Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jesus is the reason... so then what?

I am in disbelief that Christmas is two days away! This week has been busy- finishing up gift shopping & grocery shopping... not great on the "staying off my feet" orders for the doctor, but what is a Mommy to do?!
I went to see my doctor again Tuesday. It was a good visit, and gave me peace of mind after having a lot of contractions last weekend. Still no change and Charity is still growing so well with a strong heartbeat! But she wants me to be back in two weeks to do a fetal fibronectin test to tell whether I am likely to go into preterm labor. I'm thankful we have such a thorough doctor, whose concerns are the same as mine! What a night & day difference from the doctor we had with Gabbi.

Anyway, here I sit, one baby sleeping & the other running a couple errands with her Daddy. Dustin showed up at 1:00 this afternoon, a surprise to me & the girls! He said hardly anyone was at work today and he found himself just chatting and visiting with everyone at the office, so he thought he may as well come home :) And he's off until Jan 3rd! What a blessing to have him home with us!
I should probably be laying down or napping right now since the house is unusually quiet, but I have a lot of thoughts running through my mind that have been leaving me blank the past several days. Then I read today's post on the True Woman blog, and it left me even more confused. Celebrating Christmas in an unbelieving home my whole life (even though we would have said we were believers), Jesus was the afterthought of Christmas. Or, yes He was the "reason" for the season... so thank You, Jesus for being born so we can eat good food and have lots of presents. I don't know how my parents afforded to give us so much for Christmas, but we were spoiled. My mom and dad never did the whole "Santa" thing real big, but we weren't missing him with all the stuff we got. I did love those times as a kid, being with all my family. I do have good memories, but they simply don't include Christ.
When we came to know Christ, however, it all shifted... as it should have. And now every year I know Him, He reveals to me more and more what all happened that night He was born. How truly amazing it is. How unbelievable that my High King would humble Himself to the point of becoming a human... and even "less" than merely human... a baby! Who would cry, and hunger, and need His nose wiped, His bottom wiped, be utterly dependent on a young, teenage girl... What humility! He was fully human (without ceasing to be fully God). He did this because there was no other way we could be with Him. Yet He wanted us with Him.... me... He wanted me to be His, so He came. Wow. Hallelujah! He's shown me that, and so much more.
Dustin and I, we want our children to grow knowing the so much more part of Christmas. The part of Christmas that is greater than any Doll house or Princess nightgown they could unwrap. But how??? That is my question... how???
When we were married, especially after Gabbi was born, we decided we weren't going to do Santa. While I think there is absolutely no benefit- and not only no benefit, we believe it takes away from Christ- I'm not going to go on and on about how terrible you are if you do Santa with your kids. Because you're not. I just ask you to consider where we are coming from.
We just decided- besides the fact that it's lying- there is no gospel in "Santa Claus". There are too many similarities between God and "Santa"- they both are omniscient, all knowing & omnipresent. They both know when you're good and bad, but want you to be good, etc. Despite all their similarities, they are very different on the most important thing... If you are good for "Santa" he rewards you with all these presents! But if you are bad, you get nothing- or coal- or (as is the case in most homes, I'm sure) you still get stuff without consequences... That is so unlike our God. No one is deserving of the gifts we get. We could never be good enough for God, yet He bestows His blessings on us because of His grace... and there are consequences for sin. That is why Jesus had to come in the first place! Aside from this one major issue, there were a couple "smaller" reasons... We were also troubled with the idea that our kids' whole childhood we would say "Santa is real. God is real. Santa sees you when you're sleeping. God sees you when you're sleeping. Santa sees everything you do. God sees everything you do." Then one day our child finds out the truth about Santa, and they come to us and say " what about God??" Finally, we believe it takes away the glory God deserves for His provision. The kids wake up bright and early Christmas morning, ready to open all the presents, there's so much excitement, and when all the gifts are opened they shout what? "Thank you... Santa???" When the Lord is truly the one deserving the thanks and praise for what He has allowed us to get.
Ok, so we don't do Santa... we know that's not going to the one answer for having our children understand the "so much more". Dustin and I also have talked in the past about the amount of stuff we get our children. Since we don't want presents to be the driving focus of the holiday, we decided that our children will get three gifts from us. Jesus got three gifts, they'll get three gifts. Well, that's from us... then there are aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, friends, so on and so on... they still get them stuff. And we're not so stick-in-the-mud that we're going to say "please, don't get our kids gifts" (not that you're a stick-in-the-mud if that's what you do!). I love giving gifts! I love picking out something I just know someone is going to love- especially my daughters- and the anticipation of seeing their face when they open it. I'm not going to take that away from someone. And let's face it, little girls are FUN to shop for. This is the first year where Gabbi really knows what's going on. Which makes it fun. It also makes it all the more troubling. Everyday she's asked me "is it Jesus's birthday yet??" (because I told her we'll open presents on Jesus's bday). She thinks every present I wrap is for her. I've even had to re-tape a gift or two because of her anxiousness. It's cute. Yes. So sweet. Yes... but how do I make her really understand? I know at 3, she's only going to understand so much. But as they grow, how do I make them understand it's not about the gifts that will one day perish, the gifts that will still leave you empty no matter how much you get... it's about The Gift??
We started doing Advent candles this year, with little Gabbi-sized devotions. I'm loving it. It's truly been some of my favorite times as a family so far. Gabbi listens as her Daddy reads from the bible and the Jesus Storybook Bible. She talks about it. She does get that Jesus was born, and we open gifts on His birthday. I just want it to be so much more than the presents. I want our children to truly cherish the time with our family, to cherish Christ & His coming... over gifts. I'm sure every Christian mom wants that. I just am at a loss on how to get there. Part of me thinks it won't really happen until they know Christ. Part of me says, they're kids & kids will always be excited about presents. True. I just think there is a balance somewhere. I'm welcome to (and actually asking for) everyone's thoughts on the subject.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow Day! Snow Day! Snow Day!

I love snow! Love love love snow! Not the greatest fan of being cold, but, I'll deal with it during the snow. It's beautiful. It's fun. It's great. I kind of wish we lived in a part of the country that got a little more snow than here. Then maybe so many people wouldn't have such a bad attitude about it! ;o)

I'm really wishing this post would have some great pictures of how we absolutely enjoyed this wonderful snow today... but there won't be any. It was below freezing all day, with a windchill of like, 6 degrees. My 3 year old and sick 1 year old stayed nice and cozy inside- as did Dustin and I! This was already the second snow of the winter... and it's not even winter! But Gabbi and I got out on the back porch just a little while the first time one day last week. We're hoping it's a year for a lot of snow. Maybe even a white Christmas *fingers crossed*. On Christmas, I already told Dustin, no matter how cold it is if it snows, we will be outside at some point. So no pictures of tonight, but I'll leave a picture of last winter's big snow. Here's Gabbi staying cool in the "fort" her Daddy and Poppy built for her.

I am excited to share our home is finally decorated for Christmas! What few decorations we have. But I'm not worried about it, nor am I caught up in how our home needs to look for the holidays. I suppose I easily could be, but for financial reasons and the fact that we haven't yet been married 4 years, we just haven't accumulated much stuff :) This is a year of firsts, however. Two Sundays ago we ventured out to find our first *real* Christmas tree. I am in love! If we can help it, we'll never have an artificial tree again. We bought from this little place across from the new Kroger on Broadway. All the trees were beautiful, and not nearly as expensive as I thought. They truly were some of the prettiest real trees I've ever seen- and I'm not just saying that because ours is from there ;) Gabbi had a blast picking out our tree. She ran to the biggest trees on the lot wanting "that one". It was bitter cold that evening, but she didn't seem to notice. We finally settled on one, came home, ate soup, drank hot chocolate, and decorated our tree. Gabbi helped us decorate after Catie went to bed. She hung about ten ornaments or so before she went on to bed and Dustin and I finished up. I got a kick the next morning of hearing her tell Catie about the tree.
"Isn't our tree beautiful, Catie? Mommy and I decorated it last night. See, I did this one, Catie (pointing to an ornament she hung). And this one... And this one..." I love how, in her mind, Daddy had nothing to do with it. And she didn't even notice the tree being completed the next morning. When she had gone to bed, the bottom third of it was missing lights because Dustin had to go out and buy more.

I also love how she always talks to Catie as if Catie understands everything she's saying. It's so sweet, and I know one day (very soon), Catie will really be understanding everything she's saying. On one hand, I don't want that day to come. But on the other hand, I'm so anxious to see how they'll interact and talk when Catie gets just a little bigger. However, these days we're really working on some heart issues with Gabbi as far as Catie is concerned. We pray everyday, sometimes several times a day, for the Lord to help Gabbi love Catie, help her be kind to Catie, and not be selfish, not to push/ hit/ trip, etc. My patience is often tested, and I must continually remember the Lord's constant patience with me. He has shown me much grace in my life, and I pray Gabbi will see this grace through me. There are things God has to tell me over- and over- and over- and over- again before one day, I get it! And I have the Holy Spirit. Gabbi doesn't, so how could I possibly expect her to do better than I? In the mean time, we'll keep praying. Keep reminding. Keep speaking truth to her and over her. I am looking forward to seeing God's mighty hand in her life.