My life has been a journey full of twists & turns, highs & lows. Honestly, I'm not sure I could really define where I'm headed. But one thing I'm learning, the journey isn't all about the final destination but more about how we travel. And fulfillment is found in all that we learn & experience as we journey, not just getting to the end of it. I can't even imagine making mine without Christ before me, behind me, and beside me...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Beautiful Chaos...

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. 
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. - Psalm 51:10-12

There's so much to process over the last few weeks and so much I'd like to write about so I remember but I have another important pressing project and knowing how "way leads on to way," I probably won't get back to it.  But tonight, tI need to put down what's on my heart to get through the sadness of goodbyes so I can hold on to the hope for hellos to come...

I saw Zachary off at the airport this evening--on his way back to his base in California. Elias left to go back to Hawaii the day after Christmas. Andy and Megan (his girlfriend) went home Monday. Brittany, Mikey, and Kaci have long since gone back to their work and normal lives, though not so far away... Zachary and I had dinner last night with some other friends but I just had to see him off today for some reason. I just needed to hug him once more I guess. He's my "baby"--my "almost 21 years old" baby. With three Marines, another son at Texas Tech, and a daughter whose heart pines for California, I've had to say goodbye to my kids far too often. It seems all so out of order that we raise our kids just so we can let them go...again and again and again. 

This Christmas season, Zachary was the last goodbye--the last one to "go home." So tonight, I'm so very blessed but I'm also sad that my own "Christmas miracle" is over. It's not like they've been at my house or with me 24/7 for the last few weeks. Our time together has been limited because of the demands on their time and so many people to see. But the time we have had has been so especially precious to me this year and tonight, it suddenly seems so serenely but sadly quiet knowing it will be quite a while before my home is that alive again. Even in the bittersweetness of the stillness, I am overwhelmed with love for each one of my kids and with the way that each one of them uniquely loves me.

Over the past several weeks, I've met the boys at the airport, went to the Christmas Philharmonic concert with Mikey, enjoyed dinners and Hastings with Elias, Mikey, and entourage, went Christmas shopping with Brittany, random calls and conversations with all of them, literally drove through a blizzard with Elias, Zachary, and Brittany (an adventure in itself) on Christmas Eve to my brother's house in snowless Veribest, silently prayed that Andy would make it home from Lubbock safely that night after the snowstorm for Christmas, and got several chances to get to know girlfriends and boyfriends...Megan, Daniel, Tawny... (I like them all!) ...Oh, so much in so little time. 

But on Christmas Day ALL my kids and their dad were together in one place at home with me along with some friends (honorary Christmas Bennetts--complete with filled stockings under the tree.) We were a family--the way a family should be.  Just having them all together in one place is an amazing feat and a rare occasion since they've grown up. My house is so small so with all my kids, their dad, the "Honorary Bennetts," and me...It was loud..It was crowded, and with that many boys, it was definitely chaotic. They were cooking and eating, teasing and wrestling and punching, showing off new tattoos, watching movies, making weird noises and laughing--SO much laughing. There's always several conversations going on and it's almost impossible to keep up. Usually I'm so busy trying to get everything done and make everything perfect or getting ready for the next thing, I don't take the time to listen----to REALLY listen to the beauty of it all.  But this year was different... 

I didn't even try to do everything I always tried to do in the past--I haven't been feeling well for several weeks so there was no way I could even come close. And you know what? Once I accepted that, I found out that the sky didn't fall in and Christmas didn't explode just because I didn't get a bow on the package or all the garland up. It wasn't about my idea of Christmas perfection. It was a day just to be together--no running around to several houses trying to meet a hundred other family demands. Our special day started late because of the ice--they couldn't get out of Cross Plains. But when they finally arrived, we fixed a very late Christmas breakfast together...or rather the kids and their dad did while I wrapped presents. We opened stockings--one of our favorite family traditions--and later presents. Then we just hung out while they ate, shared stories, and talked about music, movies, old memories and a thousand other things.  Lots of noise, teasing, harrassing, and a big mess of wrapping paper and empty plates and dirty dishes..and absolutely no room to walk. And you know what, I loved every minute. 

We later went to see a movie--there were 10 of us by this time. As we waited for the movie to start, they all laughed as they watched their mom somehow manage to dump Kaci's whole BIG bucket of popcorn on the person in front of me! And I was concerned how all of them were going to embarrass me!!! I still don't know how I did it and a little shocked thinking back about how up close and personal I got while picking popcorn off a stranger and apologizing profusely. All the while, my kids and all their friends laughed and laughed! (Their dad was thankfully out getting a coke at the time.) We watched a great movie (have to admit I dozed just a little cuz I was SO exhausted) and then we all went out for Chinese for "Christmas dinner" about 8:30-9:00 that night.  

As we sat around the table in the restaurant at the end of the day, I just listened to all of them talking at once as I had so many times throughout the day and I was so overwhelmed with the joy and the miracle of it. I couldn't help but think about that Christmas carol "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus". Oh it wasn't the "traditional" way that most would expect Him to show up but no doubt, my Jesus had come and made His presence so sweetly known to me in that moment. I suddenly realized how long it's been since I truly loved Christmas...How long it's been since I sought the true meaning of Christmas...How long since I felt like I belonged. I don't think I ever knew how very much I needed to belong and to be accepted just as I am--a broken and flawed human being... I needed to know that He still has a place for me--not just with my family but in my everyday...and with Him.  I needed to know that He has a purpose for me. And I needed to know that it's ok just to sit back and enjoy the moment and the miracle of it--the most truly beautiful Christmas I can remember. 

Christmas this yar wasn't at all about gifts or "stuff", nor the impossible feat of making everyone happy at the same time, or working till everything appears so perfect. It was much less about stress and money and enduring events or occasions where somehow I always get hurt or angry and defensive. This Christmas was about recognizing the many different little ways that each of my kids uniquely make their love for me known...I've never seen it before quite so clearly. This Christmas was about how Christ Himself made His love for me known. This Christmas was so very different. This year, I was  determined to be a part of the season, I was willing to fight for it. This year I focused on inviting Jesus into my every moment and seeing what He could make of those moments. And He did so much better than I ever did on my own! This past year has been a journey of seeing dreams come true, in facing hurts and fears and letting them go one by one--a journey that made me stronger with each step instead of growing weary. It's been a journey of restoration and self-acceptance in so many ways. As I sat around that rowdy dinner table listening and learning and loving, I realized how very far He has brought me. I silently thanked God for all that He has done.  I knew what He had given me for Christmas this year--the joy of my salvation...Oh, how He loves us...

Jesus, I am so overwhelmed with the way that You love and still so amazed that You never give up on me. I am so thankful for all that You are and for all that You've done. You have returned to me the joy of my salvation--the simple joy of being in Your presence...of being Yours.  You have returned to me the joy of knowing that I have a place to belong--not just as a mom but in Your house with You and among those You have brought into my life to show me the truth and lead me through some of my darkest days. And even now in the stillness of this quiet, there is no reason or room for despair.  Even now, though my kids have gone their separate ways to seek what You have in store for them, help me to remember that our love for each other remains...Remind me Lord that no matter what lies ahead of me, Your love remains.  YOU remain. You have kept me safe and I am NOT alone.

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,  to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple...I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." - Psalm 27: 4, 13-14

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