Oh my gosh, can you tell that LIFE has happened to me?! I have been pretty much non-existent on all the blogs I manage. So much has happened in the past few months it's hard to catch up. Obviously we have decided to adopt from Ethiopia, and you can read more about that over at our adoption blog. We have had to put our journey on hold somewhat due to some circumstances that are both our doing and not our doing.
We were notified through our adoption agency that the wait times for children in Ethiopia have been extended greatly, (like 3 years) and that made it difficult for us... I took it really hard and went in to a funk where I didn't want to really talk much about it... because I didn't want to cry anymore. But, we then decided to go forward, but not until after the new year.
We completely controlled the next big change. We bought a house! It's our very first home, and it is quirky, and poky, and older, and we couldn't be happier! We love it. But it was a pain in the tooshy to get packed up out of the apartment (in such a short amount of time) where we lived for almost 4 years, AND sell our lease. We were a little freaked out about it. It came down to the wire, but we sold it, and we are now in our house and loving it. Unfortunately we moved during Z's birthday time, and we haven't been able to have a break in the holidays and hustle and bustle to throw him a proper 4 year birthday party, so we are planning for it after the first of the year.
Husband passed all of his tests for his job and is very happy and relieved. We feel more settled and more secure.
I've made some new friends too.
But this post wasn't going to be all about that stuff... I just wanted to catch up. This post is about this week.
We have the tree up, (our first artificial one in our decade together) and have decorated the front window with lights and snowflakes and garland. It feels like Christmas... or it's starting to anyway. My mom is on her way right now to come out and spend the holidays with us. I feel happy.
I will admit though, that part of my heart feels empty, and feels a sort of longing. This is the first Christmas that we will have another son in our hearts. He is across the world, hopefully with his loving family right now, and I ache for him to be here with us. Though I am happy to have my family here with me to celebrate such a special time of year, part of my family is elsewhere, and I feel somehow incomplete this year. But, I can't be sad. I am trying to be grateful and think positively that he is spending this precious time with family who loves him abundantly. I really hope that there is abundant love in his biological family. I hope I hope.
As for us, we have been talking a lot about charity and doing good things to others, and trying to be Christlike. It has helped so much. This year, I couldn't think of a single thing that I REALLY wanted, which, I'll be honest, is USUALLY not a difficult thing for me to do. This year, it just didn't feel right for ME to make a list of things I wanted... because honestly, all I want is to bring our son home... But, I know that isn't possible. I just didn't want this Christmas to surround me with stuff, like all the years passed. I mean, while I appreciate gifts that I receive, I just didn't want to fill my world with more clutter. So, I asked for donations to be made to my two favorite charities. Charity:Water and A Glimmer Of Hope Foundation. Both have concentrated efforts in Ethiopia... and it felt right... and a few days ago I found out that is exactly what I got... and you know what? I couldn't be happier. I have a real sense of finally figuring out what Christmas is all about. Even though I KNOW what it is about. Even though I SAY it's about giving and not getting... this year, I really REALLY understand it, and I feel so much more gratitude this year.
I am really not trying to toot my own horn by saying, "ooh, I gave up my Christmas to charity." I hope so much that I am not coming off in a holier-than-thou way. It is honestly and truly all that I wanted this year.
So, this week, for Family Home Evening Husband decided to talk about having charity and trying to be more Christlike. Honestly, our FHE RARELY is a spiritual one because Z is always ready to go play, so we have a wiggle worm constantly asking if we can be done... so I wasn't sure how it was going to go down this week. But we were surprised times a billion. He was attentive, and listened the whole time, and we actually had a really spiritual FHE that turned out to be pretty remarkable.
Husband started out reading a story by James E. Faust called a PATTERN FOR LOVE. Here is the story:
Years ago, Jack Smith told of a poignant story of two young boys at Christmastime.
“I didn’t question Timmy, age nine, or his seven-year-old brother, Billy, about the brown wrapping paper they passed back and forth between them as we visited each store.
“Every year at Christmastime, our Service Club takes the children from poor families in our town on a personally conducted shopping tour. I was assigned Timmy and Billy, whose father was out of work. After giving them the allotted [U.S.] $4.00 each, we began our trip. At different stores I made suggestions, but always their answer was a solemn shake of the head, no. Finally, I asked, ‘Where would you suggest we look?’
“‘Could we go to a shoe store, Sir?’ answered Timmy. ‘We’d like a pair of shoes for our Daddy so he can go to work.’
“In the shoe store the clerk asked what the boys wanted. Out came the brown paper. ‘We want a pair of work shoes to fit this foot,’ they said. Billy explained that it was a pattern of their Daddy’s foot. They had drawn it while he was asleep in a chair.
“The clerk held the paper against a measuring stick, then walked away. Soon, he came with an open box. ‘Will these do?’ he asked. Timmy and Billy handled the shoes with great eagerness. ‘How much do they cost?’ asked Billy. Then Timmy saw the price on the box. ‘They’re $16.95,’ he said in dismay. ‘We only have $8.00.’
“I looked at the clerk and he cleared his throat. ‘That’s the regular price,’ he said, ‘but they’re on sale; $3.98, today only.’ Then, with shoes happily in hand the boys bought gifts for their mother and two little sisters. Not once did they think of themselves.
“The day after Christmas the boys’ father stopped me on the street. The new shoes were on his feet, gratitude was in his eyes. ‘I just thank Jesus for people who care,’ he said. ‘And I thank Jesus for your two sons,’ I replied. ‘They really taught me more about Christmas in one evening than I had learned in a lifetime.’” 1
After that story, Z was able to retell the story perfectly. We were shocked and excited. OF ALL THE LESSONS WE EVER DO FOR FHE, THIS ONE IS THE ONE I WANT TO SINK IN.
We then went upstairs and watched two videos on the computer. Here they are:
We then sang the song, "Because I have been given much." Here is a video with the song being played and sung. This is one of my very favorite hymns.
With that, we asked if Z could tell us what we talked about, and he told us everything we would have hoped he would get from the story and the videos we watched... Husband and I both wept with gratitude that of all the lessons we have given that he listened and understood this one. We are overcome with happiness at such a giving and sweet child.
I just wanted to share that experience. It was a truly spiritual and lovely one.