- Arriving and knowing Nana and Papa are already there, and have a Charley Brown tree waiting to be decorated.
- The squeals of the girls as they greet Nana and Papa, even though they just saw them the day before as the truck was loaded with all our goodies.
- The peace that fills my soul as we step outside and hear the stream rushing by, and nothing else.
- The fun tradition of Mom and I driving 30 miles to the nearest Wal*Mart to stock up on groceries for the week.
- Everyone wearing jammies round the clock... once even in a rush trip to the emergency room!
- Time spent sitting by the fire reading, napping, and playing games as a family.
- Wrapping gifts by the fire and watching It's a Wonderful Life, on Christmas Eve.
- Spending Christmas Eve with Rusty in a small town, buying stocking stuffers and having lunch together while the girls build a gingerbread house and string popcorn and cranberry garland with Nana and Papa.
- Taking the girls to see the live nativity.
- Hiking in the mountains and sleigh riding in the snow.
- Having nothing to do except enjoy time together as a family, remembering what a gift God gave us in His Son, and rejoicing in the blessing of our life in Him.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Seeing these vintage ornaments by the fireplace
always makes me happy.
I just love this little corner with my favorite rooster.
Dining Room Christmas Tree. I love this tree because it holds all the "pretty" ornaments I bought as a newlywed craving a "picture perfect" tree. Now my favorite tree is the one in the living room that holds all the sentimental ornaments. But this one still holds a special place in my heart.
Garland on the stairs. I've done this as long as we've lived in this house, and every year say I am changing it, but here it is again!
A few of Daddy's santas on display. The girls decorated this room completely by themselves this year, hallelujah! I am hoping this is a trend that will spread throughout the house next year!
I give Rusty one of these Santa's each year. I love that I received my Papa's Bible after he passed away a few years ago, and keep it on display year round as a reminder of what our family is grounded in. I miss Papa, but seeing his Bible thrills my heart, and he always loved Christmas, so it seems appropriate that the Santas are with it for awhile each year.
Thie dining room with ornaments hanging from the chandelier. The table is missing some decorations, because I had cleared the table for a buffet Friday night...
A closeup of the dining room tree... I love the lights shining through the glass ornaments.
The leftovers from making this...
Love making the gingerbread house. Not so much fun cleaning royal icing off every surface of my kitchen. Love eating the leftover candy.
The tree in our family room that holds 21 years of treasured memories. I turn the lights on when I wake up, and turn them off when I go to bed, enjoying every minute I can. Sitting by the fireplace and doing my Bible study with the tree on is one of my favorite things in life.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Next year is a bad year to not have your best friend. Next year is middle school. Next year is the time when the kids change classes and have more freedom with their uniform, and a time she was looking forward to sharing with Isabella. Now she knows that won't be the case, and instead of eagerly anticipating the fun times ahead, she can only think about walking alone, missing her giggling companion of the past 4 years.
Cailin is a bubbly, fun-loving girl. As the firstborn she is strongwilled, outspoken, and sure of who she is. She is very much a typical 10 year old, but blessed also with an innocence and naivete towards the more wordly things many other girls are already dwelling on. I have been so grateful for this friendship with a like minded, ornery and age appropriate friend. Whenever they are together there is constant laughter. They don't put on airs and try to act sophisticated, nor do they form cliques and try to exclude. They are a delight to be around, and true blue, stick together, loyal friends. Friends like this are a rare treasure, knowledge Cailin gained at an early age when other "friends" showed their true colors. Isabella was an answer to prayer, and so now, it is heartbreaking to think of them going through middle school separately.
I know that Cailin has lots of other friends and will survive. She will still see Is on the weekends at church, and at their riding lessons and field hockey. Their friendship will continue and grow, of that I am sure. But I understand Cailin's sadness at the loss of the familiar, the expected, the sure thing of having Izzy with her at school. I know the fear of being lonely, of having noone around who really understands you, of seeing other best friends together on the playground and feeling totally, all, alone.
I understand these concerns, and they hurt my heart as well. Yet my job as her Mommy is to guide her and prepare her for many more hurts to follow. So I explained to her that I understand, and I shared my own experience of having a best friend one year younger and having to go to junior high alone, similarly to her. I shared how I met other friends, and yet how Stacy and I , 25 years later, still remain like sisters. It was different, yes, but still good. I also told her that God does nothing that is not for our good, and He promises to work all things (for those who are righteous) for good.
He will bless her abundantly, beyond our wildest imaginings, if we just trust and obey. We will praise Him in all things, knowing He has great things planned for Cailin. So I am believing that this sad, sad news, news that sent my girl crying into my arms, will become a legacy of God's great mercy on her life. A story she can share with her daughter someday, when her heart is breaking, and she feels like there is nothing she can do. She can return to her Rock, and she can trust that as He provided for her, He will be true to provide for the one she loves.
He is the one, true, friend, the One who sticks closer than a brother... and so I pray that he shows Himself on her behalf; uplifting and encouraging and making her way blessed.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Prior to this year , we would travel 7 hours to our hometown to celebrate with our extended family; but that year,with two children under the age of two, it was a less than appealing proposition. I had spent the previous Christmas season with a newborn and 17 month old needing as much of mommy as possible, and squeezed shopping into late night trips after one was sleeping, and while the other was between feedings. I would race home for the 11:00 nursing, and then collapse, fighting colds and exhaustion, and regretful of the time away from my family, yet truly there was no other option; or so we thought.
My minds' eye held an image of the perfect Christmas, and mommy was at the center of every image... decking the halls, baking homemade treats for the neighbors, selecting the perfect gifts and having them beautifully wrapped and under the tree, and in the midst of this imparting the true meaning of Jesus' birth to my little ones...
Instead my house was a mess, I wasted time searching for gifts for people who were already blessed with all the necessities of life, and neglected to enjoy the gift of time as a family, celebrating this most wondrous time of year. Rusty had just finished football season, and with wrestling season already underway, Christmas was a short reprive for our little family; the only opportunity for us to snuggle in and enjoy one another before late night practices and weekend tournaments separated us again. We dreaded the hours spent in the car, and the endless rounds of gift exchanges. We love our extended family, and wanted to see them, but the rest of the holiday pressure was squeezing the joy out of this season.
I will forever be grateful to my husband for reclaiming Christmas for our family, and insisting that we celebrate as we believed, not as the world told us we should. We found a cabin in the woods, invited my parents to join us, packed the car with gifts and decorations; and we've never looked back!
So as we head off for our 9th "Christmas in the Big Woods" it is with hearts full of gratitude for time to be spent together, remembering that we are God's reason for this season. His love for us spurred Him to sacrifice the Perfect Gift, in exchange for us. What a wonderful God we serve, and celebrate.
Friday, December 07, 2007
For some unknown reason, I am different, and I think I like the new me. I am less likely to fret and stew over things, and more inclined to deal with them directly. I feel less obligation to withhold my true feelings, and am better able to say "no", to those things that require more of me than I have to offer, and enjoy more, those things to which I happily say "yes!".
I don't feel as obligated to be a one man band of entertainment for my daughters, and am less concerned that I am scarring them emotionally for life when they are unhappy with my expectations. I have a better awareness of what my job is as their mother, and what God really desires of me.
I realize more of who I truly am, and what inspires me, each and every day. I am less interested in what friends and acquaintances are doing, and more content to enjoy my home and the plans I have for the family within it.
I am more at peace with myself, and as a result, more at peace with those around me. This, however, is in stark contrast to the upset reigning simultaneously, as I also am inplementing the disciplines I have always wished for. The "new me" is accepting of the fact that others may be upset around me; that is part of life, and not earth shattering as I previously believed. Everyone is upset occassionally, and it is ok, life does go on.
I am willing to attend my husband's work Christmas party with roots, no manicure, and as of today (the party is tomorrow!), no new outfit. This is relevant because he is the principal, and this is the first time his staff will meet me. I am at peace because I accepted that there was no physical way I could make my hair appointment, and I won't waste energy worrying. It will be ok. This is monumental- this is what made me realize something is different about me!
I am able to accept that sometimes I am just tired and want to sit down and watch HGTV, and I allow myself to do that, even when the Christmas decorations are loitering the living room and entry. Perhaps every evening for a week.
I recognize more of my own faults, and fewer of others. I am more eager to repent, and remain in close fellowship with the Holy Spirit, than to grieve Him by holding tighlty to past hurts and resentments.
I am quieter. I am still full of laughter. I am learning to let go of who I thought I would be, and slowly, very slowly, learning to accept that who I am is ok after all.
Monday, December 03, 2007
We love Christmas around here, dubbing ourselves the "Griswald's", and coming frighteningly close to living up to that name in many ways!
The fire was burning, candles flickering, and Christmas carols playing softly in the background. The girls were agreeably posing for pictures so we could share these memories with Daddy when he arrived home, and I was feeling downright full of the spirit of Christmas.
As Cassidy was placing her favorite angel ornament on the tree, she said in a reverent voice, "And this is my most posses*ed ornament, Mommy. Is that one your most posses*ed?"
Had I not seen the look of impending giggles about to erupt on her sister's face I might have let it go, and laughed with her daddy later. However, I could see Cailin was not going to let this one get past her, so as she snickered and Cassidy said "What?!" (knowing her sister's giggles are usually directed at her) I asked her if she meant "her most prized possession" or did we need to pray that her ornaments be free of demons"?
Puts a whole new spin on the "spirit of Christmas", doesn't it?