Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016




I keep telling myself that one of these Christmases I am going to use the "outtakes" of the Christmas pictures for the card.  All of our yuletide greetings would be a lot more entertaining. I have pictures of us at the beach where in one take we are all serious with the discipline face, complete with finger cocked in scolding position and in the next frame, all smiles and joy-ever- after-Hallmark happy.  This year as I was setting up the tripod I broke one of the legs off and it became a very short tripod so this year we are all sitting DOWN— and because now our kids are older, they sit still just fine- no vice grip on the toddler arm-  and we are finished in like 15 minutes. {Hang in there, young mommas.  Your 15 minute session is on the horizon.  Quicker than you can imagine.}  Still, one year I am going to send you a really funny card.

We officially have two teenagers in the house this Christmas.  So far, so good and so very different than even just one year ago.  Inches have been gained, tweener pounds have disappeared, toys have all but disappeared, bathroom drawers have lots of new things filling them, conversations have changed, and sleep has become a hot commodity for them both- and if they sleep late enough, you're down to 2 meals— brunch and dinner!  It's astounding the rate at which all of this happens— and NO ONE prepares you!  It's all very normal - heels, razors, make up, zit cream, phones, cologne, homecoming…. but it hits you before you, as a mom, are ready for it.  {These are the things people don't tell you—- and it makes me wonder, what else are THEY not telling us?!}

Julia and Brighton made the switch to our public school district this year which was definitely bittersweet.  Bitter— losing the time we've had at home together for the last 9 years, the flexibility of our schedule and leaving a university model school full of incredible families, friends and staff.  The sweet part— MY KIDS ARE IN SCHOOL FIVE DAYS A WEEK!!!!!!!  EVERY morning they go.  The consistency astonishes me.   Seriously though, it has been an easy transition as the Lord provided them with friends WAY before we made the switch.  Both are in classes with people they have known since they were toddlers and have made brand spanking new friends who I've never met and maybe won't ever— which is strange for moms like me coming from a homeschool/small school history.  But as I said, so far, so good. The decision has felt right since the summer and we have had a great and interesting time learning the ways of public school.  Dinner conversations are quite fascinating some nights.  I am impressed by the availability of the kids' teachers and their willingness to help.  God has His people everywhere-strategically— and I pray we are fulfilling our role.

Julia continues with ballet spending about six or seven hours at the studio per week.  Her movements are lovely and graceful and I really love to watch her dance. Brighton plays the sport in season.  His football practice started at 6:45 am every school morning so that was new to him but he stuck it out and we saw him improve and contribute the second half of the season.  And I've always said- and it's a favorite thing to me about him—  he's worth his weight in gold on the sidelines.  They are still taking piano…..  and I know there will be a year I won't be able to type that but so far, we are hanging on. : )

Jeff and I are doing great.  I married a good one, for sure.  All of my overreactions in parenting are tempered by his steady voice telling me everything is going to be okay.  We find ourselves scratching our heads in confusion at times but then we find ourselves praying to the One who knows and loves our kids better than we do.  Only God can shape their hearts and grow their desire to love and serve Him.
"The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."
Jesus brings hope- the THRILL of hope— to our weary selves.  Bask in the glorious celebration and morning of Christmas.  He makes all things NEW.  We love you.

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Reminder from Julia to Me to You



The Spirit of Christmas
  by Julia, age 10

I love Christmastime with its festive lights and colors. It comes only once a year with trees and Santa Claus and reindeer and wishes of good cheer. 

People fill the stores— traffic jams and long, long lines are the stressful part of Christmas this year, but on Christmas Eve the presents come unwrapped and joy fills the air.

And you hear the story of the years gone by when the story of the Savior fills the ears and we remember the real and the true meaning of Christmas. 

Not the lights or the tree not even the presents but how Jesus came to save the world and love us all the years. So please, remember the beautiful story of that Midnight Clear.


She wrote that on Christmas day 2012— had to have been while in Soperton and I wonder now what all was going on when she penned it.  Was she still anticipating our big Christmas at Nana and Papa's or was it over and she was reflecting?  I don't know— a mere four years later— but I love it.  I know it's not terribly original.  It follows the same pattern of other poems and songs- even movies and conversations we've had as a family, but at 10 years old, it was original to her.  Those thoughts were stored within her somewhere and they came out like that.  She was beginning to get it.

And I'm still "getting it".  Just last week, I had to pull myself away from all of the Christmas boxes littering the house to check my heart regarding my own mental to do list that no one else could see but me.  I had to let go of any expectations I had of anyone but myself and decide to enjoy preparing the house for Christmas………….until the outside garland lights wouldn't come on.… and then Saturday when the tree lights wouldn't come on. Y'all — I think if we looked close enough-somewhere on that little white tag of clear lights on a green electrical cord, it would say, "Made in H-E double hockey sticks".  Seriously.  They are so beautiful and cheery but maybe after 5 years, they turn diabolical or something.  They stole SO MUCH time from us last weekend. I may not know traffic jams, really or even terribly long lines, but I know the distractions of Christmas.  I don't even have to leave my house.

And that's why I zero in on my two favorite phrases in her little poem—  "the story of the years gone by"  and "[Jesus came to] love us all the years" .  That's what I want to be distracted by….  THAT story and THAT love.  Wouldn't it be so wonderful to get so caught up in the story of Christmas that we just plain forgot to buy the presents?  Or make the candy?  Or send out the cards?  Just take a minute to turn the world around — we live so upside down, don't we?  Imagine if we had to really work at remembering to buy and wrap presents instead of why we are celebrating, why God sent Jesus to us — in the flesh— the fullness of time {Galatians 4:4} bursting forth this part of the plan when time could hold it no longer.  "The time came for the baby to be born." {Luke 2:6}  Emmanuel.  God, here, with us. He has come as closely as He possibly can.

It is THE story of the years to remind us year after year that He came to save us and love us all the years.

I don't want to miss any of it.  I don’t want to miss any of Him.  I’m so grateful for all the years.

Let's let that be a little distraction for us.