Seriously, I would do just about anything to get a picture of ALL three kids looking semi happy AT the camera.
I have to be honest. I am not sure I have EVER been so excited and looking forward to Christmas. The past several years have been tough and though we are thankful and always love to celebrate Christmas, it seems that in the past few years, just getting the tree up has been a stretch.
This year I feel different somehow. I guess partly because through all of the trials we have endured, I have SEEN the hand of God moving in our lives. I know that it is because of Him that we are still standing. Part of me is very thankful that Isaac and Asher will never have to endure these trials and part of me is very excited that we get to train Luke, Ben and Hope in the way they should go. We pray daily for them to have a heart for Jesus so that when they DO come up against the tough stuff, when the rubber meets the road, they will have a solid rock on which to stand.
It excites me to get my kids excited for Jesus. I love to see the wonder and joy in their eyes as we decorate, sing, and prepare for Jesus' birthday. I just want to bottle this time up and keep it forever. Tonight for school, Luke had to make a Christmas list for Santa. In our house we don't put a whole lot of focus on Santa. We surely don't believe there is anything wrong with Santa. We do go sit on his lap and we so feed reindeer and all that jazz, but we don't really do the whole, if you are good you get gifts thing. We just feel it reinforces the wrong points of Christmas. We don't get gifts because we deserve them. We get them even when we don't. But that is just our take. I digress. So Luke sat down to write his letter. This is what he wrote:
You are a good giver. Christmas is about giving, so I think you should pick out what you want to give me and I will like whatever it is.
I looked at his paper and I said, wow, Luke. There isn't one thing you want to write on that list? And he just said that there were things he wanted but if Christmas was about giving he shouldn't tell people what they should get him.
Hadn't thought about that. He really does inspire me. He makes me want to do better. He makes me want to be intentional.
Now, Ben on the other hand, sat down with Howard to write his letter and he told Howard, he likes Santa because he brings presents and that if he didn't bring presents he wouldn't like him because he is kinda creepy. :) (also maybe a little true), but we have work to do with him none the less.
So, as I sit here listening to Hope scream her little lungs out because for the fiftieth time today (and it isn't even 9 am) I have told her she cannot touch or disassemble the Christmas tree, I am looking forward to Christmas (not because we get to take the tree down and this struggle will end) because we get to teach our kids about the GIFT we were given in Jesus. Because we can share with them that it is by GRACE alone that they are saved. There is NOTHING they can do to make God love them less and there is NOTHING they can do to make God love them more. Because we get to teach them the JOY of giving and that because God loves us so much and gives us so much we are called to GIVE to others, and that giving brings joy to everyone.
This is the good stuff folks. This is what it is all about. We get to do this. It is such a privilege. God chose us to shepherd these kids and I am totally excited to get the opportunity. Sure, I am still struggling with the idea that I won't get to do that for Isaac and Asher, but then again. They don't need me. They have EVERYTHING they need, and I have the hope that one day our family will be whole.
SO...all that said...we have come to the end of the "decorating days" on our "Advent Challenge" calendar. Now begins the giving. Here are the symbols on our calendar this week.
Thursday -book - read the Christmas story from the Bible
Friday - wreath- help someone else decorate
Saturday - lips - use our words carefully and kindly. Say nice things.
Sunday - bird - do something for nature
Monday - music note - sing Christmas carols with the family and have family worship
Tuesday - apple - donate food, buy someone's groceries, dinner etc.
Wednesday - table - eat and have fellowship with others
Tell me...how are you preparing for Jesus' birthday? Are you joining in on the "Advent Challenge"? I have gotten a few links from others who are participating and blogging about their experience. I will share those with you this weekend! :)