running & rejoicing

December 2012 had me spending a lot of thought on my Ugandan friends and how joyful our Christmas was with them the year before. I had just gotten out of the hospital, where we had been for 3 days because of my bout of malaria. Rest assured, it sounds worse than it was. In spite of that, it was a time for Jason and me to simply think of our Savior who came to earth. We didn’t buy a single present that I can remember. We celebrated with pork and Cokes with our friends, and it was unforgettable.

December was kicked off to a great start for my sister Ali and me. We ran the St. Jude half marathon that’s hosted in Memphis every year, and it was so much fun. This was my second time to run this race, but it had been 5-6 years, and it made it such a blast that Ali was running too. Here you see us ready to rock! 14692_10100411457737580_1397820041_nAnd one with a better view of the giant Christmas tree. IMG_2762Oh heeeyyy! This is an African wave, people. I didn’t even realize I did it I saw it. 315728_10151324026378945_767309396_nJust passed Sun Studios. Again, with the wave! Ha! I was definitely excited to see people I knew! 380775_550318181825_1800388663_nAli, Jason and I got to hang with friends at the Redbirds Stadium at the finish line, watching the full marathoners come in. I love watching runners! It is so inspiring!IMG_2773Ali’s first 1/2 marathon! She did such a great job!! Super proud of her!

IMG_2794 Throw it back a year. Here we are on Christmas Day 2011 in the village.  We love these dear people so much! That’s Saron sitting in my lap, and our African family around us. Saron had just been in the hospital too, with a busted lip. They gave her stitches sans medication when I brought her there. It was rough. 307658_10100432493686370_2049439731_n Christmas that year was a time of simplicity during a season that usually isn’t simple for us. It included fun and laughter with these kiddos! You can see Jason got to run sprints on track with several of them. Unfortunately, I only got the camera out in time for the cool down. Maybe I was slow because of the malaria side effects. I kid, I kid! IMG_3011 December 2012 marked about 6 months since Jason and I had returned from Uganda. Re-entry was not easy for us.  We are so thankful for our time there and now our time here, but it is not easy. I think we’d both agree that it’s a process and it’s still going on. December brought family to Memphis! Leanne comes home from CO. 🙂 She doesn’t get to at Thanksgiving, so we are PUMPED! Christmas Eve festivities. Yes, Ali had to have surgery on her shoulder after she ran the 1/2. NOT from it, but scheduled after so she could run. Unfortunately, she and Lee both have a nasty habit of popping out their shoulders. ehhehehbjskfj!!! IMG_2885 Mom does this every Christmas Eve. It’s a tradition I love. IMG_2884 My 3 sisters: Ali, Val, Lee and me on Christmas Eve. No bro pics, sadly. IMG_2900 Until…the next morning when it’s time to get our stockings! Andrew, Ali and Dan…blurry edition. IMG_2894IMG_2893Lee helps Jason out with his stocking. She has years more experience than he does with Massee stocking hanging. What a sister-in-law!IMG_2895IMG_2890Val and Tim told us over Thanksgiving they were expecting a little bambino in July!!! Of course the baby needs a stocking too. IMG_2882 The baby got books in his stocking! Andrew might be more excited than the parents-to-be. 😉IMG_2897Family is my favorite part of Christmas. It’s a time to rejoice and celebrate that we are not without hope as believers in Christ. It is a reminder that our Savior has come!IMG_2896Lee brought her awesome camera and snapped this photo of Jason and me. I’m hoping she’ll be my photographer for life! Otherwise I take iPhone pics and hope they turn out ok.

IMG_2901December also brought back friends! Here I am below with Mary Claire at her brother Will’s wedding. She was actually living in Rwanda since January, and Jason and I visited her there in April. Go here if you want to see pics from Rwanda and read about our time there.  So she came home for Thanksgiving and Christmas to see all of us! Well, kinda. Turns out there’s this guy. Named Benjamin. Kinda tall and cute. 🙂 MC has been a sister to me and my 3 sisters for over 10 years. Val’s husband Tim (my bro-in-law) is Will and MC’s older brother. So that makes MC and Val sisters-in-law. Clear, right? Good thing they were already BFF.IMG_2943These two made their official debut to the world! Benjamin and Mary Claire, we fully approve. Fun fact: they met in Rwanda!

IMG_2948 Pictured below: Jason and me at the wedding. We enjoyed food and wine and dancing and friends…it was a celebration! At the wedding that night, a wonderful lady from our church named Liz commented something Jason and I often quote to each other: “It’s so nice to see the missionaries having fun!” Ha! We laugh so hard when we think of it. Love that lady! She is among several friends who sent us a huge care package while in Uganda, which was such a blessing to us. She is with Jesus as of this week, after fighting cancer for about 8 months. I praise Him that she is no longer suffering and that she pointed so many to Himself. I praise Him for her life and encouragement to us while in UG, and I will never forget her kindness and humor! IMG_2944

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