It has been an interesting and reflective Christmas season this year. . . the biggest lesson I have learned is that the Christmas season is not about the busy festivities, the gifts or the decorations, but it's about who you spend it with and what God teaches you through it. . .
We celebrated Christmas early this year on Dec. 4 & 5, when Austin arrived home from Iraq for his two weeks of R & R. . .we had a wonderul time with him and the entire family and the many friends who dropped by to see him that weekend. . To see him reunited with his beautiful wife and to see our children want to spend time together as siblings was such a blessing. .it's every parents' dream, really. . .I have been truly overwhelmed with thankfulness this Christmas season through our friends, extended family, our children and their soulmates.
I have also spent a lot of time with my parents this holiday season, especially my dad. I have sat at the hospital almost every day with him as he struggles to recover from a broken hip and balance the numerous other health issues he has. My dad (age 82) fell a week before Thanksgiving in the pasture while trying to pen cows. . .Old farmer/rancher types do not fade into the sunset easily. . .They think they are invincible and don't go down without a fight, even if it's against their own aging bodies. . . .Although we have not seen "eye to eye" through the years, it has been a blessing to reconnect with him and talk about such things as meaningless football to old stories of the past that reach far back into his childhood. It's amazing what you talk about when you are stuck in a hospital room for hours at a time. My time at the hospital has also made me very grateful for my own health and how fragile it really is. . . every healthy day we have is a blessing.
Finally, this Christmas season has been one of reflection for us spiritually as well. We are in such a different place in life this year, having finished our day-to-day parenting.(August, the last child, went off to college this fall.) We have been asking the Lord "How do you want us to live? What do you have next for us?" . . and daily, in little chunks, he has been giving us answers. . .We have begun to practice more day-to-day, minute-by-minute Christianity, instead of the usual organized Christian programming. . .We have had extra young people in our home 24/7 this fall, almost to the point of overcrowding. . but we wouldn't trade a minute of it. . We have learned that when you live life together, you can't just say you are a Christian. . you really have to practice it. . even to the point of personal inconvenience and discomfort. . .much like the Scripture Deuteronomy 11:19 tell us to do. . . It hasn't all been perfect or pretty, but it really has been about "loving the one in front of you" on a daily basis. . . And God has given us some amazing opportunities this year to share life and resources with believers literally around the world. The "Body" of Christ and how God allows our lives to intertwine is truly amazing.
So as I reflect on this Christmas season, I have learned that you can take away all the gifts and decorations and parties. . . .but you can't take away the love and blessings of family, friends and of knowing who Jesus really is and the gift He was to us from God. . .John 14:6 "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. . no man comes to the Father except through me." Merry Christmas everyone!