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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Beautiful family

This morning as I stumbled through my mother-in-law's house, I was struck by how beautiful family truly is. Her home is about 1200 square feet, so when we descend on her it's a bit crowded.

Every bed was full, there were people sleeping on couches,in the floor, and in the recliner. There was an air mattress in the kitchen piled high with little girls. My brother in law fled the madness by sleeping on a pallet in the beauty shop.

Seeing the crowd reminded me that many years ago, I thought we would never have any children. Instead God has greatly blessed us with chaos and beauty.

Seeing all the sleeping bodies this morning - literally on every surface availablle - struck me this morning as stunningly beautiful. It made me remember how good God has been to me.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas rethought

As a child, my family ceased celebrating Christmas when I was 8. When I had children of my own, I overcompensated just a little. For example, it wasn't uncommon for the kids to ask, "Are we done yet?" while opening their gifts. There were many years where the only time a toy was touched was on Christmas. The kids got so many new things that they couldn't even remember all they had.

This year we made a very drastic and deliberate decision to rethink gifting. We bought a PS3 for the whole family, then each kid got about 4 gifts under the tree. We made this decision for several reasons. We wanted to stay within our cash budget so that January would not bring any additional credit card bondage. We also wanted to practice moderation so that we could free up more funds for helping others. We also realized that our consummerism is causing unfair workig conditions in other countries.

I was concerned by this shift, and honestly at the last minute I added a few extra items. However, one of our main shipments of items from Amazon did not arrive on time. The kids had less to open than I had anticipated.

So what were the results? My children appreciated every single item. They were not overwhelmed. They couldn't wait to try out their new stuff. They had more time to focus on hanging out together and playing.

I would say that they did not miss the lost in the mail items AT ALL. This made me realize just how seriously I have misjudged the amount of stuff needed to create a great Christmas for my children.

I have bought into the lie that kids need tons of toys for Christmas to be successful and that you suck as a parent if you don't get them as much as their friends. I am beginning to understand that the truth is that less can be more. The kids can dig in and enjoy their new stuff more when they don't get quite as much.

We are enjoying our time as a family. May your Christmas be blessed with love, laughter, and peace.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Morning Update 12.21.09

I have to say that on this Monday morning I am beyond exhausted. We have been running hard, working late into the night, and getting up at crazy early hours to pull off our weekend event, "Your Hometown Christmas." The drive through lighting display had lots of plywood cutouts - all painstakingly painted by hand. The band played, we gave away cookies and hot cocoa, and made pictures with Santa. The event came together well, after a few minor issues with lighting on the first night. We met lots of new families and enjoyed being out in our community yet again. I will say that I am voting that our next band event should be in warmer weather. The frost forming on my keyboard as I played was quite chilly on my bare fingers.

Services at the Crossroads yesterday were great. I love to see our people loving on each other. We gathered up our shoeboxes of gifts for the Mexico orphanage. Funny story - I checked my paper at least three times before I went shopping. I would have sworn that it said I was shopping for a 2 year old little girl. $70 later, I had a shoebox full of really adorable stuff. I got ready to attach my label and it said "2 year old BOY" What? Oh no! I had to laugh, it's such a me thing to do. I packed my girl box anyway for an extra just in case we need it, and then I will need to make a box for my little boy.

Shawn brought it with the message this week. He did a great job of clearly explaining why Jesus was born, and why He had to be sacrificed for our sins. He talked plainly about the difference between being nice and being set free from your sin. I love how he makes God's Word plain and easy to understand - even for our congregation who has never been in church before.

After church we attended a welcome home party for one of our friends who has been away at basic training. He and his family will be stationed in upstate New York after the first of the year. I had a great time meeting all the new people at that event. At one point, Shawn realized I had disappeared. He knew to go find the largest group of strangers, and that's where I would be. He's even starting to accept that as normal - that his crazily shy and self-conscious wife is now in the middle of the crowd meeting new people. I am still insecure and lack self-confidence, but I love the diversity and uniqueness of God's greatest creation - people. I am fascinated by how different and yet still beautiful God has made us all.

Last night, a large group of ladies went down to Allen to do some Christmas shopping. I will say up front that shopping is not my favorite. I am a total goal-oriented shopper, and so shopping with large groups is really not something that I tend to do. However, I really did enjoy the night with the ladies. It was good to connect with them and to watch my old friends getting to know some of my newer friends. Another funny thing last night - I walked alone down to the Gamestop store to do a little shopping. The ladies came to pick me up for dinner, and they laughed about having to wait a long time. When they arrived, no one in the store was shopping, they were all gathered around the cash register visiting with me about their children and families and what games they felt were appropriate for what ages. In the 15 minutes I was in the store, I had met all of them and found out about their children and families! (I'm laughing at this - who does that?) Yet again I took a step back and was shocked by how God has changed my personality. Sometimes it's a little freaky, even for me. No wonder it's a little weird to my friends and family.

I enjoyed dinner with the ladies at Uncle Julio's. It was a first time for me. It was good - a little pricey, but good. The bummer is that I had a gift card - at home on the counter! Our last stop of the night was Target. I was surprised that they are putting out bikinis already. It's weird enough for Christmas stuff to be out in October, but I have gotten used to that. But to have swimsuits out in December? That's just really, really weird. The good news is that my bikini boot camp video is coming in the mail from Netflix. I'll be ready! (Not really, y'all this is a joke, my four baby, glow in the dark white body does not belong in a bikini) And yes, I finished most of my Christmas shopping, I just have a few small things left to get today and tomorrow.

Bottom line? It was a great, but busy weekend.