Monday, December 15, 2014

Anticipating Christmas

We're doing things a little differently here this year, and I have to say we are all liking it very much.  Our norm is to keep a regular school routine year round with the occasional break here and there; usually a day or two, and never for more than a week or so.  This year I decided to approach things a little differently.  We have been off of our regular schedule since Thanksgiving, and we are having so much fun.

Never in my life have I ever participated in Advent in any way.  Honestly, up until a few years ago I'd never even heard of it.  I found a great study to do with the kids each night, and we started it on December 1st.  It's been a lot of fun, and I'm already thinking of ways to change it up for next year.  For now, we are keeping it simple.  The kids get a picture to color from a free download that goes along with our evening reading, a book I downloaded for $1.99 onto my Kindle.  This is another first for me.  Out of my thousands of digital books this is the first I've ever paid for and the first I've used exclusively for study with the children.  Truth be told, I am old fashioned and much prefer a printed book in my hands.

Each weekday I have planned a craft or special activity to do with the kids.  As each day passes our home becomes more and more festive, and our children anticipate Christmas Day more and more.  This is big for me, because some days (or weeks, or months) it seems we have the market cornered on stressful circumstances to deal with and work through.  It's common knowledge that holidays and special, traditional, family times can play with our emotions, and having this concentrated time to just focus on being with each other, honoring the purpose of celebrating Christmas, and drawing near to those we love has added so much to our family relationship.

It might be possible to think that we have so much time on our hands as homeschoolers, and we can accomplish so many things, but I'm here to tell you that time is very fleeting.  There literally are not enough hours in the day or days in a lifetime to see, do, experience, share, create, or give all the things our hearts desire or long toward no matter the life we choose to live.  I am grateful for the privilege, honor, and freedom to spend my days fully present with my children.  It is by no means perfect.  We struggle and make mistakes, but in the end we love each other with all we have within ourselves to give.  Taking this extended break like this has helped to redirect my focus and assisted me in slowing down enough to see more clearly the things that are most important.  In the end the only thing we can give is our best, and it is my mission to continuously improve my personal best.  Is it any real surprise that I am a genuine work in progress?

As 2014 comes to a close many of us will take time to reflect on the past.  It is my prayer that your focus will be on the positive.  Though it is winter, and quite possibly a winter of your life, there are always sunny days, little gifts, and small treasures that we can hold onto.  The positive things are always there whether or not we take the time to notice.  Why not put our attention on the joyful moments that positively touched our hearts?

"Finally, brothers, 
whatever is true, 
whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, 
whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable, 
if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think on these things."

~Philippians 4:8

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