave men and women serving our country like our friend Captain Michael Roache who’ll miss Christmas with his wife and three young children as he serves in Kuwait. Grateful for those we call parent, grandparent, sister, friend. Grateful for one more year with my mom.

And most of all, I’ll be grateful for a Perfect Gift born under imperfect circumstances, in an imperfect world, for an imperfect wife and mom in Georgia. As I’m overwhelmed by the extravagance of such a gift the tears will pour down my cheeks but I’ll continue to sing, “Fall on your knees, o hear the angel voices, o night divine, o night when Christ was born.” And on this one night each year, I’ll hit every note with a voice worthy of the angels singing back-up. It doesn’t matter what happens the next morning for I feel like I have witnessed the birth of Christ . . . I have already celebrated Christmas in my heart.

So I guess our wish for you this holiday is that even if your Christmas isn’t perfect, may it be a lot of fun. May your tree be slug-free, may you hit all the high notes, but most of all may you witness the miracle of Christ’s birth.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year!

With Much Love,
The Williams Family


triplehmoms said...

I love you posting these old letters because it helps me to "learn" more about your family and your heart. Sweetness!

I am SO glad that you go the birth certificate. I will pray for things to operate like a well-oiled machine tomorrow and then your family can be COMPLETE for Christmas! God CAN make it happen. He can move mountains and so He can do this too!

~Shelley~ said...

Visiting from MBC! I'm now following. I'd love for you to come visit me!

~Shelley @