(my husband and his dad looking like twins. yes...i just made an awesome pun)
if you're wondering if we were deprived from presents this year since we had the one gift rule, let the pictures do the talking here. we have both sets of family that really spoil the kids rotten. did it make me a little nervous watching them open gift after gift? yes! was i thinking...all this work we've done...oh no! they're going to become ungrateful! yes, i'll be honest, i did think that.
which is silly. because we built gratefulness this year.
and any character trait takes accumulated practice. traits of lying, cheating, manipulation, ungratefulness, jealousy, etc...are all just moment by moment building blocks that get noticed when they begin yelling...usually in a big event. adultery, scandal, getting caught.
our ungratefulness character trait yelled at us last christmas.
and we got caught!
(my getting caught face)
and so here we are.
we had talked about, repented from, worked on ungratefulness for the whole year and by golly, the kids showed some fruit this year. saying thank you and giving people hugs. we had even rehearsed what a grateful and thoughtful response looks like. laugh at me if you will.
another golden fruit bud appeared on the way home from the first family christmas gathering when layne announced that he would like to keep three gifts and give the rest away. and maybe clean out my old toys. we don't need them, it seems like.
jumping for joy in my heart. play cool, self. play. cool.
great idea, buddy. let's think about that more later, i yell-said as penelope threw a scream fit in the car.
(my husband's side of the family having a dance competition on christmas eve. but also what my heart looked like when i mentioned "jumping for joy". see how i did that?)
and we will have to think it through. what do you give away and what do you keep? do you save it to play with throughout the year? do you donate some? we don't have all the answers. but we'll be thoughtful about it, i know that.
and then bum- buh-duh-bummmmm, on christmas morning, everyone was thrilled with their gift. nothing felt weird or sad or anticlimactic. instead, it felt really good. to see that our house wasn't filled with junk. there wasn't a wrapping paper and random-toy-tornado-situation in the living room. there was one gift per person and it was a very thoughtful gift. when you only have one gift to give, you really think about it and pour into it.
(finishing advent before we get into gifts. penelope not really into the bible. sinner!)
there wasn't complaining. not one complaint on christmas morning. no one was bored...no one was sighing and rolling around on the floor in ungratefulness like last year. there was lego building and stroller pushing, and book reading and shoe and watch wearing(in sweat pants of course). and as we headed to yet another family christmas, i wasn't worried.
i think our hearts were full. full of God's grace and full of his gift. it wasn't an overwhelming feeling...it wasn't emotional. i think the word i'm looking for is satisfied...it wasn't too much or too less. things felt just right.
(full on cookies, full on God? no? ok.)
we were satisfied. God had worked in our hearts this year and helped us to see that there is a lie swimming around out there in the world...that we need more. that more is better. that God is holding out on us and something else will make us happy. you know, the same lie the serpent told eve back in the beginning days. we've believed that and we're still fighting not to believe it.
(another watch. you can read why a watch means so much to us here)
i still love shopping and i still love deals. but this year i have been thinking about it more...do we need this, do we already have this, do i really love this, have i really thought about this. i don't do it perfectly and i will continue to fail. but they are small changes and i'm ok with that.
and although we sinful humans will always feel that there is more out there than what God has to offer, this christmas season, i felt like God was enough for us. it started with me and my heart and it trickled over to my husband and then down to the kids. i wasn't looking for behavior modification, i was looking for real lasting heart change. and God showed up.
(my husband is going to kill me for posting all these pictures of his "morning look")
He showed up all regular looking and not over the top. and it was the best gift ever.
(unlike these shoes, which are...well, a little over the top. boom.)
the-work-is-worth-it-flag and the it-doesn't-have-to-be-this-way flag, not just at christmas but all year long.
(on our chalkboard, currently. perhaps it should stay all year.)