Thursday, December 8, 2016

What I've learned in this very busy week...

We had the first real snowfall of the season last Sunday.  Gwen's family was not able to spend anytime outside playing in the snow on Sunday so Monday's "job" was lots of snow time!  The kids were so anxious to get outside that they were ready to go by 9:15am.  I had to beg them to come in for lunch, two and a half hours later.  Gotta love home school!  This was a perfect day.  It was sunny and not very cold and the snow was good packing snow.
Here is Zeke with his snowman.  At one point, Zeke had rolled a ball of snow so big that he couldn't push it anymore.  It almost cleaned all the snow off of their front lawn!  Anna was loving the shovel.
She made a couple of paths around the house.  All of the kids were tired and hungry by the time they came in.  Such a fun day!  

On Tuesday I actually made another trip to Gwen's house since the older girls were in a Christmas Play at their home school Coop!  It was a wonderful adapted story of the birth of Jesus.  Ellie was a really cute sheep and Lia was a villager.  This was one of the most well done plays I have seen with these young kids.  And really, what is Christmas without a kid's Christmas program?

Then on Wednesday morning my small group celebrated Christmas together.  We have such a wonderful group that prays and listens and just is really there for each other.  I don't know what I would do without this great group of gals!

And then last night, Ken and I were invited to attend a wonderful Christmas Concert at the church of some good friends.  The artist was a guy that I had never heard of - Mark Smeby.  
You can click on the link to read more about him, and hear some of his music.  It was a really entertaining evening listening to some Christmas music and even singing along.  And it is always good to connect with some great friends.  

Today I managed to complete my Christmas Cards and actually get them mailed out. And additionally I made my first batch of Christmas cookies.  PHEW!  It has been a really busy few days.

So,, what have I learned in these busy, busy times?  Well, I don't like the snow very much.  But it is hard to hate the stuff when the kids have so much fun!  As I was sitting outside with them, I was thinking of fun times I had as a kid, playing in the snow.  My mom really didn't like the snow.  She especially didn't like driving on snowy roads.  But she knew the joy of outside winter fun and always encouraged us to play outside.  We ice skated and went sledding, even in very cold weather. I was grateful for that memory of my mom.  

And Christmas programs!  Well, there is really nothing better than seeing the familiar Christmas story enacted by a new group of little ones.  I actually have no memory of being in a Christmas program, I do remember learning "O Little Town of Bethlehem" which was the song my Sunday school class sang in the program.  I was only 4 years old and the program didn't stick in my memory.  But the song did.  And now it is one of my favorites.  By the time I was in grade school, our church had eliminated the Christmas program because there was no room!  Yes, I can see the irony of that.  My mom would always talk about the amazing children's programs held on Christmas Eve and in her memory they always included me.  When I would remind her that I never did one of those programs, she would be so sad.  All of my siblings had a chance to do those programs.  Sadly, we moved out of that town before I was old enough to participate.  I am so glad that my mom inspired me to expect my own kids to always be in these programs.  And now, it brings me great joy to watch my grandchildren making their own memories.  

At my small group we talked about joy!  And we each shared and laughed and prayed.  And of course, we ATE!  There is something so powerful about fellowship.  Just being together and being real together.  Everything is not perfect.  Many of us have some really hard things going on in our life.  But even in those times, there is joy.  There is joy together.  

Last night, sitting with our friends and hearing some inspirational stories, reminded me of just how important friends are.  These dear friends were there to support us during the horrible time when Lucas died.  They came.  They called.  They continued to reach out to us.  And I was especially grateful for them as we heard a stirring message to make a difference in the world.  How blessed we are to have such good friends who live their faith by their actions.  

I was really missing my mom today, as I baked those Spritz cookies.  I remember so many years, standing by her side as she pressed out those buttery wonders.  I would dust them with the green and red sugar and stand by the oven waiting for them to bake.  These are truly my favorite cookie.  I am so thankful for all of the memories of my mom and of Christmas' of the past.  Every cookie I eat today helps me celebrate with joy, the memories of the past.  

Yes, this week has been about family, friends and Christmas, joy and thankfulness.  I know that everyone has a full calendar this month.  But I encourage you to stop and think about the events that are really important.  Take some time and go outside and PLAY!  Even if you don't have children around - go outside!  Breathe in the air.  Look at the sky.  "Waste" some time!  You will be refreshed.
Call a couple of friends you haven't talked to in awhile.  Make plans to have coffee or a meal.  Connect to someone.  Check your local paper for events happening near you.  Go to a play or program.  Gather some friends or family and go caroling. Eat a cookie - or two - or three!  Find some joy!  Expect joy!

And there it is.  Expectation.  That is what Advent is all about.  Planning and expecting the arrival of the Messiah.  Let's put the expectation for joy back into our Christmas planning and onto our calendars.  There is still plenty of time to make some changes to your plans.  Mostly this is about a change of attitude.  I plan to make these next weeks more about Jesus and more about Joy!

Jesus, thank you for being a part of all of my busyness this week.  Thank you for the wonder of children playing in the snow.  Thank you for Christmas programs that remind us of the greatest gift we have ever received.  Thank you for friends and family and fun.  Thank you for joy.  Amen

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