Thursday, December 17, 2009

We Wish You a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!
The Donahue Crew
Don & Laura Lyn
Cara (11), Brennan (11), Eliza (9), and Baker (14)

The old adage, "Time flies when you're having fun," applies well to the Donahue Crew. Although we've had our fair share of not-so-fun-moments, the joy of being a parent to four precious children is what makes the years pass so quickly. Children grow in the blink of an eye, and the years get shorter as I grow older. It seems as though it was yesterday when I was holding my first-born child in my arms. That was 14 years ago.

As a family, throughout 2009, we have experienced many highs and lows. God has carried us through both. It has been a tough year, and 2009 bookends a decade of desert experiences that we are the better for having walked through -- albeit sometimes just barely dragging. God has sustained us through the tumultuous demise of the music industry (thanks in part to digital downloading), the close of a hard-fought business, failed promises, business venture after business venture collapsing, a savings squandered by a selfish man, a rapid decline in income and many other life-challenges that intensified our need for a gracious God.

Praise Him that He is indeed that: Gracious. Never does His love waiver. He is our Sustainer and continues to carry us through the close of 2009 and on into a new decade.

While there have been rough waters, there has been an oasis or two (or three or four :) here and there. God never let us go without food, shelter or clothing, and He opened our eyes wider to the beautiful children we have been entrusted to raise, nurture, teach and, above all, love with all of our hearts.

Baker #24 for the GMS Generals

This fall, Baker began playing football for the Grassland Generals. In the past, he played for the Franklin Cowboys, our county league, and has been waiting with baited-breath to join the Generals Varsity Team. Baker started as cornerback and occasionally played on the kickoff team. I loved watching him on the field and building a comradery with the other football parents. To say that Baker was ecstatic over playing footfall would be an understatement. Baker engrossed himself in not just football but in becoming a trusted teammate, a well-mannered young man and a leader on and off of the field. Later this fall, Baker went on to wrestle for GMS and discovered that he had a natural talent for the sport... following in the footsteps of his uncles. At the end of the season, the Generals placed #1 in Williamson county and Baker placed #2 in his weight class. Wow! I am so proud of him and the joy that his participation in sports has brought not only to him but to Don and me as well. What I am most proud of, though, is the fact that Don and I were blessed by unsolicited compliments from friends, parents of teammates and faculty on behalf of Baker, his kindness and his joy... joy unspeakable, an oasis.

Brennan at the Mizzou Campus

Brennan is our "joy boy." His eyes dance; his feet dance; his whole presence exudes joy. Brennan is very talented musically. We knew he had talent, but this spring, he combined his talent for playing instruments with his knack for being very funny. Brennan learned to play the recorder (not a flute!) very well. Brennan learned to play two recorders at the same time very well. As a matter of fact, Brennan taught himself to play the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" from the Lion King... not just the traditional way with the mouth, but in a very non-traditional way with a recorder poised in each nostril. Talk about joy! I don't know when I've laughed as hard as I did when he first showed me this skill!
(The video is posted on my FaceBook page if you want to see it)  Undoubtedly, Brennan is our comedian. He's unafraid of a crowd and loves to perform. I am so proud of him and his musical talents. This fall he expanded his repertoire to the trumpet. While he can't manage to play the trumpet (much less two trumpets) through his nose, he does a very good job playing the traditional. Not only is Brennan talented musically, but he has a tender heart and often gives me a beautiful smile or hug to add joy to my day. Brennan certainly salted and peppered our 2009 with his gift of being our joy boy, an oasis...

Cara @ Nana & GranMan's

Cara is Brennan's (younger :-) twin sister. However, she maintains and sustains her own individual identity. Cara is beautiful and talented. She is a top-notch student, a great help to her teachers and a wonderful daughter. This year at my 40th birthday party, all of the children gave me wonderful, sentimental, funny and thoughtful toasts in front of my birthday crowd. At the end of the evening when most of the guests were gone and just a few of us lingering in the kitchen, Cara came to me and showed me a song that she had written JUST for me... talk about joy overflowing (tears, tears, tears). Of course, I asked Cara to sing it for me. Cara has an amazing and beautiful voice. I don't have the complete song on video, but below are the lyrics:

YOU  by Cara Donahue

Did you ever stop
Stop to wonder
About life
Beyond down under

The things that make
People smile
The things that take
A long while

Did you ever stop to see what makes me laugh
What makes me smile

It's YOU
Your brighten my day
Make it special in your own way

Shine a light on those darker things
Shine a light on every human being

Now you see
Why everyone
Has their own
Battle that they've won

You encouraged all of us
To fight until we've won

You helped us see
The brighter path
The path that'll make
Our future last

You make each second worth it all
Never again will I think to fall

It's YOU
Your brighten my day
Make it special in your own way

Shine a light on those darker things
Shine a light on every human being

© 2009

This fall, Cara sang YOU at Open Mic Night at school. She sang acapella, with confidence and with joy. I am so proud of her, and her expressions of love from the heart, the heart of my very own daughter -- my flesh and blood...  a joyful song, an oasis...

Eliza & My Dad @ Rosemary Beach, FL

Eliza is the "baby" of the family. It's getting harder and harder to see her as a baby anymore, though. She is growing as fast as the other 3. On Easter morning of this year, Eliza was baptized in the Gulf of Mexico by my dad. The joy of seeing your child born again, is indeed holy and of the Divine. As I watched my dad hold Eliza's hand and walk into the ocean, the tears streamed down my face. Dad held Eliza, tipped her back, baptized her in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and raised her to newness of Life... and the waves gently crashing on the shore echoed the same... washed by the blood of the Lamb. Spotless. White as new-fallen snow. She came running out of the water and threw her arms around Don. My heart was filled with joy to watch Eliza as she decided that she wanted to express her love for Jesus in a public way. I don't know that there could have been a more beautiful setting than that Easter morning at the beach. Eliza is our quiet-spirit but will surprise you with unabashed personality when you least expect it. Eliza is very conscientious. She is a hard worker, a wonderful helper and a true blessing. Her outward expression of faith this April brought a holy joy to my heart, an oasis...

Don @ Rosemary Beach, FL

Don, my husband of 16 years, is the love of my life, my soulmate. My heart swells with joy when I see him smile at me. I am so proud of Don and the way he has carried himself and our family through the uncertainty of 2009. Never once did Don's love for God and confidence in His ability to provide waiver. I know as a husband and provider, there were difficult stretches and dry deserts that he walked through. Yet, he never walked alone, and he always walked with his heavenly Father. I am so very proud of him and all that he has accomplished in his career... setting him up for his current, full-time job. We are so blessed to close 2009 and begin 2010 with a new job, insurance benefits and steady income. I received joy in the journey because of Don's love and endurance despite our circumstances. In June, Don expressed his love for me in a way that will truly remain imprinted on my heart forever. He planned and arranged a beautiful 40th birthday party for me on the hill in our own backyard, overlooking the sunset. He worked so hard hanging icicle lights in the trees, arranging catering, setting up tables, renting enormous fans to keep our guests cool, preparing the stage set for Two Birds in Love (our favorite singing duo, husband and wife, Jan & Chris Harris) and surprising me with my best friend from college and another dear friend. Kay flew in from Orlando and Janis flew in from Kansas City. I was blown away. Don then sent us out for a day of shopping and mani/pedis! I felt like a princess, a new bride. The love of my husband, whether it's an elaborate party or a knowing smile from across the room, is pure joy, an oasis...

The Donahue Crew @ Rosemary Beach

I am proud to strive to be the woman that God has called me to be... daughter, wife, mother and friend. He is faithful to provide in the desert and in the land of milk and honey. We need Him in every season. Often, it's when we are wandering in the desert that we realize the significance of His love for us. Sometimes we need the desert to redirect our attention to the God who loves us and sustains us in all circumstances. While I would not choose my desert for you, and you would not choose your desert for me, I do know that we are better people for having traveled the dusty road through the wilderness.

I have learned the significance of finding joy in all of our experiences and of giving "thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus." (I Thes. 5:18). God is the Lover of my soul. He is my refuge. He is my comfort. He is my strength. I am His beloved, and He is mine... everlasting joy, never-ending oasis.

Merry Christmas to our friends and relatives. We wish you perfect joy that only the Father can provide from one decade into another, from now until forever...

My Fabulous Four... filled with JOY!