I just read a great blog entry that I just had to jump on and share. If you are reading this after Thanksgiving, apply it to Christmas. If you are like me, the endless feasting of Thanksgiving has grown old. It doesn't fill me up. In fact, I often am dissatisfied with all of the stuff (ing) surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here are some great suggestions to make this holiday season more meaningful.
When was the last time that God kept giving you the same message? By message, I mean something that he wants to teach you or reveal to you. Did you stop to listen? Usually my messages are emphasized through a sermon at CBC, a story shared at a bible study or through the mouth of a good friend or one of my toddlers. Occasionally, God uses something really bizarre that I'm not suspecting. My series of messages began in an unusual place. Pearl. The first time I saw it was Sunday evening at Subway. It was tattooed on the base of the manager's neck. Black. Cursive. 1-2" letters. He had lots of tattoos, but I took note of the single word. Pearl. While shopping at Lifeway Bookstore on Monday evening, I was flipping through prayer and memory verse books when my eyes caught the words: The Hidden Treasure and the Pearl. Snagged. I scanned the top of the page and read: Parables of Jesus. Pearl. Half way through the morning on Tuesday, I opened my email and found the Proverbs 31 devotional of the day. The title said it all: The Pearl's Price. This was the third reference to pearl in three days. I started to pay attention.
"When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!" Matthew 13:46 (NLT)
Rachel Olsen, the author of the devotional, gave an application step, a pray and ponder step. "What do you know Jesus has been asking you to do that you haven't done? Make the effort and do it. Pay the Pearl's price."
I think this is my message. What have I been asking you to do, Danielle, that you haven't done? I can't answer the question. Of course, it's not because I have done all that He's asked. If that were true I'd be . . . . Well, that's for God and me to discuss.
Dear Momma at Costco, I didn't stop you today to tell you that your hair looked really cute but your stylish shirt was inside out. I thought it might make you feel worse. What could you do about your clothing mishap in the middle of Costco with your husband and three kids in tow anyway? I feel like you look. You're wearing the BUSY MOM label. You reminded me of my trip to Austin a little over a week ago when I stopped my moving car to discover the styrofoam cup of tea was still on my bumper. The container of Gerber puffs had taken a nose dive and was rolling across the intersection. I was too safe of a driver to get out of the car and run after it, or was it pride?. Needless to say, I was a little preoccupied with the screaming child in the car seat behind me. It is quite a distance to leap from one toddler to two and a family of three to four. I am learning that getting ready can be done in 10 minutes, you just might not look as put together; and clothing mishaps aren't devastating in the big scheme of things.
Dear Friends, Please don't let me wander on like a did to the lady in Costco. Just pat me on the back and whisper in my ear if I do something really crazy or forgetful during these weeks of transition. I am a work in progress. Thankfully, God's not finished with me yet. All of your kind words, hugs, and acts of service have kept me afloat.
One week ago we thankfully carried you home through three flights, US immigration, US customs, an incredible welcome at the airport and finally, a car ride to our door step. You have experienced many "firsts" this week: continuous english, bedtime stories, milk (not formula), a night in your own room, mashed avacado, tortillas, the zoo, the hugs of your big brother, a car seat, our barking dogs, play at the local park and a full morning at CBC, to name a few. You greeted it all with wide eyes wonder, sometimes with smiles and other times with tears. Some things overwhelmed you so much that you decided to just sleep through it. We are trying to read your signs about how much is too much and how much is just right. One thing that you adore is mealtime. It was high time for you to use a spoon and dig into some solid food! We are still deciding on what to call you: Ben or Aben. Your big brother always calls you Baby Brother Ben. These are good days. We are so thankful that you have come to stay in our family. Welcome!
It was so encouraging to receive such a warm welcome home at the airport. I think it helped to sustain me later that first night. After 27 hours of consecutive travel with a toddler, I was exhausted and running on God's grace and strength. Although I love to travel, I am not ready to make an immediate repeat trip to Ethiopia or anywhere else requiring a passport. In fact, I texted a friend, "This is one of my all time, kiss the ground, proud to be in the USA, moments. Soooo glad to be back in Dulles." I was thankful to be home at last. There's just something about traveling internationally with a toddler that you don't really know that will make you glad to be "home". Naturally, once through my front door, I was ready to get in bed and sleep off the 8 hour time zone delay. However, Joshua was ready to play and love on mommy and daddy. Around 12 midnight, I woke up in Joshua's bed (something I never do), recalling Joshua's resistance to sleep earlier in the evening. I went back to bed, my bed. Around 2 am, Joshua came running into our room, probably to make sure we hadn't left again. I put him back to bed. Around 3 am, Abenezer began to cry which quickly turned into wailing. He was up for good this time. After I conceded to a loss of sleep, I picked up a tearful little boy out of his crib. Tears turned to smiles and laughter as we played downstairs from 3 until 8:30 am. Around 8:30 he finally took a nap. By that time, Joshua was ready for mommy time and Keith had left for work. Amazingly, I didn't cry. I think it was because I had been there before. Ground Zero: Exhausted: Nothing Left: Reminders of being a new mom. Can anyone relate?? The only reason I kept it all in perspective throughout the first day was because God answered prayers and kept me afloat. Abenezer woke up from his nap screaming and crying. He was scared to death of this new place and terrified of our 7 lb yorkies. The first day was long. My mom and dad picked up Joshua around 11 and kept him until late afternoon. I caught an incredible nap when Abenezer took his second nap of the day. The second night was much better. All the Pattesons slept until after 5 am, the young and younger and youngest. Tonight, I am hoping to sleep through the evening until 6am. The transition has been tough, but I am thankful for the change. I've learned that God has the greatest opportunity to work on me when I step out of my comfort zone. I don't even have my shadow in my comfort zone tonight. :0)
Exciting changes so far: 1) Abenezer switched over from formula (yes, at 16 mos!) to 2% milk without blinking an eye. 2) He flashes his charming smile far more often and we're catching glimpses of his fun personality. 3) He doesn't melt into tears and hysteria when a dog enters the room. MAJOR IMPROVEMENT 4) Joshua loves his new role as Big Brother. He's taking it very seriously.