Friday, December 24, 2010

The highlight of my evening was the candlelight dinner that we had tonight . . . just the six of us.  We sang Silent Night and then prayed, and then the kids were their normal silly loud selves while we ate, despite my efforts to make it dark in hopes that the darkness would make them want to whisper at the table. 

It was a sweet dinner.  We each shared our favorite thing about Christmas, and the answer couldn't be presents, it had to be an experience or event. At his turn, Isaiah said (in true pastor's kid form), "I'm blessed that baby Jesus was born . . . . and that Santa is coming."  Ha!

My children are embracing what Christmas is really about, but there's no shielding a child from the commercialism, glitter, and Santa.  It's ok. The tree and Santa and presents and stockings and treats can stay. In this home, Jesus is the reason for everything . . . not just the season. 

Joy to the world, the LORD has come. Let earth receive her KING. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My oven

I spent most of the day in the kitchen mixing and baking sugar, butter, and other non-healthy ingredients. (This is Amy, by the way. Although, I didn't think most of you imagined Howie baking all day).

One of the reasons I love this season is because I love to share the things that come out of my kitchen. Currently, I have 3 batches of peppermint marshmallows, 2 chocolate pecan pies, and a dozen snowflake sugar cookies on my counter.

All this festive baking got me thinking about what next Christmas will look like for me, living in Kenya.  This might be my last Christmas in quite a while to make my peppermint marshmallows, which have turned into a solid tradition in our family.  I can't take my KitchenAid mixer to Africa with me. Even if I could, would they have peppermint extract? Gelatin? Can I still make my pie? Truth be told, there's not currently a working oven in the home where we'll be living. And what about a tree? Presents? Lights?

Today I had to lay my ideas about Christmas, with all it's traditions and bells and whistles, before the throne of God. I trust that God will continue to bless my family, regardless of what we have or don't have.  I believe that even if I don't have an oven (trust me, this is a BIG deal for me) I can still have a merry Christmas. I can still celebrate the birth of Jesus, and maybe even with more gratitude. Maybe not having all of those conveniences and shiny things will help me to slow down a little, love my neighbor better, spend more quality time with my husband instead of just asking him to run back to the grocery store for me, and spend more time with my children.

I don't feel guilty for having a decorated home or pies in the oven, but today I just started to wonder about life without them. I feel ready to embrace this as my last "American" Christmas for a while. I'm excited to learn what an African Christmas looks like, and excited to reinforce to my children that it's not about the tree, stockings, gifts or sweets.  

It's all about the Baby.