Saturday, December 24, 2011

Comfort and Joy

I can't believe tomorrow's Christmas.
I can't believe another year has almost come and gone.
I can't believe I'm actually getting 2 blog posts written in the same month. ;)

Must be the magic of Christmas.
And of course, I still can't believe he's mine.

He's getting so big.

Well...not so much "big" as grown up. ;)

(loves his elf - "Bob" - short for "Bob-bob-bob-bob")

(the "watching-for-Santa-bunny-face")

It's amazing how every day he's learning something new now. New curiosities lead to new behaviors, new likes and dislikes, new triumphs and trials. Every stage of his amazing little life has come with something new - a new challenge, a new goal, a new perspective.

And like every holiday since his birth - this Christmas... again... seems brand new.

(Jet's been trying to get Santa on the phone all month long. He's a busy man I tell ya.)

(adding new ornaments to the tree. David said to me the other night while watching Jet play by the tree- "it's so funny how getting excited about Christmas isn't about us's about him...and I'm okay with that." And so am I. He makes celebrating anything even more special.)

(What's that? A tacky giant red ornament that plays music and lights up and has a train that goes around a house and santa's sleigh flying through the air?? Yes please!)

Ho Ho Ho

I've enjoyed this holiday season in so many ways. The movies and books we bring out from their storage boxes (hearing Jet sing "Rudolph" along with Burl Ives is an all-time favorite).

Visiting family, preparing for the celebrations to come, taking pictures, meeting Santa...

(well...I enjoyed meeting Santa. lol)

I love the way the house feels - a mix of old and new as we brought out old holiday photos, unpacked Christmas decorations and rearranged all the everydays to make room for the exceptionals.

(Woody has made friends with the reindeer and Bob. He's such a nice guy.)

It's my absolute favorite season - our home feels the homiest at Christmas time. It brings such comfort.

Another favorite is racing out to the mailbox to greet the amazing joy of Christmas cards arriving every afternoon since Thanksgiving.

I love Christmas cards.
They're my favorite kind of mail.
And I must say it brought a special smile to my face to see cards with photos I had taken on them! Wow. A total new twist to one of my favorite things. I must keep this tradition going. :)

And as I look at all the colorful cards and smiling faces strung throughout my kitchen and living room - it's no wonder they make me happy. For not only are they adorned with portraits of love, family and holiday spirit - they are filled with words like "peace and goodwill" "hope and love" "merry and bright" "comfort and joy".
Comfort and Joy
Those are the words that resonated with me this year. For what better feelings in the world, than to feel comfort...and joy. To me they are as different as they are complimentary. To feel comforted means there had to be at first discomfort - anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, confusion, loneliness, pain. To feel comfort means to have relief from those feelings - even if just for a moment - even if they are not completely gone - to receive comfort means to have peace. To feel rest. To gain a sense of safety or calm - because someone is there, someone understands, someone wants to help, or at the very least someone loves you enough to try. In all my times of worry - in my darkest hours when there were no answers - when I have felt alone or helpless or as if my world was falling apart - there was nothing to take away that pain at first. But as impossible as it seemed, when I would feel just a moment of comfort - it was as if God was reminding me "you are never alone. I Am not helpless. This world is not free of pain - but I will bring you rest." I cannot begin to explain how amazing, how beautiful, how God-given the feeling of Comfort is to me. It is what I yearn to give those around me who hurt. It is what I want most for my baby boy when he's sick. It is what we crave most in a life full of unknowns and troubles - reassurance, peace, someone to understand, to sit with us, to tell us "it's going to be okay" and mean it. And with God as our father - we never have to go far to find it if we are open to receiving it.
What a beautiful thing to wish someone at Christmas or any time of the year.

And the next was Joy. Like comfort - to experience joy means to understand the absence of it. You cannot appreciate the fullness of joy without having at one time felt the emptiness of fear, hate, sorrow, unbelief, apathy, complacency. To have joy is more than to be pleased. To have joy is more than to be happy. To have joy really isn't a feeling at all. It is a mindset. A choice. To have joy is to choose to be thankful - to allow yourself be filled with wonder and purpose and light. When I think of my life - and the times I've been happy or excited or pleased. Those times pale in comparison to the times I have felt true joy. Those times when I have experienced joy have been the times when I was filled with the belief, the knowledge, the gift of understanding the wonderful blessings God has given me. I felt Joy when I realized God loved me no matter what. I felt Joy when I understood the meaning of salvation. I felt Joy when I have prayed to God in fear, disappointment, confusion or sorrow - and suddenly feel His peace washes over me. Amazing, wonderful, joy. Not because I suddenly know all the answers. Not because suddenly all my problems have dissolved. Not because I am suddenly smarter or stronger or braver or bolder - but because I am filled with gratitude for my Father. And the choice to be joyous in the Lord is suddenly the best choice. The only choice.

When I look at my baby boy.
I feel true joy.

Yes he makes me happy - but he also makes me crazy! :)
Yes he brings me laughter - but he also brings me tears.
I feel every emotion every mother does when parenting her child - the love, the desire to protect and guide, comfort and teach. I feel a great many things when I think of his life - his future - his purpose. But the joy I feel is not like these other emotions - it is sense of wonder, of understanding, a feeling of the deepest connection to the Love of God I have ever felt in my life thus far.
I look at him and I believe.
I look at him and I understand.
I look at him and I trust.
I look at him and I give thanks.

I look at him and I know that no matter what - no matter the worst of fears or hardest of trials - the deepest of losses or sharpest of pains - that nothing can separate us from the Love of God. I look at him and feel joy that even though I can't truly comprehend it - God loves me more than I love this precious, beautiful boy. (I is that possible?!) And that God's most perfect gift to me was not in fact my miracle baby - but His miracle baby. His only Son.
And the gift of sacrificing His son that we might all be with Him for eternity.
I will never be able to fully comprehend that thought.
But what a powerful one.

I will be honest - I don't fully understand everything that happens in this life.
And there are times when I'm so surrounded by fear, pain and the suffering of others that I feel lost in trying to figure out God's this will all work for His glory.
I don't pretend to know God's plan beyond what I have been given through His word.
But I can understand a portion of His love.
I can trust in it.
I can find peace in it.
I can feel it.
And it feels like Comfort...
...and Joy.

On a night like tonight - and every night - I am once again thankful for the comfort and joy He brings. This time of year and throughout the year. He is my greatest comfort. He is my greatest joy. And I am so blessed to be His child.
Love and a Merry Christmas to you all.
I pray you have peaceful nights and days full of beautiful reminders of God's love.

And of course, the sweetest of dreams.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Still Thankful

I'm not even going to discuss how another month escaped without me blogging - my last November blog was about OCTOBER for cryin out loud! lol. But rather than get frazzled or give up - I'm just gonna pick up where we left off and try to get caught up a little bit. After all - we have been one busy-livin' family this season!

I'd say "I don't know where the time went"...but I know exactly where it went.

It went to frolicking in the foliage.
(seriously folks, if that's not frolicking I don't know what is.)

And seeking out the source of all those wonderful leaves.

(Attention all grandparents - no children were left unsupervised during this tree climb. The camera makes him look really high - but he was very safe. :) And carefree. My little fearless.)

Playing inside on chilly mornings....

...then playing at the park in the late afternoon.

The ever-constant battle of Jet vs. Hats.

Jet won. Again.

It went to meeting new friends...

(Sweet little Grayson - our newest SB buddy who we got to meet as they were traveling through town.)

...and time with best friends - cousin friends that is.

It went to fun terrifying hayrides...

He was so cute and unaware...

And then the motor started...

And they're off...

oh well...maybe next year.

...and gigantic leaf piles.

(Jet would rake up all the leaves and then Jane would jump in them and mess them all up! Can you believe that? No? Neither can I. ;) Love these babies.)

(Jet looking too stinkin' big for his britches.)

It went to holiday baking...

...and seasonal delights.

It went to visits from sweet little cousins...

... taking the opportunity for some family photos...

...okay and maybe lots of more of just the babies..

... and enjoying everyone together for Thanksgiving.

It went to celebrating two special 1st birthdays...

..and re-celebrating someone's 2nd birthday. Because that's what Grandmas do. They don't leave any grandbabies out of the celebration.

The newbies held their own in cake eating...

...but big-cousin Jet really showed them how it's done.

There was much to be thankful for, much to be busy in, much to be happy about.
In fact, I have "Thirty Days of Thankful" to prove it.
(see my facebook album for each days description).

And even though the leaves have blown away and mushy pumpkins have been tossed into the woods. Even though the color palate has gone from yellows and oranges to reds and greens. Long after the leftover turkey is gone last piece of pumpkin pie has been eaten...
We are still Thankful.
After all...we have so much to be thankful for.

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