We've been a little busy around our house, as I'm sure you have as well, enjoying our advent devotions and preparing for Christmas. Our family Christmas will be celebrated tomorrow, with cinnamon rolls, family pictures, worship time, and gift opening. Then Friday, the 25th, we'll be celebrating Clara Anne's birthday and the five years of life the Father has given her! We will start the day by presenting the Christmas story at Clara Anne and Chloe's kindergarten--the teacher called me again this morning and told me how excited all the children are, looking forward to the program. I hope we won't disappoint them! I have a craft, a game, a Christmas quiz, and the Christmas story on coloring sheets prepared for them, not to mention a couple hundred Christmas cookies! It should be fun! We hope many will be interested to hear the TRUE story for the first time.
Last weekend we had similar events, including Christmas parties in each class at John's school, and it was a joy and blessing to be a part of that outreach. The kids really enjoyed it and it brought a sweet gladness to my heart to hear all of the kids and parents willingly repeating the new vocabulary after me: "Baby Jesus!" "King!" "Angel!" May He bless the seeds that were sown!
And last night, despite coming down with a terrible head cold which has now descended into my chest, I hosted a party which has been a long time coming. For almost six months, I have been feeling led to begin a study through the book "The Mission of Motherhood" by Sally Clarkson, which was just translated into the local language this year. But one thing happened and then another, and the timing just didn't seem right. Finally, last night was our kick-off party. I invited several of my neighbors and some other dear local friends to join me for a Christmas party, and then during the party I introduced the idea of doing the book study together. We really had a wonderful night of warm fellowship and everyone expressed interest in returning for the weekly study. I'm excited! This is really going to meet a felt need in terms of mothering as well as just making friends. Recently one of my local friends said to me, "You have many more friends than I do. Truly! I wish I had as many friends as you do, but I am always busy with my child and family." So I do hope that our little group (it may be about 15 ladies) will grow in depth of relationship together as well as with Him--most are not in relationship with Him now.
For the party last night, I had a variety of snacks available: popcorn, clementine oranges which are plentiful and cheap right now, strawberries which just came in, a variety of Christmas cookies, and then the fun part was little Christmas hats that I made; I found the recipe on TastyKitchen.com. The base is a brownie mix that you bake in mini muffin tins. Then you turn each one upside down, top it with an upside down strawberry, and affix it to the brownie bite with a "scarf" and "tassel" of melted white chocolate. They were so adorable . . .and got eaten up so quickly I didn't even get a picture of them! Fun! The ladies also enjoyed sipping homemade chai tea as we chatted.
So, there's lots going on, I still have some gifts to wrap, candy to make, and we have 10 guests coming for dinner tonight. I'm so thankful for this season, though, and the joy that comes with sharing with others the meaning of Christmas.
I hope that you are also experiencing True Christmas cheer as you think about the miracle of the incarnation and the joy that is ours because of His love and sacrifice. I've been reading in Ezekiel this week and have been struck again by the utterly wonderful nature of HIM choosing us, despite our sin, ugliness, adultery in worshipping other gods, and depraved nature, He promises restoration and hope to us who can never earn or deserve it. May the gift of His hope, joy, peace and love be yours in full measure this Christmas!