Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 Douglass Christmas Letter

ALL ABOARD!...to blaze the locomotive trail of our year!! That is indeed the only way to describe life from the past 12 months!

Bert & Jessica’s locomotive life was already on the fast track and hasn’t slowed down yet. Before April saw its last week, granddaughter #6 came unexpectedly on the scene 3 weeks ahead of schedule. Several hours after her dramatic entry, we were able to hold Caroline Lawson Kelly and love on a very exhausted mom and dad. Less than two months later, they moved, settling once again into their own home in Marietta, Georgia.

Elizabeth has kept them on their toes in more ways than one...despite several seizures that sent them to the doctors in 2010, Elizabeth is seizure-free and full of personality and independance. Caroline, on the other hand, is proving to be more laid back and is always full of smiles. "E" loves her baby sister and is the ideal big sister!

Jay and Melanie just keep chugging along the tracks as Allie, Alexis, Aleaha, Alivia and Alaina continue to grow faster than weeds! Melanie is excited to be finishing up her first semester back to school and yet is still a bit apprehensive as she gets ready to blow full steam ahead into the nursing program!

Hannah was traveling full speed ahead when she derailed in an all out train wreck at the end of summer. The debris has finally been cleaned up and she is now back on track...the load she is pulling weighs heavily behind her, but if you listen closely, you can hear whispers of "I think I can...I think I can!"

It has indeed been a rough year for her, but she is surviving; and before it is over, she will be one of the few to complete the IB degree. Through all of this, she has made the decision to hold off college for a year in exchange for 7 months with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). The $7,000 price tag covers 3 months training in one country and 3-4 months outreach in another country. She has applied to Belmont and Carson Newman and will seek a deferrment if accepted. So, in addition to the money she is working to save for her France trip in May and Columbia missions trip in June, this is quite a lofty goal. She is excited about her future and trusts everything will fall into place!

Despite all the mess, she still found reason to sing: open mics; prom; homecoming court; spring break at Seaside; induction as Thespian President and French Honor Society Secretary; and a week each visiting her aunt in Indianapolis, attending camp at Carson Newman, on missions in Kentucky, babysitting her nieces in Georgia, visiting her grandparents in Memphis, and vacationing in Clearwater, Florida! (Whew!)

Rebeka’s travels this summer were limited to Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida...the miles she’s racked up, however, are from cross country and track... enough to place her into the 300-mile club. She loves the sport and is an excellent runner (in spite all her injuries this year!)

She, too, found her school year causing a derailment, but she’s rustling on and able to balance everything easier now that she has been able to drop out of the I.B. pro-gramme...she still carries quite a load, though, with 5 AP classes. Carson Newman is at the top of her college choices, and she is also praying about doing YWAM.

She doesn’t get to spend as much time playing her violin as she would like; but on the weekends, she will get together and play with Hannah on the piano. Other than that time, their schedules take them in two different directions, so we soak up every second of those moments!

For the most part, Keith and I have been stalled on the spur since August still trying to regroup. Up until that point, we were traveling along enjoying all the activities of each season, then WHAM! We found ourselves in some major crises that called for quick action...next thing we know, we are renting out our home and moving into a rental home for what we thought would be two years. I don’t think a whiskey mill could’ve been moved as fast as we did! After all the dust settled, we were faced with a collossal mess, and we are still trying to put all the pieces back together!!!

As it is, here we are in a new place, for a time, doing a new thing. It has been an experi-ence that has drained every one of us. BUT, that being said, we cannot com-plain~~life is good!...despite Keith losing his overtime hours, he still has a job...that is great! Despite some physical challenges, I am still able to do most everything I’ve come to take for granted, with only minor adjustments...that is awesome!

One of the lessons this year has reminded us of (yes, I ended that with a prepositional phrase...!) is that life hands out lemons~~in bulk, sometimes! Our job is to figure out the best lemonade recipe possible, make it, and SELL IT!!! The girls are so tired of hearing me say that, but man is it ever so true!!!

And in a world filled with facebook, texting, blogging, and other high-tech gadgets, there really is nothing more precious than the relationships we share.

So as you step off our "train" back onto the platform of your own life, we hope you know how precious your friendship is to us! We also pray that we all will find ways to slow down this Christmas season to focus not only on the beauty of the season, but the beauty of God’s plan fulfilled through Christ!