I’m going to be completely honest and say that writing the Christmas letter was difficult for me this year (one of the reasons you are receiving it in mid-Jan). The last couple months of the year brought some unhappy events and it was difficult to get the balance between the fun, event-filled first 10 months, and the last, more sober 2 months. Because it’s impossible to mesh the two, Mom has written the first paragraph which details the last couple months, and the rest the letter will be written by me.
If you’ve followed our lives for the past 6 years you know I’ve struggled with seizures due to a “lesion” on my brain. I’ve always called it that because the word tumor sounds, well, terrible. Another 2 seizures over Thanksgiving, after being seizure-free for 5 years, forced me to have my annual MRI earlier than planned. The tumor, which I’m forced to call it now, actually showed the type of growth which indicates malignancy. It is inoperable because of location, and any attempt to remove it would leave me with severe speech and motor skill deficiencies similar to the mild ones I encountered after my biopsy in 2000. We hesitate in doing radiation and chemo quite yet, leaving that as a last resort, desiring to pursue other options first as God leads. Al worked tirelessly during our vacation to CO and researched hundreds of other treatments. I’m praying that my first choice will accept me. I am awed by God’s protection in allowing me to get home, as I was driving with Leah in the car right before my seizure, and allowing my whole family to be there to care for me. I am awed by my children’s willingness to pray with and for me, and for the husband He has blessed me with. My father, who would give his live to bear this for me, gives me a glimpse of what Christ did for us through his death. A dear friend pointed me to Psalm 116, which speaks of David’s hopelessness and despair as being the real enemy, not physical death, and to that end I will live. To God be the Glory. ~Marie
Well, we’ve certainly had a distinctive year. I can’t remember what happened in the early parts of 2005 except that we had wood floors installed in February. They are so beautiful we can almost forget the back-breaking work of chipping up the tile, living on cold, dirty concrete floors for a month, trying to get to other rooms in the house by weaving around all the misplaced furniture and attempting to complete schoolwork despite the loud workmen. Almost.
Mom, Leah, Grandma, and I had a trip the Netherlands in May to visit the woman who Mom stayed with as an exchange student back in ‘76. Dad had been encouraging Mom to go for the last 10 years, so our time spent with “Mama Branderhorst” holds a special place in our memory as she passed away a few weeks after we returned to the States. We were so thankful that God gave us the opportunity to see her. I am also thankful to Leah who saved my life seconds before a tram would have run me over. The most embarrassing part was that we had to ride that tram and the driver glared at me. After that, I was more careful to be aware of all moving vehicles and where they were in relation to me.
Our summer continued with a trip to Hilton Head, SC for a family re-union with Dad’s side of the family. We also had two delightful houseguests (at different times) during the summer, one being a young lady who dwells in Maryland, the other a guy from (England? Great Britain? The United Kingdom? We had this discussion, and I’ve already forgotten which is proper).
During August, the whole family traveled to Idaho for a history conference and to visit some dear friends. We had some time to kill while we were traveling, so my parents decided we should all visit the fish hatchery. This was probably the highlight of Mom’s year. The rest of us . . . let’s just say we were eager to leave. We also did a quick trip to MS for Stefan to look at Belhaven College (quick? Would you consider 18 hours in the car quick?)
The boys are still involved in soccer, the girls in music. Stefan is playing soccer for the local high school, and duel enrolled at the college as a homeschooled student. Leah is taking violin and cello classes at the college (she’s a senior), and has taken on the role of teacher, instructing two little kids on the violin. I have switched harp teachers, and I’m extremely reluctant to tell everyone how far away my teacher is. I am incessantly grateful to my parents who fund this hobby and drive an hour and a half to my teacher, wait around for my two hour lesson, and then drive all the way back. Do the math; harp lessons are an all day event.
Our year ended with a trip to a ski resort in Colorado for a family reunion with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins (18 people in all…thanks again Grandpa!). It was the first time that many of us had seen snow. We had so much fun trying to run through snowdrifts. Since many of us had never skied, we took a class the first day. The poor instructor had to help me up so many times. He was worried about Leah at first because she fell on the people mover, the tow-line, and the ski lift. Amazingly, she didn’t fall very often on the slopes. During one of the many times Stefan fell, he injured his thumb. We haven’t figured out yet how he managed to fall and hurt his thumb. We could have understood if it was arm or a leg. I think Tomas’s highlight of the trip was after he threw up in the snow at the ski class. He got to ride in a snowmobile back to the lodge.
This is the short version of our year, but with Mom’s paragraph I think it’s the longest letter. Under the circumstances I didn’t think you’d mind. We are thankful for each and every one of you, and we ask for your prayers, especially during this difficult time.