Wednesday, December 22, 2010
2010 Christmas Letter
I sat down with my computer and a hot cup of peppermint mocha coffee the other night by the fire and took a deep breath. It was time to write the annual Christmas letter. I stared at the glowing screen for what seemed like hours. Nothing. I started to type and then I’d find myself backspace backspace backspacing. It’s just too overwhelming. I wanted to capture the emotion of this year, yet it seemed impossible. When I think back to January, February, and March, it seemed like a million years ago and that our lives were so very different and I couldn’t quite put my finger on the WHY of it all.
WHY does our family feel so much more bonded this year? Is it because we finally sold our house in September and moved into a new home a little bit outside of town? Maybe it’s because Brigg (9) and Lani (7) had to change schools and enter into a new little world of their own. Even though Brigg has been involved in baseball, basketball, football and piano lessons this year, he still did not know a single soul entering 3rd grade at a new school and it was a difficult transition for him. But as we sit here in late December we feel good about it. He can honestly say he loves his new school and loves our new neighborhood. I’m pretty sure this move has stretched him and matured him in ways we didn’t expect. He is getting so old and continues to make us laugh hysterically on a daily basis. With imagination, intensity, drive, and deep love oozing from his being, we love him more and more each day.
WHY do I feel like time is slipping so quickly through my fingers? Maybe it’s because Lani has grown into a beautiful girl right before my very eyes. She too, entered 1st grade at a new school this year. The transition for her was seamless. She is so independent and pretty much keeps to herself. She had only made a couple friends in kindergarten, so the friendship aspect was not a problem. Just a month after starting school, she invited a couple girls to her birthday party and I could see she was also going to be fine in this new setting. She also started piano lessons this year and loves it! She is a true middle child. She is sensitive and compassionate and brings calm to or somewhat excitable family. We would be complete chaos without her sensibility. :)
WHY does it feel like we are entering a new season on our family life? Maybe because Ayla (3) has started going to daycare for the first time in her little life. And she loves it. She has wanted to put a backpack on and go to “school” for the past year. And this year, I decided we were all ready for a little change. So I renewed my sub license and signed her up for day care. We were fortunate enough to have a friend who was starting an in-home day care and was willing to take Ayla on a drop-in basis. Ayla is doing wonderful. Our much-needed little surprise to this family, we cannot imagine our lives without her. As much as Lani adds calm to our lives, Ayla adds spunk. She is a 30 year-old in a 3 year-old’s body. She brings laughter and excitement and passion to our daily lives. And we are so thankful God gave her to us when we had no idea we needed her so badly.
And Paul (still old…and bald) :) continues to be this family’s rock. Our common sense. Our bonding agent. He keeps me grounded and the kids (and DOG!) in line. He is still working at Muscatine Power and Water and also doing home and radon inspections. He loves us deeply and works hard to support us in all our endeavors. He is our sounding board and biggest cheerleader. An amazing father and husband, I cannot imagine getting through my days without him.
WHY do I feel like a different person than I did last year at this time? It appears that could be because of a million different reasons. I took a trip to Africa in March. Sierra Leone, to be exact. A week in a place that I had been praying for for years changed me in ways that I cannot ever describe in words. I have referred to feeling suffocated there several times. It sounds horrible, but honestly it was amazing. God revealed himself to me there and I will never be the same. My entire perspective on life was changed in a single moment in a hot, loud room in the poorest slum in Sierra Leone on a Saturday afternoon while I watched as children worshipped with hungry bellies and dirty rags for clothes. While I prayed with them as they waited for a single vitamin and a hard-boiled egg (probably their only nutrition for the week), God showed me that HE was there. Even when things look hopeless and broken beyond repair….HE is there. And He continued to remind me of that over the rest of this year. As I walked through dark valleys with good friends and said goodbye to friends as they moved on with their lives, He was there.
It’s been a year of change for us. And what seemed like scary change has turned out to be beautiful. I did not have to look far to see God’s hand in all of it. So as we enter into 2011, we are praying that we continue to hold what appears to be ours with a loose grip. That we remember our lives are not our own. That we treat others with grace and mercy and not judgement and scorn. That we remember this holiday season that God sent his only son for US. And He is here. In our brokenness and in those moments that seem overwhelming, He is closer than ever. In the end, I’m pretty sure that’s WHY my memories and emotions of this year felt so overwhelming when I started this letter. Because of Him and the new ways we have been introduced to Him this year. So very thankful for that. And may we remember the true reason for celebrating this holiday season. Because of a little boy born in a manager over 2000 years ago. One who is still with us today.
Much love from the Burback family this Christmas and into the New Year,
Cassie (for all the Burbacks!)