Now I know you're saying, "Decorations are just decorations, but we can keep the spirit of Christmas alive all year long." And that's true, and, for the most part, I do, but I really like the lights and the garland, the stockings and the big red bows. They make me happy. And I was VERY happy this evening!
This evening we went to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel tonight with my very best friend from high school, Patty Smith, and her precious family. It was a very special time being with Patty and her family, but it was also special because the Opryland Hotel knows how to do Christmas! If you ever get the chance to visit Nashville at Christmas time, you must put this hotel on your "to-do" list. It is truly amazing! The lights are unlike anything I've ever seen anywhere. Chris and I have been there in Christmas's past and have, of course, been delightfully impressed with the display, but this year to add to it they actually put up a beautiful, ENORMOUS nativity! I was like "Hallelujah! Yes! The victory is ours!" The picture at the right is of Ali and Livi in front of Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem. Below is the full nativity. It's hard to fully appreciate the beauty of it in this picture, but it was exactly what I needed to battle the "after Christmas let down"!
I had a wonderful visit with Patty. I am amazed and inspired by my friend - the struggles she's endured and the strength of her faith through it all. I'm so proud to call her my friend . . . I'm even prouder that she calls me her friend! I love you, Patty! And, Patty shared some great news with me. She recently had a CAT scan that revealed that the specific cancerous spots the doctors have been closely watching are GONE! That's right! GONE! Praise the Lord for the wonderful work He is doing in my friend! Patty still needs your prayers because her blood work still indicated that something is there. She will continue with her regular chemo treatments until her blood work is normal. But we Christians know that the Lord could make that happen right now! Keep praying for healing and strength, healing and strength!!!
My girls made a new friend tonight - Patty's step-daughter, Aubrie! Patty has a wonderful, blended family that maybe I will tell you all about one day if she will let me, but for the time being, I wanted to share this beautiful, talented young lady with you. The thing that impressed me first about Aubrie was that she immediately went to my girls' rooms to see their toys from Santa - she validated my girls and what is important to a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old, even though she is getting ready to drive. Aubrie made my little girls (who now want to grow up to be Aubrie!) feel special and important. That in itself is a wonderful gift! Thank you, Aubrie! Then I was blown over by her singing voice! I don't know for sure how angels sing, but I imagine that Aubrie sings just like them! She has won talent shows and probably more competitions that we didn't get to talk about because she was so focused on my girls and NOT on her! Which was another thing that impressed me about Aubrie - she is so humble! Maybe too humble. While we were walking along (getting lost) in the hotel she so easily compared herself to the teeny tiny cheerleaders who were there for a competition. I pray that Aubrie knows what a gem she is in this fallen world we're living in, what a wonderful role model she is for little girls like mine. In her heart I'm sure she knows because Ken and Patty have done such a good job instilling Christian values into her. The Lord has big plans for Aubrie, and I just can't wait to see what they are!
I've so enjoyed spending time with my family this Christmas. Chris, Ali, and Livi are such gifts to me! I wish it hadn't gone so fast this year - wish I could just bottle up that time and pop it open whenever I need a haven from this crazy world. Next year will be different, as every year is. My girls are getting older and I wonder how long will that child-like magic last? I'm hanging on a little bit longer - with two hands! :)