I don't know why this year was more emotionally difficult for me than other overseas Christmases but it was for sure. I said when we were in the states 2 years ago at Christmas, that I missed my slower paced Middle Eastern Christmas, and while that is still true, it's still oh so hard to be away from extended family at this time of year. Yes, skype is wonderful and has transformed the way we are able to communicate with our loved ones, but the fact still remains, especially at holidays, that they are on THAT side of the screen and we are on THIS side. Sigh.
In trying to prepare and make the holidays special for the girls, I asked them to tell me about their ideal Christmas. Duh. Not sure why I didn't think through the fact that it would involve being with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents that I couldn't just magically transfer to our house for Christmas. So there were tears then. (from me, not them.... To be clear family that might be reading this and feeling sad, the girls had a great Christmas. Of course, they always miss family and its' always in their minds to be together, but it was me that had the emotional difficulty this year!).
Like I said there have been plenty of things floating around in my head that I've wanted to write about... I'm excited to share with you about our Jesse Tree that I FINALLY fully followed through with. If you know me at all, you know I'm great at coming up with ideas and concepts, but follow through- not so much... I have attempted the whole Jesse Tree devotional in years past and always end up skipping random days, needing to make up 5 days in 1 night, forgetting this or that ornament. But this year we managed the whole thing! Well, let's be real. We didn't do the last devotion. ooops. The one where Jesus is born. Yeah, oops. We did read the Christmas story numerous times and talked about the real meaning of the season etc etc. Just didn't actually do that devotion and put that ornament on the tree. But don't worry, when I get around to taking a picture so I can blog about it(probably before I take it down tomorrow), I'll put that last ornament on the tree... I also had a fun post planned about some random Christmas tree ornaments that we have but it seems somewhat silly now that the season has past. Maybe next year. And of course there are always many, many random thoughts on this or that subject that God has me mulling over.
For now, here's a glimpse at what our family Christmas was like this year. Sadly, we at some point or another during the Christmas week had some version of a nasty stomach thing so we didn't get very far from the house at any given point.
We did lots and lots of baking...
(I'll devote another post to some of the new things we tried but here is the link to the above cake)
We worked several puzzles
(which becomes interesting when our only puzzle working space is a very low coffee table with full access to the 19 month old- we need a card table!)
We had Christmas programs...
We watched some beautiful sunsets (usually while baking...)
And most importantly we celebrated the birth of our Saviour with lots of family together time during our Christmas week. We do have stockings and gifts on Christmas morning, but we've tried to emphasize giving with the girls and I love the way our girls have embraced the excitement of GIVING to each other (almost) as much as the receiving (just being real here, they ARE still kids... :)).
We seemed to kind of have themes this year as far as the receiving of gifts.
AJ was Hunger Games...
Naomi continued in her Toy Story tradition with Lotso Bear and Bo Peep's sheep (thank you e-bay!!)
Maddie remains our crafty girl that I managed to not get a picture of and Anabelle got a fun kitchen, Veggie Tales classics and a LIttle People Zoo
(I think she was a bit puzzled by all the activity!)
Mainly we enjoyed being together- playing games, watching movies etc etc
From our family to yours hoping you had a blessed Christmas and are enjoying a wonderful New Year.
My wonderful husband allowed me some hours alone at Starbucks this afternoon to reflect, blog, gather thoughts etc. As much as I've enjoyed our family together time, it was a needed break to soak in some quiet and not have to be "on call" to answer questions, solve conflicts etc for a few hours. The words in my Experiencing God Day by Day devotion by Henry Blackaby were exactly what my heart needed to hear for the start of a new year.
"Would you dare to believe that God, who called you to Himself and equipped you with His Spirit, could work mightily through you? Have you made the connection between the time and place in which you live and God's call upon you? World events never catch God by surprise. He placed you precisely where you are for a purpose....
Are you allowing your surroundings to determine how you invest your live? Or are you letting God use you to make a difference in your generation? Ask God to reveal His purposes for you and His will for your life today."
After a "pour me" holiday season of wishing I was closer (proximity wise) to my family, I needed the fresh reminder that I/we are exactly where God wants us. As it says in Acts 17: 26-27, God knows in advance exactly where we will live and why. How refreshing!
"From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us."