Monday, December 16, 2013

The Gift Our Children Really Want

I just wanted to pop in and share this article from my very favorite, Sally Clarkson, "The Gift All Children Want the Most, Even When They Grow Up". It was a a beautiful reminder for me during this season, but also one I need to remember all year long.

I didn't realize until having children how all they really want is their mama (and dad's!) TIME and ATTENTION. People often say it is about quality, not quantity. But, if we are being honest, when it comes to our children, it is about both. They want our hugs when they first get out of bed in the morning. They want our attention as we chat over their bowl of Cheerios. They want us to watch and play their favorite toys with them. They want us there to kiss their toes when they stub them on their favorite toy that they forgot to put away....In the everyday moments they want us. And at Christmas time they do too.

So, in this crazy season of sickness at our house I am going to be thankful that I have the opportunity to give my chldren the gift that they want the most this Christmas and always- me. And while it sounds very self-important we all know deep down that it isn't. It just is. When children are hurt or sad or scared, they want Mom. And when they are happy or excited or want to be funny, they want Mom. And I am thankful that I can spend my days and years giving them that. And praying that they can take it with them and pass it on to their own children one day...

'Tis the Season

... to be sick apparently! We have had very few healthy days in the past several weeks. I would be totally lying if I said it doesn't have me pretty down. This is my favorite season of the year and I feel like we are missing out on all of the fun by staying home sick. We have had to miss out on or cancel several activities this season because of illness in our family. From pink eye, to ear and sinus infections, to all sorts of various coughs, congestions, etc...

I have really been struggling to deal with my frustration and then guilt about all of this sickness during this season as during this time I am watching a family from our church suffer through this season...

The McCormick family is a very loved family in our church who have 11 children! They are a kind wonderful family! Whenever women in our church are struggling with anything one of the first things I would hear is "Audra McCormick told me this..." They are a loving family who love God and their children well. Earlier this year before their 11th child was born she was diagnosed with Trisomy 13 and the family was told there was only a 5% chance that she would be alive at birth. Hadley Mae was born alive and has been alive now for 127 days! We are all so overjoyed for their family. But, at the same time. It is a very hard road for this sweet family as they know that the day will come soon that they will have to say goodbye to their sweet girl. Hadley deals regularly with episodes of apnea and other issues as well. At the same time, her father has been in and out of the hospital with a very serious case of pneumonia and hasn't been able to work (he owns his own business). To keep up with this sweet family please like Hadley Mae's Facebook page here. And if you feel led to give please go here. Even a small amount would bless this family so much during this time. The last thing this family should have to be worrying about right now is finances.

So while I am frustrated at all of our sickness, I know (and have to remind myself often) that Lord willing, we will all be well soon. It can be hard to keep perspective that this is not true for the McCormick family and so many other families. We want the Christmas season to be a time of 24/7 fun.We believe Pinterest that from Thanksgiving to New Years everyday should be a party. But, the reality is, that Christmas time, like all other times of year comes with hard things for many people. Sickness and pain don't go away. Daily struggles still abound (and are often brought even more to light during what can be a stressful season!)

But, I think we can see the meaning and beauty of Christmas even better when we are suffering (in a small or big way) during this time of year. Because without Christmas, without Christ coming, our suffering would be for nothing. We would have no hope. But, Hope came to earth on Christmas day. I might be celebrating Christmas by wiping lots of runny noses, administering lots of medicines, and getting little sleep instead of the way that I would like to. But, I have the hope of heaven. And not only heaven, a Savior who is walking with me, and the McCormick family, and your family even now as we go through hard things.

We have the opportunity to worship Christ well in our suffering. In the hard things. Our perfect gingerbread houses do not give hope to a broken world the way that seeing people sustained and moved by the love of Christ while going through struggles does.

And if you are suffering in any way this season (big or small) I would love to be praying for you! Please leave a comment or send me a private message and I will be praying for you! And we can all take comfort from Romans 8:18 "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Christmas Season

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Seriously, sometimes I think I am more excited about Christmas than my kiddos.

But, while I love the holidays I have a tendency to stress myself out a bit. The past few years I have loved the idea of Advent calendars that have an activity to do as a family everyday. But, with having little kids (several by the way, ha!) I often found myself more frazzled than anything. I read this article, "To the Mamas of Littles During the Holidays" and immediately felt like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I especially loved her advice when considering holiday activities, "If it makes you yell, it's a No. Everytime". I have really been trying to wrap my mind around the fact lately that what kids want more than fun crafts, exciting vacations and outings, and elaborate scavenger hunts is a happy mom. A mom that smiles and laughs and hugs. A lot. And this article was the perfect reminder at the perfect time.

So, we decided to keep our family celebration of Advent simple and focused. We are putting it right into our regular family worship time. I love the Jesus Storybook Bible anyway and when I found this resource I knew it would be the perfect fit for us right now.
christmas bible verse advent printable
Go here and you can print out beautiful story cards and daily readings. I printed them out and then we are hanging them on a piece of twine with a mini-clothespin after every reading. Simple.

I also knew I wanted to do an Advent study on my own this year. There are so many good ones out right now that I wanted to do them all! But, that really doesn't work. I am reading this one with Nick, Good News of Great Joy by John Piper.
The readings are short and lovely and filled with good news.

In my morning time I am following along with the Good Morning Girls Advent study. My friend Crystal is doing it too so it is neat to share what we are learning.

I feel like we have also really found a good balance in doing some fun activities to celebrate the season and also not overwhelming ourselves. Last weekend we took the kids to dinner (we had a giftcard, woo hoo!) and then went to see the zoo for the Wild Lights display (I forgot my phone in the car so no pics, oops.) The weather was perfect and we had the best time. It was a fun way to kick off the holiday season.

This weekend we are heading to Springfield to spend the weekend with one of our favorite families on the planet, the Jenkins family! They invited us to spend the weekend with them this fall and we seriously questioned their sanity inviting our crazy family of 6 to stay with them in their home. We had a blast! And are now seriously questioning their sanity even more because they invited us to come back and do it again! Our original plan was to hit up Silver Dollar City and see the lights on Friday but with a forecast of 20 degrees we went with plan b... which will include spending time with even more dear friends and just hanging out. We are stoked. I hear the names Maddie and Zack about 50 times a day.

Also on the agenda in the weeks to come are a Christmas get together with our small group, a game night with good friends, Nick's work party, the Moore family Christmas, and then we will definitely need to fit in a drive-through light display and baking Christmas cookies. I am not feeling overwhelmed and that feels very good!

So, we are enjoying this season. We have the Christmas pjs going...

And we know that all this boy will want for Christmas is his two front teeth ;)

(I keep singing that song and he is totally confused... ha!)

I hope everyone else is enjoying this season and finding the balance of worship, simplicity, and fun that can be so hard to grasp.

I will leave with this. I read this verse for the Good Morning Girls study this morning and got chills (Jeremiah 33:14,15).

He is coming.