We Are That Family

Every year I think, this is the year we won’t be “that family” at the Christmas Eve Service.  This year the little old ladies will not say, “bless your heart.”  This year we will have control of our bodies and mouths and every year I’m wrong.  

Let us recap.  Three years ago Christopher was innocently playing on the floor at my feet in a sweet little country church filled with no more than 40 people in my parents hometown when I suddenly looked down and he wasn’t there.  He had crawled 2 pew rows back and was entertaining everyone behind us.  I, of course, was sitting in the middle of our pew and climbed over all the people to retrieve my little man. 

Last year, we went up for the children’s moment at the same church.  About half way through they handed out gift bags to the kids.  Benjamin grabbed his and ran, literally, like he had stolen it and was attempting to avoid arrest.  Then he stopped mid aisle and ran back put his free hand in the air, faced the cross hanging at the front and yelled, “Thank you Jesus!” And then took off running again.  

This year, I mean the boys are four years old, surely this year will be our year.  As I look around the packed auditorium I think, you poor mamas of crazies.  It’s okay.  I have been there.  I will not laugh when your toddler burps or throws a fit.   I have been that mom with that child.  I begin to smile as I remember all our crazy Christmas Eve service moments.     About five minutes into the sermon in a quiet moment while our pastor is talking about Jesus’ humanity he says, “I hate to ruin Away in a Manger, but come on, no crying he makes?  Has anyone seen a baby that doesn’t cry?”  Rhetorical questions are a lost cause with preschoolers, so my sweet Benjamin says in his loudest shouting voice, “Yyyeeeeeeeessssssss!”  I swear his yes lasted 25 seconds.  And again, we were “that family” at the Christmas Eve Service.  The difference in this Christmas Eve and the previous 2 is we were not in a small country church.  No, we were in a packed auditorium with 500 of our closest friends, who errupted in laughter.  

You are welcome all you other moms who were afraid it would be your kid.  The Gabbards saved the day again. I tell you all of this to say this.  The manger probably wasn’t perfect.  I mean, it was a barn.  There may have been crying and dirty diapers and postpartum emotional rollercoasters.  There may have been uncomfortable moments but it all worked out okay.  Jesus made it into the world.  He made it!  And because He made it, we get to make it too.  God bless you this Christmas!  And may all of you have a Benjamin at your Christmas Eve service to remind you that it isn’t about being perfect it’s about being present.  
Merry Christmas!

Sara

Scary Rainbows

Today, as I sit on my back deck while my children play outside, I overhear them telling “scary stories.”  They are sitting in a circle in hula hoops taking turns telling the same story over and over again while the other two gasp in “terror.” 

image

It goes a little something like this:

Then there was a big storm, and another big storm and they were in a tent and they couldn’t get out and then when they did, they saw a rainbow.

After I got over the shock of them voluntarily taking turns, I thought, wow we have read way too much Noah’s Ark.  My lasting thought however, was pure bliss that the scariest thing they can reference is a thunderstorm.  Sweet innocence.  So thankful that we have been able to protect them from the truly scary stuff so far.  They know nothing of true hunger, abandonment, abuse or even great sadness.  We haven’t even lost a pet during their short years.  They know Sesame Street, trips to the park, afternoon snacks and bedtime stories.  They cry tears of exhaustion after a long day at the spray park and tears of frustration over learning new skills.  Happy tears for toddlers.

As they grow into this world our challenge will be to find ways to include them in service to those who haven’t been so lucky.

James 1:27 (NIV)

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.