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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Was your Christmas absolutely perfect?

The "perfect" Christmas brunch. 

This blog is likely a bit more for moms than dads, but I encourage for dads to read it anyway so that you have a glimpse in to what may go through your wife’s mind during the Christmas season.  I am certainly not claiming to be the voice for all women or moms, but I think I might be speaking for a few of you.

We want every day of the holiday season with our family and friends to be perfect. Absolutely perfect.   Every cookie, every wrapped gift, every cup of coffee, every meal, every light on the tree, every piece of music chosen, every interaction between family members and especially every conversation.  We think about what we can do to stretch the hours in the day so no moment is wasted? How early can we get up so that the kitchen smells good and how late can we go to bed so that the house looks perfect? 

Making the "perfect" brunch for 98 children and 60+ staff.
How do we prepare meals in advance so that we maximize our time with our family and not waste it doing things like dishes, laundry, taking out the garbage etc.

It’s exhausting, and that exhaustion, combined with unrealistic expectations, almost always leads to chaos and tears. 

Our family is not immune to the above picture, and mom is at the center of the dilemma (I am referring to me as mom, not my mom). 

Our family is complicated, as is yours.  Our complication is just different than your complication.  We hadn’t been together as a family since last Christmas and I wanted Christmas to be even more perfect than last year. But here’s the rub.  We have ALL changed in a year. We have all grown older, more mature (I hope), have had more hurts during the year, more joys, more experiences and we all arrive at Christmas, changed. 

What I learned this year at Christmas, despite my inability to deliver the perfect Christmas is that grace has to be at the center of our Christmas activities, and my family exhibited that in a wonderful way.  Grace starts with each of us and as the focus of Christmas is Jesus, we are reminded that Jesus was the ultimate grace-giver.

Chloe, Ian and Jane making home made vanilla ice cream (with farm fresh eggs of course).
Despite my own fears and failures, I had the very best Christmas with my amazing family.  I am unspeakably proud of the young man that Spencer has become as he graduated from Georgia State University and as I watched him working on his applications for his Masters in International Business schools.  I am unspeakably proud of Chloe who spent 35 hours traveling to Africa and 35 hours traveling back to Canada while talking through the decision to change her University focus from sociology to business. 

Both of these young people have navigated their University/College years with our 100% support, but it was from 8,600+ miles away.  We haven’t been there in person to help with buying a used car, getting new passports, navigating an apartment lease, dealing with banking, or more importantly, heart break, tears, fears, anger, joy or excitement that they face each and every day.  That has all been done by phone or Skype, which just isn’t the same as a real hug, a real tissue a real shoulder to cry on.  

Enjoying the first smoked pork butt made in Ian's new Green Egg!
All that being said is that I find myself beating myself up (as I know many of you do) and doing the “coulda, woulda, shoulda”, that moms do.  But then I remember what someone told me years ago, that every parent tries to do the best they can with what they have and what they know.  I know that I am doing that, and I am sure that you are too.

I would never have written my parenting life the way it has turned out.  Afterall, who in their right mind would pack up and move to Africa (period), especially when their children are still in school!  It’s crazy. But God’s plans are perfect (and can appear crazy). Now we have 146 children who are brothers and sisters to Spencer and Chloe.  I can’t imagine my life without them all.

The photo that makes it all worth while.
I am thankful for a heavenly Father who extends grace to me each and every day and shows me that He can use me even through my own fears, anger, frustration and doubt.  I pray that as you enter in to 2017, that you will also feel his love and grace in your life and that you will allow Him to use you, even through your fears, your anger, your frustration and your doubt.

Live from Swaziland … here’s to a new year.


We got a few days in Durban with the kids before Chloe flew home. The "perfect" spot for us.

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