Tuesday, December 25, 2012

good gifts

this picture reminds me of something...actually, the thought has been rolling through my mind all day.  Christmas is really about one great and amazing present.  "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16....He so loved that He GAVE....and He keeps on giving...He delights in giving good gifts to His children...to me.

gifts...both giving and receiving is one of my major love languages...big gifts, small gifts...they speak to me.  and i can get pretty bummed out when the "gift" doesn't meet my expectations.

yes, this pic is kate...yes, she is quite distraught.  this is post-opening of the traditional Christmas Eve present...it is always some form of pajamas...preferably matching pajamas.  apparently kate is not old enough to fully recognize the pattern. she remembered that she would get a Christmas Eve present...she was SO excited about it as we headed home from dinner.  and then she opened it.  and she cried...and she sobbed.  i think her exact words were something along the lines of "This wasn't what I was expecting!"...in between sobs and sniffles and gulps...then, "I really wanted a pony castle...I was expecting a pony castle". 
 she was distraught.

and i see myself in this picture. distraught and sobbing because some moment in life is not at all what i expected...or maybe it is not a moment...maybe it is a week or a month or a year...a whole string of "not what i expected" gifts...

in this instance, though, i had a different perspective.  you see, i knew that upstairs, tucked away under my bed...all wrapped up in pretty paper...was that very pony castle my sweet girl was longing for a sobbing about.  no, the pjs were not what she expected, but what she hoped for WAS right around the corner...if only she could just enjoy the moment...enjoy the gift in the present moment, the one sitting right there in her lap...that her daddy and i had so eagerly given.

i wanted so badly to wrap my arms around her...to whisper in her ear...to tell her not to worry, that tomorrow what she "expected" would be reality.  but i didn't....because i was not about to ruin the joyful delight that would be hers when she did receive that eagerly anticipated pony castle...that "good gift" she was so envisioning.

she did calm down...she did once again smile....she did enjoy the rest of the evening, but in this moment...it was not so pretty.

friends...that is me...most likely that it ALL of us.  oh that we could simply learn to accept with open, eager and joyful hearts the gift that our Father gives in each moment...even if it is not exactly what we were expecting.  oh that we would eagerly embrace the gift He has given....His Son.

...and oh my...look how the picture changed just 12 hours later when the very last package of the morning for Kate was opened and revealed the much longed for and anticipated pony castle.  and how my heart swelled with joy to be able to give her that gift...

and i was again, reminded of our Father...who delights to give good gifts.  friends, i soooo eagerly longed for this morning...yes, for the reality of the gift of Jesus, but also because i delight in seeing the joy on my childrens' faces as they open the presents we have so carefully and lovingly selected and purchased and wrapped.  to think, this desire in my heart is only a shadow...a very dim shadow....of the delight of the Father in giving good gifts to His children.  oh that i would trust Him and receive with joy...

Christmas 2012

my sweet girls...ready for Christmas Eve service at our church....one of my favorite times of worship each year!

it took FOREVER to get this shot...all looking at the camera...all smiling...a minor Christmas miracle!

no pics....but more memories made in between.  we managed to make it through the entire Christmas Eve service with all four kiddos with us...there were some hilariously chaotic moments at the end while Pastor Mark was giving his "sermonette"....but we made it!  then we headed to China's Best for our traditional Christmas eve Chinese buffet dinner...only this time our dear friends' the Lewises joined us....so much fun....7 kiddos 7 and under, 4 adults, loads of "Chinese chicken" and more trips to the "dessert" bar than I can count. :)  good times!

opening their traditional Christmas Eve present...matching jammies...

...and another Christmas Eve tradition....Charlie Brown Christmas
Libber-girl and mama :)

reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas :)

Mugho has a special place in his heart for Christmas...he REALLY wanted to open presents last night while everyone was still sleeping

Kate and Jillian were in our room at 5:26 a.m....I managed to tuck them back in and buy another 30 minutes or so before they traipsed back in...and we bought another 30-45 minutes by letting them lay in our bed and watch a few cartoons...crazy kiddos...by 7ish we were eating donuts and reading Luke 2...the calm before the storm! ;)

maybe some of my favorite/the best Christmas morning by the tree pics we have ever managed to pull off! :)  and this is sooo incredibly Kate in true form

funny face pic...always have to do this for Aunt Shell ;)

sweet Kate...she was SOOOO excited to give her gifts.  each year we take the girls to pick out dollar-ish gifts for their siblings...it has been fun to watch them grow in the thought they put into each gift.  elizabeth, bless her sweet, tender heart....without any prompting she chose to spend her AWANA shares on presents for the whole family...i will never treasure a chocolate cupcake candle quite so much as the one she picked for me!  and kate...sweet kate LOVES to give gifts...i think her love language is a lot like her mamas....gift giving and receiving. ;)  here she is giving elizabeth necklaces...she kept saying, "I picked them because I just KNEW you would love them!"  (she also gave her daddy a copy of a free book she got from chick-fil-a...hilarious!)


pure delight...Kate opening her pony wedding castle....so beyond excited

all in all, we enjoyed a Christmas day at home...just the 6 of us...no big traditional meal...appetizers for lunch, Asian noodle salad for dinner....our traditional birthday cake for Jesus...loads of giggles, some frustrating moments where little people struggled to be grateful, especially when they had to think about sharing...lots of noise and chaos...soooooo incredibly blessed and thankful!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas cookies!

more muffin tin advent fun...decorating sugar cookies... :)  we delivered to neighbors and friends too :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

weekend muffin tin fun

 This weekend we did our annual Jolly Days at the museum visit and then headed downtown for dinner on the circle and light-viewing. :)
 The Jolly Days slide is ALWAYS a hit :)
 Luke wasn't so into fishing, but daddy caught a whopper ;)

 sock skating

 I think Luke would have spent the entire time on the slide :)

 carousel grins

 dino dig....gotta love the goggles!

 Elizabeth and Kate are extremely intent when it comes to digging :)

 my dino babies

 dinner at the Potbelly sandwich shop
 lights on the circle
 my little monkeys...these were going to be a stocking stuffer, but i finished them literally the afternoon before we headed downtown, so i couldn't resist giving them early and having them wear them downtown

 and tonight we had grinch floats (sprite and lime sherbet)...
 ...and watching "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" :)

 happy boy in a sweater vest...gotta love a sweater vest :)