It was calling me.
So I went.
Christmas Day was a quiet one.
So after I visited my dad, I headed west.
It was a spontaneous decision.
Thankful that I had my camera with me.
Wishing I'd dressed warmer, though.
Also wishing I'd brought a better attitude with me, too.
There was alot of this going on:
And hundreds of families out enjoying the setting sun.
A number of them asked me to take pics of them on their iphones.
Note: If you're going to ask me to take a pic of you on your iphone, I will. And I'll do it exactly the way you set up your shot. And then after that? While I still have your phone in my hand? I will tell you that your faces are all shadowed and it would be better if you moved over here, like that, and I'll move here, and now. There. That's way better.
Had a bit of a Christmas Miracle on Christmas Eve:
All 4 of us went to church. Together.
First time in forever.
(Well, since 2007.)
(Feels like forever.)
It was Drew's idea.
He bullied his brothers into going and would not put up with their crap excuses.
We sat with Danica's family.
Mr and Mrs S on one end.
Their three daughters next.
My three sons after that.
And me on the other end.
I wish, wish, wish, I could've taken a photo.
(As I was sitting down, the woman on the other side of me, said, "Jane? Jane, is that you?" Turns out it was Heather. She'd come to my book club meeting for the first time last month. "Heather? You weren't at book club on Monday. Did we scare you off in November?"
Haha. So while we waited for the show to begin, we swapped email addresses and I brought her up to date on the selections for Jan and Feb. SO random.)
I was in church. With my boys.
(Actually it was a concert hall. The church meets in an auditorium.Comfy seats. Amazing acoustics. Fabulous stage.)
(Note to pastors: If you are going to make claims about things in your sermons, make sure the internet backs you up. Because there is a good chance you'll have sceptical Gen Y's in the audience who have smart phones in their hands, who are fact checking everything you say. So, for example, if you're going to mention that the most profitable genre of books sold today is the SELF HELP ones, make sure you are quoting a reliable source. And maybe reference that source if it's obscure.)
So. Yes. Church. With my boys.
And moody songs.
And a sermon that was being googled.
And the pressure. The pressure to make Christmas something significant.
Something memorable. Warm. Meaningful. Fun. Worthy of their time.
The older I (we all) get, the more pressure I feel to Be More. More of what I'm not.
The more Christmases we experience, the more I am burdened to make this one, better. More valid.
(As if Jesus coming to earth as a baby to save the world is not enough of a reason to celebrate. I need a value-added. Yes, Jesus came. Yes that is good. But PRESENTS. AND YOUR FAVORITE FOODS. AND THIS SURPRISE FUN THING. AND ...)
It's so exhausting.
Trying to make it more.
I feel like I'm doing good just being clean, having food in the house (grocery shopping at midnight on the 23rd was the best idea. I had Safeway all to myself. Of course, the shelves are empty at that time ...
...mind you, bringing it all into the house and putting it all away at 1:00 am sucked), plus having a nice table set, presents under the tree, a few welcoming decorations up (frantically decorated on the 24th at 2 pm) midnight supper marinating, snacks for the evening all set out, beds/mattresses with clean bedding prepared, clean towels and extra toiletries on hand, breakfast foods ready for morning brunch, dessert baked, present for mom from dad wrapped ... (my dad used to love buying my mom jewellery for Christmas, so I went to People's on the 22nd and picked out three pieces for him to choose from on the 23rd. He looked each item over closely ( a ring, a bracelet and a necklace) and instinctively chose the most expensive one. Haha):
By the time, supper is over, and the presents are handed out, and the kids have gone to play a video game and I've cleaned up the kitchen and done the dishes... I have second-guessed the entire day and wondered if I should have done things differently. And I wished there was more laughter. More fun. And more sacredness. More reflection of what we were celebrating in the first place.
And on Christmas Day, after they've dashed off to their dad's, I'm left with a house to clean and thoughts to sift through. So much effort and expense and worry and preparations for JUST ONE DAY. Less than a day, actually.
It's just one day.
Just one meal.
But, oh. The angst to get it right. To get it perfect.
So I went to the beach.
And I walked around.
And it is what it is.
And it's over.
Long after the sun went down, the colours kept shining on.
As I kept yacking to God about Christmas, He kept colouring the sky.
Thank you for loving us.
Thank you for loving us even though we don't deserve it.
Thank you for sending Your son to save us.
God. I pray that this Christmas, Your divine good news was preached, and shared, and talked about, and accepted despite human messengers who may have communicated poorly. You are bigger than moms who can't get The Holy squeezed into an evening filled with The Practical. You are bigger than addicts who rejoice at the thought of a Christmas bender. You are bigger than broken brains, argumentative adolescents, sad seniors, angry adults, and lost souls. God I pray that you will use all of creation to woo those who don't know you.
Thank you for all the answered prayer this year.
Thank you for the miracles.
Thank you for the sunsets, the moon, the shorelines, the warmth, the friends, the families, the textures, the variety, the differences, the hope, the peace, the forgiveness, the second chances, the renewed love, the wonder, the longing, the guidance, the patience, the sun, the plan, the options, the freedom, the love.
Thank you for not giving up on us.
Thank you for late night assurances. And early morning hope.
I pray that you'd continue to work on and through me.
When I get stupid, just shut me up.
And when my thoughts need to be adjusted, go ahead and tweak 'em.
And if I need to be reminded of The Thing that matters, remind me. And if I need to forget other things, give me amnesia. And if I'm longing for things I shouldn't be, then make that clear.
Help me to be content in my current circumstances.
Give me wisdom.
And self control.
And then a bit more wisdom.
As I make plans for 2015, feel free to take over.
I don't want to be doing anything that's not part of Your will for my life.
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. My kids.
2. Also thankful for the upcoming weekend. So looking forward to the days off before going back to work on Monday.
3. Thankful for two days with no rain.