It has been a FULL week. Again. Maybe I should just stop commenting on full and only mention when things are slow. Otherwise you can just assume we're busy!
A couple weekends ago I chose to ignore all the housework and all that I should be doing, and sat on the couch for an entire evening figuring out how to crochet a heart.
By late that night my little valentine garland was complete. And I was so refreshed. I could have made about fifty more hearts, because once you get the hang of it, it's just so fun. But ever the minimalist, I only made as many as I needed.
The girls spent an entire morning this week at a table piled with everything pink, red and heart shaped that I could find in our craft supplies. Their valentines may not be Pinterest-worthy, but they are full of love.
I found a bunch of free vintage printables online that I just fell in love with. They were a big hit.
We started the day yesterday with a little girl approved holiday breakfast. Read many Valentine books. Watched Charlie Brown's Valentine special. And cleaned the whole house to make ready for our Valentine dinner.
The man of the house arrived home to a house full of girls in their finest pinks and reds and we had a wonderful dinner followed by dancing and a game of Yahtzee.
Just as I observed last year, this time together really felt like a wonderful refresher for our family. A pause to stop and see how blessed we really are with each other.
Earlier this week I had a day of just feeling grumpy. As I snapped at this girl and groaned at that one and let my husband know just how exasperating he can be, I knew I was being just about the biggest brat ever. I knew I needed to stop. I tried… maybe halfway succeeded.
Later that night it hit me: grumpy and mean can't coexist with gratitude.
When I love my family, and see them for the gifts that they really are, that love controls any bad attitude that tries to take over.
But when I stop seeing… when I jump into a moment and choose to leave behind the knowledge that these people are the greatest blessing in my life… how quickly and easily I mistreat them.
Maybe God wasn't throwing out some Hallmark style platitude when He said in everything give thanks. Maybe something that sounds quite simple is really life-altering.
Speaking of giving thanks, I've been journaling my way through Ann Voskamp'sJoy Dare the last few months. It's become one of the quiet moments in my day I look forward to most.
A couple of things that have been at the top of my gratitude list this week…
A morning of sitting with my girls watching newly formed ladybugs emerge from their pupa shell. Seriously amazing to watch. The best kind of learning.
And on another day this week, watching our oldest girl participate in the county spelling bee. The girl we spent so many months begging and begging to speak. The girl who made us have dreams of hearing her utter a single word. The girl who caused me to fear and pray and wonder if something as simple as a conversation would ever be possible.
I watched that girl stay on the stage longer than half of the forty-something kids participating. Smiling proudly. Racking her brain and pulling out the correct spelling for retrospective. Contently smiling when it was her time to exit the stage, and sitting down with us later to have a nice long conversation about what a fun time she had. A conversation that didn't even feel like a big deal. Until I stopped and remembered how big of a deal it was. Thankful is an understatement.
I couldn't let the year end without sharing my parade of Christmas photos. It's taken me until now to get around to moving them off of my camera. But I've finally done it. With twenty-two minutes to spare!
I narrowed it down to my favorite moments….
Camping out under the glow of Christmas lights.
Making gingerbread cookies for the very first time. I think we've found a new tradition!
Lingering over the beauty of a new little life. Thankful for treasured friends.
Continuing the tradition of sugar cookies with Grammy.
A beautiful place to gather together with our church family and worship.
Girls in Christmas dresses. One of my most favorite things!
The gingerbread house madness.
Our little tree full of home-drawn ornaments… that point us to stories, that point us to Jesus day after day all month long.
The movie that makes me cry the most happy kind of cry, and keeps me company while wrapping presents every Christmas eve.
Finally getting to reveal the big project…finished only a few short days before Christmas.
A Christmas season with some of the most incredible sunsets I've ever seen in winter time.
Enjoying the lights and the snow and so much beauty with my girls surrounding me and my love beside me.
So, so blessed.
As I was setting out presents under the tree on Christmas eve, I thought of my girls.
Resisting bedtime. Insisting they'd never be able to sleep. Saying there was no way they would make it until morning.
But I knew they'd make it. And I knew all those gifts would leave them bubbling over with joy.
I couldn't help thinking this must be a glimpse of how God feels. Knowing how often we think we can't survive. How often we say we'll never make it.
But knowing the gifts He has waiting. Now, and in eternity. Knowing the joy that will surpass all we've ever known. Preparing all of that for us. Wanting us to trust that we will make it through the night, and that morning will be wonderful.