Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Summing Up the Holidays

I know this is late in coming but we had some notable moments this Christmas. A few years ago we made the decision that we'd "just say no" to 90% of what we were invited to do in December. It's so easy to get to the end and realize you didn't do any of that special family stuff you intended to do. We may have squeezed in one thing to many, but it was fun.

Little Sister's birthday was in December. She was due on Christmas day but we intervened and brought her into the world a little bit earlier. It's still so hard to keep her birthday and Christmas really separate and special.

A few days before our family party, Big Sister decided to make special party hats. Somehow I managed to avoid having to wear one but the stuffed animals were not so lucky.

We got invited to go to Opry Mills to see Charlie Brown ICE! They give you huge blue coats to wear and you walk around freezing looking at all the ice sculptures. There's an ice slide to go down and the nativity in ice was beautiful. It was neat but had it not been free, I would have never paid the $28 or so per person to see it. We were done in about half an hour.

Speaking of money, shopping was interesting this year. For the first time ever, we were done on Black Friday. The most difficult part was that we officially became those parents who go bonkers looking for this year's hard to find toy, Zhu Zhu pets. Big Sister had some advice about shopping.

Big Sis: Mom! You need to go to Walmart and ask them for Christmas!
Me: What?
Big Sis: The commercial says Christmas costs less at Walmart!

Her solid belief in commercials is why we ended up searching for Zhu Zhu pets in the first place. I had to draw the line at the "As seen on TV" brownie pan with built in dividers (I don't like the edges, I like the middles anyway) and the buxton bag (The BIGGEST little bag ever!). She is convinced I must have these items because the commercials say I can't live without them.

We saw Santa a couple of times. We saw him at the mall as usual but we also saw him at one of our family traditions. Every year we drive out to Lebanon to a house that has a HUGE drive through light display. Towards the end, you drive through a barn that looks like Santa's living room and he gives out candy canes. As we waved goodbye and started to drive off, Little Sister yelled, "But you forgot to give us presents!" To which he replied, "Three more days!"

One of the most hilarious moments happened at a "dirty Santa" party. Some people brought gag gifts and some people brought real gifts. As a former Jersey girl married to a football coach it was ironic that we ended up with these gifts.

On Christmas Eve, we got everyone prettied up to go to church. Before we left, we were able to watch my sister on live feed from her church in North Carolina reading the Christmas story.

The church service was really sweet. The pastor does a children's time at the end of the service where all the children come sit with him up at the front and talk. For much of the service I worried about Little Sister going up there. She's the child most likely to say something embarrassing or raise her dress up around her shoulders. In an act of divine intervention, she fell asleep moments before he called the children forward.
Yes, my husband took a picture in church.

Anyway, when we got home they were ready for bed but not before setting out cookies and milk for Santa along with a note that said, "Dear Santa, I have a question for you and that would be what is Mrs. Claus' first name?" To which Santa replied, "Jessica." If you've ever watched Santa Claus is Comin' to Town you'll understand. Soon enough, there were "visions of sugar plums dancing in heads". :)

So Santa came through and a merry time was had by all. That's it! Hope you had a Merry Christmas and here's to a Happy New Year!

Monday, January 4, 2010

My One Word 2010

So it's a new year. Hmmm.

If you haven't heard or read about how I like to do new year's resolutions, I'll quickly summarize. If you have, you can skip the rest of this paragraph. In 2008, my sister's pastor, Mike Ashcraft of Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC, challenged his congregation. Instead of making new year's resolutions that they'd never keep, he encouraged them to focus on one word. It's much easier to make progress if you put all of your focus on one goal.

In 2008, my word was contentment. Last year it was self-discipline. By no means have I gotten where I need to be with both of these goals, but I made progress. Both years, the word I chose was constantly in the back of my mind and I thought about, prayed about, and worked on it a lot. Choosing my word in the past has been an interesting process. This year, I knew what I wanted my word to be long before the breaking dawn of 2010.

My word for 2010 is finish.

I like finishing things. It makes me feel like I accomplished something. It gives me peace. It feels good to look back at the journey from beginning to end. The problem is, I'm much better at starting things than I am finishing them. I have started diets, exercise programs, books, bible studies, daily planners, craft projects, cleaning projects, gardening projects, budgets, businesses and yes...even blogs...only to abandon them for some other new exciting idea.

I often have great vision but I really stink at follow through. So it's time for me to become more focused. It's time to finish. I'm going to choose a couple of specific major things that I want to finish before the end of 2010. And then my goal will be to finish lots of little things as they come up through the year. I guess part of this exercise will be thinking long and hard before I start something because starting something is going to require finishing something from now on.

Some things are never finished. And it's frustrating. Laundry for example. Even if every piece of clothing we owned was clean and put away leaving the hampers completely empty (which has never actually happened), there's always the clothes on our bodies and soon...more laundry. Don't even get me started on cleaning. Cleaning with small children is like shoveling snow during a blizzard.

On a spiritual note, sometimes I get discouraged in my christian walk knowing that I will never be "finished" in this life. God has a plan for my life but alas, I will not be glorified here. As much as I desire to be more like Christ, I will never be completely Christ-like as long as I live. As long as I have this flesh and live in this fallen world, I will not finish the process of sanctification. But it's not about my glory, it's about God's and he promises in his word:

...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

And while I may not be "finished" until heaven, the work that was done on the cross was complete to cover my sin and get me there.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

In about 361 days, another year will be finished. And I hope to cross a few things off my list as well. Please feel free to share your "one word" in the comments if you have one. Or better yet, blog about it and leave a link. Happy New Year!