christmas

No-November & Yes-December

I told Jeremy on October 31 that I was shutting down in November. He humorously labeled my time away, “No November.”

So last month, our family stepped away. We said no at times when we really, really wanted to say yes.

And what a breath of fresh air before December started filling our calendar.

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November kind of became a month of settling for me. I did a lot of listening and learning.

Christ was unsettled so I could be settled.

Then these journal notes from a study of Hebrews 12:1,2…

“Jesus is seated at the right hand of God’s throne. But not until He endured the cross. I am settled because He is seated, and that makes this race not in vain.”

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I’m not sure what your November was like or what your December is shaping up to be. But I pray you’ll be settled…in His coming for us and all that Christmas really means.

 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1,2)

 

 

 

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Y’all…He met our need!!

Before I disappear for Advent you need to know this.

After everything was totaled we owed $368 for the Dominican trip we took last month.

Do you remember this, though?

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That was in August when Kenan busted his head, and we got 11 stitches in the ER. That was also when we wrote Duke hospital an enormous check.

Last week Duke realized we had over payed them so they sent us a reimbursement check.

Guess how much it was for?

$365.

Y’all, He provided. Almost the exact amount. Only God.

Thank you to everyone who supported us. Clearly, you were part of God’s plan.

God is faithful. He meets needs. That’s what this upcoming season is all about. Christ came as a baby. He came to live perfectly where we had messed up. He came to die humbly so we wouldn’t have to.

He met our greatest need then. And His grace continues to surprise me.

Merry (early) Christmas!!!

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:19,20)

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

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When Pain Collides with Christmas

I saw her the other day. The past few months have held pain. Unexpected. Heart-wrenching. I can see the questions still lingering in her eyes.

It’s a part of her story now. I can’t look at her without seeing it. She can’t look in the mirror without remembering.

There’s pain that lingers. Becomes us. Forms the tapestry of our lives. Becomes a glue holding the moments together.

And the song “Good, Good Father” has been on repeat for days. Is He really only good? Are these painful moments I see burned into her being from His Hand? Are the memories that still bring tears really His best for her? For me? For us?

“You are perfect in all of your ways.” He’s singing it over and over while I type this. Perfect. All.

Will I only take good from His hand and not bad? Can I call the good perfect and not the bad? Do His actions define His character or does His character define His actions?

He redeems. He came for that purpose. For us. And it started out rough-In a stable. It ended rough-On a cross. But in all of it He was showing love. He was working in the unexpected. He was living the most painfully beautiful story ever to be written.

And He was doing it for her. The broken girl with the painful story. He was doing it for me. The Mom with more question marks scribbled in her Bible than notes.

The Redemption that we celebrate at Christmas continues each day. It trickles into our pain. It bottles every tear that we cry (Psalm 56:8). When the hands go up, so can the face. And somehow, tenderly, He is redeeming our moments.

That’s our “Good, Good Father.” Merry Christmas!!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

IMG_0087 (PS-If you’re wondering, we didn’t do a Christmas card this year. No excuses!)

Christmas: Realistically Speaking

Here’s to a realistic Christmas where:

-There are more ornaments on the floor than on the tree.
-I will wear the same maternity jeans every day.
-The boys whisper in their room til I nearly lose my mind.
-Our presents are covered in gift tags I cut out from wrapping paper.
-We cook store bought cookies instead of homemade.
-Esther eats at least 2 lollipops a day while I’m helping one of the boys.
-Jeremy comes home pooped from Christmas at DPAC.
-Our family rocks Christmas the best way we know how.

It won’t be perfect. But it can be beautiful.

Bethlehem was no fairytale. Mary had her first baby in a stable. There were animals. And poop. And no epidurals.

Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect to be special. That’s not how it started.

So let’s take what comes. Embrace the life season that we’re in. And rejoice with the imperfect. The Perfect One has come!

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

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Our Local, Simple Christmas

This post may officially make me a weirdo. Regardless…

I’m reading a book called “Year of Plenty.” Here’s the subtitle “One Suburban Family, Four Rules, and 365 Days of Homegrown Adventure in Pursuit of Christian Living.”

Upfront I’ll tell you I don’t agree with everything in there. As I type this I’m munching on a Trader Joe’s “Oreo” and hearing the cashier’s words in my brain, “At least you kept it under $200.”

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I still have a lot to learn. A long ways to go. But this book has gotten me thinking; specifically when shopping for Christmas. Here are some things we’ve done…

1-I bought almost all our presents from people. Real people. Not companies.
-Examples-A good friend sewed bags; Dominican ladies made jewelry; Another friend made a scarf

2-I bought most of our gift cards from local companies.

3-Our Christmas party ham is being cooked by a small business down the street. (The owner calls me Tiff!)

4-The boys’ coveted Skylanders were purchased off Craiglist.

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It’s just a start, ya’ll, but it’s been fun. I’ve met people. Felt like I was helping people. Enjoyed putting more thought into our purchases.

It’s a small way I can slow down. Embrace the season. Breathe deeply of the beautiful simplicity of that first Christmas when grace came down.

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
(Luke 2:7)

(Another way to embrace a simple Christmas can be found on Lifesong for Orphans website. Check it out!)