Day 32 – December 26, 2008

As I hit the send button on the last update I began to reflect on Christmas, remember I was on a plane with 6 children sitting in pairs glued to their own portable DVD player, so I had the time. It is so fitting in my life that George’s birthday is on Christmas Eve. Offering a thanksgiving prayer to God for George and thus Kevin and our children is like a warm up exercise or dress rehearsal for the big day – Christmas. For what event and which Father and Son team is more deserving of a thanksgiving prayer than the birth of our Savior and our heavenly Father – God and His Son – Jesus.

I feel inadequate thanking God for the gift of my Savior. I did nothing to deserve this gift and yet that is what makes it a true gift – it is freely given with no strings attached. How many of us as we purchased, wrapped, gave and received gifts heard or said the words – “You shouldn’t have,” or “But I didn’t get you anything,” or one of Kevin and my favorites “You are too generous.” To all those who heard “you shouldn’t have” – I ask why not? To all the “but I didn’t get you anything” – I say I didn’t give to receive I simply gave because you and your actions in my life moved me to give you some token of how important you are to me. To all the “you are too generous” – I offer is that even possible? In the Bible doesn’t God state that His generosity will never be outdone – so I say be generous. God will take care of you, He has your back. Give and He will return your giving to you ten fold.

Kevin and I complement each other very well in giving. We love to share what we have with others. I love to pick out the perfect gift for everyone I love or make something special. This year things were a bit different – we did give. We were the” less is more” philosophy – we gifted many of our supporters with St. Jude ornaments – something to remember this year throughout all the Christmases to come. What made this year so different was the fact that we were so on the receiving side and it is very humbling to receive so much from so many. This place of humility is yet another reminder of Christmas. What is more humble then to be born in a stable? And yet it is through this humility that I find myself hanging on to all that is there and all that truly matters – God.

God is with us and always has been and while I have always known this my level of understanding is growing every day. I knew where I was in my faith before I became a mother but teaching my children about God increased my own understanding of my faith. Now on Christmas morning watching Catie prepare herself to receive her First Holy Communion my level of understanding was growing again. Catie was nervous. There were taste issues. There were “everyone is looking at me” issues. There were the “what if I do it wrong?” issues. As Mass continued Catie grew more concerned and yet the moment she received she relaxed. She smiled and beamed and tolerated the photos as she waited for her piece of cake.

This sweet little girl has been through so much – pain, major surgery, recovery, cancer, radiation, chemotherapy, the news that her tumor is back and that she can’t be cured and yet she is nervous about receiving her Lord and Savior in the Eucharist. Catie did not miss the significance of the moment – this was a big deal – she was accepting her Lord and Savior and in her mind was she ready? This is a question that Catie asks herself each day. For as another day passes, according to the doctors, she is another day closer to facing Our Savior Jesus in Heaven and will she be ready? That is our job as parents each day – to prepare our children to live here on Earth each day preparing and aware of our eternal life in Heaven. Each day we do our best and many of you tell Kevin and me your opinions of how you think we are doing and we thank you for your support. We are not perfect but we are trying and praying and that is the best we can do.

So what happened after Catie received her First Holy Communion? She smiled, ate cake and enjoyed her Christmas. We went back to Grammy and Poppy’s and had Kevin’s brunch, we opened some presents – the 8 of us celebrate all 12 days of Christmas, took a nap, and went to Aunt Lynn’s where we feasted on all sorts of tasty treats, including Austin’s pumpkin pie. Catie met many folks from South Carolina who have been following her story – she smiles and greets everyone and never ceases to amaze me. Last night as Catie was lying down before bed Kevin and I joined her. I watched Catie as she and Kevin listened to tunes on the computer. Not since she was a baby have I spent time just staring at her. I do now. I don’t know if I am trying to memorize her or if I am just in awe of how close this child (like the Christ child) has brought me to God.

Praying for a miracle (what better time than Christmas),

Christine, Kevin, Maggie, Max, Catie, Mia, Molly, and M.E.

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