Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Christmas 2016

         Well, this just shows how behind I am on just about everything.  It's a little while past Christmas at this point, but here in our home, the Christmas tree is still up!  I feel like we're in denial that it has already come and gone.  I always love this time of year....Thanksgiving and the advent season.....all of the preparation and being more purposeful about giving and remembering all that Christ did for us in coming to this earth.  This year wasn't quite the same, with so much going on in our family, but we tried to uphold some of our traditions.  And we truly did enjoy them, however different they were this time.

      We worked for quite a while on some homemade Christmas gifts for those at the nearby nursing home.  The first time we went, we had brought gifts for one person....a woman they said didn't really have any family.  But as we walked past all of the others, we knew that the next time would be different.  So each time we go, we try to bring a little something for everyone that we can.  As the kids made different crafts, we'd put them aside and wrap them.  We ended up having more than enough for those that we saw this year, and it was such a joy!

Shirley is our favorite....I love the way the kids so easily love on her.  She's never been too talkative, but they don't mind.  We learned so much more about her on this visit.  We had no idea, but she's actually from England!  And she has five daughters who live all over the country!  She was so sweet....we brought her gift to her first (the kids made sure she was given extra! :)  and when we went to say goodbye before leaving, she had candy canes for each of us.  Everyone is always so thankful and appreciative, but I am sure we are the ones reaping the blessing.  It's definitely been something that is out of my comfort zone, but I would strongly suggest it!

We also started an advent devotional with the kids.  Each year we try to do a new experience so we tried The Donkey In The Living Room.  We modified a little, but it was cute.  The kids had fun finding the hidden "presents" each night that went along with the story, and then adding them to the nativity scene.  It could really be done with your own nativity set (feel free to ask about it if you'd like to try it!)

On Christmas Eve my parents host a breakfast for all the kids and grandkids.  It's a special tradition that we all look forward to.  She uses the "What God Wants for Christmas" kit with the kids which is always so much fun.  I love how excited they get, even though they know what's to come!

For the first time we were soooo close to having all the cousins together....here they are minus one!

            The kids chose their gifts for Jesus through the Gospel for Asia catalog online.  Each year, Levi and Caleb have selected animals....it was always a very quick and easy choice for them.  But this year they were more serious...taking their time and wanting to look through and weigh their options.  Caleb wanted to buy water filters and bibles.....it was so cool to see how important he felt this was.  We've been (slowly) going through a devotional that really shows them how others live...and we did an experiment with dirty water a while back.  I could tell it really impacted him, and when he saw that he could provide a family with clean water, he was all for it.  Levi selected tools this year!  Right up his alley for sure.....it had caught his eye when I scrolled quickly through, and he had me go back until he found it.  He was adamant, he was choosing the tools.....tools that could change a family's life.  Such a blessing!

We enjoy sticking with the three gifts based on the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus.....an experience, a need, and a want.   I love that it helps us be more thoughtful in selecting their gifts....and we have some special times together to look forward to in the coming months!

This was Levi's "gold gift" this year.....made by daddy from some scrap wood :)  

He was thrilled :)  And his big brother was so happy for him ( I love that!)

Kyleigh and her gold gift :)  She went right into mommy mode haha

And Caleb with his....serious business figuring this thing out!

On Christmas day we were able to be all together for a little while....a gift for all of us :) 

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