I wrote yesterday’s post in a hustle.

Such a hustle that I forgot to put in some kind of important stuff:
Like how the girls were huffy at each other all afternoon before we left.
And how two of them started howling when I suggested we make it fancy and wear dresses.
There were multiple eye-rolls, some drama, some moans and groans about fun things the teenagers would be missing while we were watching those ballerinas.  Sure, they had been looking forward to this, but as the evening drew closer they began to realize what they would miss.  Darn that social media!:)
One of them burst out in tears three times before we left (not the teenagers…the eye-rolls were enough for them).
And I, in sleep-deprivation mode, had to count to ten at least that many times trying to stop myself from morphing into “mean mom” and calling the whole thing off.   
Wait, you may say, that stuff is the important stuff you left out?  
Well, yes, it sure is.  
That stuff is just as important as the magical-ness that did indeed come a little later.  That stuff is probably actually what made it magical because we had something to contrast it to.
Sometimes we have to wade through the not-so-great things to get to the heart-swelling ones.  Isn’t that how life is in general?  
But oh how I adore those heart-swelling moments.   The ones that come when we’re still enough to catch them and let them fill us up.  
Sometimes that can be tricky during the Christmas season.  
Yes it’s all holly and jolly and beautiful.  But sometimes, I think especially for women, the divine and holy seems to get lost intermixed with the hurricane surrounding us trying to check off our lists. We see everyone else seemingly “doing it all” and we start to think something is wrong with us.  Why can’t we keep up?  How are we supposed to keep a Christ-centered and joyful Christmas when a tenacious toddler is doing their best “fingernails-on-a-chalkboard” whining with a constant vice-grip on our leg? Or when we are far away from loved ones our hearts yearn to be with.  Or when every time we turn around there is another mess to clean up or meal to make, more toenails to trim and homework to help with and more neighbor gifts and service to give.  When our hearts want to “be there” with those children, with that husband, with that neighbor who needs extra love, but our body can hardly muster up the energy.  
I am convinced that that joy we seek, that we want to fill up our souls and bring the divine and holy into Christmas, is to be found not only in grand vistas of glory that are easily recognizable, but in the small moments.  Moments that come amidst the swirl of activity where everything stops short and our hearts fill up.
I had one of those “moments” on Sunday night at Dave’s parent’s house.  
It was the annual Christmas talent show/white-elephant gift exchange.  There was the usual scramble to figure out the right gifts, talk Lucy into brushing her hair, finish up the dinner mess before heading out the door…all mixed in with the excitement of getting to be with cousins.
The talent show began.  
It was a funny one this year.  There were a few family acts alongside the regular piano numbers and poem recitations (love those!), some of them in depth enough they required hiding the set-up prep:

We had dancing chipmunks singing Christmas carols:

Some seriously awesome lip-syncing to the classic Drifters “White Christmas:”

A pretty wonderfully choreographed (and funny) dance number:

…just to name a few.

About mid-way through the “show” I had to run out to the car to grab my extra camera battery.

As I walked down the front pathway I started getting nostalgic about Dave’s parent’s house.  About all the things that have happened there, from raising nine children to hosting this specific party each year  and everything in between.  This wave of gratitude started to wash over me.

But the “moment” came when I was walking back up to the house, windows glowing, glimpses of laughing and talent-organizing going on inside.

As I looked in those windows I stopped short in my tracks.  “I am part of that,” I thought to myself, and my heart was about to burst.

I was so filled with love for this family I get to be a part of.  For the things I have learned from them through the years.  For the son they raised so perfectly to be mine.  For the sacrifices they have made and the joy each of those people in that window bring to me and to each other.

 I just stood there for a minute and let the gratitude wash over me as my eyes welled up just a bit.

Then it was on to the white-elephant exchange:

 First the little kids…

…always with the express number-one-rule: “no crying.”

They did the “big-kids” this year too:

Max had just arrived home the day before and we were all loving him up.

He and Dave were having shenanigans trying to touch the lower-hanging light in the entryway…

(Dave was convinced he could touch it with his head (not quite) and Max walked up and touched his chin to it easy-peasy.)

There was sneaky football-watching multi tasking with the talent-listening:

And people putting up with me taking group shots.

I couldn’t help it, my heart was so full of love for these people I needed to capture them right there, right then.

So grateful for these grandparents who adore their grandchildren as well as their God.

Who are responsible for this gaggle of people and so many more who we wish lived closer and could join us.

…and who’s actions show that they not only love us all, but even more that they love that tiny baby who’s birth we celebrate this season.

May we all strive to be still enough to recognize the “moments” this Christmas.

I know that as we seek and listen for those velvety moments amidst the hustle and bustle, and let Christ fill up all the nooks and crannies amidst the busy-ness, that joy we are seeking will fill us up like never before.  And the chaos will wash away.

At least for a moment.  But the moment will be enough to feel that love.  The kind of love that comes from up above.

And that, my friends, is of course the reason for all this hoopla we run around frantically for.


Christ’s love for us.  And us for Him, that tiny baby born in a lowly stable under that bright star so long ago.

I adore this video that helps me remember what’s most important this season.
I I cannot watch without crying.

#seekthemoments #sharethejoy #heisthegift

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  1. Hi! I loved this post, the warmth really got through! I was just wondering, what's a white elephant gift exhange? Is it like secred santa?

    Merry christmas from Finland!

  2. Is a day ever ordinary? A day with no family, friend, school, church, neighborhood activity/social event or trip? How can you set up routines when no day looks like the next?

    I think the crying before the play was actually honest and not something to fix to shape their character. Is it really necessary to be frantic so much?

  3. Aw I could really feel your love for the family as you saw them through the windows. Those are the little moments that matter this time of year. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

  4. I don't think it's frantic at all KMS, it's life wgen you have 5 kiddos.. people are everywhere and things need to be done.. as for the tears that most tween/teen kids if they are fearful of missing out something with their friends!….At least in my house!
    Shawn, I was going to say o got your christmas card & it stopped me in my tracks..just the simple wording on it…to the point We are using at out RS theme for 2016!!!!

    1. She used the word frantically.

      Other words and phrases: hustle, huffy, howling, eye-rolls, drama, moans and groans, burst out in tears, sleep deprived, hurricane, "no crying" rule.

      Yes when you live close to 40 relatives you have a lot of family commitments. But every day they seem to have some favorite tradition they must do. If you are doing a different favorite thing every other day it sort of redefines the word favorite. I don't understand, there is a complaint of the pressure to do everything and yet everything still seems to be the intent. No is a powerful word and it's not always negative. Are the tears necessary? If they were all stress junkies thriving off the constant occupation of every moment then there would not be tears.

    2. Well each of us knows what's bezt for our families and if she didn't fo those' favourite' things there would be more tears I'm sure.
      Especislly this time of year let's not focus on things you might do differently but on thr sweet feelings of the post.

    3. This post is supposed to be more about letting the stillness of love and of Christ fill in the moments during the Christmas season to make it what it's really supposed to be more than about craziness. Sorry if that came off all wrong to you. That middle "hurricane" paragraph is about women in general, not me (although we all know I certainly have those;). I think most people can relate to being busy at Christmas and trying to find the right balance. I've talked to three friends just this week in tears because they are struggling to find it. If you've already found it, kms, and the children in your life never get huffy or have tears then kudos to you! But the grittiness of all that makes life real to me and helps me seek out the Savior and savor the moments more than ever. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

    4. I'm hoping those three friends don't feel pressured to overschedule. Or think those moments only happen after seeing a show or setting up some special activity. Or think those moments only come after some drama or happen because there was drama. They come when you least expect them to come.

      I keep thinking of your sister. Some years not all the kids go see the nutcracker. And it's still a fine experience for those who go and the ones that didn't go are perfectly happy too.

      Some things have to be done even with an eyeroll.

      Merry Christmas.

    5. You know if Shawni doesn't share the reality in life she's criticized that she's glossing over the hard things in life. If she shares the hard things and the drama thay inevitably come with having children (I also have 5…these things happen), then she's not keeping them on a schedule or she's over scheduling etc etc. She can't win it seems with some readers. She shared a snippet of her life with us and is a positive force for good and a voice for strong families in this negative world. Thank you Shawni for sharing your family with us. It's refreshing to read about the eye rolls and drama and realize I'm not alone and creating holiday traditions isn't easy but it's so worth it!

  5. I love love love this post. Merry Christmas to you Shawni and your family. Thank you so much for your real-ness, brightness, humor, gratitude, and warmth you bring to us strangers through your blog. It is so appreciated!!!❤️

  6. Thank you for your honesty. I took my girls to the nutcracker yesterday and the hours leading up to it were also filled with, "I don't want to go" and "but my friends are all getting together". I almost called it off as well but the good, bad, and ugly sure add together to make it magical. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Thanks for keeping it real! We celebrate Christmas early, so that the older children could go skiing in Utah and my oldest 16 going on 17 gave us a ton of attitude that evening. It is good to know it is normal.

  8. I love your blog so much. It always uplifts me. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful heart and being such an amazing example, in so many ways. This Christmas season has been the most stressful and busy one that I can remember. This post definitely gave me relief to know that other moms feel that craziness during this season, even when our heart has the best intentions. I have had a few of those moments that have helped bring it all into perspective again. Thank you for this amazing blog. It's helped me countless times and I am so grateful for people like you and families like yours that inspire me to be better. Merry Christmas!

  9. I love reading your posts. I actually really enjoyed reading about the drama behind the pictures, because it reminds me that you are a real family and that's comforting. I also have five kids (though mine are young) and so it helps me to see families with as many more kids having fun despite the drama. Thanks!

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