This Christmas season has been a little different this year. I've been wanting to change our Christmas focus to one of giving and serving and God has provided many opportunities so far. The kids (and Michael and I) have definitely been stretched in this area and it has been good for us. We had to give up some fun traditional holiday activities to help my sister out after her bunion removal surgery, but God has already blessed us in return. My kids are seeing that service sometimes means sacrifice. That is a jewel of wisdom indeed. If you are interested in the particulars of her surgery you can click on this link.
My kids plus her kids equaled 8 kids all under the age of 12. It was cold outside, so they rarely went out. They were getting pretty restless by the end of the week, but they did well overall. That isn't to say we didn't have our moments. Praise God, Stacie's 20 month old, Lily, really took to me and called me "Mama" all week. I think it must have had something to do with us being identical twins.
While I homeschooled the older kids, My friend, Dorene, saved me with a "Camp Aunt Jackie" bag full of crafts for the younger children. It really gave them something to look forward to each day. She was sweet to make sure they were easy because she knows I'm not a crafty sort of person. Thanks again, Dorene! The crafts were a big hit.
Hailey and Jessica loved making their hair crazy and then posing for the camera with their goofiest faces. They played dress up almost non-stop. Just like their mamas at that age!
I snapped this picture of Josh roller-blading on the deck with Hailey as his figure skating partner. It was so cute! Unfortunately he accidentally dropped her right after I snapped the picture. Oops! Not the first boo boo to happen that week. Hailey got her finger stuck in a stencil and Uncle Steve had to use a saws-all blade to cut it off. He's a paramedic and it was weird that he was actually home during an emergency. Stacie says that never happens!
Stacie's husband got the kids out one day to get their Christmas tree. Interesting decorating a tree with 8 kids. My sister was laying on the couch with her foot up while she handed out ornaments one at a time (very top picture). They actually did very well. She keeps it simple (unlike my trees) which really helps.
Being consistent with 8 kids was exhausting to say the least, but I saw some good fruit from it by about halfway through the week. Thanks to all the generous people in her support system, I didn't have to cook more than two breakfasts. I seriously don't know how she does everything I did AND cooks too. I came away with a whole new respect for her. One of her sweet friend came over and served lunch for everyone while I got to take a nap, check my email/FB/blog and call a dear friend of mine. Stacie and I managed to get through several long mini-series in the the evenings. Something we love to do together.
I'm so grateful that God allowed me to be with my sister and her family to get them through the worst part of her recovery. We had some difficult days, but God never gave any of us more than we could handle. It was tough on the kids. Nothing was the same and my rules were sometimes different which made for some conflict. By the end of the week, the kids blessed me with a sweet thank you note (complete with a chocolate - they know their way to Aunt Jackie's heart ;) that they wrote all on their own. Yep, I cried! It certainly blessed me.
So, I'm now back at home now and hope to catch up on my blogging soon. Hope you are all enjoying this wonderful week before Christmas and are having time to reflect on the true "Gift of Christmas", God's precious son sent here on earth to save us all.
In Christ's Love,