Happy 2014 Friends! Of course, New Year’s is a time for reflection and gratitude for the year past and hopeful expectation for the coming, new year…I am no different this year as I look back at Christmas this year. This Christmas was a lot different for us. Although we have lived away from extended family for nearly 5 years, living in San Francisco meant we were surrounded by many friends who were in the same boat as we were…far away from family. It is such a transient City, there are a number of friends who have great holiday celebrations with a random little group of “non-biological” family Our first Texas Christmas proved to be different, as most friends have some family within driving distance, so it was time to do a little readjusting. We had a lovely, quiet Christmas- just the four of us- filled with gifts and lots of FaceTime with family as we exchanged gifts. And the day after Christmas, we continued our tradition of having friends over for a traditional English roast dinner for Boxing Day…it was lots of fun and reminded us that we are not alone out here, after all!
I was one of those crazies out on Christmas Eve picking up groceries and little odds and ends to finish up the kids stockings and had the most joyous realization…
Colby and I have decided to not make a huge emphasis on Santa and gifts at Christmas; it just feels awkward to have to come up with an answer to the “Why?” questions when it comes to children- both here in the States and abroad- that don’t have the resources to give or receive gifts. We are not totally “anti-Santa”, but I think our kids just think of him as something fun, like Snowmen. Anyhow….all of that to say, we try to keep Christmas gifts simple and meaningful to our kids and have always given them: 1) something to play with; 2) something to wear; and 3) something to read. Can’t remember where we heard it, but it’s kept Christmas simple, and yet meaningful, for us over the last few years. Earlier in December, we were shopping for their gifts at Target, and walking up and down the toy aisles, Colby and I were having a harder time than I ever would have thought! I totally get the temptation to indulge…there were soooooo many things that each child would have loved! Anything with Lightening McQueen, Mater, or Planes lights up Judah’s eyes. All the baby doll “accessories”, tiny stuffed animals, sparkly clothes or shoes, anything pink…let’s just say, Eden is easy to shop for ha! This was also the first year that gift shopping felt nostalgic for Colby and me; the kids are starting to play with some of our favorite things from when we were little! But, as hard as it was, we stuck to our guns and kept our gifts modest. You see, we have limited resources that just wouldn’t cover all those great gifts we saw in the store; no matter how badly we wanted them.
Back to the last minute Christmas Eve shopping, and I was having a hard time again with self-control! So many little cute things to stuff in their stockings! As I was parking the car to walk in the very last store, it hit me:
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-10.
I feel like I caught just a glimpse, just a taste of how God, our Father, feels towards us! It hit me hard. I think of all the times I fail as a parent. All the times I lose my temper and bark out something unkind. The times I get of tired of the whining and just give in when there’s a lesson to be learned. The times I fight being angry at their disobedience and struggle to have the patience to teach them the right way. I am so imperfect, so imperfect, and yet, I want so badly to give my child good things!
Sitting there, in the Ross parking lot, I got choked up recalling James 1:17: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
My mind and heart rejoice at the thought of the song lyrics, based on 1 John 3:1 “O how great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called the Sons and Daughters of God!” I rejoice that God is a Father who never runs out of patience, never holds on to anger, never grows tired of our whining, temper tantrums, never gives in and gives us “ok” things because we are begging for them- he gives only the best! And he will never, ever run out of resources! His intent of good towards us is never-ending, and He doesn’t have a Christmas budget to stick to…the highest price has already been paid through the life, death and resurrection of His firstborn son, Jesus Christ, and the reward is ours for the rest of time! I thank God for speaking to me in the quiet, everyday moments of life. I am looking toward 2014 with great hope and expectation to experience the love, grace, mercy and peace of The Trinity more than ever before and pray the same blessing for you and your family!
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14