On the way home from Sparta for Thanksgiving, we started seeing Christmas lights outside homes and started talking about Christmas. When we got home from our trip, Lydia rushed into the house and was on the verge of getting upset when she saw that we didn’t have a tree in our house yet! Although, she had to wait another week or so, we are in full Christmas mode at our house this year. The girls have been in awe with everything about Christmas. On December 1st, we started a Christmas Countdown/Advent Activity book. Each day they look forward to taking a link off our “chain” and learning more about Christmas. The girls LOVE anything to do with babies and birthdays, so they are all about “baby Jesus” and celebrating his birthday. I have to watch them when we go places because if they see a nativity set, they will pick up baby Jesus (even porcelain/breakable ones) and start rocking Him or covering Him with a blanket. We have had some fun days/evenings dancing and singing to Christmas songs. I am so blessed that we have little girls that share in mommy’s love for Christmas music and decorating! Decorating the tree was really a highlight for them so far. They had so much fun putting most of our ornaments in a small radius at the bottom of our tree and helping Daddy put the start on the top. Just tonight, we were in the living room and I saw Nora look over and just smile at the tree. It was priceless! They have already received a couple ornaments and they can tell you who gave them the ornaments. We put up a small tree in their room as well and they tell everyone they see about our two Christmas trees. During nightly prayers, they have started to thank God for baby Jesus. It puts a smile in our hearts and we pray someday soon they will understand the full Gospel and how significant Jesus, God Himself, being born a baby was.
Brett and I learning how very observant the girls are. I could go on and on with examples of the things they notice and recall. Just this week, I stopped at a gas station with the girls. We had been there once before about a month ago. We were making one of our frequent bathroom stops (we usually have to make two to three stops for a trip to St. Louis) and as we were walking out of the bathroom Lydia pointed to a shelf area and said “no wagon.” The last time we were there, she had seen a little cart in that spot and this time it was missing. I was amazed. Also, she remembers people she briefly meets, details about EVERYthing we do. Just tonight, we were watching a show the girls hadn’t seen for almost two months and Nora said “kitty coming” and 30 seconds later…a kitty appeared in the show.
We had our second post-placement visit and report yesterday. The entire report including pictures that we supplied, will be sent back to the guardian ship offices in Kaliningrad, Russia. Brett and I hope that their orphanages get to see the report and pictures as well. We want them to see just how well the girls are doing. The first report we did was just 5 days after we had returned home. I look back at that time and think “how did we do that?” As I worked on the reports this week, it was so wonderful to reflect on all the progress the girls are making. It is hard to describe what has transpired in our lives since we got the call March 19th. It has not been magical, glamorous, peechy-keen or easy by any means…but we feel so privileged to be Lydia and Nora’s parents. We are so thankful that God grew our family through adoption. We feel so blessed to have experienced the transformation in our girls from orphans to daughters. We are so humbled by our shortcomings as parents and sons/daughters of the Most High King. Our pastor talked about the Spirit of Christmas this morning and how it comes down to service and being a servant like Jesus. Everyday, I am learning just how deep selfishness is rooted in my heart. I am thankful that God is using parenthood to work on my heart. Also, I feel more aware than ever about the need to model service to our daughters and be an example of putting others before myself.
Over the next couple of weeks, I hope we can continue to enjoy the Christmas season and share family traditions with the girls. I look forward to seeing their faces as they experience Christmas morning. We are thankful for the blessings of our family and friends and look forward to seeing many over the holidays, but I hope in the midst of the busyness we can also keep the true Spirit of Christmas.