Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflections on Christmas...Gratitude.

My sweet baby girl in front of the Christmas tree.

Wow, what a wonderful holiday it has been!  Different in so many ways, we spent our first Christmas with only our small family unit and our first in Haiti.  While much of the holidays is steeped in tradition and the anticipation of as much, everything being different here has helped us decided what we really treasure at Christmas.  We have missed spending time with family and friends in the states, but have also grown so much closer as husband and wife and mother and father to Willow worm and on the way, baby girl #2.  I can say with the utmost confidence that this is the HOTTEST Christmas I have ever experienced, and while listening to  non- stop Christmas music on 88.7 Way FM and 106.9 The Light streaming radio for the last three days, it has never felt weirder to sing along to Let it Snow!  :-)
Daddy and daughter having a brief moment of insanity. :-)

Although the temperature is different, growing in knowledge of the Lord, in understanding of what Jesus’ birth means, and in maturity as a mother and wife,  I am thankful for the lessons we are learning this holiday.  The topics of “what does Christmas mean,” and “why did Christmas begin in the first place” and “do I really want to start the Santa thing with my kids?”  have been whirling around in our missionary circles and on Facebook as of late, and, realizing I no longer get to postpone my thoughts on this, I have been allowing myself to ponder these topics too. What I realize, without any solid conclusions of my own yet, is that majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors holds true here too.  What Christmas is supposed to mean is the greatest gift of all that we were given in the person and sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the gratitude that should overflow in response to that gift.  What it isn’t supposed to mean is “what all can I get off my gift list so that I feel satisfied with life and content to start the new year” or “how in the world am I going to distribute charges across my credit cards to make all of my kids equally happy this year with their loot.”  If this is where our minds are, we have severely missed the meaning of this treasured time of the year.  I have never been more happy to not receive anything ( I didn’t forget all the early present maternity clothes, mom, or the amazing book, Patsy, so THANK YOU!!) for Christmas and to just really spend time with and love on my husband and baby girl.  Making them their favorite snacks and baking with Willow was so much fun, I didn’t notice we had but one present under the tree, and that one for munchkin.  Acts 20:35 How much more {truly} “blessed is it to give than to receive”?  I have been saying this verse to myself and others for years growing up, and while I believed every bit of it, I also never realized how much of my excitement for Christmas lay in “what I was going to get.”  So, today, I am thanking God for lessons being truly sealed to my heart and for growing up this holiday season.  Maybe those lessons are ones you don’t really learn till you hit 30…right? :-)  I decided that was my excuse for it taking so long to sink in…

While learning these gratitude lessons, I was also struck with the reality that we, Matt and I, have been given more love and provision than we could ever begin to deserve.  From parents paying for bills, to parents paying for a constant supply of goods coming our way, to friends and loved ones dropping unexpected “gifts” in our paypal that will sustain us through next year and allow us to have this baby, what in the WORLD is the presence of/lack of material loot under our tree.  It seems ludicrous and makes me ashamed to think I have been expecting that deep inside somewhere for so much of my life.  And while I am learning these lessons, I also realize that the struggle with this is not cut and dry – it does not come with easy answers.  While we have an 18 month old who is satisfied with Tupperware from my kitchen shelf to bang on, and whose eyes shone at the baby doll and stroller she received from “Santa” for Christmas, many of you have teenagers who have true confidence issues related to what they have in comparison to their peers.  For those of you in these situations, ones I have yet to encounter, none of these lessons are easy.  What I do know, though, is if our hearts are drawn to the gift of the Savior, and our children see us modeling that gratitude, we have done our job and He is responsible to see that play out in the lives of our children and their peers as they grow in the Lord.

Whew!  What a journey growing in the Lord has become…
Fully concentrating as she opens her present. :-)

The best picture of Willow I was able to get...she NEVER STOPS MOVING!!

Willow and I (and the bump) at the beach property for a little snorkeling and play time.
On a lighter note, we enjoyed a beautiful morning at the beach yesterday, snorkeling and playing in the sun.

  We were also blessed to have Jude, Yanick, Ricardo, Emily, and Edner for lunch and a quick beach property visit on Christmas Eve day.  We all enjoyed local Haitian cuisine including boiled plantains and whole grilled fish! Previous to the weekend, we were also blessed to be in attendance at one of our staff's wedding.  Ezekiel Henry married the intern of his dreams on December 21st and is all smiles as a married man.  The wedding was beautiful and made for a fun celebration surrounding Christmas time.

Myriame looking beautiful as her dad walks her down the aisle!

 What a wonderful season it has been and we are excited about the year ahead.  We have many teams coming to help us get connected in the community and to start to see the work of the Children's Retreat Center come alive.  Thank  you for your support in 2012 and your ongoing commitment to the work of the Lord and trust in His calling for us in Haiti.  We love you all!! Now...I'm getting off of the computer to ring in the New Year!!!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!!

The Rideouts

Hoping New Year's Eve is more lively than Christmas Eve...