Arms Wide Open

Almost every year I would remark “I can’t believe it’s already Christmas” or “Christmas really snuck up on me this year,” as we walked into church for Christmas Eve service. I would find myself doing all my Christmas shopping on December 23rd, rushing around to try and get it all together before the 25th arrived. There was always lots of rushing around, stress, crowds, and a feeling that somehow, yet again, I let the Christmas season get away from me.
This year has just been so so different. And I LOVE it. I have definitely been operating at a slower, more mindful pace. I’ve actually taken the time to think and reflect on the Advent season. I linger in front of our Christmas tree admiring the beauty. I got all of my shopping (and wrapping!) done early. Christmas cards were mailed weeks ago. David and I have been going through an Advent devotional together. I’ve done some holiday baking (yummm!) and just genuinely enjoying and relishing this special time of year. And doing it all at a conscious, deliberately slow, easy-going pace (and with Christmas music playing in the background, of course). 
Last year at this time, my life was so chaotic with my 2nd job that I didn’t even have time to buy my own husband’s Christmas gift. My gracious in-laws ran out to buy (and wrap!) it for me and tuck it under the tree before Christmas morning arrived. Something about that really affected me. I couldn’t believe I had allowed the Christmas season, and my life, to become to hectic and crazy that I didn’t even have time to buy my husband a gift. That’s the definition of not cool
And it was almost immediately after that Christmas Day that I decided something had to change. The 2nd job had to be scaled back, even though that was what was paying for our fertility treatments. Life needed to slow down a bit, even if that meant things would be harder financially. I didn’t want to spend another Christmas season going 90mph in a dizzying blur of sugar, wrapping paper, stress and regret. 
I guess last year makes me even more grateful for this Advent season. It’s truly been a blessing and I’m so grateful I got the chance to enjoy it in so many different ways. 
We went snowshoeing last weekend. No real objective, just a lovely walk through the winter woods, hand in hand. Despite 40mph winds, we had a really fun and relaxing time out in God’s creation.
We went to a fun lighting event at the Botanical Gardens in Denver with some friends. They gave us these crazy 3D glasses which made all the lights pop out and take fun shapes like snowflakes. Such a fun night!

 We took a stroll through town, which has some of the most beautiful Christmas lights. I love Christmas time when all the stores put up Christmas displays in the front window. We found our perfect Christmas ornament this year. Each year we buy an ornament that represents the biggest event that happened to us that year. This year it was obvious, a Fort Collins ornament to represent David’s amazing new job, and one of the biggest miracles we’ve ever experienced.

 I had a fun photo shoot in Keystone with a couple from Chicago that came to Colorado at Christmas time to celebrate their engagement. Spending the afternoon with them gave me a renewed appreciation for the beauty we have here and the fact that people come from all over the country to spend just a week in a place I get to live every day. Lucky me! The mountains were covered in a fresh blanket of snow, so beautiful.

With all the office Christmas parties lately, it’s made me keenly aware that being self-employed…I’m missing out! So David and I decided that we needed a Christmas party thrown for us on behalf on my photography business. I’ve been in business for 6 years and I’ve never thrown myself a Christmas party, so we decided 2013 was a good year to start. I have to say, it was one of the best Christmas parties I’ve ever been to! The entire staff came (all 2 of us!), we went to a fancy dinner, drank good wine, saw a pretty terrible small town rendition of The Nutcracker, and walked around admiring all the Christmas lights. David really liked the fact that it was ok to kiss the boss at the Christmas party haha! 😉
And now, with today being Christmas Eve, I can confidently say that Christmas did not sneak up on me this year. I’ve been awaiting it with an expectant heart and my arms wide open. Thank you Jesus.
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
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4 thoughts on “Arms Wide Open

  1. such a beautifully written post. I loved the pictures as well. Your post reminded me of a something I heard on the radio this week. The person said that if you are too busy to enjoy the important things in life (quiet time with the lord, church, fun evenings with family/friends,etc) then there is something on your plate that is not of God's will because it is never His will for us to miss out on these things. It made me rethink some things on my plate. Merry Christmas to you!!

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