It amazes me how quickly the days before Christmas seem to FLY by! Add in a few snow days that not only kept the kids home from school but also my husband (which means it was REALLY bad weather!) and I feel really rushed. Rushed not so much for what I haven't gotten done, but what I haven't savored fully. But then again, that would be impossible unless I was able to stop time itself in order to soak up every last bit of the season ... and even then I know I would miss the mark and wish for more.
One thing I did do was try to simplify gift giving this year. "Tried." Looking at the tree I'm not sure I was very successful. I'm hoping to do better with every year. It is amazing how the world can just suck me in especially when it comes to thinking I can make someone happy and satisfied with buying or giving them something. And I keep running into references in my quiet time and online and on the radio to "Presents vrs Presence" and I think this is very significant as I know God knows how much I am struggling with making Christmas mean what it should in our house.
In an attempt to spend less, I decided to gift some hand-me-down toys from my sister's family that are in really great shape, bid on a few things on eb@y and make a couple of things myself (thanks Shawna for encouraging this with your Homemade Crafty Post.
This is a colored pencil folio that I made. I got the idea from a REAL one I saw at an art store that was around $40+! I also saw a smaller homemade version on ebay and some directions HERE. However, I wanted it to hold more pencils and so I had to fiddle with the measurements in order to make it bigger and give myself a headache ... I mean a challenge.
With the Christmas Operation Giggle presents that my sons helped me send to Philip and Samuel at ND I truly feel deeply blessed this Christmas season for giving and not getting. It was a great way to start preparing our hearts earlier this year... But it ultimately also led to the great toy hunt of 2009. You see while shopping for gifts for Philip I spotted THE most cuddly monkey. I knew that Brayden would love it and so since he chose Philip to sponsor I thought it would be perfect! Well, I should have gotten two. They weren't expensive in fact I wondered why they weren't priced higher! But I wasn't going to argue with the tag! Well, of course Brayden loved it ... and although this may surprise any of you who may know Brayden, he has a very soft heart in places and when it gets squeezed, oh my, watch out! Well, he hesitantly (but only for a brief second) and then VERY heart-fully and genuinely gave that monkey for Philip knowing that it would be so special to him. But guess what was at the TOP of his Christmas list?! The monkey. In fact there were only 2 things on his list, a NintendoDS and the monkey ...
We aren't getting him a DS for fear of losing him to a handheld game at such an early age and also for the fact that they are expensive. But the monkey, now I could totally do that! So I went back to WalM@rt thinking it would be a slam dunk purchase ... but ... they were all gone and had been replaced by cheaply made "similar" animals that would just not pass as the same. So, the hunt began ... 8 WalM@rts and 5 cities later I FINALLY had my sister purchase one at her local store that we thought might be able to pull off as close enough. That was until we were in WalM@rt last week and I thought I'd see if he remembered what the original monkey looked like just to test the waters. Well, the original one wasn't there, the one my sister found was not there, but a THIRD monkey was there and he was CERTAIN it was THE one. Can you guess where this is going?
He carried it through the toy section while I did some shopping for my nephews and when I told him that he would have to put him back he teared up ... however he didn't fall apart in a fit or tantrum, but teared up and wept ... not the ugly selfish kid kind of fit that I have had to deal with in the past and have witnessed other parents deal with too. No, this was different. It was something much deeper and since there was only one monkey left when he obediently put him back despite the tears I could feel his sadness and his doubting that that monkey would ever find his way to him or that the monkey would be "okay" out there in the world without that special little boy. It led to a conversation in the van about how God was using this moment to build his character in trust and faith that God would provide what it was that he REALLY needed and patience for not getting it NOW but perhaps in time. In fact, as I heard myself talking, it was almost like I could take those very words and apply them to myself in other situations. Brayden so much said everything I've said in the past, "yes, I want this ... but I want that too! I've been so good ... it's perfect for me ... why not? why not NOW?!"
Well, to add to the drama the night before the above incident I had gone onto eb@ay and found the original monkey (which is as cute as a bug's ear!) and purchased it from a dear lady for not that much more than it originally cost. However, now I have 3 monkeys! The original one I agree is CUTE, the one my sister bought and then the one Brayden fell in love with on Monday. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all of them ... but it was an amazing lesson for this mom. As parents we try so hard to get exactly what our children "need"--when that is somewhat illusive and can be ever changing. And how blessed that I am able to provide my children with the big things so they aren't worried about them and they can fill their concerns with the little things that children should only have to deal with. He has a mom, a dad, a home, love, food, health ... our abundance is so great and yet how often I still cry out to God and pray for things or situations. He so lovingly tells me to have trust, faith and patience in His timing and His wisdom and sometimes He says NO. And I also came across this verse too. Yes, God knows so well how to give good gifts.
"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"--Luke 11:11-13
God will supply all your needs according to HIS glorious riches in Christ Jesus our Lord.--Phil 4:19
I look forward to seeing Brayden's face Christmas morning when he unwraps HIS monkey. And as a family we are looking forward to knowing that another monkey is being opened half way around the world with just as much love and excitement. What a win-win-win!