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Merry Christmas!

Wahoo!  Such a fun Christmas–I might venture to say the best one yet.


It was a humble one, our efforts elsewhere, but I think we all agree it only made it better.IMG_1438 IMG_1443

“Well Hello Finley…What would you like for Christmas?”

“I would like a Christmas present…”

“Ok, well, what do you want for your present?”

“A monster truck with squishy wheels.”


“Finley, you are crazy to sit with Santa, he’s terrible!!” -ElijahIMG_1465

“And what do you girls want for Christmas?”  to which he was answered with blank stares and nervous grins. IMG_1469

But of course afterwards, “We Met SANTA!!!!!!!” they exclaimed. IMG_1472  IMG_1495 IMG_1501

After dinner on Christmas Eve, we pulled up The Nativity Story on the iPad, the condensed version, for which they had 1001 questions, but loved it.

“Oooooh, look at baby Jesus!  He’s so cute!!!!”IMG_1507 IMG_1517 IMG_1528 IMG_1544

We opened three presents Christmas eve.  It was a brand new expereince for J, and still very new to Maria and Elijah, only once before had they experienced Christmas in a family.  It’s pretty magical to share Christmas with children who live in such joy and wonder, it’s so contagious–a gift.IMG_1582

After the dentist last week, J and I stopped at a store and she was enraptured with these pink light up shoes…”WOW!” she would exclaim and bat at them each chance she got to see the lights dance as she squealed in response.  In Ph they don’t wear shoes, only flip flops, but when I checked the price, $35, I told her to put them back, “Sorry babe.”  I called Andrew, “We can’t, right?”

He paused on the phone…IMG_1589

And said, “This is a once in a life time for her, and she could really use them…”IMG_1590

And so, when she wasn’t looking…IMG_1593 IMG_1595


The boys each got a truck, and didn’t feel like opening the rest.IMG_1606

J also got a baby toy that sings a lullaby.  There is something so special about giving an orphan a baby toy, because they cherish it more than you would imagine.  She sleeps with it at night.IMG_1614

She danced around the house in them, as everyone watched them light up, she had never seen anything like it, and only paused for one picture.IMG_1627

When Finley opened his tool belt, well, things got pretty serious.IMG_1628

But the earth stopped moving when the girls opened their Rainbow Looms.  After we put the boys down, I told them I would help them, “No problem!” I told them.  Then when I looked at the directions, I was like, “Aaahhhh crap…” thinking this would end in a frustrating mess….

Turns out, they rocked at it.  And love, love love them.  So do I, total hit.  Looming like crazy up in here.

photo 1IMG_1638 IMG_1663

The next day, we headed to Grandma and Grandpa’s for breakfast and stockings, etc.  J soaked it all in.

photo 3

They tested out Papa’s new board, it was a keeper.  #CaliforniaChristmas

photo 4

That afternoon while the boys napped, Maria and I made a cake for Jesus’ birthday.  Scratch that, Maria made it.  I mentioned before that Maria’s confidence has really sky-rocketed since J has been here, and what would have been overwhelming before is now doable, fun–a great accomplishment.  And truthfully, it was the best cake we have ever had.IMG_1668 IMG_1676

The girls helped decorate together, “PINK!  For Jesus!”

“Sounds good to me!” I told them as they set busy along.IMG_1683 IMG_1690

Finley decorated a cupcake, “For baby Jesus.”

“Jesus wants to share with me,” he said as he took a bite.  “I make it for him, and he wants to share with me!” he exclaimed.

Hungry toddler, or deep theological thinker, maybe both.IMG_1694 IMG_1700

For dinner, we made more white rice than you could imagine and fresh Lumpia, to the delight of everyone.  With special sweet chili sauce.  Filipino Christmas delight.IMG_1709 IMG_1718 IMG_1722 IMG_1729

Then we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus, and thanked him for his perfect gift that has meant freedom, life and joy to us–our main guy and hero.IMG_1733 IMG_1736


We tucked the boys in, and had the girls get ready for bed, for which J was not ready.  Something had been stirred up in her that day, and we were reminded that sometimes holidays bring back hard memories for orphans, and remind them of the searing loss they have in their lives.

Hurt is sometimes so deep, it is hard to express.  It takes God within us in that moment, to transcend our expectations and feelings, to push aside our natural response to see the hurt, and respond accordingly.  And when I wanted to close a bedroom door instead, I pulled a sad, pouting mad child into my arms, despite a weak protest, and she cuddled down deep and cried.  And cried, and we rocked and rocked, and the pounding of my heart calmed as I stroked her cheek.

“We love you,” Andrew told her, while furrowed brows and a broken spirit melted into a weak smile, enveloped in arms that care.


“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.’”
-Luke 2:8-14


In a dirty  trough where animals eat.


You find Him, where you least expect him.


Even in late nights, with broken hearts.
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  • Kim December 27, 2013, 3:01 pm

    In my eyes the best type of Christmas ever!