Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Cookies, Birthdays, and Ballet...

A peaceful Christmas?  It will be.  The advent leading up to it?  Well, not what I had expected.  But then again, expectations hurt relationships and honestly, relationships are one of the few things that matter to me the most right now.  Praise God, spending time daily with Him has been more than I could have hoped for in preparing for Christmas. Yet there have been so many times I've failed Him when rushing my girls out the door to run to one more activity, when staying up too late to try to meet others expectations (when it's really my own), and when letting the stress build to climax (resulting in mommy-break-down).  

So I've let go, not completely, but I'm getting there.  Cookies were made when mommy was having a sane day.  Polar Express was watched four times while the house lay in disarray.  The last of the wooden ornaments were bought and painted, but will be late this year in the mailbox. School work continued, not well done, but enough to carry on (tu-tu's included).

Some traditions will never change because they are simple. The treat of driving far to see the lights, ride the child-size carousel, and buy over-priced candy will always be cherished.  Yet, what they love the most is the hot chocolate we bring along to drink on our way home accompanied by their candy and a Christmas movie.  It's the little things.  

Birthday's in December are never an easy task, yet so important in life of a seven year old middle child.  Free cupcakes from GiGi's, and the majority an indoor pool to ourselves made the first part of her birthday special.  Her actual day encompassed presents from family, a pool cake for breakfast, Chick-fil-a for lunch (our little carnivore's choice), and the $2 movie theater seeing Despicable Me 2.  What we thought was going to be a day with a house full of extended family turned out to be relaxed one and all about Naomi. 

The next week followed with ballet open houses (our littlest performing in her first!), cookie exchanging with ladies in the neighborhood, and lots of sugar for breakfast each morning. The imperfections abound, but I'm learning that where I am imperfect, He is more perfect.  There are still gifts to wrap and a couple more cards to address.  This Christmas will be different, but every year is. Yet one thing remains the same, "She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means God is with us." - Matthew 1:23  I have been reminded of this promise several times over the past week. God is with us.  It is said that John Wesley died with the words "The best of all is, God is with us" on his tongue.  

"Christmas is about God's doing whatever it takes to be with us - and our doing whatever it takes to be with Him.  He climbed down from the throne in heaven to get to you.  Climb over the throes of Christmas to get to Him." - Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hope when you're hurting...

This past Tuesday, my parents said yes again...  They said yes when God said "Go."  They traveled half way around the world to a place that I have once called home.  They sold their home, their cars, gave away most of their belongings, and made one of the hardest decisions of their lives to once again obey the call.  My little family was privileged to spend their last week and half with them. Just a little glimpse of our time together...

There were games of Go Fish, Christmas Pageant dress rehearsals, and ballet classes.  I still can smell my dad's coffee and taste Mama's oatmeal, full of chunky apples. Thanksgiving could not have been any sweeter.  Loving on the littlest grandchild, amazing food, and family pictures.  The bond of cousins, birthday presents with Joe Joe's, tears over an early Christmas, and the smile of a not-so-sleepy little one.

The airport can bring such joy and such sorrow.  The thrill of the airplanes, the sights and smells...  Even though saying good-bye is never easy, there is such hope in knowing this wasn't a final farewell.  They will visit and we will too one day.  Technology is amazing... how blessed we are to live in this day and age.

As we approach one of the most anticipated days of the year, my prayer is for hope.  Hope when we all are hurting...  Hope for what is eternal...  Hope when we lose sight...  

Hold your loved ones tight.
Don't put off spending time with them.
Call more and smile often.
Never take them for granted.
Be willing to obey.