Thursday, December 24, 2009

In Search of That Perfect Gift

I love giving gifts. The perfect gift. And there are two kinds of perfect gifts.

First there is the "I always wanted one of these" gifts. Someone you love has shared with you something that they wish they had. You spend the entire month of December walking the aisles of local stores and searching the Internet. And you find it. Exactly what they asked for. Exactly what they wanted. You wrap it up and place it under the tree and get giddy every time you think about it. You can't wait to give it.

And when they open their gift, it's hard to tell who's more excited about it. Them or you?

Take Rachel for example. She's been asking for one thing this year. "A pink heart just like Lexi." Apparently, our neighbor girl has a pink heart hair clip...that I have never seen! If I had been able to find this "pink heart just like Lexi" it would have fallen into this category of perfect gifts.

I could not.

I'll get over it. And so will Rachel, I'm sure.

But I so wanted to give that gift.

On to the other perfect gift.

Have you ever known someone so well that you knew exactly what they needed even though they them self did not? This is the "I didn't even know they made these!" or "I never would have thought of this!" gift.

This comes with the added anxiousness of wondering "will they really like it?" But oh the perfection of being able to give a loved one the very thing they need but wouldn't have known to ask for!

I have been on the receiving end of this type of perfect gift.

One night, long before I was born, I was given a gift. And that gift was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. And His birth announcement filled the sky and announced His arrival to those the world would have called "no one special." And they went to see Him. This gift that changed everything.

I never would have known to ask for a Savior.

But He came.

And He came for you too.

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus
1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christa]">[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our New Christmas Tradition

Can I call it a "tradition" if I just decided to do this, just started tonight and feel that I will want to do this every year?

Yes, I believe I can.

So, I will.

Anyway, I love Christmas cookies. I love baking them, decorating them, eating them. I love making them myself, with friends, or with the kids. I love them.

What I do not love is chaos, whining, pleading, and tantrums while attempting to make cookies. I don't know about anyone else's kids but when mine find out I'm baking they swarm the kitchen and everyone wants to "help" with something. It gets a little overwhelming.

This weekend I decided we would do cookies differently this year.

So, yesterday I explained to the kids that they would each go through our cookie recipe book and choose a cookie they wanted to make with me. Tonight was Aly's turn to bake. Just the two of us. She had picked out sugar cookies on sticks dipped in almond bark and decorated with royal icing. Start to finish it was all Aly. No arguing over turns. No complaining about turns. It was wonderful!

The cookies turned out adorable and I was so glad that we had that time together. It ended up being a really fun cookie to make but a lot of work. It was fun to be able to experiment without the stress of a large crowd!

Tomorrow night, Aidan and I will attempt to make candy cane cookies. Tuesday I get to make chocolate mint layered fudge with Garrett. And Wednesday Rachel and I will make our favorite cut-out cookies for Santa. I'll let Rachel do a couple herself and then I'll have some fun on my own when she goes to bed. I'll save a couple for the older kids to decorate on Christmas Eve morning.

My hope is that since everyone has an opportunity to bake their own cookies, they won't mind when I make a couple other cookies on my own! (It goes a little quicker that way.) And by Christmas we'll have quite a selection of yummy treats!

Friday, December 18, 2009

You Must Check Out This Giveaway...

...but let me win! :o)

MckMama is giving away Lightroom 2 and her friend, Grammie Mommy is giving away Photoshop! Check out their blogs and leave them a comment for your own chance to win!

How is it?

That just last Christmas I was anxiously waiting for a little someone to kick me in the womb...

...and now she's kneeling in my kitchen pulling toys out of her toy basket?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

When It Doesn't Look Good

I have used the word "overwhelmed" quite a bit lately.

Lack of sleep, and all the work that goes along with having a pre-teen daughter, 2 young boys, Rachel, and a new baby will do that, I suppose.

Somehow I managed to run the VBS craft area for 140 kids when Emily was just 6 weeks old (not by myself, of course, I had lots of wonderful help!). It was a blast and I don't remember feeling overwhelmed. Busy, yes! Tired, yes! Overwhelmed? No.

So why have I struggled so much lately?

My Mom reminded me of Psalm 46:10.

"Be still and know that I am God."

That week at VBS, I knew I was right where God wanted me to be. I knew that He would give me what I needed to do what He asked of me. I knew that He was God. I never felt that I had to do any of it myself. He is God. He is in control. He will provide.

I look around and see that I am right where He wants me to be. This day is the day He has given me.

We are in the middle of several big projects here. We are building 2 sets of bunk beds and in the next few days we will be emptying out the kids' rooms so their new carpeting can be installed. I've been letting the current state of our house overwhelm and frustrate me. Last night, I got still and knew that He is God.

And He showed me something in all of my chaos.

I can make it through this mess because the end will bring the reward of 2 beautiful new rooms!

It will end.

It might get uglier and messier in the process, bit it will end.

He reminded me that this is how He works.

He brings beauty from ashes. He brings refinement from fire.

It does not usually look very appealing when God is working, but I don't want to avoid the unpleasant if it means missing out on His blessings!

Sometimes we can know the beauty we working for. I can picture the bedrooms when they are finished! I suffered through labor pains knowing that I would be meeting the new little life that God had blessed us with!

Sometimes we have to trust. For a year and a half I struggled through a separation from my husband. I did not know when the end would come or what the end would look like. It did not look good. But. I knew that God was working and that the outcome was in His hands. And those are the only hands I want my life to be in!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Top Ten Tuesday

It has been ages since I have written a "Top Ten Tuesday" post. Since Emily has decided that I am not supposed to be in the garage sanding wood for bunk beds, and because I'm sick of doing laundry, I'm going to blog!

So, I present to you the Top Ten things to do at 3am!

10) Look at the house and consider doing some cleaning while everyone (except Emily, of course) is sleeping!

9) Look at the kitchen and consider just focusing your cleaning efforts on the kitchen.

8) Look in the fridge and decide to have the last piece of pecan pie instead.

7) Sit on the floor with a sweet baby girl (and a rich piece of pie) and ponder all of the things you want to accomplish during the day.

6) Ponder your to-do list just long enough to realize that you will be extremely sleep-deprived when the sun comes up and will never have the energy to accomplish said list.

5) Try to convince a happy little girl to sleep instead of practicing to be able to sit up!

4) Give up trying to convince a happy little girl to sleep and just play with her instead.

3) Feed that sweet, happy baby girl who is finally done playing and ready for a snack.

2) Watch the early morning news and cry when they talk about the many troops leaving for Afghanistan. (And then, of course, start praying for the many husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters departing and all of the loved ones they are leaving behind!)

1) Think about how desperately you want to be sleeping!!!

Happy Tuesday!