That is what my mother-in-law is calling this Christmas. And truly it was. This year, Charles and I surprised the kids (and his sister) with an early Christmas present - a trip to California to spend the holidays with Anna and her family.
The planning had begun four weeks prior to Christmas. We booked our flights. We researched car rentals. We filled Charles' parents and Brian in on the details of our little plan. All was set. And then, the hard part started.....keeping the secret from both our kids and Anna. :)
Oh the excitement as we waited with anticipation!!!! As the month progressed, I had to giggle to myself as our kids talked about Christmas and what gifts they were hoping for. Their sight was so limited, as they could not even imagine anything better than a new Lego set. A couple days before we unveiled our big surprise, I hinted to my four littles that this Christmas was going to be pretty awesome.
A Lego set!
Ice cream all day long!!
These were a few of their guesses. :)
I couldn't help but to think that it's the same with God. He, in His infinite wisdom, sees the whole picture. We only see in part. It's hard for us to comprehend the things of God and all that He has planned because His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. They are always higher, always better. We set our sights, like my kiddos, on menial things of this world. Everyday that I settle for less of Him, I invite more worry, bitterness, discontent, and pride into my life. He has a plan, and it requires me to DAILY trust in Him and His ability to SEE.
Finally, after a month that had inched along, the moment came. Charles came home early from work, and we gathered our little ones around. It was time!! The next several minutes consisted of clues that led them around the house on a scavenger hunt. Oh the cheers when that final present was uncovered!!! I'm surprised Anna didn't hear the screaming all the way to California. ;)
But the surprise wasn't over. Oh no, it had just begun!! An hour later, we were on our way to catch a flight from Philly to San Fran. Upon arriving in San Francisco, we rented a car and began the three-hour trek to their home. Despite the many trains, planes, and automobiles we had to endure until reaching our destination at 4:00 IN THE MORNING, our kids did so awesome!! What a blessing! I think they were just as excited to surprise their cousins as we were. After a quick couple-hours of sleep in the Peterson RV, we were refreshed and ready to go again. With four kids in tow, we walked across the yard to their front door and KNOCKED!!
"Merry Christmas!" we shouted as Anna peered out the front door, still in her jammies. Mission accomplished. :)
Isn't God AMAZING?? I mean, really, if you know the history of our family, and the year we have had, then you understand the awesomeness of this Christmas. Just like my kids, my sight had been limited. Had you asked me over the summer while my hubby was unemployed what our holiday plans were, I would have laughed at the idea that we would have been able to go, let alone FLY, our entire family to California. Had you gone back even six months prior, when Charles' sister lay in a hospital bed for the first few weeks of 2012 fighting for her life, the thought of planning anything other than a funeral, seemed pretty far off. Yet God, in his infinite wisdom knew better. He knew the end of the story before it ever even began. Long before our eyes could see. He knew the joy would be that much more complete having first been through the struggle.
So, as I giggled at my kids, knowing that I knew a secret that they would be so excited about, I also couldn't help but to laugh at my own foolishness and lack of trust that God too, knows secrets that I cannot even begin to imagine or comprehend. He is so good. So worthy of all praise.
I won't bore you with all the details of our Christmas extravaganza. It was awesome. Epic, even. It was a celebration of life and love and family. But mostly, it was a celebration of our God and His awesomeness.
Our God who heals.
Who is faithful.
Thank you to everyone who followed our story and prayed for our family this year. We are eternally grateful. Anna is doing well. Today marks exactly ONE YEAR from the day Micah was born and her fight for life began. To say that it has been easy, would trivialize the suffering that she has had to endure. It certainly has been a difficult year, but every day she is getting stronger. And, most importantly, SHE IS HERE TO TELL HER STORY!!! To read her story from the beginning you may go here, or check out this link of Anna sharing her own story in her own words.
On the home front, Charles' new job is going well also. He has been very busy with work this month, and our family has been well-provided for. So many details about his new job have left us in awe of our God who knows best. Our adoption is still under-way as we wait to be matched with our forever-child. We have been really blessed despite hardships.
Truth be told though, I am happy to see 2012 off. Between the loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, and family members who have struggled, it wasn't our greatest of years. ;) Yet, I wouldn't trade it for anything. The sorrow and uncertainty has made the miraculous and providential hand of God that much sweeter. It has taught me truths about God that I may have missed out on otherwise. It has taught me about His overwhelming faithfulness. His perfect timing. His grace.
So as 2012 makes it's exit, and the New Year looms around the corner, I leave you with some memories of OUR monumental Christmas.
I believe the word was epic. :)
|Giant Sequoia Trees in Yosemite!!!|
|Sophie and Meghan|
|Spending the day in Yosemite National Park, CA|
|Me and my little love....|
|Sophia in front of Half Dome|
|The view from here......|
|The kids had fun playing on the frozen creek bed. :)|
|The gang in front of the roots of a fallen Giant Sequoia tree.|
|My love <3|
|Giant Sequoia trees|
|The Peterson clan....|
|My girls :)|
|Charles and I in Yosemite.|
|The kiddos...Christmas Eve|
|Jackson celebrating his birthday in California!!!|
|The hospital where Anna spent the first few weeks of 2012 sent Christmas presents this year for all the kids.|
|Nightly Advent readings with Uncle Brian.|
|Jackson's pollyanna gift to Charles......Oh! The rivalry was in full effect this week!!!|
|My sweet Kaya|
|My four littles|
|Baby Micah celebrating his first Christmas!|
|Spending the day in San Fran before heading home.|
|Watching the Sea Lions off of Pier 39 in San Fran.|
|Merry Christmas and Happy New Years from the Gregoires in California!!!|
Happy New Years from our family to yours!!! Thanks for being a part of our 2012!