Greetings friends and family!
We hope this Christmas season brings you good tidings of great joy.
Have you been feeling the hustle and bustle of this season?
We sure have. It’s been a little something like…
Five hours of wrapping
Four Christmas programs
Three Christmas parties
Two piano recital players
…and a sparrow in a Christmas tree…
Yes, it’s true. After two years of not being able to get a real Christmas tree for various reasons, this year…we did it! This may seem like no big deal to some. But to us, it’s a sign of triumph. What we couldn’t do before, we’ve now been able to do. A little piece of normalcy.
There’s something about cutting down your own tree that our whole family just loves.
Breathing in all the fresh pine-scented air…walking around between the rows of the trees. Debating about whether this is “the keeper”.
Then once the perfect tree is found, cutting it down and bringing it back to the barn to be shaken and wrapped while we sip hot cider and look at the gift shop items. This may be one of my favorite Christmas traditions.
But to be perfectly honest, the fun stops there. I really don’t enjoy having a real tree in the house. The constantly falling pine needles, being all needy and demanding to be watered, getting poked stringing lights, dragging it out of the house once it’s dry…every year I ask myself, “Why do we do this?” and I have to remind myself, “Oh yes, the memories…that’s why”.
And indeed, great memories were made. We had a beautiful day. It was the girls that actually spotted our tree this year. I’m not sure if they were making up for lost time…but this years was a little bigger than probably necessary…in fact the workers had a hard time stuffing it through the tree baler.
That should have been our first clue.
Then some young workers helped throw the tree on top of our vehicle chuckled and said, “You got a big one!”
That should have been our second clue.
But ya know, sometimes it’s hard to judge when standing out in the open field just how big the tree is…until it falls over in your front room because its too wide and unstable for the tree stand…
Yup. Thankfully we didn’t have any traumatic experiences of children getting smothered by the tree. But at a time where we all happened to step back mid ornament hanging–like slow motion, this beast slowly just collapsed to the floor. And we all just froze…and stood there…listening to the water spill out of the tree stand.
So I did the only logical thing I could think of and snapped a picture. Making memories, right?
We figured out pretty quick this was likely to happen again…so, now…what do we do? We just paid for a tree and I was ready to throw it out on the curb. One daughter was in tears, I was trying to keep everyone calm and check for broken ornaments, and Brad was sucking up dirty water out of our carpet.
Then we had an idea.
Brad went to the garage and did the only logical thing he could think to do. He got our old hand-me-down metal tree stand…and screwed it to our deck.
The Christmas tree moved outside.
And guess what…we have been having SO MUCH FUN with it!
Our Plan B turned out to be one of the best moments this Christmas season. We decided to take our fallen pine needles, and feed the birds.
The girls got to work making cranberry garland and birdseed ornaments. It didn’t take long for the birds to find our tree. It has made such a fun activity for us to look out our back door and observe all the different birds that now frequent our backyard. The girls also felt a sense of accomplishment creating a home and providing food for the birds this winter.
We’ve seen many Cardinals, Blue Jays, two different types of Woodpeckers, Sparrows, Juncos, and other small birds that we haven’t identified. (We’re pretty new to this bird watching game.)
And the best part? I don’t have to vacuum up any pine needles this Christmas!
I think the Holwerda family just created a new Christmas tradition, and it seems like a win-win. A win not only for us, but the birds and one happy little squirrel too!
It was a reminder that just because things don’t go as planned, doesn’t mean there isn’t something better around the corner. Something that we otherwise wouldn’t have experienced if things “went as planned”.
Now I know this is kind of a silly example, but we’ve been learning that sometimes God has a bigger and better plan that we never could have (or would have) dreamt up. Our plan for our life might be good…but His plan is great.
Now, His plan may also come with many twists and turns, highs and lows, pains and sorrow…but it’ll also be abundantly more than we could ever imagine. We’ve experienced all of the above.
Ephesians 3:20 comes to mind. “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen”
What’s God’s will for your life? Have you asked Him? Has He answered? Did you follow? These can be tough questions to navigate through…I think we are all on a learning curve through this journey we call life, but I challenge you to seek.
Keep praying and keep asking questions. Read your Bible, and then read it again. And when God answers…follow…His plan is better than yours. (Even if it doesn’t make sense…more than likely it won’t.)
As I reflect back to last Christmas, I remember feeling numb, tired, and just beat up from difficult battles. You can catch last year’s post here.
If you’re sitting in that spot this Christmas, I’m so sorry. I don’t think I have the right words to say that will bring much comfort. But trust that this hard season you’re in won’t last forever. Use it as an opportunity to slow down and give it all to the Lord. Shut off the noise and focus on Him. Focus on the baby in the manger and the ultimate gift He gave us.
He understands and He is with you. Even in the dark valley you might be sitting in. He promises to never leave you nor forsake you. If that’s all you can cling to at this moment, then cling to that. Ask God to give you peace and joy through this Christmas season. I pray that He does, and your relationship with Him soars to a new level.
We hope your Christmas is filled with many great memories as we remember the true meaning–our Savior being sent down to live among us and give the ultimate gift–everlasting life.
Merrily being strong and courageous,