Sunday, December 18

:: Light from the Dark ::

Have you seen the pre-assembled gingerbread houses at Publix? They have put the joy back into decorating gingerbread houses in our family. The frustration of (unsuccessfully) gluing the walls and roof together are a thing of the past.
All that's left to do is decorate until their hearts content.
Decorate and eat the icing straight from the bag, that is.
Our little kitten Parrish got last year for Christmas is not so little anymore. He is a hauss. And it's a good thing because Parrish routinely chases him around the house to "wrestle" and he and Kaden even managed to pin him down long enough to grace him with a beautiful Santa Claus hat last week. (You can tell he was thrilled)
My friend Katie gave me her Rachel Ray magazine with this yummy peppermint patty cookie recipe inside. Since I've only burned one out of about ten things I've baked recently I decided to give it a try in hopes that my baking skills have improved over years past. After having one of these cookies, even Cannon had to admit I've gotten better.

If you have a sweet tooth around the holidays, check out the recipe here.

Last night we had my sister Caroline and her boyfriend Nate, my brother Hunter (who is home from basic training for the holidays), my grandparents Glorio & E, and my mom Tappy over for an early Christmas dinner and gift exchange since we will be celebrating Christmas out of town this year.
After a yummy dinner there was lots and lots of wrapping paper tearing....
And high fiving "thanks!"

Friday we head to Virginia for Christmas. We decided that celebrating Christmas where there are lots of activities to keep our minds off of Livy's absence was just what we needed this year. We hope that Parrish having his cousins to pal around with on Christmas will lessen the sadness of missing his Sissy. He often still asks me why other people get to "keep" their sisters and tells me he wants another sister. It's just heart-wrenching to think of him opening presents alone on Christmas morning again with only adults to keep him company. Our Olivia's absence is a void in our hearts all of the time, but is even more keenly felt at the holidays and on special occassions.

And that same void in my heart has me wrestling with the usual barage of questions, thoughts, and heartaches. I've been reading "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp, who herself watched her mother loose a child in a horrific way, and in her book about living a thankful and praise-filled life (even in the darkness) she writes, "Darkness transfigures into light, bad transfigures into good, grief transfigures into grace, empty transfigures into full. God wastes nothing but "makes everything work out according to his plan" Ephesians 1:11

Even though I don't always "feel" this way, that does not mean that it is not real. It is a promise that God made. So although I sometimes don't feel like believing that is true, I can intellectually know that it is - that we as mere humans have no way of knowing the intricate inner workings of his perfect plan and what hardships, grief, and disappointments that may entail on our parts.

Ann Voskamp goes on to point out that so many things filled with light and life that have been born of the darkness, most namely the eternal life born to us from the darkness of the horrific events at the cross. This rebirth gives me hope that even this dark hour of our lives can make way for even greater blessings.

Because God is always good, even when my circumstances aren't. Even (and maybe especially) in the valley - His grace and mercy are never ending.

"Everything I hoped for from the Lord is lost! The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfullness, his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, "The Lord is my inheritence, therefore I will hope in him." Lamentations 3:18-24

"Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow." Lamentations 3:32-33

This Christmas I am looking to the darkness of the cross and the light of the resurrection and remembering the lengths to which God would go to save us from this dark world. I am remembering Mary's trusting spirit as she submitted willingly and joyfully to God's plan (which had to terrify her). I am praying for that same trust in God's plan for our lives.

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