Looking Back>Katrina Christmas:  December 25th, 2005

Day 119

Christmas 2005

Dear Family and Friends

 I was so consumed with post hurricane Katrina cleanup that I could not fathom sitting down and writing my Christmas newsletter. However, my sister-in-law Amy inspired me with her Christmas newsletter and after reading about their family’s activities during 2005, I decided that more has happened to us this year than one miserable hurricane. I jotted down all the things I could remember from the year and when Jon and I reviewed the list, it suddenly dawned on us why we are so tired (aside from the obvious).

The New Year began quite pleasantly. Jill stayed home in comfort with her friend, Nette, and brought in the New Year watching chick flicks while the men folk and kids went to fishing camp. Jon and the kids were introduced to a new way to fish – the industrial fishing of trotline. They all had a great time and came home with over 100 lbs of fish.

During spring break, we took a trip to Texas and spent a couple of delightful days at the land. During our time there, Jon built a tree deck, providing everyone some awesome views of the countryside. Little did we know the ways in which those construction skills would come in handy in the near future. We also spent some time looking at property in the hill country area.

In April, Heather attended Prom with her good friend Eric. She looked beautiful in her white and red taffeta dress. They went in company with another couple and had their “formal” dinner at Cane’s fast food chicken restaurant. Definitely not what I would have expected for Prom dinner, but they had a blast!

Before we knew it, Heather’s graduation was upon us in May. Jill’ parents, aunt and sister/husband and Jon’s parents were able to visit, attend the commencement and celebrate with her graduation party. I can’t believe my little girl is all grown up. She looked quite beautiful in her cap and gown. After all the festivities were over, Heather left the following week for a band trip to Orlando.

During the beginning of June we all volunteered in our church’s Vacation Bible School, A Ramblin’ Road Trip. Jon taught Bible lessons to the younger children, Heather directed crafts, Daniel helped guide the kids from one activity to another and Jill tried not to stress out with the overall coordination. Jonny enjoyed VBS as one of the kids.   We had a great time.

Heather jetted of to San Diego to visit her graduating friends during the middle of June. The rest of us flew to Pennsylvania for Jodie’s wedding at the end of June and Heather joined us in time for the wedding. We had a lot of fun visiting family and friends.

We took another trip over the 4th of July, to attend the Johnston family Fantasy Football Draft in Goldwaithe Texas.   We also spent some more time looking at property in the hill country area. When we headed back home, Jonny remained behind for his summer visit with Nana.

Heather celebrated her 18th birthday with a nice, quiet family dinner at Olive Garden. We bought her a 2001 Hyundai Elantra to use for college. She was accepted to Pearl River Community College, which is located about an hour north of our home in Diamondhead. The plan was for her to reside in the dorms during the week and drive home for the weekends.   Unfortunately, she never was able to use the car because it was flooded in Katrina’s storm surge.

August was an incredibly busy month. The boys started school and Jon took a trip to Washington DC during the early part of the month. We celebrated Jonny’s 7th birthday with a Saturday afternoon kid party with lots of games, candy, cake and ice cream. Heather started college during the latter half of the month. At the end of the month, Jill took a trip to San Diego and returned on Friday to three interesting events, one of which has redefined the lives of many for second half of 2005: Daniel’s 14th birthday party sleep over was planned for Friday night; Jon called Jill on the cell phone while she was still in baggage claim at the New Orleans airport to tell her that hurricane Katrina was now forecast to hit the Mississippi coast and she looked like she could be the “big one”; Jon called Jill again on her way home from the airport to tell her that Jonny broke his arm in day care and he was on his way to the emergency room!

Of course, August 28th brought the decision to evacuate out of the path of category five hurricane Katrina and head to San Antonio, the 29th then brought devastation to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the 30th brought breeched levees and flooding to New Orleans. Most of you have been able to keep up with our day-to-day recovery efforts (we had three feet of storm surge waters in our house, even though we’re 27 feet above sea level and 5 miles inland!) through my email encounters.

Other things have happened since Katrina. Heather resumed college classes September 19th and the boys returned to school October 14th.   Jonny joined Cub Scouts and has already earned his Bobcat badge. Daniel was in the school marching band, playing trumpet, however they did have some struggles due to the storm’s interruptions. He has also joined the school jazz band.   Unfortunately, Daniel had to discontinue his acoustic guitar lessons since the music store where he took his lessons had been destroyed by a tornado during Katrina. He continues to play on his own and is quite good. He received an electric guitar for Christmas, bought his own amp and is now teaching himself to play.

We were able to move back into our house the beginning of December after a lot of hard work over the week of Thanksgiving and we still continue recovery work on it. We put up our Christmas tree the Friday before Christmas, thankful to be in our own home. Jon, Jill and the boys took a much needed trip to San Antonio between Christmas and New Years. It was nice to get away from the insanity and stress of the coast. Jon shopped for a pick up truck (to replace his Hyundai Santa Fe flooded by Katrina) while Jill window shopped for furniture. Further hill country property searches will have to wait for now.  

Overall, it has been an interesting year for our family. Of course, with our military life, I don’t know that a year has gone by that hasn’t brought interesting moments. Through it all, we’ve trusted the Lord’s provision and relied on Him for strength and wisdom. We trust the promise He gives us in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

We hope, with the passing of another year, that you pause a moment to give thanks for your blessings and to remember those who are dear to your hearts and bring color to your world. May 2006 bring love, laughter and a life full of adventure… Well, maybe a little less adventure.

Grace & Peace


About Jill English Johnston

God writes His story on every heart, if we only pause to read it. My heart has lived in a fantasy world since early childhood and am delighted that God has finally brought me to the place where I can bring the fantasies to life through story. I am currently working on a fantasy trilogy (of course) but I also post thoughts, reflections and (hopefully) inspiration to my website: tabletsofhumanhearts.wordpress.com I am a follower of the Rabbi Jesus, married to my best friend and inspiration, and the mother of three incredible children, one daughter and two sons, a son-in-love, a daughter-in-love and two adorable granddaughters. When not writing, I passionately pursue prayer, reading (never enough time to read them all!), and the outdoors. My husband and I both served in the US Navy and have lived/travelled through many states and all over Asia. We both still enjoy travelling, but we really love our home in New Braunfels, located at the Texas Hill Country.
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