This is my FAVORITE time of the year .... by far! I don't like to overlook Thanksgiving, because I love that holiday, too - I have so much to be thankful for, as I mentioned in the previous post, so I definitely always want to give Thanksgiving its proper recognition (and plus, the food is glooooorious)! BUT - the Friday after Thanksgiving gets here .... and while most are out doing some Black Friday shopping, I'm doing some Black Friday decorating :-) I want the tree up, the lights, the decorations, the Christmas music, the hot chocolate, the lights outside, the football, etc. :-) This is probably the first year that Jake is legitimately excited! All we had to do is start putting the tree up - and his facial expressions were priceless. The excitement was written all over his face. I've always loved this time of year, but I feel as though it is magnified now with kids, because even though it sounds a little cliche, I absolutely LOVE living the Christmas season through the eyes of a child. There are few things like it.
With all of that being said, I feel that I should take a moment to note that I'm not naive enough to think that everyone loves this time of year. As I've started getting ready for this holiday season, I've had a heavy heart for particular family and friends during this time. I have several friends who have spouses/family members deployed ... and just in the past few weeks, I have known a handful of people who have lost a loved one - some unexpectedly ..... and then I have several family and friends who have been spending day after day at the hospital with a loved one. I feel like there has been so much sadness lately, so much loss. I sometimes even feel guilty for my excitement and anticipation of this season - as so many others are just trying to figure out how to make it through the next hour of their separation and/or pain. I wanted to recognize this, because since it has been heavy on my heart, I have just really committed this season to prayer! I want to be INTENTIONAL about my prayer for those who are spending this season not quite how they expected. As I have been thinking about those particular family and friends .... and preparing myself and my family for this holiday season, I have been reminded of the HOPE - the HOPE that comes along with this season. I am reminded of one of my favorite Christmas songs by Point of Grace:
"We're not that far from Bethlehem
Where all our HOPE and JOY began
For when our hearts still cherish Him
We're not that far ... from Bethlehem."
The HOPE that this season brings should be what carries us through our day to day (sometimes our minute to minute).
As the hustle and bustle of this season begins, my prayer is that I continue to take the time to fully appreciate this advent season - to do a good job at sharing it (and explaining it) t0 my kids - and to also continue to remember those in prayer who may be experiencing a little more difficultly during these next few weeks.
Now that I have shared my heart, here is a little "sharing of my home" with some pictures of decorating the tree - and video, too (outside pictures coming soon .... just haven't taken any yet). It was nice to have Chris (and my parents) here, too. I know it sounds funny mentioning Chris, but between deployments and work schedules.... it's sometimes hard to coordinate all of that, so I don't take for granted ONE MOMENT we spend with Chris .... especially since I know what it's like to have him deployed at this time of the year. Wishing you all a wonderful start to your Christmas season.
Jake was having a BIG time!
Cole wanted in on the action, too!
Breaking out all the singing snowmen from Hallmark the boys can play with, hoping it will keep their hands off the tree - a little :-)
Cole's first Christmas season....
Playing with their nativity set....