I know, I'm shaking the very foundation of your Christmas season. Not! It is quite the break in the yearly tradition for us, but several months ago, as I began to think about the cost of printing all those photo cards, I just felt like there had to be something better we could do with that money. The majority of the people we send/give them to see our entire lives documented moment by moment on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever other social media outlets I'm on daily. So really, we were spending money to put our faces in front of people who see our faces all the time. Just seemed silly. So, instead of Christmas cards, we'll be using that money to help others in need, instead. But, I will say, this may not be a permanent change. It could perhaps be just for this year, who knows. I just know it's the right choice for this year. (But, selfishly, I would like to request that everyone else still make their Christmas cards because I really like receiving them and using them to remind us to pray for others!)
Thought I would just give some random thoughts about our 2014 to help you not miss the Christmas card so much (which might possibly bore you to death and make you never want to read this blog again.)
-2014 was a long, hard, fun, frustrating, up and down, roller coaster of a year in our house. I am guessing that our year was pretty much like yours. At some point in the year we were: lied to, ignored, loved on, covered in grace, next to death, far from home, prayed for, deeply hurt by loved ones, deeply loved by loved ones, facing medical uncertainty, filled with sorrow, filled with hope, and blessed beyond any form of human measure.
-We finished our 3rd year of homeschooling and started our 4th. This was a journey Kevin and I never intended to be on, but it's one I don't regret for one moment. I know we are blessed to be able to do this, even if it's just for a short time. There is really nothing like watching your child learn to read, step by step, struggle by struggle. There's nothing more frustrating or joyous than watching your child struggle with something for weeks and then one day, it just clicks. And believe me, teachers are NOT even close to being paid enough, just based on the need for lesson plans alone. That doesn't even count everything else they do!
-Kevin and I have both come to the realization that there are just some things we need to let go of and times that we need to say no. OK, this is mostly me, but he has had a few things he's needed to stop doing, too. Since doing so, the stress levels have come down some, but there may be more that we need to step back from in the future. If you know me, you know how hard this is for me. I like to do things and help out and I don't really know how to say no. Yep, I'm a people pleaser! We're still working on that. I need to be a God pleaser, not a people pleaser.
-There have been a lot of changes in our extended family this year. God was there through it all, and will continue to be as I am sure 2015 will be full of even more changes. I am thankful that He alone is our hope and security, as people will come and go and those we rely on slip in and out of our lives. There have been many times it was hard to see His hand, and many times when it just would have been easier to give up and walk away or give into the grief that was threatening to overcome us, and without Christ we would have. Through death, health scares, arguments, separations, and every other crazy thing that came our way, our prayer lives were strengthened and we were forced to rely on God more than we ever have before in our either of our lives. There were times it was miserable and full of tears, and times that were joyful and full of laughter. Regardless of what was happening, God was by our side each step of the way.
I have no idea what 2015 holds for our family, but I pray that God will give us the strength and boldness to live it for Him, no matter what comes our way. Lord, lead and guide. Give wisdom and discernment for every decision that needs to be made. Give us love and patience in dealing with each other and others. Help Kevin and I to make the most of each teachable moment with our kids and help our lives to be light in the darkness that will lead our children, and many others, to you. Oh, Lord, raise up a holy passion in the McSmith family!