After arriving back from Dubai our lives swung back into full force! Immediately we had to unpack, clean the house, and prepare for the youth Christmas party at our apartment. We had a blast playing Christmas trivia, enjoyed a gift exchange (where you steal the presents), and ingested more than enough sugar.
After the boys left the party, the girls stayed for a sleepover!! We had a spa night with a foot massage machine (the kind that bubbles and stuff), nail polish, face masks, and cucumber eye pads. Sitora even got her feet massaged, she always fits right in with the girls :) Then we watched Little Women and I curled all the girls' hair. Can you guess how late I stayed up? You'll never guess. I surprised myself actually. I made it until 6:00am! EEEK! A miracle, right? I am no longer a teenager anymore. Shocking, I know. The latest I've stayed up in a loooong time was 3:00am, so 6:00am was definitely my all-time record (at least for my adult life thus far) ;)
I slept for 3 hours, then was awakened by my toddler Christmas Eve morning. Toddlers don't sleep in, if you didn't know. Even if they go to bed at 11:00pm. They still wake up at the same time in the morning. It's glorious.
Danny and I then proceeded to prepare for the Christmas Eve service. Due to my bad cough, I would no longer be leading the vocals for the music, but rather would be only playing piano. In all actuality, this was a secret blessing in disguise. Do any of you play piano? Have any of you played Christmas carols on piano? Not just the easy ones, but the hard ones? You know, the kind where you change chords every single word of the song? My fingers are all over the place and I barely have time to look up and read the music. Anyways, I was elated that I was only playing piano. The service was quaint and simple and so lovely. The room was lit only by candlelight and the room was dark and mysterious. I loved it.
We were blessed with three packages from America this Christmas! We are so thankful for our family who loves us dearly and put in the time and money to send us gifts across the ocean. Sitora loved her presents! Even to this day she is still asking to "open more presents?" I keep telling her there are no more presents, but truth be told there ARE more presents because her birthday is coming up! In all honestly, I try to be careful with how many toys she has anyways, so it really is a blessing that others give us gifts. She really doesn't have that much compared to most. I try to go through her toys periodically and give away the ones she is ignoring to my local friends who are in need. I figure if we get something, we should give something away in return! Besides, our tiny apartment can't hold that much anyways. I like living simply. Just give me a kiss under the mistletoe and call me happy!
Thinking back on this Christmas season, I am so incredibly thankful we celebrated Advent as a family! For weeks before Christmas we were teaching Sitora all about scripture and Father's son. We colored pictures, did crafts, played with the manger scene, sang songs, and read books all about the true meaning of Christmas. We never once told her about getting presents until we gave them to her. She still talks about the manger scene and begs to play with it every day. I can't wait for next year when she will be able to understand the concepts in a deeper way. I am going to try a Jesse Tree next year after having a few friends recommend it.
I pray you all had a wonderful Christmas and that you have a Happy New Year! May you continue growing closer to Father and never growing complacent in your relationship with Him. He never leaves us, we are the wandering sheep and He is the faithful Shepherd always bringing us back home.