I just got out of a nice, relaxing, hot shower, Kenna is napping, Charis is crafting, and (amazingly) the boys are wordlessly playing in the family room. Ahhh! I wanted to take a few moments and consider where we are in our preparations for Christmas.
First, the externals...
1. House decorated? Check. Our tree looks lovely, and no more ornaments have fallen onto the tile floor (or the tree skirt for that matter). Christmas candles make the house smell and look beautiful in the evenings, and the holly garland on our bannister is festive.
2. Shopping completed? Almost. We have some things to purchase on behalf of Grandma J, but our excursion is planned for tomorrow evening when we can take advantage of a youth babysitting service at the church of of our home school families.
3. Gifts wrapped? The ones to be mailed, yes. The ones to open in our house Christmas Day--haven't even started!
4. Handmade gifts done? Yes! This year I opted to make quite a few things for our family members. I hope they enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them. I won't mention what they are here since several recipients visit our blog now and then. :-) I do have one more batch of "something" to make but hope to do that today or tomorrow.
5. Christmas cards stamped, letter written, copies made, envelopes stuffed, address labels printed, postage stamps attached? ABSOLUTELY NOT! ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!?! OK. For the past 8 years I have stamped all of our Christmas cards, written the annual family update, made copies, sometimes even stamped the letters themselves, printed address labels...you get the picture. And we've actually mailed this nice bit of effort. But this year? My decision was I could either A) do all of the above work or B) enjoy the season with my family. Since I have considerably less stress than I typically do this time of year, you can probably imagine which option I chose.
Don't get me wrong...I don't plan for this to happen every year. (Can I blame our move?? I was planning to start stamping cards in October but instead ended up packing and unpacking boxes!) I love creating handmade cards and writing our family update letters. Just don't look for it to happen at Christmastime every year. We may make a huge change in the WHEN of this project! During a season when there are so many good activities to choose from, many of which truly do help us focus on the Reason for the season, I am just having a hard time forcing myself to do a major chore that I could enjoy during a different time of year when there aren't so many other options for using my time.
So, I hope you will forgive us for not appearing in your mailbox this year, but frankly, if you are reading this blog, you probably know way more about our life than most other people anyway!
OK, back to my list...
6. Christmas goodies baked? Mostly! We love dipped gingersnaps (made, ate, and gave away one batch of 12 dozen already), fudge (still have some in the fridge), peanut butter balls (just made those, so we have a lot left), brown sugar pecans (currently going through the second batch), and roll-out sugar cookies (still haven't made). My plan is to let the kids do roll-out cookies with Grandma K on Sunday or Monday. I may make one more batch of fudge with nuts--the first batch was nutless because it was for the kids, and they aren't fond of any type of nut (with the possible exception of their mother, ha!).
7. Advent activities? Yes! We continue to enjoy our calendar by Noel Piper and our advent book. The children talk much about the first Christmas, and we never seem to get tired of it (praise the Lord!). They are eagerly waiting for Christmas morning when we can put Baby Jesus in the manger. Their sweet prayers and eager anticipation make this a special season indeed.
8. Guest room prepared? Hmmm...this one needs work. My parents get into town on Saturday, and my stamping area is a disaster! I suppose if they can at least get to their futon bed it will be OK, right?! Thankfully Ted is off work tomorrow and can help me prepare the room! Charis did her part in cleaning her craft area (though she may very well be messing it up again...)
So, on the outside it would seem that we are indeed very nearly ready for Christmas. How are we doing on the inside?
1. House decorated? Are my body, soul, and spirit ready for the celebration of my Lord's arrival on earth? I'm working on giving my body the rest it needs; my back is still giving me problems, and I'm fighting a cold. I'm forcing myself to slow down, which isn't a bad thing by any means. I am meeting with the Lord each morning for a quiet time of prayer and Bible study...but sometimes I leave God in the rocking chair and rush off to see what I can cross off my to-do list. My challenge during December (as always) is to stay quiet and listen, enjoying a heart-to-heart visit with Jesus.
2. Shopping completed? What does one give Someone Who has everything?! This year I want to give Christ the things that are most important to me. I want to give Him a husband who is loved, cherished, honored, and cared for in all ways. I want to give Him children who have eager hearts to know more about Him. I want to give Him a clean, calm household--not because it's all-important that my home is clean and welcoming, but because He made me the "heart" of our home, and I want to extend His love to others.
3. Gifts wrapped? No, because I'm working on them on an ongoing basis!
4. Handmade gifts done? Whatever my hands find to do, I desire to do with all my might. So no, they aren't done, but Lord willing, they are working their way to completion!
5. Christmas cards stamped, etc.? I long for my life to be a love letter to my Lord. My prayer is that when I arrive in heaven's "mailbox," Jesus will read me and answer with, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant!" This is one letter that will take a lifetime to write, and trust me, there are many spots where we've had to go back with the eraser of God's forgiveness!
6. Christmas goodies baked? I pray my life gives off the sweet aroma of God's love: "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him" (2 Corinthians 2:14).
7. Advent activities? Every day we are looking forward to the return of Jesus! "For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever" (1 Thess. 4:16-16). Amen!
8. Guest room prepared? Today at breakfast I had the privilege of being in a discussion with Charis and Tobin that involved how to get to heaven. Even though they grasp the idea that Jesus paid the price for our sins, for some reason Tobin still mentioned being "good enough" to get to heaven. This sparked a wonderful talk about how we can never even come close to God's holiness. Tobin did give his testimony again--he keeps referring to a time in our first LV house when he prayed and asked God to forgive his sins and come into his heart. Though Ted and I weren't present when this happened, the fact that he keeps referring to it tells me that there must be something to it. The truth is, when Jesus comes in, He gets more than the guest room! The whole house is His! May we make choices each day that allow Him to be the Master of the house.
For more thoughts on the true meaning of Christmas, I'd love to invite you to visit my sister-in-law's blog...she has done a fabulous job of writing devotionals for each day in December. Grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and let your heart be encouraged and challenged by God's wisdom poured out through Sarah!