Friday, December 26, 2008

A Savior Is Born

When I was younger, and honestly, not even that long ago I would find myself disappointed and sad when Christmas day was over. For a long time I couldn't figure out why I was feeling that way. Finally, maturity revealed that I was searching for fulfillment which I believed would come with the gifts that I would receive. But even though I received many great gifts, that sense of fulfillment was always just out of my grasp.

I finally discovered, after several sad Christmases, that fulfilment does not come with getting "stuff".

This year, the day after Christmas, I find myself feeling sad and disappointed all over again. But for completely different reasons. Or are they?

This year, more than most years, I wanted to create a season of traditions and festivities for my family. Since we are a fairly new family and since this is Andy's first Christmas, I wanted to make it memorable. I tried really hard to come up with and actually follow through with activities that could possibly become traditions for my family.

Soon into Christmas morning my high expectations were dashed to the ground and I found myself in tears for reasons that aren't worth rehashing. Then later that day when faced with what I feel to be a major rift in my extended family, I just became inconsolable. The usual issues began even when I have made all efforts to change things. The problem is when other people let their pride get in the way and the rift continues. This has never been how my family operates and I am beside myself to think that some people who are supposed to be close choose to keep their distance and not follow forgiveness with grace.

Needless to say, when spending time with my family is among my most favorite things, I felt purposely left out and like a fifth wheel. I am very grateful for my mother who was happy to play with Andy and talk with me.

As I have been attempting to break out of the sadness and to heal some of the hurt I realized that I was looking for fulfilment from people and acceptance but the only One I can count on is Jesus. How must He feel when I purposely disclude Him when what He wants most from me is my time? He wants to show me His heart. He accepts me just as I am. He wants to reveal His purpose for my life. Yet I continue the "rift" between us because I don't have time for Him.

Let me correct that.

I don't make time for Him like I should. All the reasons why are truly a jumble in my head and at this very moment are being sorted in my heart. But I certainly have a long list of reasons which will be addressed as soon as I can get even a portion dealt with.

What I do know is that even when I choose to leave God out He is always there. He is ready to meet me where I am at and loves me despite my "issues." He sent His son Jesus to show me just how much He loves me. A Savior is born to heal the "rift" I have placed between God and myself. God always follows forgiveness with grace. His acceptance is blessedly overwhelming.

Do not grieve, for the JOY of the Lord is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10

Friday, December 19, 2008

Let The Whirlwind Begin

My in-laws will soon be driving over from Oconomowoc, WI for an early Christmas together since my mother-in-law has to work on Christmas day. If they brave the snowstorm socking the Midwest and throughout the country really, they should be here this evening sometime. If they decide to wait a day they will be here tomorrow. Well, that was profound! Anyway, they will be staying through Monday when Chris will be conducting his students in the Park High School Christmas concert.

Christmas Eve will dawn with a day of cleaning and preparing for the next round of family. Then it's off to celebrate the birth of Jesus our Savior at a Christmas Eve service at church where we reflect on the reason for this season. 

By Christmas Day Andy should be a pro at opening gifts since he will have some practice before hand. Josh will be positively giddy with excitement at finally having a little brother to run to the stockings with. OK,  Andy won't be running but he will be crawling at a mad dash. After our own little family time, we will head to my mom's to celebrate with my brothers and their families.

On Christmas day and the day after I will have my mom's side of the family from Illinois, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Indiana making their way here to Minnesota for the entire weekend. That is what I call our "big family Christmas!" Very original and creative, I know. Maybe I should rename it "Wonderful chaos". 

My favorite thing about Christmas is spending time with my family but the cookies, cakes, pies, bars, fudge and all things sweet are a close second!

So, let the wonderful chaos begin...

Just as a side note, Andy cut his first tooth yesterday morning. Whew, finally after four months of drooling rivers. I know it's not over but it sure helps the ol' crabby mood when that tooth finally breaks through.

Another side note: I am fairly certain that Andy would much prefer to be running to the stockings with Josh since now he is pulling himself up on the furniture. He so wants to walk!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Josh's Birthday Parties

Yep. Parties. He had two parties this year.

One with friends...

and one with family.

Josh was very excited about his new iPod touch!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Happy Birthday Josh!

Today is Josh's 9th birthday! My, how the time flies. It seems like just yesterday he was born...

Saturday, December 4th, 1999

I was 38 weeks pregnant and I had just worked an 8 hour shift at TCF and was anxious to meet my grandparents and aunt and uncle, who were in town visiting, for dinner with other family at Cracker Barrel. After dinner, we went to another aunt and uncle's home to visit with each other even more. There was so much laughter and joy. One of the biggest laughs was the explanation of a neighborhood Christmas light display. We stayed really late and on our way home we passed by the ridiculous light display and laughed all over again. That night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I said to God, "OK God. I'm ready when you are."

Sunday, December 5th, 1999

5am I was wakened by pain. "Gas pain" I thought and went back to sleep. 5:15am I was wakened again by the very same pain but went back to sleep. 5:30am, same pain, sleep. 5:45am, one more time then back to sleep.

6:00am the pain finally catches my attention. Did I mention that I went to bed really late and that I was 38 weeks pregnant so I was very tired! Anyway, I walked upstairs since I was living with my parents and told my mom that I thought I was having contractions. She told me to try to get more sleep and time them as they were waking me up. Of course I couldn't sleep so I got up, showered and got my hospital bag ready. The contractions were still light and fairly far apart so I decided to watch one of my favorite movies, White Christmas, which was fitting since it was the Christmas season. My parents and grandparents, who were staying with us, were soon up and getting ready to go to church. I opted to stay home since I was technically in labor. After church, My family was meeting the other family members for lunch and I didn't want to miss out so I went to lunch timing my contractions as they were getting stronger and closer. When one would come I would lay my head on my mom's shoulder until it passed. My aunt gave me one amazing little tip about childbirth: "When you bear down to push, let out a small breath. That will help you control the push a little better." That one amazing little tip would soon come in very handy.

After a delightful though painful lunch my mom and I decided to go to Target and get a little more Christmas shopping done. With each contraction I would have to stop and lean over the cart handle as they were getting even stronger and closer. What a crazy shopping trip!

Back at home my mom and I started to really time the contractions to get an idea of how far along in labor I was. I called the hospital and they told me I could come in but since this was my first baby and they typically take longer, they may send me back home. That was the last thing I wanted so I decide to stay home a little longer.

That little bit longer was just a little bit too long. Suddenly the contractions became very strong and very close. It was time to go. I called Josh's father to have him come meet me at the hospital and my mom and I were on our way. Not very far down the road my mom realized that she would have to drop me off at the hospital while she went to park and that was not a good idea to her. She called a family friend of ours, Cheryl, and asked if she could take us. As I was waiting for her husband, Dave, to pull their van out of the garage, I had a terrible contraction that brought me to my knees. As soon as it was over I stepped into the van and, lo and behold, my water broke. In their van. How utterly embarrassing. I was so concerned about their seats that I asked Cheryl to get some towels. She told me it would be OK but I basically growled at her, again, to get me some towels. She graciously, and very quickly, honored my request.

We were on our way at lightning speed and possibly, no, actually, breaking a few more laws. I know this because when I looked at the speedometer it read 90mph. Also, when we stopped at red lights and then immediately proceeded the light was still red.

I was admitted to the hospital, checked immediately, and was very surprised to find that I was dilated to a 9 already. I soon had the desire to push but was told to wait since they weren't ready. It is impossible to fight that urge. Insanely impossible.

Josh was born at 6:02pm weighing in at 7lb 3oz, 19 in long. I looked at this incredible new baby and wasn't sure what to do. I just held my hands close to him but not touching him and saying over and over "Oh my gosh."

That day I was changed forever. My identity, my place in the world became clearly defined. I finally knew what it was to love. I was humbled by that precious gift cradled in my arms. I am still humbled by this gift I can no longer cradle in my arms but will always be cradled in my heart.

Lord, bless Josh today and everyday with Your peace and Your JOY. Protect his heart, his mind, his body, and his soul. I thank You for the multitude of blessings You have given and have yet to give Josh. I pray that he will be receptive to Your will and will always be seeking You. Let me, as his mother, be an example of a faithful seeker. Lord, thank You for giving me such a sweet gift in Josh.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Favorite New Toy

At least that's what Andy thinks.

After many many no's and chasing Andy away from the Christmas tree I finally decide to let him explore this new shiny thing laden with toys, I mean ornaments, in our living room.

Andy decided he needed a closer view so he decided to go under the tree. He wasn't sure what to do since it was so prickly on his face and all the "toys" were on the outside. (Unless, of course, you count the tree skirt which was a source of happiness.)

Soon he had enough and it was time to crawl back out from underneath this wonderful toy that will bring joy for the next month because, little does he know, it's not here to stay.