Sunday, December 27, 2009
Taking a holiday from what?
The final lighting of the middle candle on Christmas Eve!
Our kids in their Christmas p.j.'s just before going to Santa's Wonderland.
Oh, how I love the holidays. For so many reasons. I feel like this year has been one of our best Christmases ever! Excluding one trip to Wal-Mart that will go down in history as one of the worst two hours of my life, this holiday has been restful and worshipful. That's a difficult combination to find in a house like ours.
If you're a student, Christmas BREAK is definitely a break! It's the sweetest time of year (unless you're one of those insane in the membrane people who take a mini-mester nightmare in December) where you have NO work hanging over your head. No paper looming, no tests, no reading, nothing. I remember that feeling. It's an unparalleled time of relaxation in your educational career. Enjoy it now, young friends!
When you're a grown-up, and you have a grown-up job, you might get time off. When I was a teacher, I vividly remember my break. It was pre-kids for me. So I recall staying home in my P.J.'s and baking Christmas goodies all day, watching Christmas movies, while Rusty was at work. It was so relaxing, and a blissful break from a fun but very stressful job.
When you're a Mom, there are not the same kind of holidays from our "work." My job as a domestic engineer is managing and cleaning my home while also trying to spend meaningful time with the kids. Does anyone else feel the tension in that challenge? I actually wrote "Do fun stuff with the kids" on my white board to-do list, because it's too easy to get caught up with laundry, cleaning, baking, cooking, and forget those little people who want to play games and do creative things. I want to do that too! As a homeschool Mom, any break we take from school is a time to clean. I don't have time to clean out my refrigerator or wash and scrub the walls on a daily school day basis. So that's what I've been trying to achieve. It's not the same as a Christmas break, you know what I mean? Christmas break can be awesome, or it can be chaos. I personally wither spiritually in the chaos. This year has been so good and here's a few reasons why.
So what do we break from?
This year, this was our question. Even though I have been cleaning, baking, cooking, I have also had restful, worshipful, fun time at home. Rusty and I have been thinking for weeks now about how to "holiday" without taking a holiday from things that matter most.
Our men's group met earlier in December to talk about leading their families spiritually during the Advent season without taking a holiday from spiritual things.(I'm so thankful for these guys!!!) Sometimes, when we get out of our routines, we inadvertently holiday from things like prayer, time in the Word, spiritual disciplines. Not things done out of legalistic rules, but things we do to maintain a close relationship with the Lord. The fuel we need spiritually, that keeps me going, keeps me focused on Him and not me. How quickly the focus can shift back to me when I forget to feed myself spiritually! I don't know about you, but I need His Word, I need to pray, I need to be thankful to Him, I need HIM!
So we're learning, when we vacation or have a holiday of some kind, we have to intentionally take breaks from some things. Some kinds of work. School work, which is kind of hard for me, but honestly, I've enjoyed it. Rusty's work. He needs the break. Of course our home, house work is still here, but it can be a joy to do together! We can take a holiday from BLOGGING which I obviously have. A break from FACEBOOK, which I pretty much have as well. We've tried to break from things that take up our time and energy.
Adding Advent and 40 Days of Prayer
I love that our church is in the middle of our 40 days of prayer and fasting during this season. It may seem like an odd time to do this as a church, especially as more than half of our church just left town to go home for Christmas break! But I think it's helped me focus on what I need the most! I hope it has for our students as well.
We also have done Advent family worship this Advent season. If you're like me, and grew up Baptist, you maybe are not familiar with Advent. But in the past few years, our family has taken advantage of this time of preparation for Christmas. No longer will we walk into a Christmas Eve service, trying to focus for the first time that season on it's meaning and full purpose. But it can also be hard to be diligent during busy December to our Advent worship. I love that Rusty didn't allow us to break from Advent, even during a bad virus we passed around and when we travelled! (We found Advent will travel. Flashlights and nightlights make good makeshift Advent candles!) Rusty kept us focused on the reason for this holiday. This Advent season with the kids was awesome! Even little Treston knew the names of the candles, and could answer questions during our Advent family worship times. It didn't always go perfectly, mind you. Far from it. Rusty and I laughed about some of the "Advents gone wrong" moments. I wish I had clips from our Advent bloopers to show you. If our whole life was video taped and we could go back and watch the highlights and bloopers, the Bacak clips would be very entertaining. Things like "Hark the Herod angels sing"...Justus was slightly confused on that song. But I love singing Christmas songs for worship, and what group of little boys doesn't love family worship with FIRE! That's like the ultimate for them.
Rest and Fun
We've enjoyed some amazing rest time this past week. Rusty got two days off from work, which has been AMAZING! (He's been on call the whole time, but still home with us, which ROCKS!) It's been restful, having both of us home, enjoying the kids, working in the house together, and doing fun stuff as a family! We did some just-for-fun stuff, and stuff that was meaningful. It's my hope we're making snapshots of memories for our kids. This year, we watched the movie "The Nativity Story" together as a family, and I think that's our new Christmas tradition. That was really neat, and brought the story to life for all of us. Again this year, we went to the nursing home on Christmas Eve to visit our beloved Mr. Gruner and some other residents. That makes our Christmas hopefully as much as it makes theirs. On Christmas Eve night, we bathe the kids and then they come out all drippy in their towels, to find new Christmas p.j.'s that have magically appeared in their stockings. (Okay, they know it's me.) They put on their new p.j.'s and we actually make hot chocolate for everyone and brought along the hot drink dispenser for refills, take blankets, and get in the van for a drive-thru of Santa's Wonderlands lights. (This plan was great last year, but this year Emma, who didn't wear shoes, had to find a port-o-potty for an emergency potty break. She had to put on her Dad's size 12 shoes to go in, since the rest of us were barefoot or wearing house shoes. Yuck!) We came home for our Christmas meal, Advent, and sit by the fire time. We also like to go to the movies together on Christmas night. While we watched a painful kids movie for us parents this year, the kids so enjoyed it. We've hit the amazing long awaited stage with our kids where we can all sit in a movie together. That's fun for all of us! I made some yummy Christmas meals, that were pretty darn easy as well. I think I'll post those later this week. Oh, and we made gingerbread men, which were very fun and messy to make with the kids, and fun to decorate, but it was my first time to make them and I will definitely be tweaking the recipe. They were a little too "spicy." We got to visit with Rusty's family, and even Treston's birth family, and the Seay family gathering is coming this week. This is all fun family time for us.
"Fail to plan and we plan to fail"
I think that's become one of my life mottos. It's not the Bible or anything, but it just seems to ring true in my life. We've learned more this year about not "breaking" from spiritual things while we're out of our routine, and planning has definitely contributed to that. Rusty and I took a date night to discuss this early in the month, and I think the preparation for this has made a difference. In some previous years, I think we have done this all wrong, due to lack of preparation and intentionality. We would end up frustrated with the kids, irritated with the chaos, and our time off seemed fruitless. But we are learning, year by year, and this year has been so good, and I'm so amazingly thankful! Around this house, it's still Christmas until New Year's, so Merry Christmas friends!