Monthly Archives: December 2010

Looking Back & Forward

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My simple homemade wreath
Did you wonder where I went? Well, mostly, I’ve been here… taking care of Littles, preparing for holidays, and enjoying the season with my family. We try to keep it as low-key as possible, but somehow we still ended up with 11 extra people in our house on Christmas evening. I loved it, though. We wouldn’t have it any other way.My parents came into town Christmas afternoon, and it was the first time we’ve seen them on Christmas Day since before I left for China 8 years ago. So it was very sweet to have them here with us.

I let the girls decorate this year.
As many of you may remember, we ‘do’ Christmas a little differently than most families. We don’t ‘do’ Santa, and maybe you’re thinking that’s not all that radical…. but we also don’t ‘do’ gifts at Christmas. Jeffrey & I were convicted before we were even married that God wanted us to make this change, and I’m so glad we did with our very first Christmas. So we’ve never had extravagant gift-giving Christmases and then had to backtrack.
Instead of exchanging gifts, we write Christmas letters and put them in our stockings (and the kids’ stockings)… We read them to each other Christmas morning… we enjoy cinnamon rolls for breakfast – a tradition I brought over from my childhood… I also buy each child a book and leave them in the doorway of their room Christmas Eve night (also a tradition brought over from my childhood)…. We sing, and pray, read the Christmas story, and light our last Advent candle and enjoy a scrumptious traditional Christmas lunch.

Christmas Lunch… notice the ‘Mexican’ coke in a glass bottle.. a treat my hubby loves to buy me.

Jeff jumped in so I could take picture # 2… one day we’ll get a tripod.

Then Jeff’s Mom usually sits with our napping children while he and I sneak off for a date. Sometimes it’s a matinee, but since we had just seen the new Narnia movie days before, we decided to sit down at the only open coffee shop around. It was gusty and cold here on Christmas (quite unlike our balmy 72 degrees now, just 5 days later.) I enjoyed holding a hot drink in my hand, sitting in an overstuffed chair, and gazing at my adorable hubby. We both had pen and paper in hand, as we talked about a vision for 2011 – where the Lord was leading us… what goals we wanted to put down for the next year and beyond… it was nice to have a few uninterrupted moments while it was still daylight outside! Most of the time, we don’t get to sit and talk to each other until after the kids are in bed at night.
I love this time of year – making new goals… listening for what new thing the Lord might be saying to us… starting our Bible reading over again for the new year. Everything feels fresh, like we can leave all the mistakes of the last year behind and start new again.
As a wise teach once told Anne Shirley, ‘tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it.’
And I like that feeling. ‘Cause I make a lot of mistakes!
I’ve also been challenged, by Joy over at The Stay-at-Home Missionary to pray about one word that will be the theme for the new year. What one word will describe my journey, my goals, my yearning in 2011? She brought up one word that instantly came to my head before I even read it on her blog: Simplify. Ah, makes me feel better just typing it. But I’m not quite sure that’s where the Lord wants my focus, although I believe He has told me to ‘simplify’ – remember this post?
So, I will be praying more about this, and asking the Lord to turn my vision in His direction… and I’ll let you know when He gives me my word for 2011. How about you? Will you join me in seeking what word the Lord would make your focus for the coming year? What will it be?
As for this little guy… I think his word would be ‘Action!’… it certainly wouldn’t be ‘Sleep’.

Food & Family

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Each member of our family is getting over a cold we’ve been passing around for a week. As we say around our house, ‘Hazletons love to share.’ While Jeffrey and the girls were not quite over their sniffles, Carson and I woke up Saturday morning with all the symptoms. We had a full weekend scheduled, but decided to cancel everything and just get some rest. I think rest is what we needed the most.

Feeling the need for something nourishing, I pulled out some of our grass fed beef, and a huge soup bone and began simmering some alphabet soup. Only, I hadn’t been able to find alphabet pasta, so we bought a box of tiny pasta in the shape of stars. We re-named our dinner ‘Star Pasta’, and it was a hit. It was exactly the nourishment I was craving, and to top it off, we were talking about the STAR during our Advent time – the star that shone in the sky, marking the place where Christ was born.
It’s so interesting how food plays such a role in life.
Tonight, I planned a simple meal of roasted sweet potatoes, macaroni & cheese, and our delicious Applegate beef hot dogs. It’s cold out tonight, so I thought it was a prime opportunity for Jeff to build a fire outside and let the girls watch him roast our hotdogs over the fire – one of their favorite winter-time activities: watching the fire with Daddy. I pitched the idea to Jeff and he was happy to jump into action.
Tonight our simple dinner wasn’t just food. It was activity. Fellowship.
We belong to a church now that practices this kind of fellowship on a regular basis. Twice weekly, we meet for a meal. It’s more than just fueling our bodies. More than just checking off a necessary step in our day. It is a time of κοινωνία (koi-no-nia)– fellowship.
This is what the first church did in Acts chapter 2. The believers met together regularly for teaching, for prayer, and for the breaking of bread – having a meal together as Jesus had done so many times with people during His ministry on earth.
About a year ago, Jeff and I saw the Lord leading us to create and defend something we call the family table. I’m not talking about our actual, dented & scratched Walmart-clearance table that our family is swiftly outgrowing. I’m referring to the practice of sitting down together as a family for a meal around the table on a regular basis.
During this time, we not only eat, we enjoy each other. We tell stories and talk about our day. The children learn to sit still and take turns talking & listening. They sometimes show Daddy the school work or art work they completed that morning. During December, we are lighting our Advent candles and reading from our Advent book, preparing for Christmas. And often, this is the time we’ll read a short Bible story, or work on Scripture memorization.
All of this is the family table. We’re nourishing our bodies. Our relationships. Our souls.
This is one of the busiest times of the year. Even for our family, who does Christmas a little (okay, a LOT) differently than many, we find our schedule packed, our calendar filled to the brim and overflowing. Like this weekend, there are times we just have to clear the schedule and rest. Get back to what we know the Lord has given us to tend to: raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. A lot of this happens in little traditions and routines like the family table.
I know your family has a busy December planned as well. I encourage you to spend some time with just your family and enjoy a meal around the table. Turn off the television (and the computer, and the Wii, and the iPhone….) and talk.
Oh, I forgot to mention sometimes we even sing around the table. We’re not the von Trapps or anything, but it’s a lot of fun.
Have fun with your family this week!