Tuesday, December 27, 2011

This Christmas: Part 1

Well it's so hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone.... But I must say, this Christmas was the BEST!!!!! It was filled with joy, worship and thanksgiving. There was only ONE thing missing...... our sweet Esther. She wasn't home this year but I did receive a few very sweet gifts that were visible reminders that she is coming home. I will share more about those gifts in the next post.

Earlier in the month I posted about our family's hopes and dreams for this Christmas; and we were blessed to see many of those dreams come true. One of the best things I checked off my list was my plan to spend less time shopping than ever before. CHECK!!! My gift receivers may not have been overjoyed by what they unwrapped but I did not waste one minute running all over town to find the "perfect gift" for anyone. You may be thinking that sounds pretty rude but we had a family discussion about gift buying right after Thanksgiving and we decided that our priorities had to be shifted this year. Everyone was on board, so it was really very simple.

We started the month out by being part of our church's quarterly Kid Jam. We always love this event and this time it was the largest one we've had so far. Several of us drove around picking up van loads of kids and brought them to a local community center where we do ministry every week. The kids played games, danced, sang, and then heard the beautiful message of our Savior. Several children and at least one adult received Christ.

It was barely December and we were already full of joy. We had brand new brothers and sisters in Christ!!!! I can't think of a better gift for Christmas! Below is a few pictures of this joyous day.

I was still on a van route when the games began, so I missed this. I was so excited when someone sent me this sweet picture of my (sometimes shy) Levi getting his game on!
These kids make up the praise team for our children's church and they did a great job of leading worship for the kids.
Below, our pastor is sharing the "TRUE" meaning of Christmas.... that the baby in the manger, is our KING! Our pastor and his wife are dear friends of ours and I am always amazed by their love for others. They are such an inspiration to our church family and many others. We are so thankful that when God gave them a vision for our city, they were obedient!
As David told the story of the birth of Jesus, our very special friends, Kenneth and Rochelle (above) joined us to play the role of Mary and Joseph.

What an honor to get to hold these babies while they heard the NEWS..... that Jesus came to bring us HOPE and SALVATION!

Another very special night, was our Christmas party for Expecting a Blessing! We usually take our girls out for dinner on special occasions; But this time, we decided to have them come over to my dear friend and ministry partner, Lisa's house. Lisa's husband grilled steaks, we baked potatoes and fixed a nice salad and rolls. Of course, we had yummy deserts too. :)

We played dirty Santa, showered them with gifts and spent hours just fellowshipping. These girls and their babies honestly bring some of the greatest joy to mine and Lisa's lives. We call them "our girls" and we actually try to devise plans to move them all in with us. You just can't help but fall in love with them.

We let Lisa's sweet hubby, Eddie join us for dinner since he was so kind to grill the steaks for us. At the end of the night, he had come to realize why we are so crazy about "our girls"..... he was hooked too!

Can you tell we've got lots of babies coming soon?!!! One sweet baby girl was born 2 days after our party!

Since we did very little school work during December (ok basically NONE), we had lots of time for fun things like Christmas crafts......

and baking yummy goodies.....

and reading some of our favorite Christmas books.....

We also spent several nights having dinner with friends, looking at Christmas lights (that might be a southern thang) and watching Christmas movies. Oh those of you who know me well, know that last one was a hard one for me. I am not a movie or TV kind of gal!

It's been a wonderful Christmas season and this was only a little bit of what happened in Our Lives. Stay tuned for post 2! More to come...... but not tonight. My oldest "baby girl" had her wisdom teeth removed today. It's been a long day and this momma is worn out!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Is Christmas a Burden?

I'm sure most of us would answer that question by saying, "of course not,.... it's the most wonderful time of the year". Really?? If you have felt a bit of stress over Christmas then I'd say, that equals a burden. I confess.... I awoke early this morning to worries swirling in my head of how I have not ordered Christmas cards, I have barely bought any gifts and I still have empty Christmas decoration boxes sitting scattered through out the house. For a few moments, I felt stressed. I then heard the Lord remind me that several weeks ago, I resolved to let this Christmas be about Him and not about "others" or my shopping list.

Yes, I do plan to do some shopping. I'm certainly not trying to make it sound as if we just plan to sit around the house singing Christmas carols and retelling the story of Jesus' birth for the next month. That sounds wonderful but probably not real practical for our family.

I have made a Christmas list for the people that I "hope" to buy a gift for but I've also made a list of the things that are more important to me than shopping and stressing. That list does include Christmas carols, digging deep into the story of Jesus' birth and it also includes lots of dinners with friends and family, several ministry opportunities in our city, a special dinner and fellowship with our girls at Expecting a Blessing, baking with my kids, making crafts with my little guys, relaxing and enjoying our time off from school, looking at Christmas lights and truly just worshiping our Savior.

Now all of that may not happen but I'm hopeful that most of it will. I guess this post can also serve as a disclaimer to those of you on my Christmas list..... if you don't get a gift, I'm sorry, I do love you but I'm determined to make sure this month is filled with joy; and joy and stress just don't go together.

Last week I read a quote by Ann Voskamp that puts it all into perspective. "Whenever Christmas begins to burden, its a sign that I've taken on something of the world and not of Christ. Any weight in Christmas has to be of this world."

This video also helps us keep our eyes on Jesus this Christmas season. Please pause my music at the bottom of the page and, worship the King!!!!