christmas time is here

The first week and a half of the much-anticipated Christmas season is already past. A month that is full of “musts”, and yet simultaneously is a blank slate each year, waiting for me, the Mama, to plot a course led by the Holy Spirit for this year. What will be the big rocks for this particular year? What are our hearts especially needing? What opportunities are arising that we are uniquely fitted to engage?

How can I help these little hearts see Jesus?

And so I try to listen to that small whisper, and we dance and celebrate and bake and read and play (and crash and repent) our way through these special days. We bring boughs and lights and most-special ornaments and figures into our rooms, and our everyday home becomes a place of beauty and celebration — and I remember how God Himself comes into the everyday place of my heart and makes it beautiful and heavenly, something altogether amazing.

So far, our month has included decorating, getting a tree, snuggles with Daddy, working on embroidery projects and other things, playing in fresh snow, Christmas concerts, outings, playing piano at a nursing home, and just enjoying candles and “special.”

saturday morning

from my journal…

Saturday morning: We had two days of a full house of family, for Thanksgiving and then for games and leftovers. Children all around, playing pool and ping pong and piano, in dress up worlds of Cinderella and tea parties. Aunts and uncles, siblings and in-laws, parents and grandparents, friends — so many clusters of conversation and dishwashing and laughter. And the semi-composed house I greet this morning, looking none the worse for the wear (thanks to Ryan and my parents and bustling aunts!), but rather, seeming to glow with the lingering joy of a home used and lived in. This is a house at its best — with chairs askew and coffee flowing, candles lit on every extended table.

There is so much insight to be found here — glimpses of how we were made, what we were made for.

Today we will pause to rest — Daddy called for PJs and movies! But even in this resting, we are launched into the biggest celebration of all: Jesus was born for us!


So much to be thankful for, truly, but having Jack with us rated pretty high up there.

what december looks like here:

I am waiting for a baby.

(Taken 10 days ago!)

But I am also trying to just enjoy this favorite season of the year, noticing the way certain things have become Christmas in our little family:

Enjoying our first December dinner with the flicker of candles in Advent wreath, reading the first of 24 little books telling the story of Jesus, and followed by a viewing of The Nativity Story (and cookies!)

Making cookies, and being sure to have a variety for tree-decorating night!

(Rum logs — add 1/2 tsp salt! –, Pepparkakor, and Chocolate Crackles. Coming soon: Peanut Butter Balls, for my favorite guy.)

Getting a tree, as soon as we can. Dashing through rows (that makes it sound tidy — not quite!) of trees, finding the “right” one. We don’t agonize too long: The right height, not prickly, a little bit wild. Done, settled, bring that baby home!

Music playing, softly each morning, more loudly during cookie decorating, and just plain old loud while tree-decking. I love filling the house with the sounds of Christmas, which for us have become Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, Luna Moon, The Cambridge Singers, The Nutcracker, and (when Ryan’s not home — he doesn’t get the same warm fuzzies as I do!), Sandi Patty.

A growing collection of books to read all month, which I put by the tree this year. I have it in my head that I will sit by that tree with a brand new baby, doing nothing but reading books to my other sweet babes. Even without that new baby, I’d say the arrangement is working out just fine. I am so happy to just read out loud while they eat it up.

There are so many favorites, but this year I’m being asked to read The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree on repeat.

Meals that aren’t fancy, but certainly feel that way when you add candles and a bit of holiday prettiness. It’s amazing how easy it is to linger a bit longer when there are cookies to pass around as the candles burn low. December forces a quick and complete embrace of short days and cozy evenings — things we’ll cling to long after the holiday bins have been stored back in the basement.

Corners of the house that the kids can almost arrange themselves, so familiar are the decorations and arrangements. Oh, I have to have a really good reason for changing the location of anything from year to year!

Anticipation that doesn’t have to be taught. It only takes a few Decembers to realize that these cookies, these songs, these books, these moments — they are special.


Another month, gone.

March flew faster than I had time to even realize. According to photos, there were innumerable sick days, basketball games, watching wildlife from the windows, dinners consisting of comfort food, boys performing, and… that’s pretty much it.


And this past week, there was the Resurrection to celebrate.



The boys’ first Seder,

Clothes and table,

Fiona’s first basket of goodies,

Family time after church.


A truly special celebration. An annual hard-stop that my soul really benefits from. We push pause on whatever devotional track we’ve been on and just read along with Jesus’ activities during Holy Week. “Keep the kids quiet for a bit” meant working on their Holy Week coloring books I assembled (which they didn’t begin to finish, but that’s okay.) We talk about crucifixion, more than just the passing, “Jesus died for us,” that is our habit the rest of the year. This year, we sang the same two hymns every day, and can I tell you how wonderful it is to have two children old enough to follow along in their hymnals? And when we sang one of those hymns at the Good Friday service, and their eyes lit up with the pride of, “Hey, Mom, that’s our song!”, I just smiled. Treasures tucked into hearts. And for me, treasure unearthed and dusted off and reevaluated — and found to be even more precious than ever before.


Monday is sometimes hard for me after Easter. I wake up and realize the laundry is not miraculously gone and replaced by eternally-clean robes quite yet. My hair is nappy and I stink after exercising, since my body is subject to entropy and wear and tear. Kids get on my nerves by simply appearing too early, proving that I am still living quite firmly in the Not-Yet, needing sanctification. And these, I know, are small potatoes (embarrassingly small) when compared to the trials being experience by brethren around the world — even just down the street! But they are real, and they clue me in to this: I am yet groaning along with creation, looking for Jesus to come and make all things new. (Best, best, best promise ever.)

So this morning, as rumples appeared by the myriad in my soul, I thought about the stories following that wonderful Resurrection. I thought about this promise: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

Today, rumples and wrinkles, bumps and bruises, trials and temptations: TRUE.

But, even more true, and far more amazing: POWER of GOD to be a witness in the midst.

POWER of GOD in this very, very normal, nothing-special kitchen. This very earthly pile of crusted breakfast dishes. This list of not-very-Books-of-Acts-ish duties.


wrapping up Christmas.

I finally got all Christmas photos moved to flickr, which was really just an excuse to savor one more time the special moments of that most special month. Thankful once again for my family, for having been taught to make Christmas special for my little clan, for a Savior to celebrate and exalt and make much of.

So, this. The last of my Christmas photos from 2014. Relived once more, and now tucked away for future late-night blog-wanderings when I’m wondering where the moments and years disappeared to.

“Christmas Eve Eve” sleep under the tree.

Christmas Eve morning, excitedly set up by Jameson

Her very first at-the-table setting. She was very happy with herself!

Beatrice at Christmas Eve dinner

My sister’s Christmas Eve centerpiece — well, one of them, anyway. We’re a houseful!

Candlelight Service. Beautiful.

Eggnog and Cookie party!

Intently sipping. I love that bow!

Cookies. Waiting for presents!

This pretty girl. And no other photos of Christmas Eve garb. I almost burst into tears when they put on their new pi’s, and I realized we would never have a photo of them all dressed.

Tree, ready.

New doll things

Fiona got her very own baby doll

Afternoon and evening at my parents’, eating and playing games.

Christmas Night. The aftermath.

And the best Day After ever: new flannel pajamas and new toys and Mama vacuuming to her heart’s content.

Deep sigh. Deep smile. Deep thankfulness for it all.

Back to the bins, absorbed into the toys, tossed into the hamper, vacuumed and dragged out to the field it all goes. And yet, not quite. Those memories, that investment, this pause becomes knit into who we are.

Until next year,

pictures of december

Excitement is ramping up around here. Today we exchanged names (well, the kids did) and bought gifts for one another. Four or five times, I was pulled aside because a little boy needed to tell me a secret — a bursting with joy secret because their gift is just so so so wonderful and the recipient is going to love it so so so much!

We drove home in relative quiet until William suddenly said, “Mom, I was just dreaming about opening my present [on Christmas Eve, when they exchange their gifts], and I was so excited, and then I remembered that the next day will be Christmas!! (Said in the most COULD LIFE GET ANY BETTER voice you’ve ever heard.)

Before that day actually comes, and I get swept away with everything that entails and suddenly find myself two weeks into a new year, I’ll quickly put up photos of this special month. I do so love coming to this little corner of the internet and reminiscing…


Three little girls, Fiona wanting very much to be as big as Beatrice and Margaret

Ready to get a tree

Easily entertained

Can’t wait for Daddy to come with the tree

Here it comes!

And there it is.

Early Sunday morning reflections.

Rest and reading time after decorating the bagel shops!

She loves baby dolls.

Pigtail perfection.

Cookies baked for neighbors and friends.

Special afternoons with my grandparents.

Time with beautiful sisters and their scrumptious babes.


Lots of this.

A break from routine school means time for not-routing things.

They keep careful track of this growing pile.

Drawing names!

Fiona felt very grown up with that slip of paper!

Too excited to get a picture with all four looking at me.

Lunch with family at (drumroll…) The Bagelry. (Pretty yummy!)


Have a wonderful last few days before Christmas!