Friday, October 29, 2010

Execute or Experience?

It’s time for a re-post.  For me.  Because some of my closest friends take their precious time to read what floats through my mind, I want those special gals to hold this one gal accountable.  I wrote this last January after I sat back and thought about my personal Christmas season.  We finished celebrating Brighton’s birthday a few days ago so my thoughts turned toward His birthday-- and I got butterflies.  I post it now- the end of October-- in hopes that it may encourage you (and me) to pray and to make plans for this to be a Christmas we ponder The Great Miracle.  So below are my thoughts from last year and my prayer for this year.

There’s something sad about a Christmas tree after Christmas. It’s empty underneath except for the few ornaments that have fallen through the branches and were never re-secured. The tree skirt is all wocky-jawed, sprinkled with sheddings. Even switching on the lights doesn't bring it to life like it did before December the 25th. I’ve never liked coming home to a post-Christmas house. The energy is spent, the anticipation has vanished and the opportunities of the season are lost..... until next year, that is. If I had the stamina of Tigger and the time of Mr. Magoo, I would try to take all the decorations down before we left for Georgia so I wouldn’t have to come home to it, but that would have a sadness all its own. Unfortunately, this year I found out there is something much more depressing. Personally, I had some regrets this Christmas. It’s hard to type, but it’s the truth.

As I was falling asleep one night last week, I had the thought that maybe I had celebrated this Christmas like a pagan. Not my best bedtime thought. This string of thoughts was worse than any night time parenting regret I’ve ever had. I can try to be a better parent when the sun rises. With Christmas, I have to wait a whole year to do it differently. I’ve often wondered what this particular holiday was like for people who don’t know Christ personally. I would think it would seem like a heap of trouble and a major hurting on the bank account and all for what? For who? Ourselves? Ick.
What did I do? I executed Christmas without actually experiencing it. I decorated my house for the celebration of His birth. I talked about Him. I listened to songs about Him. I saw things that represented Him in my home. I made a cake for Him. I even read about my children. However, I don’t think I ever really entered in. I didn’t make time to enter in, to ponder, to reflect. And I regret it. Immensely. I feel I suffered the consequences for days before I realized my sin. I made my choices every day, the main one being execution instead of experiencing which forced me to land on the other side of Christmas empty.
What will I do next year? The thing is, there’s no magic formula. There is no “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” list I will check off next year and how absurd would that be anyway? It’s my choice of how I spend the hours that make up the season. It’s my choice whether or not I want to include the “execution of Christmas” on my list of “pass on’s” to my kids instead of the “experience of Christmas”.
My obvious prayer for next year will be all about “experience”. I don’t want a repeat. I suspect we will do a lot of the same things, but, personally, I want to experience them differently, from a better perspective, with a heart that’s close to bursting with anticipation. He may ask me to change some things. He may not, but whatever He asks, I will do. When we pull into our garage after our time in Georgia in 2010, I don’t want the lifeless tree to be a sight to avoid but one to see and relish the time I chose to ponder and to experience Him, my Savior and my Deliverer from my sins. So be it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Brighton's Birthday Letter 2010

How nice to have complete freedom to just sit and think about YOU today-- not a list, not a plan, not a decision, not a struggle, but YOU and the LIFE you infuse into our family.  
You don’t look seven to me, but my trusty, yet annoying, calendar says you are.  Just this morning as you were pulling your SillyBandz from behind your special hiding spot (for fear I will throw them away), you pointed to the picture they were behind, grinned your bright grin and asked, “Who’s that little guy you’re holding?”  Knowing it was rhetorical, I just smiled, but I did decide to stop and see what else you’d have to say.  You took your ever growing finger, circled your face in the corner of the frame and said, “I like that little guy right there-- that face-- how I look right there.  I like my little face.”  Oh, as do I, sweet B.  As do I.  However, sometimes I don’t linger on it long enough, not long enough to really tell why you are “noodling” (going limp) when you are acting like you can’t figure out a math problem or when you seem determined to drive your sister nuts before she gets a chance to turn 10.  Sometimes, though, I get to linger on your perfect face and savor it, like when you are telling a story and I am trying to figure out if it is concocted or not, or when you are standing at the top of the stairs after being soundly tucked by your Daddy trying to come up with something that will get you back down the stairs or my favorite, when you are fresh out of bed full of things to say and your hair is indescribable, but let me try-- standing on end, but resembling something like an exploded eagle’s nest.   I get the biggest kick out of seeing you talking as serious as an astronaut ready for take off with hair like that.  When we cut your hair, I’ll miss that.  A lot.  

You sailed through Kindergarten creating waves that Julia and I were unaccustomed to navigating our previous years.  This year, first grade is much the same.  Some waves are fun to ride and some capsize us causing us to wonder if we really can do all this---- together.  You do everything FAST, from eating a PB&J to answering your math facts.  In fact, you give your sister a run for her cute little piggy bank with our flash card games.  Because you work so quickly, it leaves you with a lot of free time and since you don’t really like playing by yourself-- anywhere, nor doing extra school work, you spend a lot of time rolling around the learning room floor distracting your day dreamer sister, whose 3rd grade work takes much longer.  This is not a good combination.  Capsized.  We ALL need rescuing.  Quickly.  Some days the only word I can come up with when your Daddy comes home is “unbelievable.”  On those days, your unique vocal antics leave me speechless.  On glorious good days when you are actually following instructions and doing your work without commentary, or you and Julia are cheering each other on in math, or playing football together during “recess”, tickling each other during “line time”,  I realize how much I love having you two together- learning how to pull off a day, in all our sinfulness, together.  You bring just what we need to school, B-- you are Julia’s delight and demise and my crash course in sanctification.  

I sense it won't be long until I can call you my brother in Christ.  He's drawing You and you are almost ready.  You are watching things and people constantly-- filtering your findings through all you know about God.  Your Daddy and I are praying for you, for this decision to be your own and ultimately for you to love and serve the Lord in ways of which we never even dreamed.    

When you roll over at 7 am, you are the one from whom PARAGRAPHS spill.  It could be about baseball, a tattle from the days before, a random story you had been saving all night, your thoughts about our day’s activities, or a list of questions about tombstones, hot dogs, God Himself, or giraffes. 
You are the one who says things like, “The guy who wrote this book is wrong.”  (referring to Richard Saxon of Saxon Math curriculum.  Yeah.)  You even ventured to say, “Mom, you need to call him and tell him this is too hard for me.”   

You are the one whose excitement cannot be contained in your 55 pound body and it pretty much all comes out of your mouth.  Your brain and tongue move into “turbo” position and we all sort of stand back and watch. 

You are the one who will choose the Wii over a good ol' book any day, but every now and then you get wrapped up in a good story and can be as adamant about "one more chapter" as you do "10 more minutes"!  

You are the one I’d call the early bird- almost always ready to get out of bed and wander about until you find some company.   

You are the one who personifies persistence. If a robin could understand you, you’d convince your feathered friend that it could swim. If you are called to be an evangelist, a revival is coming to our land.  

You are the one who fills our days with monologues such as this one.  In the 5 seconds we are stopped to let you out at the baseball field before we find our parking place, you say, “Hey!  I smell a skunk!  Ew.  Mom! Dad!  What if WE were the skunks-- I  mean, like our baseball team was really called, ‘The Skunks’.  Wouldn’t that be funny?”  Through the crack as you are shutting the door, “Then everyone in the stands would be yelling, “Go Skunks!  Go Skunks! Go..!”  Door slams and we hear, “...Skunks!!”   Big grin flashes and you’re off to the batting cages with bat and glove in tow.  Or at bedtime, “Mom, what if God made our blood blue?  Like when I scratched my arm, blue stuff would come out of my skin.  Or my scrapes from the rose bush would be long BLUE streaks!”  

You are the one who hears the organ music in the background when we are watching the Rangers play.  As a result, you have figured out how to play all the baseball tunes and chants.  

You are the one who wants his back scratched anytime, anywhere, by almost anyone. However, you are rather picky about the places on your back you want scratched.  
 You are the one boosts your Daddy’s ego by asking him questions like, “You know those old guys in the dugout wearing uniforms?  Well, did you used to be one of those?”  But then you are also the one who says things like, “See that Mommy over there, that girl standing right by my closet?  I fell in L-O-V-E with her and now I have a big a crush on her.  She's my favorite.  This Mommy right here,"  with a HUGE hug. WHERE do you come up with stuff like that??

You are the one who doesn’t like change which, at this point, means you are a sentimental pack rat wanting to save EVERYTHING “for my kids” from the random T-shirt from Costco (with a hole in it) to the stick you found on a lake weekend “when I was three”.   Your full and colorful vocabulary does not include “declutter”.  Even taking apart Lego creations proves difficult for you.  

You are the one who keeps me sharp.  Now I know what it means to stay a step ahead of your children.  We both get into trouble if my brain ever shifts to neutral with you around.  

Your Daddy often says, “he’s a lot of fun” and you are.  You are a lot of things, Big B, but you are most definitely the one I love.  

As I am staying up late to finish this off, I realize we aren't but a couple of hours from the wee morning hours you were born.  The anticipation at this time in the night was at the tipping point and I was feeling pretty helpless.  The midwife sensed this, I think, and gave me jobs.  I must have proved myself "worthy" because at the critical moment she ordered me to pull you out and then gave me the honor of cutting your umbilical cord.  Once you found your lungs, you made up for the lost time and SCREAMED.  Your Daddy kept calling up the stairs, "Is it a boy?!  Is it a boy?  Can I come up? When can I come up?!!"  A few minutes later, which he refers to as "forever", it was a wonderful sight, seeing him with you that night.  He'd waited patiently for God to answer his prayer written in a journal only a few months before we found out about you.  He was holding an answer in his arms.  And I was looking at one.   

We love you the whole world, Jeffrey Brighton Sanders!   Happy Birthday.

Goodbye Six!  Hello Seven!

Brighton's Year in (lots of) Pictures 2010

Showing his brute strength!

Gingerbread house 2009

Maybe the last year I can post a picture like this-- checking to make sure if all the candy is still there.   Check out the hair.

On the carriage ride-- his Christmas wish

Their piano teacher-- at their Christmas recital

Christmas fun with friends

Puppy Christmas 2010

Hunter pulled his tooth last Christmas and they kept falling out all year!

B and cousin Michael
Doing what he does best

Amazing SNOW!!

First Father Son retreat 2010

Goofing off with Essie

"Fishin' " at Nanna and Papa's pond with RJ

Spring Break train ride

You have no idea how funny this picture is to our family.  If you have spent more than 2 minutes with B and Gabriel, this is what you see.

B's first musical

Putt Putt at Big Cedar

My favorite baseball moment

Attempting to drink water and play his harmonica at the same time-- a challenge he heard in the book, Hello Goodbye Window.  My brother had the perfect solution.

Picking Blackberries

Baseball with friends-- thanks for this great picture, Sarah!!

Thank you, Yucatan Taco Stand!

My favorite "toofless" picture

He is leashed to the door-- that is why he isn't nipping him.  Gabe does not look amused.

Looking at his sister to gain his confidence to jump!

Bungee Trampoline!

Picnic nap with Dad

Back atcha' B!  Happy Birthday!  It's been a fun year!