Have you ever found yourself making a deal with God? If You do this for me, I promise I will go to church every week. If You do this for me, I promise I will never do this again. I don't think that I make too many promises with Him anymore, but I know that I use to. Now I find myself thinking, man I thought I learned this lesson before. I guess I didn't. Once again my Father is patiently teaching me the same lesson over and over. I just don't understand how He can be so patient and I can mess up so many times and He still wants me. Just amazing. He wants me!
This comes to my mind as I see people busily get ready for the Christmas season (yes, it is Christmas and not Holiday because Christ is the reason for the season). I find people bitter and just rushing to go through to motions. Not really taking time to stop and savor the season. I find that traditions are placed on the back burner and the focus is on the good deal (black Friday I will never understand you). It is not about taking time to stop and think about what a person really wants, what would they enjoy and appreciate, it is about buying all kinds of stuff, the "bargains" who has the most stuff, making sure that it is evenly divided out among all the kids (you would not want to upset one). I find that people don't want to send cards any more because it is too expensive, not ever really thinking that a card is a time to reconnect with those you lost touch with over the year, or it could simply bring a smile to someone's face. We are too busy to make cookies and hang lights, to go get the tree, and to listen to the music. Maybe it is because we are sick of the season before it even begins because it has become so commercialized.
I am thankful that God has placed me on this journey. One, He has given me a child that forces me to slow down. She forces me to celebrate all of the small steps and to embrace each moment. She teaches me how to overcome huge challenges and to find joy in everything. I am so blessed that I get to learn that lesson every day. And yes, I need a reminder every day. I get so wrapped up in the world and things I am suppose to be doing rather than things that God wants me to do. Rather than seeing the beauty right before me. I am blessed, I am chosen and I know that it is my path, but I wish everyone could learn that lesson as I have. But I will celebrate that God has chosen me and continue to learn and try to share as I am able!
The other reason why I am so thankful that God has placed me on this journey was because of some very important lessons that I learned last year. If you would have come to my house last year, there was not one glimpse of life. There was no stockings hung, there was no tree decorated, the halls were not decked. However, we were able to decorate two places. We had our home at the Ronald McDonald's House. We had stockings hung, a Christmas tree decorated (even more than one!), we had our advent calendars, we had ornaments made, a nativity scene set up. Then if you went across the street, Lydia had her own Christmas palace. She had glowing trees, nativity scences, more stockings, pictures the girls had made, and the list goes on. In both places there was love, there was the Spirit of Christmas. No matter what happened we were together as best as we could be. We were making memories and sharing time together.
You see, last year, the shopping lists, the baking lists, the tree, the presents, the get togethers, the programs, the hustle and bustle of it all did not matter. We had a sick child, one who was waiting surgery that she needed. But that did not matter, we were able to celebrate Christmas for what it is. Celebrate the birth of our Savior. We were reminded over and over why the Savior had come, we needed Him. It was so refreshing. And I do think that there was a piece of all of us that felt that way last year. Even though there was a stress of waiting for open heart surgery, there was the true peace of the season. One that I can recognize now.
The lessons that we learned last year have spilled into this year. The excitement and joy of making memories, of celebrating our Savior's birth can be felt in this home. It is not about checking off things from a list, to rush and get it done, but to stop and enjoy this season. We have been listening to Christmas music for a long time now. Talking about what the songs mean and what they mean to our family. The day after Thanksgiving we got our tree and a day later it was put up and decorated. How the kids loved it. It did not matter what it looked like, where the girls hung the ornaments (usually I totally freak out over this), but it was that we were a family being together, enjoying this awesome time of year.
Last night Eric had to make an unexpected trip to Milwaukee to fix the furnace there. We were hoping to just hang out with the family. Instead the girls asked to make cookies. I said sure. I let them do everything. We made spritzers and their hands turned colors from dying the dough. It was awesome, memories left in their head that they won't soon forget! As I tucked them into bed, they thanked me for making memories with them. They said that while we were not able to do that last year, there were so many things that we were able to do instead. Even a 4 and 5 year old recognize opportunities. There is no reason to feel guilty that the perfect present or the perfect stocking did not exist last year. In these tiny minds, there was only one thing that was important...being together and celebrating the birth of our Savior.
I just sat and prayed for a long time, just praising God of where He has lead us, how He has grown us. I could have never imagined the journey to be so awesome and powerful, to change me in a way that I am not even sure of yet. I look at the future with promise, no matter what happens. Fot it is in Him I find my hope and trust, it is in Him that I can find true peace and rest.
I hope that I can remember this lesson that He has taught me. It has been very profound. It gives me great peace. I want to describe it, but then I remember that this is the journey He put me on, these are the lessons He wants me to learn. I try my best to explain them, but they are lessons maybe only I understand. I hope you can get a sense of how awesome our God is.
I encourage everyone to take some time to just stop and enjoy the season. There will never be the perfect amount of baking that will be done, the perfect present, the cleanest house, the best hosted party, the most gifts, the perfect tree, the perfect card. We already received the perfect present, He was wrapped in cloth laying in a manger. While our world can disregard the true meaning of the season, when you walk into our home, it will be full of love and laughter, traditions and memories. You will see the peace of the season and we will take the time to enjoy and cherish our memories that are getting made.