Friday, December 14, 2012

A Christmas prayer for Connecticut... and for all of us

Come, thou long expected Jesus! Born to set thy people free...

Free from sin.  Free from fear.  Free from anguish and devastation.  Free from pain and suffering.  Free from mourning.  Free from the insanity and cruelty that so often defines the human condition.

Free to pray.  Free to love.  Free to wish.  Free to be overwhelmed with anger at senseless violence.  Free to feel joy in spite of devastation.  Free to believe in a God who is in control despite whatever chaos we find ourselves in.  Free to disagree about a solution to this awful problem.  Free to focus our efforts on prayer.

Prayer for salvation.  Prayer for wisdom for us, and wisdom for our leaders.  Prayer for the mourners.  Prayer for people who find themselves so empty that they dwell on the idea of destroying the lives of others.  Prayer for the lost.

"Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our peace in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to they glorious throne."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Life with a strong-willed kiddo.

Merry Christmas!  Have you caught the Christmas spirit yet???  Or - as my brother in law describes it - Have you fallen off the Christmas cliff?  It doesn't take much to put me in a Christmas-y mood.  I would have reached the "cliff" a lot sooner if it weren't for the weather: it's so warm here our miniature Azaleas out front are blooming!  (No, I'm not joking.  There are two tiny red flowers out of my window right now.)

Before I continue with my holiday post and fun pictures, I need to address something.  In the past couple of months I've heard from a couple of people (two of the three people who actually read this, haha) about the content of my little blog.  I have heard that my sweet Addison must be a "hellion" because of some things I've written about her.  And then I've heard that my children must be angels because I am "always" posting stuff about how wonderful they are.  THEY ARE!  And also, SHE IS a hellion sometimes!  That is just life!  I started this blog as a way to connect with folks I don't get the chance to see very often, and it has sort of evolved into a place to connect with folks in the same stage of life as we are.  You know: that place where one day is peachy and the laundry is done and you get a nap and wake up thinking how awesome it is to have two kids.  Then the next day rolls around and by 8am you wonder how you will make it to 8:15 without committing murder or pulling all your hair out.  The play room looks like a hurricane, there's poop on the bathroom floor,  you haven't showered in three days, the baby is still in her jammies at dinner time, and dinner is something the husby has picked up because there was absolutely NO way you could use your two hands for anything other than holding or rocking or scolding or spanking a kid.  That is simply the life of a woman at home with her two babies.  (And I am certain it is even crazier when both parents work - my hats off to y'all who pull that off so beautifully!)  I just wanted to be sure to make it clear:  I haven't figured it all out.  I don't have all the answers, or many at all for that matter.  I have one answer: Jesus.  I try to start my days out with Him.  I cling to Him when the day is messy.  (Okay, when the day is crazy messy, I usually just end up in a heap on the couch asking Him to make the next day better and praying I didn't scar anyone for life.)  And on both the rotten and wonderful days, I try to remember that the Lord blessed us with the opportunity for me to stay home with our gals.  I think this is the best thing for our family right now and I wouldn't trade it for anything different in the world. Well... a tantrum-free world might be nice.

Now, onto the fun stuff.  I LOVE CHRISTMAS!  I love the decorations, the music, the cheesy movies, the crazy clothes, the goodies, everything!  If it wasn't such a slanderous thing to do to the turkeys, I would decorate my tree weeks before Thanksgiving.  I restrain myself and wait until the night we get home from traveling though.

I love this.  My sister and I used to lay under our tree and check out the lights.  Perhaps my gals will do the same.
 This year looks a little different for us for a lot of reasons.  This is our first as a family of four.
Our first Thanksgiving as a family of four, too!
It is our first Christmas in this house.  Last year I didn't even really decorate, since we had just moved and were in that tiny rental.  I am loving all of the stuff with Addison this year!  She is at an age where she "gets" some of it.  She loves to read different parts of the Christmas story.  And she likes to talk about Santa.  We have basically had someone sick since Audrey was born, so we are ready to be well.  Hopefully this unseasonably warm weather will help us out with that.  I am still bundling the girls up as needed though.
Audrey bundled up for "playtime."
We loved getting to visit with friends and family at Thanksgiving!  What a fun - albeit crazy - time in Pensacola!  Letting the cousins and Aunt B and Uncle Brian meet Audrey, and playing with all the "big boys" was a blast.  I am sure Addison thinks our house is so boring compared to Missy and Pop's.
Sweet Jakey giving my baby gal a kiss

Addie had SO much fun with Ben

Lots of mischief in their futures

Baby Kate

 Seeing some sweet friends and meeting some new babies made me extremely nostalgic for Pensacola.  I know the Lord has us in Birmingham for a reason.  I love our friends here, Brad is so satisfied at his job, and we are getting used to being Alabamians again.  But oh, how I miss my friends on the coast... lunches together, trips to the beach, walks to the park, and "playdates" that last so long we put the kiddos down for naps together.

 From the first pumpkins of the year through Valentines Day, I feel like the entire winter season is a time for reflection and renewal.  I am so thankful for the time and energy friends and family have poured into my life.  I am getting back into the habit of having time with God every morning.  This is my little spot.  (It doesn't always have stockings.)  My little light above the table broke the other day; there is something wrong with the wiring.  Now that it is dark when I get up to study my Bible at 6 or 6:30, I will have to find a new place, which kind of bums me out.

My prayer life, as always, has been evolving.  I think that's healthy.  What you talk to the Lord about should probably always reflect what is going on in your day.  In my case: my kids and my husband.  The other day as I was putting Audrey to bed I was praying for her out loud.  (I will actually have to stop doing this soon; whenever I sing or talk to her right now she coos and sings back to me.  I guess I have another talker on my hands.)  I was praying, as usual, for her salvation.  And for God to reveal Himself to her often.  And for her spouse's salvation.  And on and on.  Eventually I landed on Addison and her behavior lately.  (She is very, VERY good at being two!)  I started reading The Strong-Willed Child.  I was thinking about things some folks have said about the book and about Addison being strong-willed.  Folks (myself included, if I'm being honest) usually nod and wink and say "Oh wow."  Really?  Is it that awful?  Shouldn't we want our children to be strong willed?  I've spent the last couple weeks steeling myself against it, but I should be thankful for it, right?  My sister's strong will and rebelliousness as a toddler is almost legendary.  The stuff parents fear and pray their kids don't turn into.  But as an adolescent, that will turned into something morally solid.  Not only for herself but for others.  Something that, as a mom, I want desperately for my children.  Yes, potty training has turned into a battle of wills, along with dinner time, and so many other things.  But her nature also includes singing "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" at the top of her lungs all through Target.  And being so protective of Audrey that when someone takes a peek at her Addison yells, "Don't touch her! She's our baby!"  So, in the matter of moments, my prayer changed into thankfulness for Addison's nature.  And for me to be able to nurture it in her.  Now, if only I can find a formula for managing it...