Thursday, December 31, 2015

celebrating Christmas

Christmas is special each year, but this year has been extra sweet. With a new little brother, time with all of our grandparents, and extra time off for Andrew, we've had a season filled with love, joy, and wonder. I love the magic that Christmas brings. As we wait for our coming Savior, the sweet anticipation fills our homes with a spirit unlike any other season. I am so thankful for another year shared with our children--another year to teach them about Christ's birth, to let them revel in the magic of Santa, to play and bake and unwrap and sing and dance and make forever memories. As this precious time comes to a close and we move into this new year, I pray that the beauty of Christmas will linger in our home, that we will remember that Christ came to us to stay, that He is with us even now, and that the joy of this season can be carried forward throughout the year.

This year we loved our matching PJs.

We decorated the tree.

We made cake...and ate the sprinkles.

We had breakfast with scuba-diving Santa (and Nana and Papa).

We went to Gigi and G's house (and ate more sprinkles there).

We decorated cookies...and ate more sprinkles.

We got new dress-up clothes.

We went to church and left food out for Santa's reindeer.

We made one final round of cookies for Santa...with sprinkles.

Santa came!

We sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.

Monday, December 21, 2015

but if not

In this week of waiting--waiting for God with us, for the birth of a baby sent from perfect love--my heart has been heavy. A law school friend and his wife said goodbye to their precious two-year-old son last week. He was just a few months older than Shepherd. From photos, you could tell that he had a playful spirit, adored his big sister, and was deeply loved by his mom and dad. My heart is so grieved for them. I truly cannot imagine their pain. The thought of continuing life without one of our children is so unthinkable, so crushingly unfair. Yet even in the midst of their heartbreak, this family's faith has been astoundingly evident.

When faced with the fiery furnace in Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego responded: "If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” But if not. But if not, we will remain faithful. But if not, we will still believe in God's deep love for us. But if not, we will still cling to our Lord. 

We all have "but if not" moments in our lives. Some are small, some are large, but everyone has pleadings that seem to go unheard. I need so much work on my "but if not" response. I wish I could say that I am always certain, that on dark days when the world makes no sense I still begin my morning with words of praise. But that's just not true. My "but if not" takes time still. For me, sayings and platitudes offer no comfort. Instead, in my doubt and wrestling, I have found the greatest comfort in resting in the mystery. So much of what we believe as Christians, or as followers of any religion, is based in mystery--truth that is hidden in God. And while it seems a bit oxymoronic, my analytical self finds solace in the mysteries of our faith. The mysteries of new mercies each day, of grace upon grace. The mysteries of forgiveness and love personified. For me, there is comfort in the concept that we are are not supposed to understand.

I am so inspired by this family's response in their unimaginable "but if not" moment. I pray that the mystery of God's grace and mercy continues to surround them in a way we cannot understand. And I pray that both their pain and their perseverance will remind me of how lucky I am. Yes, days with four little ones can be tough, but not nearly as difficult as a day without them. I keep going into our bathroom and looking at our towel hooks. Four hooks for four towels for four precious heads. And during this week of waiting, this week filled with anticipation, I wait beside them in their grief and and I wait, full of renewed gratitude and wonder, for the birth of our King. 

"In the dark, in the doubting, when you can't feel anything, oh His love remains the same."
- Ellie Holcomb

Sunday, December 13, 2015

meeting santa

I have so many back-logged blogs in my much I want to capture before I completely forget the details. But for now, a timely post.

We saw Santa twice this weekend, and the second visit resulted in some of my favorite pictures ever. No tears in the picture and no parents (for the first time). Shep got a little nervous at first, but Barnes held his hand and he quickly calmed down. Ellis petted his soft furry suit. All three big kids told him one thing they wanted. They were enchanted. I love Christmas magic though the eyes of my children.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

half a year of ellis

Somehow Ellis is 6 months old. In fact, he'll actually be 7 months old next week, and I have been terrible about documenting his life. I haven't blogged enough, haven't even opened his baby book, and most of my pictures are on my phone. But I can promise we've been loving on this little one. From his gummy grin to his still bald head, we're smitten with our youngest.

At 6 months old, he is rocking on his hands and knees trying how to figure out how to officially crawl. But just because he can't crawl doesn't mean he can't move. He rolls, he scoots, he spins, he booty-bounces. Today he managed to move across a room while I was turned away, and he's super determined if he sees something he wants. He is so glad to be able to sit--he was getting very tired of lying on his back all the time.

He is obsessed with his siblings. If his brothers or sister are in the room, it's impossible to get him to nurse. He already wants to be in the middle of their antics. I think Frances and Barnes get more smiles from him than anyone, and they are so very good to him. They are gentle and loving and inclusive. They read to him, help him sit, get him toys. They love having a baby brother.

He's still trying to decide what he thinks about food. Like a typical 6-month-old, some days he devours the applesauce and some days he just smears it on his head. So far he really hates bananas.

Ellis is not a great sleeper. In fact, he's kind of terrible. He loves to get up to nurse, and mommy is kind of over our middle of the night cuddles. In fact, he kind of likes to nurse all day every day. Not sure how much he really eats, but the boy loves his mom.

Though our sleep has decreased, our joy is abundant. We are so thankful for these months with him and love watching him grow and learn.