The day dawns bright, early after a long, busy weekend.
It feels heavy, like it's a burden to be awake.
The house is still. Too still.
Lots of noise from the girls' room; lots of noise from the construction workers next door.
The creak of the fans, the buzz of electricity, the hum of machines; lights off..........again.
I fumble for glasses, push messy hair out of my eyes.
I'm confronted with piles of books.
Stacks towering high all over my room.
A blessing that feels like a burden.
I head to the kiddos' room to get diapers changed, play clothes on.
More blessings.....that don't feel like it right now.
Clothes that are a bit big for later on that have to be put away. Gotta get the ladder for that.
New-to-us cloth diapers, the fancy kind that don't require pins and rubber pants, that should be called It-Takes-A-Genius instead of Bum Genius, because I surely can't figure out which snaps to use when and which inserts go where.
I thought we started them early enough this year, but obviously not.
It's the 22nd day of December and I'm running between one working at the porch table and one working in the front room floor.
Help cut here, help sew there, try to keep three-year old out of trouble, check on baby who is supposed to be sleeping and is now screaming.
Then I hear the tone in the oldest's voice........."Mom......"
Sounds like a catastrophe.
Three-year old has managed to open up a brand-new tube of black paint and paint herself and her clothes and the table with no one noticing.
Don't ask me how.
Bath for third-born, get water for number four, help second sew on a button, encourage oldest to work a little faster.
Realize everybody is cranky, because it is way past lunch time.
Scrounge for lunch.
Remind myself why we teach our children to make gifts for each other.
Search for the blessing in all this chaos.
Try to think on truth; struggle to see it.
Round and round the clock hands are whirling now.
Messes piled up all over kitchen, new refrigerator taking up the middle of the room.
A blessing that feels like a heavy burden.
Friends are coming for supper tonight. Friends we haven't seen in too long.
I don't want that to feel like a burden, too, but it can.
In all the making for others, and doing for others, and preparing for others this Christmas season can stop feeling like a blessing and start to push down like a heavy burden.
Cut! Paste! Roll! Bake! Paint! Tape! Guide! Advise! Correct!
Order after order comes rolling off my tongue.
List after list scrolling through my mind.
"Don't touch that!"
"Stop pouring water all over the floor!"
"Put the paints down!"
"Can't you play nicely with your baby sister for one minute?!?'
The shouts become louder, anger growing toward these, my blessings.
Blessings that can feel like burdens.
So I stop.
I stop the shouting and the fussing and the annoyance spewing out of me.
I clamp closed this mouth that loves to change blessings into curses.
I light the candles that remind us that the Light of the World is coming.
I set food on the table, something to feed our empty bellies.
I set the Word on the table, something to replace the harsh words on our too-full tongues.
I set a story on the table, something to cheer our lagging spirits.
We sit together.
And we let Mary's story encourage our hearts.
We make room for Jesus.
The whirling slows to a calm, filling us with gratefulness for the greatest blessing ever given.
* On Friday, God blessed us with a van-load full of things from some missionaries leaving the field.
Between that and the Christmas party for our Children's Bible Club on Saturday, our Children's Sunday School Christmas party on Sunday, Christmas gifts to be finished, and friends coming over tonight, I was struggling to see the blessings. So thankful for a God who never gives up on me!