So last week I spent several days without the internet. It went down on Wednesday morning, and it wasn't until Friday that they were able to get it fixed. So I missed out on social media for basically three days. I also didn't have time to watch TV at all those days so I really had no clue what was "going on in the world." I really figured I hadn't missed much. Until I saw my news feed on Facebook. The first post was a friend begging everyone to post status updates and pictures that reflect the season of joy we claim this time of year. You know, trees and lights and decorations and carols and stuff. I thought that a little odd. I mean, what in the world else would you be talking about this time of year? And then I saw the next 50 or so posts. In case you really have no idea what I'm talking about, there's been a lot in the news lately about ducks. I could talk about ducks. I really could. But I'm not going to.
As the days of thanks gave way to the Advent, I found myself longing for a real kind of Christmas this year. Now, don't get me wrong. We did the Christmas plays, living nativity, parties, presents, decorations, lights. We did all of it. We did it in the midst of sick children and doctor visits and being just plain tired from it all. We made lots of memories. But this Christmas is different. It's REAL.
This week was a rather exciting one at school. I had the pleasure of attending both of the kids' Christmas parties. I don't have any pictures from Hannah Kate's party (because I gave myself permission to just go and enjoy it), but I did take this picture at Mason's party. I took it with my phone so the quality isn't very good. And it unfortunately highlights my least favorite feature about myself. My teeth. They are too big. But my boy wanted his picture with me so that made it worth it.
Let me just tell you. Mason's teacher is way cooler than I ever would be. When I was walking down the hall to his class, I noticed a smell. It was one of those smells that you can't quite identify. When I walked into Mason's class, all of the desks had been moved to the perimeter of the room so there was a big, open circle in the middle. The kids were all dressed in their pajamas. And they all had their shoes off. And I thought the smell in the hall was bad! I quickly realized this was the origin of the smell! Feet. And pizza. Now that's a winning combination. But I'm thinking it would've been a whole lot better if the shoes would've stayed on the feet!
And this girl. Well, she cracks me up. She was so cute in her Santa outfit (compliments of Hannah Kate's hand-me-downs), and she even lets me put a bow in her hair now and will leave it in all day! She's been really sick this weekend though, and it has not been nice. She started with a fever on Friday and then she began vomiting. I think we're done with that, but now it's really yucky diapers. And she is a grump monkey! Today was a long day, but I'm hoping she'll feel better tomorrow. I just want everyone to be well for Christmas. Hannah Kate was sick with some sort of something for over a week. She missed three days of school, went to the doctor two of those days and had negative strep and flu tests every time. She had a lot of vomiting, too.
Somehow I managed to finally mail our Christmas cards this week! They may or may not arrive in Georgia before December 25, but that's okay. I decided to make it easy on myself and use one of the pictures we had taken this summer. And then I got one of those really great cyber Monday half price and free shipping deals. Our cards were printed within 24 hours of me ordering them. But they took quite a journey getting here. They spent several days somewhere in Arizona and then got stuck in Dallas for over a week. From Dallas they went to Mississippi and then to Memphis. Tennessee. Now, geography and history were my least favorite subjects in school. And I'm really not very good with either. But I know my states (or the southern ones, at least), and I'm not sure why they couldn't stop on the way to Mississippi being that Louisiana is between there and Texas. But what do I know?
Here's another one for you. I'd also ordered something else. From Dallas it went to Memphis and then to Mississippi and then back to Memphis before coming here. I guess I should just be thankful I got it.
Speaking of getting stuff. My Christmas shopping is done. But that isn't unusual. This year I bought my first gifts in September. The kids were actually really easy this year. Mason and Hannah Kate are going to be really surprised with their gift. The difficult part was deciding what to get for Ellie. She already has everything I could think of because she gets everything from Hannah Kate. But the big kids each have a big bean bag in the playroom, and she doesn't have anything. So I decided to get her one of those anywhere chairs from Pottery Barn Kids. I ordered it at Thanksgiving. After I ordered it, I got an email saying it was on backorder and wouldn't be available to ship until December 8. I wasn't worried. And then December 8 rolled around, and I got an email saying it wouldn't be available to ship until the 10th. The 10th came and went. And I heard nothing else. Last week I found out it's on backorder until mid January.
At first I decided I wasn't going to worry about it because I knew it would eventually arrive, and Ellie would never know the difference. She's one. But then I started feeling "guilty." I wanted her to have a gift on Christmas just like Mason and Hannah Kate. I didn't know what to do. So I called PBK to see if there was any chance it would be here for Christmas, and I was told there was no chance. So Wednesday morning I decided to cancel my order and get her something else. Only I couldn't think of "something else." There's a PBK in New Orleans so I called them on a whim Wednesday afternoon. I really didn't think they stocked the anywhere chairs in the store, but I figured I would take a chance anyway. So I called and found out that had only two left in the store. And one of them just so happened to be pink. So, of course, I did the most logical thing any mother would do. I paid for it over the phone and told the girl I'd come pick it up on Friday or Saturday. And then I told my husband I had to go to New Orleans to get Ellie's Christmas present.
Going to New Orleans to get Ellie's Christmas present turned into an overnight trip for just the two of us! I'd never been to New Orleans at Christmas time. And it's not much different except for a few palm trees wrapped in Christmas lights. But there was a gorgeous tree on the roof top of our hotel, and the lobby was very festive. It was a quick trip, but I had an amazing time just Seth and me.
So imagine my SHOCK when he came home Thursday A WEEK AGO, meaning December 12, and asked me if it was okay for him to spend a certain amount of money on my Christmas present! And then he proceeds to tell me how excited he is about it. I dismissed this conversation and blamed it on the weather, I guess. But the next day he did, in fact, buy my gift. Well played, too. He got cash out of our account so I couldn't look at our online banking and discover what store he spent the money at. And then he tells me later that night how he can't wait to give me my gift. So I start asking questions. And then he gets a little aggravated and finally tells me that I'm never going to figure it out because I "don't even know that it exists." Needless to say, he obviously did NOT look at my handy dandy list on my phone (yet again). And I have to admit. I'm a little worried. Because he's obviously excited about it. So I'm going to have to be excited about it. But what if it isn't any good? Because that's a possibility, you know. So I'm really interested to see how this turns out. And I can't shake the box either because it's obviously hidden somewhere at his parents' house!
Here's one more Christmas picture for you. This was the night we went to the drive through living nativity and then to get ice cream and then to see the lights. Santa was just an added bonus that we weren't expecting. As you can tell, Ellie could have done without him!
And, now, here I am. It's late. VERY late. Everyone is asleep. And I'm enjoying the lights on my tree. I try to add to my Christmas decorations every year, but I'm two years behind. This year I caught up! So we have a garland on the stair rail. It didn't quite turn out like I envisioned it so I'm sure I'll be doing it all over again next year, but at least I finally have a garland. All of my presents are wrapped and under the tree. The past few years I've wrapped gifts the night before they were opened. There are gingerbread house pieces in the pantry waiting to be assembled on Christmas eve. The pantry is full of goodies that I hope to bake and cook tomorrow. And I'm just soaking in all of this Christmas!
Having said all of that . . . it's been a "different" kind of Christmas. I was thinking about that first Christmas over 2,000 years ago. And how quiet it must have been. But maybe it wasn't so quiet after all. I mean, I'm pretty sure those angels lit it up when they appeared to the shepherds in all their glory proclaiming that the SAVIOR had been born. Can you imagine the sight? But I wanted THAT Christmas. The one that's just full of Jesus.
So as I prayed that I would take the time this Christmas to PREPARE HIM ROOM, He did something that only He can do. In the midst of all the parties and the gifts that are already wrapped and under the tree and the decorations that somehow all made it out and up this year, the Lord has given us the opportunity to share and to minister His gift - love and mercy and grace - in a very tangible way this year. I will NEVER forget this Christmas! It would seem like the others would receive the greatest blessing. But it is we who are receiving the greatest blessing!
This whole year has been quite a journey for me. And it's been all about His grace. His grace and His mercy. I know what and who I am without Him. I know what would happen to me in this life and beyond without him. I know I am a wretched sinner in desperate need of a Savior. And because I've accepted His free gift, that perfect, spotless, Lamb of God that was born and given on the very first Christmas, He doesn't see me as who I was but as who He makes me to be through the process of sanctification. I KNOW how much I need His grace and His mercy. And other people need that, too. They need that most of all from Him. But they need that from me, too. And then I was thinking . . . it seems like, that since I know just how much I need His mercy and His grace, I would also be willing to show His mercy and His grace to others, to those who are His and to those who are NOT His. But that's just not always been the case.
People need Jesus. It's just as plain and simple as that. This Christmas I guess you could say I went back to the beginning, back to where it all started.
For God so LOVED the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. ~John 3:16
This time last year I blogged about salt and light. I need to add to that love and mercy and grace. God poured all of that out into that manger of straw over 2,000 years ago. And then Jesus shed that on the cross. For me. For you. For the WORLD.
Joy to the world! The Lord has come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room!
And heaven and nature sing; and heaven and nature sing.
And heaven and heaven and nature sing!