Christmas 2021

I scribbled on a scrap piece of paper our plan for Christmas week as I hollered out to everyone to mark their calendars and don’t make other plans! I’m not sure if it’s Ruby being a senior or all three kids being in high school or Mack growing a couple of inches every time I turn around….but this year I wanted to get all the stuff in! The sugar cookie baking and decorating, the Oreo truffles that Ruby loves, the Christmas lights drive and Waffle House stop, and more.

Sunday evening we went to a local church that had a Carols and Scripture reading night. Mack’s friend’s dad is the pastor there, and we so enjoyed the intimate setting and the focus on Jesus. It was a perfect way to start the week. We went to Outback afterwards and enjoyed being together.

Monday evening we baked sugar cookies and decorated them. No one really eats these cookies, but we have to do this. It brings back memories of Mary and Katherine Koester, our sweet friends from Georgia who now live in Tennessee. She made all the best icing with so many color options.

Ruby and I went to eat with a friend of hers and her mom on Tuesday evening. Then we went to see some gingerbread houses on display. It was a fun evening!

Wednesday we drove around looking at Christmas lights and made a stop at Waffle House.

Thursday we played some games—Best Friends, Taco-Cat-Goat-Cheese-Pizza, What Do You Meme?, and Incoherent Family. All super fun games! They’re light hearted and not strategic. Just fun and just the way I like it. This was also the night we made some Oreo truffle balls.

Christmas Eve was a good day too! We dropped in to Publix on our way to church and gave Ron, the older gentleman who always helps me with my groceries, a Christmas gift. He has no kids or family and says Christmas is just another day for him. I gave him a letter along with his gift and shared the gospel with him —the reason for Christmas! I’m thankful for the opportunity and pray he knows Jesus. I’m sure I’ll talk with him about it next time I’m in Publix.

We all enjoyed the Christmas Eve service. It was an early one —3:00! So that was different but it all went well and we had a long evening as a family together. We ate appetizers and played a game or two and watched a movie.

Christmas Day Josh and I were up early, as usual. And the kids slept late, as usual. Molly decided we should wait to open gifts until after dinner again, so that’s what we did. They woke up around ten, we had breakfast around 11. More games and movies, a walk around the neighborhood, some napping to pass the time, and a yummy steak dinner with twice baked potatoes and salad and butter beans. Then, gifts.

Stockings weren’t filled with candy and junk—but with Vitamin D and magnesium! Hoping for a healthy New Year!

That calendar is something I’m certain the kids will remember from their childhood. I had to move the little figures a few of the days because the kids rushed out the door to get to school, BUT Ruby is always the one who gets baby Jesus to his spot on the last day! I’m not sure how she does it or if there are threats involved, but she is the lucky one each year.

Ruby also told me about December 15 or so that she had not really spent a lot of time thinking about the gifts, but she really was looking forward to time together. And that was an early Christmas gift for me! Don’t get me wrong, we all love receiving fun gifts. But I’m so grateful she values the time together and the memories made.

Maybe I wasn’t the only one feeling like time has flown by and knowing very soon so much will be different. These times together as a family are priceless. And we truly have enjoyed being together.

Right now it is December 27 and all of our Christmas decorations are down and put away. I thought I might let it linger, but I just can’t help myself. Christmas is over, so the stuff has to be put away.

But I won’t soon forget the fun and the memories made with this crew. And I won’t forget the person Who makes all of this enjoyable—Jesus! Immanuel, God with us. Without Him, life would not be full! Without Him there would be no true purpose. Without the focus on Him, the focus would be on something fleeting like gifts and cookies. But with Him, no matter our circumstances, we can know we have purpose and life is deeply meaningful. His life gives me life, and I’m grateful for the days He has planned for me as we begin to look ahead to a New Year.

Confession, a part of advent

I have been reading an Advent devotional each morning since after Thanksgiving. Because distractions are in abundance— Shopping lists, grocery lists, Christmas Card list of addresses, parties, gift exchanges, cookie baking for school, decorating the home, wrapping the gifts, and more— I appreciate the focus on what says is “the period of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas and also of preparation for the Second Coming of Christ.”

I want my heart to be ready for Christmas morning—Jesus is here! Immanuel, God With Us! And I want my heart to be ready for the second coming of Christ—Jesus is here! 

Confession is an active part of this process, of this anticipation of Christ’s arrival. As I read this morning from my devotional and stared into my nativity set up on the table next to where I sit, I was struck with this focus by the author:

“And another mystic says human nature is like a stable inhabited by the ox of passion and the ass of prejudice; animals which take up a lot of room and which I suppose most of us are feeding on the quiet. And it is there between them, pushing them out, that Christ must be born and in their very manger must be laid…sometimes Christians seem far nearer to those animals than to Christ.”

I was forced to ask myself —what animals of sin am I quietly feeding in my life? What nasty animal am I cuddled up to when Christ is here? Is it gossip? Self-pity? Materialism? Busyness? Gluttony (hello, Christmas treats everywhere, every day)? I want to be nearer to Christ. I want His birth in my life to push out the animals wreaking havoc and smelling up the place. 

Confession is the way back to Christ. Confession is a part of Advent. 

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” I John 1:9

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

We came, We saw, We Lost.

University of Georgia football has a way of breaking your heart. Win, win, win. Get to the big game and watch it all fly out the window. BUT, we had a great time as a family together on our very quick trip to ATL.

We slept and woke up to walk around and take in all the excitement.

I love my little family and cannot believe these are our kids. Over 20 years of marriage and raising these kids together—what grace of God.

By far the greatest part of the game was getting some time with my friend, Heylem. We met up at half time. I loved seeing her. It was like a little piece of heaven!!

Then we endured the second half and walked back to the hotel wondering why we even came in the first place. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 not really, but maybe.

So am I tempted to give up on UGA? Yes. I am. Every year. But Georgia is home. Josh is UGA alumni, former first baseman and co- Captain of the baseball team. So we will keep cheering for the Dawgs despite the likely heartbreak.