~Since we have been closer to the final steps of completing our adoption and bringing our kids home, we have realized that major portions of our process would likely happen around Christmas time. We've "warned" our 4 bio kids for a while that they should not expect Christmas as usual at our house - one gift or quite possibly none, with the exception of a new brother and sister, of course (and B & T truly are "gifts"!), and most likely no decorations. To their credit, we've not heard a single complaint about the likelihood of no gifts this year. While they are not accustomed to overboard or outlandish gifts at Christmas (everyone gets 3 gifts each, and if it is something big like a PS3 or a pet, etc. it counts as one of the three for each kid), I am still so proud of them for having their hearts in the right place... so, so proud. (They won't be doing without gifts because we can't scrounge up enough to buy them something, we just think our money is better spent in other ways this year.)
~I have, however, heard from several adults who wonder if I'm going to have time to get "all my Christmas shopping" done before we leave for Ethiopia. I always say with a smile, "No, we're not buying Christmas gifts - everyone we know has too much junk already!" Really, all the adults we know have too much stuff, and all the kids we know have too much stuff. WE have too much stuff! So, if you know us personallly and were expecting a gift, sorry, but we're not getting one for you this year! "Your" gift will be going to an orphanage or a needy family. :)
~And if you come over to visit during the Christmas season, you won't see all the usual decorations and lights at our house. We're just not going to go through the hassle and headache of doing all of that. In light of eternity, it won't matter. It really won't. And it will not hinder our celebration of the coming of the Messiah - it will likely even help us celebrate Him! (Another good thing about not putting up decorations is that it will help when we come home with B & T - they probably wouldn't know what to think about all that stuff! I surely don't want to be telling them, "No", about taking ornaments off the tree, etc. and then have to spend an entire day taking it all down and putting it all away. We're going to make everything as simple as possible.)
~One somewhat unexpected attitude we've encountered is that some people are under the impression that we will be disappointed not to be "home" for Christmas. Honestly, at this point, I would be disappointed to NOT be in Ethiopia for Christmas! My celebration of Christmas is not tied to any place or even tradition we may hold dear. I can celebrate my Messiah's birth anywhere, and I believe that serving Him through serving "the least of these" is the best way for our family to genuinely and sincerely worship Him on that day. I think that would be the best Christmas ever!
~I am so thankful that the entire adoption process has been an experience that God has used to teach our family to focus more on the needs of others. We have always been a relatively "giving" family. But God has REALLY focused our hearts on meeting the needs of people around the world who need Him and also those who have physical and material needs, as well. We have become passionate about it. Now I really can't even imagine buying stuff for people who already have way more than they need. I had much rather spend any "gift" money on the needs of those who actually have "needs". Our kids usually draw names and buy gifts for each other, but this year they are going to each purchase one gift to donate to an orphanage.
~I wonder what would happen if each Christmas we would all give just half of the money that we spend on "junk for other people who already have too much junk" on meeting the actual needs of the least of these as Jesus commanded us to do. (That would still leave half for buying stuff for people who don't need anything!) Can you imagine the difference it would make in countless lives around the world? Can you imagine the difference it would make in the life of your family? I know it is making a huge difference in our family. I am so grateful that God is ripping us out of our old ways of thinking and of doing things and placing us in the middle of His will, that He is breaking our hearts for what breaks His, and that He is changing our family forever! (I just want everyone to have this experience!)
~So, the Pierce Christmas 2010 will not look like any we have ever had before. When I prayed that we would have our kids by Christmas 2010, I was just thinking of my own little small-minded plans. But God had bigger plans that I never would have dreamed. I never would have begun to imagine that we could possibly be spending Christmas IN Ethiopia WITH our children. I never would have imagined all the things God has taught us throughout this year. And I never would have imagined that our family would have changed and grown so much in just the last 11 months. I love the way God answers prayers and that His ways are always greater than my own. We're still praying that God will supply all the funding for the entire family to travel, and we believe it will happen!