Saturday, December 28, 2013

Seven Days of Christmas: Day 4

I have been a bit slow getting the next of our seven days of Christmas posted, but today while my kids are at a sleepover with their cousins I have taken a moment to add more to this series. 
It's been a fun change to work on publishing these - being so different from my usual posts because of their focus on the every day adventures with my kids (and there are even real pictures!)

Still Giving!

So, as I mentioned in Day 2 (Games and Giving), we made all the cookies only to find I couldn't find the gift bags! So on Day 4, I bought new ones and we started the day off by venturing up and down our street to deliver neighbor gifts the old-fashioned way: no car, in the cold, stopping to talk with anyone who was home. We had some great visits and got to meet neighbors we hadn't before - loved it! I might just do this every holiday!
The second door we knocked on, we were welcomed in to the house of Elise's old Sunday School teacher (not that he's old, just that he isn't her teacher any more :). He has recently retired from managing the BYU Bookstore art department and is a native of Italy. We loved seeing all the art in his home (both his and others'). To the left, Elise is posing under a beautiful replica painting of Mary and the Christ child being serenaded by angels - playing the violin no less! Below is a picture of a holiday decor he made for his wife from a block of wood and an old tree decoration that had bell-ringers hitting bells to play Christmas tunes.

It was VERY impressive! And still so much we could have gazed at and taken in on the shelves and walls of his home. What a fun visit! Before we left, he shared pictures with us of his recent experience being an extra in a few of the LDS Bible videos (they bleached his hair to fit him for the role of being a shepherd in one of the videos).  No, he wasn't trying to look like Santa this season - but he sure does now!

In all, it was a wonderful morning spent getting to know our neighbors better and spreading some Christmas cheer - a great ending to Day 2 . . . two days late. :-)

But the day was just getting started! We still had to get ready for . . .

Books and Blankets

This is one of my favorites of the seven days. The kids make a tent out of blankets and sheets and we give them new books and read them together before they sleep in their "new residence." Before we could make the tent, though, we had to perform a miracle!!  What miracle would that be? Well, I thought it would be going from this:

 To the house looking more like this:

But I was soon to find out that the best miracles are the unexpected ones you don't plan on or ask for.

 Like your youngest daughter throwing a tantrum because she WANTED to be the one to do the dishes.

Or your two youngest children having fun taking turns being the one to wash (four turns 8 minutes each mind you!)

Or that your daughter was upset that she didn't get to do the last dishes (hadn't she had enough??)

Or that taking her picture can settle her down so quickly (my little narcissist) 

But even better were these words from my daughter:

Me: Norah, you have been such an amazing helper today. You passed out neighbor gifts, you cleaned dishes, and now you sure are cooking that chicken well.
Norah: Yeah. That's because I want to be a mom and have kids.
Precious. Gifts mommy's like to hear.

So. This is reality blogging. Yes, our living area went right back to being a disaster after making dinner and a tent, but that brings up one more miracle I've felt a lot this year and I guess I'll make it the thought for this post (and somehow I'll tie it in to Christmas!): 

A messy house doesn't have power over me like it use to. 

I finally came to realize a couple years ago (and it's been growing deeper every passing day) that it's not my job to keep the house clean. The state of the house does not reflect how well I'm doing my job. Because I'm not a housekeeper. I'm a mother (in training!!!!) And being a mother means raising a family in Light and Truth with love-guided agency. At least, that's what I believe.

If chores are killing the love in our home in the Present Moment, my Inner Guide has taught me I need to remember to scrap how I'm going about them until I find a way that brings light (which builds, binds and strengthens relationships) and chases away darkness (which creates cracks and emptiness in relationships). If that way doesn't come at first, I must keep trying something new, make it a matter of prayer, listen for and follow the nudges that come until I find that way.

Because Light is more important than cleanliness.

I should probably explain my lingo. When I say "Light," I'm not talking about sunlight, I'm talking about a spiritual light. I'm talking about a condition of the soul and the environment that grows out of your soul's influence that makes it possible for you and others around you to see and feel Truth and direction from the spirit (Truth being eternal Truths that don't change, not temporary "trues" that are often used to darken our soul - infinite thanks to my mentor for highlighting this important distinction).

I believe that just as sunlight or artificial light helps me see things in the physical world, Light (with a capital "L" :-) helps me see Truth in the spiritual world. You could say, then, that this kind of Light expands our understanding - gets us outside of our temporal world boxes (follow that link for a picture of what I'm thinking of when I say that). A spiritual state of darkness is a time or moment when I feel clouded, contentious, lazy, boxed in, or when I might feel the need to justify my actions, when I can't think clearly or learn easily, when I am fearful, worried, anxious, or seeking addictive forms of relief.

So! Putting it all together!

 If a messy house is the result of a way to create things full of LIGHT and TRUTH by:
searching for them in books, 
sketching them with paper,
 feeding the search for them with food, 
playing in that stream of Light with string,
 and glue,
 and clay,
 and LEGOS,
 and blocks,
 and scissors,
 and pens,
 and pencils,
 and instruments,
 and music,
 and sheets,
 and wooden stools ETC!!!

... then I'll take the mess as PROOF of doing my job. And if the mess needs to be cleaned before we can go on, or in order to not make visitors feel unwelcome, in order to keep an environment of Light - then that is purpose and motivation to clean! TOGETHER. And there is nothing wrong with a daily habit of this group effort! But I'm doing better at remembering to keep the purpose in place.

It took a miracle to get me here - angels and inspiration and blood sweat and tears. I'm still growing in my understanding of it. Still polishing the craft. But it's becoming one of the greatest gifts of understanding God has given me in the recent past.

And now I share the "taste" of it with you this Christmas season!
There. I tied it in to the holiday. :-)

Reading our new books together before bed.