Christmas and New Years

So blessed.

That’s all I can think of when I look back on our Christmas season and into the year ahead…

We have incredible, encouraging, loving families, a wonderful church family and community of support, our health and home, and we know the God who created it all with a personal closeness…  These both simple and HUGE components of life that are His to give and ours to receive.  What a privilege it will be to receive the child He has chosen for us to parent, to receive that blessing into our lives!

All kinds of sweet gifts for the baby!

All kinds of sweet Christmas gifts for the baby!

A book for us called "Born from the Heart" and a book for grandparents — from one set to the other.

A book for us called “Born from the Heart” and a book for grandparents — from one set to the other.

Christmas was focused on faith, and FULL of family, food, fellowship, and fun — the quintessential ingredients!

Fun with the Glenhams and Copelands — Abbey!

Fun with the Glenhams and Copelands (and Abbey!).

Rea family quality time.

Rea family quality time.

Joy and love with those precious nephews... our baby's awesome cousins!

We loved spending time with our nephews… our baby’s awesome cousins!

Among all the laughter and celebration, and now that the hustle and bustle is settling down, I’ve realized there are many things I’m learning recently.  One and most importantly is that God is faithful.  The condo still sits unsold, our hope of being in a house (or at least off the third floor of a condo building) before the baby comes squeezing more and more tightly with the passing of each day.  But it struck me over Christmas that finding a buyer and being able to move will not be the thing that proves God’s faithfulness — even as we have prayed for this.  He is showing us His faithfulness right now — saving for us what He’s had in store all along, to be revealed in His perfect, protective timing.  Great is His faithfulness!

I am also learning not to “give in” to what the world expects…  I think most people might expect us to be impatient, anxious, and frustrated about still being in this condo.  I can feel myself expressing those emotions in conversation, almost out of unspoken obligation.  But I think God has brought me to a place of sincere contentment with exactly where we are and what we have — a lesson that probably needs to come first.  We have so much compared to so many in the world.  It is just enough and more than enough, and I am happy here.  Sure, it would be nice… Of course we’d love the “ideal” situation.  But we are grateful.  And who says this isn’t exactly where God has placed us?

I’m learning that I have not known quite how to take hearing “congratulations.”  It’s silly and prideful of me.  But I’ve felt that way since we first applied to adopt back in April.  I wonder what they are congratulating me on…?  There is no baby yet, and I feel uncomfortable accepting praise for our decision to adopt, so I am never quite sure how to process that word.  It’s an entirely ungracious response.  They are congratulating us on the expectation and soon arrival of a baby, of course — just as though we were pregnant.  What is so hard about that?  But I think I am only just now learning it.

I am learning that this “waiting to wait” time period is going to be a VERY busy time for us.  We become a waiting family (or, at the point of being able to receive a referral) starting the second week in March.  Between now and then there are many decisions to make: how long to take maternity leave, finding a pediatrician, what type of childcare we will have, should we give up on selling the condo and turn the office into a nursery… Waiting will be a very active verb around here!

And in the new year, I hope I learn how to be gracious…  More gracious, I guess I should say.  It’s my “one word,” in fact, for 2014.  I want to be a grace-filled mother, a grace-filled wife, and a grace-filled Christian.  A gracious host with gracious words and gracious responses.  To actively cultivate GRACIOUSNESS.

gracious

“Live generously and graciously toward others, as God lives toward you” (Matthew 5:48, MSG) is a verse I am reflecting on, among so many others.  This is such a beautiful, powerful quality of our Lord, one that I hope to refine in me and reflect of Him.  Whether that’s in accepting something positive, when that happens — or when a crass remark about adoption leaves me dumbfounded and struck… which has also happened.  When I have to show grace when I don’t want to, in any of my relationships.  When I need to accept it myself (no fighting it) from God.  When I feel like giving in, giving up, being a grump, or avoiding the extra mile, Graciousness says: “because I said so.”  It’s being slow to anger, slow to defenses, slow to pride, and eager to love.  Swallowing self and exuding grace in every encounter.  To live graciously would be the most exquisite way to live that I could ever imagine.

My prayer for you all in this new year is to be in an open position to receive whatever God has in store for you, as He invites you to be part of a life with Him… Because no matter the shape and size of your challenges, or where you store your blessings, our God is goodness.  And mercy.  And lovingkindness.

Struggling toward grace, albeit ungracefully at times, with a heart wide open,

oh and, Happy New Year! —

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