Tuesday, December 27, 2011

#26 - Restoration

At our church's Christmas Eve service, we sang several songs.  Some were traditional carols.  Some were worship songs.  One was "Restoration" by David Brymer.  And as I sang it, I thought how there couldn't have been a more perfect song.  I'm sure that the song was chosen to remind us all of the restoration that Jesus brought to the world by coming to earth as a baby.  Of the sacrifice that he came here to make, so that we could be restored to our Heavenly Father.  And for that I am eternally grateful.  

For me, the song had an additional meaning.  

For the last several years, Christmas has never come without the bittersweet memories of a Christmas 8 years ago.  Every year, as I go to the Christmas Eve service at church I remember the service that I sat in 8 years ago.  Pregnant with my 3rd child.  Thinking about how I could relate to Mary in a special way that year.  Counting my blessings... my children, Allie and Jackson, and this new, precious one that was on it's way to us.  Excited about what the next day would bring.  And what the next year would bring.  A baby!    I remember what I was wearing.  What my kids were wearing.  Who I spoke to that night.  What we ate for dinner.  I remember that when Santa visited, he filled a little red felt stocking that Jack had hung for the baby with pacifiers and that Allie gave thoughtful little gifts to her new sibling.  I remember that Christmas night, in a house full of family and fun, I went to the restroom and found blood.  I remember spending the next 24+ hours in and out of bed, calling the ER doctor, ravenously reading, calling anyone that I thought might be able to help me know how to save my baby, and begging God to do what became clear that I could not.  And I remember that ultimately, I found myself in a horrific situation where I knew that there was no way that He had.

I lost it.

My baby.  The dream.  Control.  My faith, to some extent.  Hope.  Life as I knew it.

I lost it all.

I was wrecked.

I have recounted much about that time and the years that followed on my blog, For What It's Worth.  It is sad and painful.

Christmas, for a few years, was tainted.  I still enjoyed it -  I loved the magic in my kids' faces when they saw their gifts.  I loved being with family.  I loved our traditions.  I loved the reason that we celebrated Christmas - but every single year, for a few, I had moments of utter grief.  Not just over the loss of the baby I'd lost at Christmas time but also of the one that was lost after that.  And of the loss of so much more in the years that followed.  I was dumbfounded about the goodness of God.  The way that this was all supposed to be working for good for me.  For the ones that I loved. 

I had a lot to learn.

And He gently, patiently taught me.

And continues to teach me.

And as He teaches me, He has restored my soul.

So, when we sang that song on Christmas Eve, I could genuinely, honestly sing.  You bring restoration.  The words - almost every single one of them - were perfect.

You bring restoration
You bring restoration
to my soul

You've taken my pain
called me by a new name
You've taken my shame
and in it's place, You give me joy

You take mourning and turn it into dancing
You take weeping and turn it into laughing
You take mourning and turn it into dancing
You take my sadness and turn it into joy

hallelujah, hallelujah
You make all things new, all things new

And oh, I still miss her.  The one that was lost that Christmas.  Her name is Kate.  And I miss her.  But I have all confidence that she fulfilled her purpose.  Her life was not wasted.  She impacted me.  She changed me. I cannot imagine what life would be like for me and my family if it hadn't been for the lessons that I learned because of her life.  God used her - and even the loss of her - to restore me.  

He makes all things new.

So today, 8 years later, I can say with a thankful heart that He has taken my sadness and turned it in to joy.  He brings restoration to my soul.  

Happy Birthday, my Kate.

#25 - He Loves Me

It was a busy day before Christmas.  Corey was gone.  I was wrapping gifts and placing them under the tree.  And a little blue box caught my eye.  Someone had placed a gift under the tree besides me.  It was the perfect Christmas color.  Tiffany Blue.  I didn't know what was inside, but I knew that it was for me.  From him.  Because he loves me.  I knew, just by looking at the little box with the perfect bow, that he had made a trip across the metroplex to pick up something beautiful for me.  Not because I deserve it.  I don't.  Or because I asked for it.  I didn't.  But because he loves me.  He loves to give me good gifts.  He loves for me to feel treasured.  And I do.

And inside?  It was a key.  On a necklace.  The key to his heart.

#24 - Christmas Day

Christmas Day.  The best day of the year.  We wake up super early.  Too excited to sleep.  The kids run down the stairs while Corey and I each have a camera in hand.  Then, it's minutes and minutes on end of excitement!  And "Look Mom!"s and "Look Dad!"s.  Then, we exchange gifts that we have bought for each other.  It is a very special time! 

This year Santa had needed a lot of help getting the kids' big gift assembled (A LOT of help!), so Corey and I had had about 45 minutes of sleep when the kids awoke on Christmas morning.  So, Christmas napping was on the agenda for Corey.  The kids spent a lot of time playing with the 3-in-1 table, assembling Legos,  playing video games, putting together puzzles, etc.   

We ate the breakfast casseroles that I had made the night before.  I took care of puppies.  We all took care of puppies.  And I read Corey's new book and played with kiddos.

Puzzles and games (and food!)  - the things that make a holiday a "Powell holiday".

That afternoon, my mom and dad came by for a visit.  We worked on the puzzle, played a lot of games, then enjoyed Christmas dinner together.  Lasagna, salad, and bread has become our Christmas dinner tradition.  Then, we ate the pie that Corey and Allie had made together.  Coconut cream pie.  My favorite!

And on my "good camera", I have gobs  more photos, but for now, this is mostly a blog containing photos from my phone.  And that's okay.

#23 - Christmas Traditions: Cookies & PJs

On Christmas Eve, we cooked for much of the day. Preparing for Christmas. All 5 of us, together. It's a highlight for me! After church, we still needed to make a few things, and one of those was cookies for Santa. Sugar cookies. With icing. Lots of shapes.

And then a very excited little boy. Full of wonder and belief, placed them along with a glass of milk on the kitchen table for the old man in red. Perfect.

And just to be safe, a little note was left for Santa on the gingerbread house. Hilarious.

And after the cooking came the PJs. They are the first gift the kids get every year. The only gift opened before Christmas Day. And even though they know what is inside, they are always excited to open it.

#22 - Christmas Tradition: Christmas Eve Service & Dinner

My favorite part of the day. Christmas Eve. We break. We rest. We remember. We focus. All 5 of us crammed into 4 chairs. Singing Christmas carols that have more meaning to my soul now than ever before. Candlelight. Unity. Beauty. Remembering Jesus. That He came. Why He came. That He is coming again. Advent.

And then, as is our tradition, we go to a nice restaurant. We enjoy good food and our family. And we celebrate.

#21 - Christmas Traditions: Gingerbread House

Is it a tradition if it's the first time? Well, we made our first gingerbread house this year. It was fun, and we hope to do it again. That counts as a tradition. I think.

#20 - Christmas Traditions: 6 Flags

Holiday In The Park. Lights. Christmas music. Rides. Laughs. Hot chocolate. Snow. Family time.

#19 - Christmas Traditions: Grapevine

It's one of the most beautiful places to get a taste of Christmas spirit, and it's in our backyard. I love everything about visiting Grapevine in December.

Bass Pro Shop does Christmas up well for kids! It's our favorite place to visit Santa. The kids played games, we ate dinner (with free kids meals) at the adjoining restaurant, and Cooper wrote a letter to Santa. The sweetest little letter you've ever seen!

Then, there's downtown Grapevine. Wow! There just are not words to describe how beautiful it is when it's all lit up!

And Starbucks. We can't forget Starbucks.

#18 - My Men

I am so thankful that my boys are getting the opportunity to be raised by a man. An intentional, Godly, strong, loving man.

Monday, December 26, 2011

#17 - My Little Boy With A Big Heart

Christmas break. We made it. Corey was gone for the morning one day last week, and I was sleeping in a bit. I woke to the sounds of someone in the living room. I got up to find Jack. He had turned on Christmas music, had tidied up the room, and was working on making a fire in the fireplace. For me. He asked me to sit on the couch with him. We visited. Just him and me. I enjoyed him. Completely.

This little boy shows me things about himself all the time that are not so little at all. He is a compassionate, strong, thoughtful boy. He's growing into a man that I am proud of. He will be attentive to the needs of those around him as he grows up. He will be good at loving others.

And for now, I have the privilege of training him. Observing him. Enjoying him. And I get to do this along with his father who is setting the best example of manhood and servanthood that I have ever seen.

I am so thankful.

#16 - Pizza

Thank God for pizza.  For stops along the way that make ordinary road trips different and fun.  For exploring new areas and restaurants.  And for an app on our phone that told us where to go for lunch.  

It's a good memory.  10 "thumbs up" for Mellow Mushroom in Ft. Worth.

#15 - Visiting Mom & Dad's House

After our great weekend in our respective places - home, Pine Cove, and in Waco with the cousins - we all got back together and went to my parents' house for a visit.  It was Sailor's first road trip, and Cooper's first time away from home by himself.  He had a good time, but he was so excited to have all 5 of us back together!  And I've got to say, I was too.  At Mom & Dad's house we visited, watched the season finale of Survivor (one of our favorite shows), climbed trees, and looked at the cows across the road.  

Mom always makes her house feel so cozy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

#14 - Weekend With Corey

The older 2 kids went to Winterfest last weekend. It was Jack's first time at Pine Cove. Just like Allie, he loved it. While they were there, Cooper visited my brother's family for 2 nights. He was so excited to have his own "big kid" time away from home.

With all of the kids happily occupied away from home, Corey and I had time together. Alone. For the first time in a long time.  It was so nice.

Friday night, after taking Cooper to Waco, we stopped in beautiful Sundance Square in Ft. Worth for dinner and a little shopping.

The next day, I got almost all of the Christmas gifts wrapped, we ran some errands, and we finished buying almost all of the gifts that we still needed.  It was great!  That night, we had a candlelight dinner beside the fireplace... while we watched the Cowboy game on TV.  That's how we roll.

Sunday morning, we hung out in the hot tub for a bit before we went to gather our babies.  It was a wonderful, revitalizing weekend together. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

#13 - Rainy Days

Written a few days ago~

It's not the best weather for running the never-ending errands that are on the "must be done by Christmas" list, but it is great weather for opening the blinds and watching the gray skies and the falling rain. Listening to the thunder. Feeling the chill of the December air. Sitting on the couch after a busy morning with a book and a dog or two while hearing little boys laugh and play upstairs. It's a great time for taking time to look at my Christmas tree to see which ornaments of the 20-year old collection jump out at me today. For taking a moment to pause. And remember. And feel the emotion that that ornament provokes. It's good weather to slow down amidst the busyness of the season and exhale. And remember what this season is all about. Or is supposed to be all about. Peace.

Monday, December 12, 2011

#12 - The Cutest Little Running Partner

Last week, while I was running & Coop was riding his scooter on our neighborhood trails, he said, "Wait!!! Are we exercising right now?!?" I said, "Yep." And he said, "I have GOT to check my abs when I get home!" This kid has made me laugh almost every day of his little life!

#11 Homeschooling My All-Boy Boys

Our kitchen table. The one that holds the memories of 10 years and thousands of hours of homeschooling my babies. And hundreds of marker, crayon, & pencil marks. And probably a few tear stains. Today, it's just me and my boys. Jackson. Cooper. Me. And as I take them in, I laugh at the treasures that litter our workspace. Their comfort items. Their all-boy items. Legos, K'NEX, King Arthur, and a ever-present basketball.

#10 - Being A Tiny Part Of A Huge Blessing

There was a day, not too many years ago, that I had a bag of groceries show up on my porch when I needed it. I needed it physically, and I needed and spiritually. I literally needed the groceries. And, probably more importantly, I needed to know that I was not alone. That I had not been forgotten by God. That I was being cared for. That the God that promised to take care of my needs was truly was going to do that. I remember how that one bag of groceries impacted me.  I remember Corey and I talking during that time in our lives and saying that if we were ever able to help people the way that we had been helped, we would.  We were resolved to not forget.

Last week, I got to be a tiny part of being the blessing instead of being the one that was getting blessed. (Although, I think we all know that *being* a blessing is more of blessing than anyone can imagine.)  My friend Kristine is a single mom to 3 beautiful teenage daughters.  Last week 2 friends and I delivered what a multitude of people had given to our friend. Some that know her, many who don't. We did this because we are family. We are brothers & sisters in Christ. We care for each other. We love because He first loved us. Anything good in us is because of Love. And, as most of us learned in Sunday School as a child, God is love. He is what compels us to do good. The reason why we would even want to.

This holiday season, I pray that we all look around to see the needs around us. I hope we all can find a way to be used to bless someone in need. Physically, spiritually, or emotionally in need. And I hope that that practice won't end when we are packing away our Christmas decorations in January. I hope that we all - Including me.  Especially me - will be available to be used as the hands of God in a hurting world. Every day. For His glory.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

# 9 - Nutcracker Ballet

The Nutcracker Ballet. A tradition in our family for almost 20 years. So many memories... The first time Corey took me. Dressing up. A surprise Clara ornament - it's still a special moment each year when we hang her on our tree. Taking our little girl to the ballet for the first time. Seeing her eyes light up in wonder during the show and watching her spin in the aisles. She was a ballerina too. She was sure of it. Later, adding one little brother to our tradition and then another. Choosing nutcrackers or ornaments at the souvenir table. Snuggling my little ones as we watched the beautiful dance. We haven't gone every year, but many.

And tonight, part of us went again. This time, just Allie and me. We went with my sister and niece. Emily and Claire. I call her CJ - though those aren't her initials. It's my special name for her with special meaning. Just from me to her. So tonight we 4 went to the ballet - Emmie, CJ, Allie, and me. Girls night out. Just mothers and daughters. All dressed up. It was Claire's first time to see The Nutcracker, and she was so excited she couldn't stand it. Chatty, happy, giggly, entranced. Excited. Sweet. 5 years old. It was so fun to see that kind of wonder again. Both Allie and I enjoyed seeing Claire see the ballet. And spending time with Emmie. And watching the show. And being with each other.


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