It's a busy time of year for most families, and we ran into it from a fairly itinerant schedule over the autumn. But amidst some tiredness, and several weeks of back-to-back viral illnesses, there have been some great encouragements!
1) Children celebrating the coming Christ! Last year we enjoyed preparing for Christmas and the boys learned songs and verses, but somehow they didn't really seem to 'get it' (the eldest was only 4). This year there has been a real shift in understanding, and it has been wonderful to see. Our firstborn never saw a Christmas, and I used to watch other families enjoying noise, mess, craft, songs, and general childlike enthusiasm with a wistful longing; yesterday, as a friend visited with her firstborn baby, I realised we had become that chaotic (but hopefully fun!) family. Having known sorrow and loss somehow makes each moment seem even more precious.
2) Alongside the excitement, seeing how the boys have a grounding in what Christmas really means. This brings me great encouragement because there are so many conflicting messages from the world around us, and even as we try to avoid exposure to the more blatent of these, there are constant bombardments (the person on the bus who asks them, 'Have you written to Santa yet?', or 'Have you been a good boy this year, so Santa brings your presents?', or 'What are you going to get for Christmas?'; billboard advertisements; conversations of friends and their children.....) It encourages me that it is possible to instill a Biblical worldview even in today's world.
3) Friendships - I particularly love the way Christians from all over the world are our brothers and sisters. We have recently had two families (each with three similarly aged children to ours) move to our city from different cultures, and yet we immediately can share rich fellowship. I often think of the descriptions of heaven in the Book of Revelation - that God's people will come from 'every tribe and tongue and people and nation' (Revelation 5:9); one day we will be united with our true family from all around the world and the rejoicing will be incredible!
4) Health. For these past three or four weeks we have all been generally unwell. Nothing serious, but enough to need time at home to rest and the youngest has lost a bit of strength. As parents, we have had to try and find enough rest ourselves in between our jobs and looking after sick children. So basically everything non-essential has fallen by the wayside. But now we are on the mend, and as I recover my energy and enthusiasm, it makes me thankful that in general our family does enjoy good health. It makes me appreciate how difficult things must be for parents with chronic, debilitating illnesses, or for parents who are nursing chronically ill children.
5) The way children seem to learn in a step-wise manner. It probably is not truly that way, but sometimes, after weeks of working on something or trying to explain something, the penny suddenly drops and they embrace the concept. This happened with my older five year old about six months ago regarding drawing detailed pictures of things. It has happened this week with my younger five year old regarding writing - he suddenly sees the value of it, and there have been several times I have found him sitting at the table doing extra writing just for fun. It is a reminder that we need to persevere and continue consistently even when there aren't obvious immediate results.
I know this time of year can almost become too busy. I pray that you and your family are able to focus on those things that really matter, that Christ remains at the centre of your Christmas celebrations and that you are able to enjoy precious time with loved ones.
- I am a Christian mother of five, and our highest goal as a family is to serve God in every aspect of our lives. Jesus promised His disciples 'life in all its abundance' (John 10:10) - that has been our story, a rich life, not devoid of challenges, but certainly abundant. Previously writing at www.homeeducationnovice.blogspot.com, we have come to realise that education is just one area where our faith shapes our choices and direction in life. This blog seeks to share our adventure.